Games People Play

By Keith Kloor | November 18, 2011 12:33 pm

I know the climate change debate is emotionally charged, but the ugly politics and paranoid thought processes that flow from it are breathtaking. People have become so blinded by their own sense of righteousness that it often makes rational debate all but impossible. What’s doubly disappointing is when this behavior is exhibited by those who have science pedigrees and claim the mantle of clear-thinking, science defender.

The blogosphere, of course, is where these shenanigans regularly play out. Two recent examples are notable. The first highlights the ugly politics aspect, the second the paranoid thought processes.

Exhibit A is from a serial offender who has waged a personal war with Andy Revkin for some time. Rather than summarize the latest bit of Rommian theatrics, I’ll let you go have a look yourself, including this from Revkin. Truth is, many of the saner folks on Romm’s side of the climate debate have grown weary of his antics. They tune out the rants. To them, he’s like the outlandish, bombastic uncle at Thanksgiving that everybody tolerates because he’s part of the family. But behind his back, they’re rolling their eyes at his unseemly outbursts.

Exhibit B is this post and thread from Michael Tobis at his new home, Planet 3.0: Beyond Sustainability. I have much higher expectations of Michael, and have previously expressed great hopes for the site he has created. But in the aforementioned post’s discussion on recent scholarship that has challenged Jared Diamond’s eco-collapse narrative for Easter Island, Michael made a startlingly biased and willfully ignorant argument. It’s so unbelievable that I’m going to excerpt the highlights. They occurred during an exchange with the two archaeologists who came by to discuss the findings of their book with Michael in the thread of his post.

(For background on this debate, see this, this, and this, in order. I also wrote up a related post here.)

So Michael’s post is called The Statues that Walked, which happens to be the title of the recently published book by archaeologists Carl Lipo and Terry Hunt. As I mentioned, it calls into question much of what people think they know about Easter Island, in particular it’s validity as a popular environmentalist metaphor.

Here is an excerpt from Carl Lipo’s first comment at the thread, addressed to Michael:

I agree we should all be wary of “denialists” who challenge scientific findings simply to further some agenda. Many of these are exactly what you describe “” pseudo-science, arguments by authority and common sense logic. Our evaluation of the archaeological record of Easter Island (documented in our book, The Statues That Walked) was not done to simply “deny” the Collapse story that has been long associated with it. As archaeologists, we went to the island fully expecting to be able to study the growth of the island’s population after colonization and eventual collapse that was reported to have occurred ca. AD1680. It was much to our surprise that the archaeological record simply didn’t have evidence that supported much of what has been claimed “” no evidence for cannibalism, no evidence for widespread lethal warfare, no evidence for the 10,000+ population that has been argued to have once lived on the island and so on. Our best explanation of what we could find in the record is that there never was a prehistoric collapse and much of the features associated with “collapse” come from the effects of contact and post-contact history.

Lipo closed with this:

I urge you to evaluate the book on its own merits “” examine the evidence we present and see if you can find a better explanation then what we arrive at. We greatly appreciate any dialogue on these grounds.

Here’s the first sentence of Michael’s response:

The tone of reasonableness in your reply, which we have learned to expect from the most egregious misrepresenters of climate science, is less reassuring for me than it might be for someone who hasn’t engaged in that way.

Now if I was Lipo, right there I would have concluded that Michael is not interested in having a discussion in good faith. Then, after cataloguing a list of bullet points he feels that Lipo did not adequately answer, Michael ends on this note:

In short, Diamond has drawn a tightly coherent picture and you have replied with a scattershot set of critiques that leaves a plethora of loose ends. Your argumentation is thus very remeniscent of the “climate skeptics”, (leaving aside that you reference the work of one of them in their pet journal) providing, in answer to a coherent theory, a whole slew of doubts on particulars and a barely plausible scenario with little underlying structure. It’s, at best, intellectually dissatisfying. That isn’t really evidence against your position. However, it matches my prior expectation that emotionally resonant results about sustainability will always end up challenged and obfuscated. Therefore the burden of proof, in my estimation, lies with you.

Would you be willing to identify who funded your research?

Now I had already been participating in this exchange, and became incredulous at that point. I asked Michael if he had read the book that lays out the argument he was crudely disparaging (“reminiscent of climate skeptics…”), and what he was insinuating about the funding issue. He responded:

I haven’t read the book. I am trying to decide whether it is worth reading.

Consider that if Diamond is wrong about Easter Island, I have little intrinsic interest in Easter Island. I do want to know if he was totally wrong of course, but I don’t want to read a book about it.

Yet Michael feels free to pass judgement on the argument and evidence made in the book, without actually having read it. What’s more, even though he wants to know if Diamond is wrong, he’s not sufficiently interested in Easter Island to read a book by respected scholars that lays waste to the Easter Island mythology. Oh, and about that funding question he posed:

My question is whether they got funding from a private source because somebody disliked Diamond’s 2004 book. If they went through normal channels with an interest in Easter Island that would refute my suspicion that their mission was postnormal as opposed to normal science.

Carl Lipo responded:

If you are not willing to read our book then there is precious little to discuss since you apparently know what the answers are already. If you would like to discuss the evidence of the record and how archaeologists have been explaining it for the past 10-15 years, I would be happy to talk. But if you want to keep to your faith-based approach, there little hope of finding a common ground. Your suspicions about funding sources also makes me wonder if you also prefer tin-foil hats.

Michael, finally revealing that he has no interest in “scientifically informed conversation” on Easter Island  (the quote is from the blurb about what the Planet 3.0 website strives for), comes back with this:

My interest is not in the substance unless Lipo & Hunt make a dramatically more compelling case than they seem able to. My interest remains mostly about what Peiser and E&E have to do with it.

Let me get this straight. Michael is not interested in the substance of the debate, unless the two archaeologists can make a more compelling case. But he doesn’t want to read their book. Well, maybe the authors should act out the evidence for him. Perhaps that would be more compelling. As for his abiding interest in a single source (who is an ardent climate contrarian), Lipo addressed that issue in one of his comments:

I should also note that while we are aware of Peiser’s argument (and others e.g., Rainbird) we did not in anyway rely on his claims. We are not stooges for anti-environment corporate entities. Both of us are faculty at public universities. Our intentions are archaeological in nature and in doing science the best that we can. If you examine our cumulative academic record of publications you will find that we are both ardent supporters of science (and have even been criticized by some of our colleagues as been “too scientific” in our demands for constraining our explanations to descriptions of the empirical record).

Another commenter offers this advice to Michael:

I think we’d need to read their book before claiming that they’re offering scattered contradictions rather than a coherent thesis.

But that would mean acting like a scientist, and actually examining the evidence for yourself, rather than being cavalierly dismissive. Not all scientists want to do that, it seems.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Easter Island, Jared Diamond
  • Hector M.

    Correction to last sentence: All scientists want to do that, but not all climate bloggers are or behave as scientists. They are more like creationists, refusing to examine any scientific evidence they feel may run against their faith. 

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    I note that a commenter agrees with you there, Keith:

    http://planet3.org/2011/11/14/the-statues-that-walked/#comment-1268

    Does the name Marlowe Johnson ring any bell? 

  • http://organizingentropy.typepad.com/blog/ Andy

    It seems that climate science is fast becoming the new abortion.

  • Keith Kloor

    Andy, that observation has been made by others (I think), and you and they would be right.

  • http://www.veteransfreedomfarm.org steven mosher

    I too had hopes for MT.
    One thing you kill for as a blogger is having the actual authors show up for a dialog. When that happens you typically hope to hell your village idiots don’t berate them.

     

  • NewYorkJ

    Exhibit A:

    I figured KK would feel the need to continue his anti-Romm crusade at some point or another.  At the risk of being labelled again as a Romm clone or shill or what not…

    The way to get Revkin riled up is to criticize RPJ.  Revkin treats him like some sort of great demigod, which is unsettling.  He has gone as far as claiming the IPCC report in question won’t be credible if Pielke is not included (a litmus test). 

    In contrast, Revkin’s DotEarth writeup of the report isn’t bad, but Romm is not criticizing that as far as I can tell.

    Richard Black’s writeup isn’t so good.

    Where Revkin really bricks his response is in the following poor attempt to imply inconsistency:

    Revkin: And I have to note that after months of attacking Richard Muller’s personal passions (which I, too, criticized), you were quick to embrace his peer-reviewed science when it fit your template.

    Following Revkin’s link reveals nothing resembling “embracing” anything Muller is doing.

    Romm: Muller never had a reputation as an impartial analyst of climate change (see Koch-funded Richard Muller makes up story about Al Gore, Ralph Cicerone, and polar bears).  He is a “partial” analyst, and not just because he is never more than partially right.

    Wow, such embracement.

    Romm’s central point that the IPCC tends to put forth lowest common denominator confidence levels is accurate.  Mike Roddy points out Pielke is possibly in influence on lowering that denominator.  Revkin gets upset.  Romm calls him out.  KK bashes Romm.  The soap opera continues.

    On Exhibit B, I somewhat agree with Marlowe’s comment at November 18, 2011 | 10:11 am

    although I’m really sure it’s absolutely necessary to read their book to get a good view of their argument, which has been covered by Peiser and elsewhere.  Perhaps the arguments don’t hold enough water to want to read more.

  • http://planet3.org Michael Tobis

    Maybe now that I’m trying on a journalist hat rather than a science blogger hat, you have a point. I am obligated to read through accounts that I am very confident are misleading before making a public case that they seem misleading.

    It may be the correct way to “act like a journalist”. The idea that this has to do with “acting like a scientist”, though, is in my opinion incorrect, and revealingly so. Being a scientist means, among other things, having the expertise to winnow positions that cannot be correct, and focusing attention on positions that have some chance of being correct. This is not commonly understood; this skill is widely taken as “arrogance”.

    Let me illustrate by getting back to the particulars. The Lipo and Hunt hypothesis, as I understand it, has a late arrival of Polynesians, cutting by the number of years available to develop the statue building culture and build the statues from 1100 to 500. Let’s say it takes 200 years to get the idea going. Then the rate of statue building has to triple, since it had to take 300 years rather than 900. Further, the population is fixed at 3000, rather than going up to 15000. This further quintuples the per capita effort, making it 15 times more work per capita. Further, while on the overshoot model most of the time the island was in food (i.e., energy) surplus, on the sustained peak population model the island was in food scarcity through the entire time. Finally, instead of rolling the statues down the hill to the beach, they have to pivot them in a vertical position.

    Assume 1/3 of the population is able-bodied and vigorous at any time, which is generous given the food scarcity already postulated. This leaves basically 1000 people who are on subsistence agriculture (and since there are no big trees, there is limited fishing) to carve three statues a year, averaging some 50 tons each, and move them in a vertical position an average of five miles. (Note also that they are much taller than they appear, because a large base is buried.)

    In short, however astonishing the achievement of the Easter Islanders in the overshoot model, it is approximately a hundred times more astonishing in the Lipo/Hunt late-arrival, early-deforestation, walking statue subsistence model.

    Is that dispositive? No, perhaps not. But it sure seems like a long shot, and I take it as such.

    That all said, my observation in the lead article was not primarily about  Lipo and Hunt but that established participants in the obfuscation of climate science were taking up their cause. My resulting proposal is that “postnormal” science is a feature that science accretes by the actions of people driven by extrascientific motives, not by the core participants of science.

    I think it is clear that having a perfect model for overshoot/collapse is appealing to some of us, myself included. I am very taken by the apparent confusion of symbol with substance in the latter days of the moai culture as described by Diamond, and I would in fact dislike it if that lesson were imaginary.

    I think it is equally clear that the remaining Easter Islanders are looking for a more heroic myth than being an object lesson for modern growth economics gone amok, and that Hunt and Lipo are sympathetic to them. And I think the E&E crowd just wants to deny the possibility of overshoot altogether, which makes them allies of Hunt and Lipo here.

    So the ingredients for postnormalcy are all there. The question, as always, is which side has the most compelling story. I have to say that all else equal the story I prefer is dramatically more plausible, but I may be fooling myself.

    If I were a real science journalist, if the world really supported those, I’d have the time and resources to chase this story down. As it stands, I am just voicing an opinion. And one thing I want for Planet3.0 is that people voice their opinions. In some ways I am pleased to see some genuine disagreement over something other than the usual output of the climate-confusion factory. At least people have to think their own way through it rather than having their opinion mass-produced and prepackaged.
     

  • Barry Woods

    I think Michael got upset, because Mark Lynas refered to a paper Benny Pseiser wrote about Easter Island… He makes a big issue of this and Energy and Environment..

    It is interesting when people won’t read books (even to get a better understanding of the authors viewpoint, not to necessrily to be convinced)

    Judith Curry, issued ‘the Hockey Stick Illusiuon’ challenge (was it at CandS) and though just reading this book was a litmus test.. ie to criticise you must at least understnad where the other side is coming from 

    Same people, still won’t read books of opposing arguements At least if you read it you are well informed, and can give specific examples where you might think things wrong.

    Mark Lynas, appears to have read widely on Eatser Island, and appeared swayed in one direction on overall evidence.

    for the record, I asked Mark Lynas, if he had read the HSI, he said not yet, but was willing to, before icould offer mine.. A propfessor of Physics, at Oxford University, said he pop his personal copy into MArk’s pidgeopn hole at Oxford…

    Hasn’t got it back yet ;-)

    Just a little (relevant I think) ancedote.

  • http://veteransfreedomfarm.org steven mosher

    MT,

     when you decide to stop abusing the term post normal science, let me know.

     

  • EdG

    MT pontificates:

    “Being a scientist means, among other things, having the expertise to winnow positions that cannot be correct, and focusing attention on positions that have some chance of being correct. This is not commonly understood; this skill is widely taken as “arrogance”.”

    Yes, indeed, this “skill” is not commonly understood. Who knew that a primate trained in some field of science could judge things without even reading them? These ‘scientists’ are like another species of all-knowing superhero armed with extra sensory perception and absolute objectivity. They are so super that even when they are wrong they are right.

    What an incredible joke. And this epitomizes everything that has made the AGW project a massive flop tand done so much damage the credibility of real science and REAL scientists. And that part is no joke.

    Good luck in your missionary work MT. But long past time to stop pretending you are anything close to an objective scientist. 

     

  • http://planet3.org Michael Tobis

    Mosher, is there something behind that little snipe?

  • Marlowe Johnson

    @Keith,

    FWIW I agree with you that MT could have been much nicer, but I also think that Lipow and Hunt don’t present a very compelling –succint– rebuttal to Diamond’s overall thesis.  You may think that you’ve covered the substantive issues here at your blog, but if so I haven’t read it. 

  • Keith Kloor

    SM (5),

    Very astute observation. That is indeed what I was thinking. Of course, when the host is acting like one of the village idiots it’s even worse.

    Michael (7)

    I didn’t realize you were trying on a journalist hat–honestly. I get that you’re trying to facilitate more substantive discussion about sustainability issues, which is why I took the time to point out your shoddy way of going about it, in this instance (I’ve been complimentary on other occasions).

    You also write: “In some ways I am pleased to see some genuine disagreement…At least people have to think their own way through it rather than having their own opinion mass produced and pre-packaged.”

    Interesting. I feel like I heard something similar to that expressed by another climate blogger recently. You know, just throwing stuff up on the wall and seeing what sticks, what doesn’t, let the people decide for themselves what smells right, what doesn’t, etc, etc. (In your case, the icky stuff being thrown up was by yourself.)

    Maybe you two have more in common than you think.

  • Tom C

    Tobis pushes the same fallacy that others do when they criticize Steve McIntyre’s work:  namely, that one must have a “coherent theory” that is “emotionally resonant” (think about that last requirement a bit and you will understand Mike Tobis) when you criticize someone’s science.  That is far from the truth.  When A puts forward a hypothesis he should expect rational criticism from B that either proves or disproves the hypothesis.  If B does not have a hypothesis of his own it does not prevent him from commenting on A’s hypothesis. 

    The problem with catastophic AGW is that it is a coherent theory that is emotionally resonant, especially, alas, with the Romms and Tobis’s of the world.

  • EdG

    Time for MT to investigate the IPPC’s links to the Koch Brothers:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/11/18/the-gwpf-responds-to-new-ipcc-report/

  • http://initforthegold.blogspot.com Michael Tobis

    Tom C gets me wrong in #14.

    I think “emotional resonance” is what attracts opposition, because of its political importance, not because of its scientific importance. The endless agonizing about polar bears is a case in point. No scientist thinks polar bears are all that important in the grand scheme of things. Nine year old kids everywhere have a different opinion. Hence, fallacious arguments cluster around polar bears, and not around other, less charismatic species.

    I think a coherent theory is a different matter. People who don’t understand the concept of coherence don’t understand science. The power of science originates in the way reality is consistent with itself.

    Tom C’s convenient conflation of what I consider the problem and what I consider the solution miss my point of view by a mile.
     

  • Matt B

    It was my attachment to the “concept of coherence” that led to getting a “C” (and a generous C it was) when I took “Intro to Quantum Physics”……..

  • Tom C

    MT -

    You wrote:

    “However, it matches my prior expectation that emotionally resonant results about sustainability will always end up challenged and obfuscated.”

    I’m assuming that this sentence means that Diamond’s results are “emotionally resonant”.  Please explain what this has to do with whether they are correct or not.

  • huxley

    For my money, MT is neither a scientist nor a journalist. He is a not particularly honest or responsible blogger with axes to grind.

    I find it curious that he often lectures others on critical thinking.

  • Tom C

    MT writes:

    “The power of science originates in the way reality is consistent with itself.”

    I do hope reality is consistent with itself.  What some of us are looking for are theories that are consistent with reality.

    What MT really means with all his high falutin talk about coherence and resonance and the like is that he trusts science that confirms his liberal politics.

  • http://initforthegold.blogspot.com Michael Tobis

    I’m assuming that this sentence means that Diamond’s results are “emotionally resonant”.  Please explain what this has to do with whether they are correct or not.

    Nothing whatsoever, of course.

    It predicts that they will be opposed. It carries no information on whether they were right or wrong in the first place. But it predicts that even if the results turn out to be entirely sound and well-founded, vigorous opposition will arise that will not be daunted by that.

    Of course, politically and emotionally resonant arguments that are wrong will also attract opposition. So the controversy doesn’t tell you which group is getting it wrong. (You have to either go by organizations whose authority you accept, go by social networks of trust, or go by direct investigation, to establish an opinion.)

    But the existence of visible opposition tells you much more about whether the matter is politically salient than about whether it is actually scientifically controversial, i.e., whether those who know most about the matter have any serious disagreement about it.

    That’s the key point I am trying to make here.
     

  • jeffn

    “Consider that if Diamond is wrong about Easter Island, I have little intrinsic interest in Easter Island.”
     This not a surprising, or a particularly “bad” sentence, but it’s always important to keep in mind. If the data do not confirm the desired narrative, the data is not of “interest” to read. We’re seeing this with attribution of catastrophes to AGW- without such attribution there is no excuse for taxing and limiting wealthy nations in order to redistribute wealth and economic growth to developing nations (in the form of “adaptation” money of course). Therefore, global warming will have little “intrinsic interest” to progressive activists.
    Likewise if the solution is nukes and natural gas, you don’t have to “radically” shift away from consumerism (read capitalism) and the activists at The Nation magazine will “have little intrinsic interest” in the issue.
    At that point you’ll start seeing things like the President of the US and standard bearer of the Democratic Party leave the issue out of his State of the Union address and the issue dropping off the radar screen of “concerns” in polls.
    But, of course, the people of Easter Island (and those of us who pay power bills) have an “interest” in the truth. And if they can’t find it with you….

  • http://veteransfreedomfarm.org steven mosher

    yes MT, but you’d have to read some of what jerry wrote and some of what I wrote.

     

  • Eric Adler

    KK,
    I don’t agree with your scolding of Michael Tobis on the question of Easter Island. Diamond and Lipo each put their arguments on the internet. There is no question that the evidence favors horizontal transport of the statues. It is way easier. Regarding the idea of deforestation by rats, the evidence is not compelling at all. Rats have been introduced to many Pacific islands that have not been deforested. If Lipo and Hunt seem so wrong about these theories, why should anyone bother to read their book?
    Furthermore, Tobias’ comments about Energy and Environment are also on target.  The editor, Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen has admitted that she founded it as a journal where “skeptics” who cannot get published in existing journals, can go to get their papers published.
    http://www.desmogblog.com/node/1281
    Benny Peiser is the co-editor of Energy and Environment.  Both are connected to a UK organization founded to battle environmentalism, called the Climate Alliance.
    On that basis, Michael Tobis has asked questions about who supported Hunter and Lipo’s paper. It is not very polite,  but an interesting question.
    I am curious about whether you have polled AGW supporters to find out how many support Romm’s blog, versus how many roll their eyes.

     

  • http://initforthegold.blogspot.com Michael Tobis

    in #22 jeffn is trying to play the usual make-the-other-guy-look-bad games that so infests our discourse, but he inadvertently has a point.

    I have reconsidered. Easter Island indeed does remain interesting in the Lipo/Hunt scenario.

    My point was that if it were simply an ordinary island that managed to get along at a subsistence level until colonials came by it would have little to teach us, and so it would be of no more intrinsic interest than a thousand other places.

    But I didn’t think it through. Subsistence, a small population, a short history, and 850 massive statues remains something to think about!

    I would find it amazing if the Hunt/Lipo scenario were true because the statue building and transportation requires an enormous expenditure of resources from a society that according to them had no surplus. That makes it very much of an outlier.

    But insofar as I can tell, Lipo and Hunt don’t explain how this could happen in the absence of a surplus. If anyone has read their book has a citation to the contrary, that would be of immediate interest.

     

  • http://veteransfreedomfarm.org steven mosher

    WRT 13.   thanks keith.

    I sugested to Judith that if she wants to host clowns that she  should demand a quid pro quo. They have to step into the fray. And those of us in the moshpit should understand that they are not use to the dialogue format. so we need to moderate ourselves and each other.
    I should talk. The first time judith showed up at CA I hit her with a verbal 2×4. bad form by a village idiot. When you spend so much time talking at and past each other   when visitors show up we forget to treat them with grace, as house guests as it were.

    So, MT reacted how I reacted. I understand it. I’ve done the same thing. maybe for different reasons.

    somewhere in our collective heads is a format where authors can come and discuss their work with us. and we would behave. I would pay for that.

    I wont pay for articles. I will pay for the interaction with the actual author.

    think about that. 

  • http://veteransfreedomfarm.org steven mosher

    WRT 24.

    Pardon me but I dont see horizontal transport supported at all. For example, by looking at the damage to statues one can ascertain that those with forward centers of gravity had damage consistent with and only explanable by vertical transport.

    But lets wait for the tape..

    “But there is much better news awaiting readers who might want “to imagine it” themselves.   In recent experiments funded by National Geographic and fully filmed, we “walked” a multi-ton replica of an actual statue (one found along an ancient transport road).  Moving a statue in a standing position is not only possible; it’s relatively easy and can be done with a small group of people using only ropes.  Our experiment will be highlighted in a forthcoming NOVA-National Geographic television special to be broadcast on PBS in the spring of 2012.  Then the rest of the world will see what we have seen””the statues of Easter Island walking upright! Stay tuned!

     

  • harrywr2

    #27
    In recent experiments funded by National Geographic and fully filmed, we “walked” a multi-ton replica of an actual statue (one found along an ancient transport road).
    I used to work in transportation. ‘Walking’ multi-ton items wasn’t all that hard and it didn’t take all that many people. If you’ve got a hard surface marbles or gravel makes life so much easier.

  • Keith Kloor

    Huxley (19) writes: “I find it curious that he often lectures others on critical thinking.” Indeed. That’s one reason I spotlighted the “critical thinking” he exhibited during his exchange with the archaeologists.

    Jeffn (22)

    That’s a fair take, but remember this sort of thing works both ways–as we saw with all the Twister action by the WUWT crowd, trying to rationalize recent the Berkley/Muller findings.

    Eric (24)

    Your tribalism is showing. That disappoints me. 

  • jeffn

    MT – no games are involved and the point is hardly inadvertent. The notion that advocates tend to ignore or strenuously question claims they disagree with is not new. And no – pace KK – it’s not limited to one side. But one of the points of this post is tone. I, for one, am sick and tired of agw believers claiming climate advocacy is immune to the flaw of interest selection bias. More importantly, advocates who have no interest in contradictory facts have no moral command of my time.

  • Eric Adler

    Steve Mosher,
    What has been done to date seems to support horizontal movement.
    http://www.mysteriousplaces.com/Easter_Island/html/contro2.html
    When we see the National Geographic Special we will find out more.

  • Fred

    Kudos to KK for having the intellectual honesty to challenge the thinking of people on his side of the AGW issue.  The same to MT for responding to the criticisms in his intellectually blustery but honest and perceptive style.  Awesome to see a climate/computer scientist argue archeology convincingly.

    Santer says that seventeen years without warming exceeds the range of what would be expected if AGW theory is true.

    https://www.llnl.gov/news/newsreleases/2011/Nov/NR-11-11-03.html

    We are now at 10-12 years and counting.  The acid test of intellectual honesty for believers of AGW theory will come as the prophesied warming continues to fail to materialize and other scientific developments make AGW theory less plausible.  Also, the economic and human (i.e. unemployment) costs of energy impoverishment in service of a fantasy (quick transfer to non-carbon based energy sources) will increasingly be understood to be societal suicide.

    Will those whose livelihoods are tied into societal acceptance of the AGW creed have the intellectual honesty to call it like it is when the above realizations become inescapable?  That such a time is coming is as predictable as was the bankruptcy of Solyndra.     

  • Eric Adler

    Fred @31,
    Will you have the intellectual honesty to call it like it is now?
    http://www.skepticalscience.com/print.php?n=1089
    “Over the most recent 17-year period, the BEST trend is 0.36°C per decade*, clearly showing the anthropogenic warming trend over that period. “

  • Eric Adler

    HarryWr, @28
    What happens when you have bumpy and sloped terrain and statues up to 80 tons?
     

  • http://planet3.org Michael Tobis

    Fred, much as I appreciate you taking the heat off me, you (#32) are wrong.
    See http://tamino.wordpress.com/2011/11/05/the-real-problem-with-the-global-warming-debate/
    and
    http://tamino.wordpress.com/2011/10/30/judith-curry-opens-mouth-inserts-foot/
    particularly
    http://tamino.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/rates1.jpg?w=500&h=317
    which shows that

    any record longer than seven years ending in the present shows warming
    there is no evidence whatsoever which indicates a recent change in the rate of warming

    This “pause in the warming” business is not something that is going to change anybody’s mind about anything <em>unless it actually happens</em>.
     

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    For the few who do not know the book alluded to by Keith’s title (a compulsory read in my opinion), here is Kurt Vonnegut Jr.’s review:

    http://www.ericberne.com/Kurt_Vonnegut_Review_of_Games_People_Play.htm 

  • Anteros

    Michael Tobis @ 35

    I think you are being just a little bit disingenuous in saying “Any record longer than seven years ending in the present shows warming”. The only way in which this is remotely true is if you – for some strange reason – artificially select a ‘land-only’ dataset, and also make absolutely sure it is the BEST temperature record.

    A more reasonable, and neutral approach would be to take an average of the four global temperature records. In which case you very much do get more than ten years of cooling -


    Composite average 2001.3 to present

    Of course, as people with heavy agendas have been pointing out, if you happen to choose RSS or HADcrut3, the records show more than 14 years of cooling with 15 arriving in about Feb/March 2012.

    I make no claims at all about these trends – to me they say virtually nothing. But whether they are meaningless or not, they most certainly exist.

  • Anteros

    MT,

    To show my neutrality on this [one...] issue, here is a little paradox. It is the whole of the RSS data with trends up to and from mid 1997, as well as for the whole record. The paradox is that although there is clearly a decline in temperature in the last 14 years, there has also been an increase in the rate of warming over the same period. The warming rate is now more than 50% higher than it was in 1997, even though the temperature has declined through those 14 years.

    So, if someone harangues you with ‘there has been 14 years of cooling!’ it makes an awful lot of sense to say ‘over the last 14 years the rate of warming has increased!

    And all because of the apparent discontinuity around 1998. It creates an effect much like the Simpson paradox -

    RSS composite

  • Anteros

    P.S.
    Take away the artificial decline and you have this -

    Rss acceleration

  • Fred

    Eric, Michael, and Anteros,

    Sure, you have your sources on this but I (and probably you too) have seen the downward sloping line fitted to UAH data over the last 10-12 years.  There is also the unmistakable flattening of the more important oceanic temperature/thermal expansion data, with a definite decline in the latter recently.  This flattening coincides with the end of the “solar maximum” around the end of the last century.

    More locally, after predictions from scientists that the skiing industry where I live would suffer imminent decline there has been a decade of excellent skiing conditions.  Sure it warmed for a few decades in the latter part of the last century and everyone could perceive that.  That has ended/reversed.

    Now, no one goes around predicting whatever season is upcoming will be the “hottest ever” as was the fashion several years ago.  Guys, I think the jig is up.

  • Anteros

    Fred,

    I’m certainly not going to speak fro Eric and Michael, but it’s fair to say the slope on a ten year graph means precisely nothing. Whatever beliefs we have, a decade is worth ignoring completely. And to be fair, so are local skiing conditions.

    I reference the RSS data because it is counter-intuitive when expressed in natural languages – a conceptual paradox. FWIW the HADcrut record shows the same thing from a longer perspective – Hadcrut trends. 1950 to last 14 yrs – see a recent decline contemporaneous with an increase in trend…

    I’ve never been among the ‘alarmed’, but I think we should keep a grip on what short temperature records can tell us, and especially what they can’t.

     

  • Lewis Deane

    MT is, as usual, acting like a real neurotic (I was going to use other language but that wouldn’t be right) in the sense in which McCarthy was a neurotic, although MT, to his credit, now and then, has good days. Michael, your behaviour and your defence of your behaviour, as noted by Keith, is so egregious in it’s sophistical absurdities that one is tempted in not treating you as a rational person. But then one one would be as it were infected by imitation. Your idea of determining the truth of a conclusion without having read the argument is not so much novel as reminiscent of a 14 year old boy. One hopes to the heavens it isn’t the norm among scientists in your ‘post-normal’ world (is that some kind of New Romantic thing your regressing to). Your treatment of the authors of this book is appalling. The best you could do now, the redeeming thing, is buy the book post-haste, read it and then come back to us. Until then – silence!

  • Lewis Deane

    And just as a Nota Bene, one sees what Michaels polotics really are about. He is not interested in the real world and the real problems of the real world, the people of the real world unless they have ‘emotional resonance’. Appalling!

  • Jeff Norris

    “There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance – that principle is contempt prior to investigation.”

    William Paley

  • Matt B

    @ 38 Anteros,

    Right on; there is an incredible amount of BS that is centered around 1998. Back then 1998 was “proof” that the feedbacks were piling up and we were in Hockey Stick days; now that year is used by people to say there is no more warming even though these same people say we have been warming since the LIA and continued warming shoud be expected.

    Ban 1998!
     

  • Lewis deane

    Jeff Norris

    They almost always wrote so beautifully in those days – people of real substance. I think one should have Gibbon as a set text at school – yes, the whole six books! – just to teach people how to write! Though I suppose Emerson will just about do! 

  • Dean

    Sorry to KK for following the off-topic issue of the temp record, but there is something that has bothered me about this that I haven’t seen discussed. If the issue is the potential for the temperature record to convincingly disprove AGW (i.e. it is a natural variability), doesn’t the temperature actually need to go back down, rather than just stay high and flat? Isn’t that what variability means – it goes up and DOWN?

    Were we to run into a sufficiently lengthy period of temperature that neither goes back down nor continues to increase, that hardly proves natural variability. It seems to me that the most likely cause for that would be some kind of unknown buffering of the increase.

    We had a real nasty heat wave a few years ago. At it’s peak, the temps stayed very hot for a few days without getting hotter. Nobody said that the heat wave was over because it wasn’t getting yet hotter. The heat wave was over when it cooled back down to “normal”.

    So if you want the temp record to disprove AGW, call me when we have consecutive years back down at the multi-decade average or below. Actually, when was the last time the global temp anomaly was zero or less for even a single year?

  • harrywr2

    #34

    What happens when you have bumpy and sloped terrain and statues up to 80 tons?
    That what rocks are for, they create pivot points.
    The premise expressed by MT was that it would be improbable that a rate of 3 statues a year could be moved 5 miles.
    According to PBS the average size is 14 tons and and the average base was 5 feet. There were 288 statues actually erected.
    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/easter/civilization/giants.html
    So if we are going to move them over 100 years we have to move something like 3 statues a year up to a distance of 5 miles/25,000 feet.
    To keep it simple lets average 250 feet per day. The base of the average statue is a little over 5 feet. So each pivot is going to give me about 2.5 feet of motion. So I need 100 pivots per day to make my average of move a statute 250 feet per day.
    Setting up and pivoting by a single crew 12 times an hour seems to be improbable.
    How many transport crews do I get to have?
    If I can have 10 then I only need to make 10 pivots per day per crew. An hour to execute a single pivot once the first rock(pivot point) gets placed under the statue doesn’t seem improbable.
    The whole thing only becomes improbable if one assumes the ‘average’ was 82 tons, all of the 900 statues were transported(only 1/3 were successfully transported) and there was only a single transport crew.
    If they had something that could function as a roller then the whole thing becomes quite likely. I’ve moved a 15 ton obect with the help of a crew of 5 with rollers, averaging 250 feet a day would not even be hard work. One pushes with their legs rather then your back.
    The Movies always show the ‘slaves/workers’ pulling on ropes with their arms. Wrapping the rope around your hips and pulling with your legs is much, more effective.
    Someone who can lift more then twice their body wieght with their arms and backs is a ‘muscle man’. Almost everyone can lift more then twice their body weight with their legs. The world record for a leg press is more then 1 ton.
    Wiki claims Madeline Albright can leg press more then 400 pounds(At 70+ years old) – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leg_press

    So it’s conceivable that a crew of 70 old ladies could lift a 14 ton rock an inch or two off the ground and carry it.(5 old ladies per ton)
    Of course they don’t need to lift it, they merely need to tilt it in order to insert a pivot point underneath.

  • http://planet3.org Michael Tobis

    There is a difference between open-mindedness and credulity.

    At some point, it seems, enough people take silly ideas for plausible that somebody needs to address them. But the silly idea factories have been in overdrive of late. This means if you are going to get anything done at all you have to set your filters to cope with the vast number of false positives. The occasional false negative is among the negative consequences of the amount of BS in the world.

    I keep trying to loosen my filters, in this case and I’m still finding the Lipo and Hunt scenario having difficulty making it through. That the moai are a symptom not of overshoot and collapse, but of a small, sustainable, post-deforested society that nonetheless never noticed the drawbacks of transporting heavy objects in energetically unstable configurations, seems to me every bit as unbelievable as the ideas of people who write books claiming there is no greenhouse effect at all. I don’t read those books, and I don’t feel closed-minded about it.

    Could I be wrong? Sure. I could be wrong about many things. One should question one’s own beliefs constantly. But there is some skill involved in picking the points where challenging yourself might have the most utility.

    By the way, the William Paley (1743 – 1805) that Jeff Norris references is especially renowned by those who attack evolution, and apparently the coiner of the idea of “intelligent design”. “For my part,” he says, “I take my stand in human anatomy”; elsewhere he insists upon “the necessity, in each particular case, of an intelligent designing mind for the contriving and determining of the forms which organized bodies bear.”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Paley

    So he might be wrong, too. But more to the point, the whole BS industry had not started up in his day and so the practical limits on open-mindedness that apply today were not relevant then.
     

  • http://planet3.org Michael Tobis

    Clearly the mid-troposphere record is noisier than the surface record, which stands to reason, as it is in less intimate contact with the thermal “inertia” (more correctly, heat capacity) of the land, ice and ocean.

    Consequently the amount of time for a statistically significant trend to emerge is longer in the mid-troposphere than at the surface.

    There is still no evidence that the warming has stopped, and there is positive evidence of a continuing radiative imbalance at the top of the atmosphere.
     

  • Jeff Norris

    MT
    Perhaps Gibbon who is considered by some to be anti-Christian or at least anti-religion would be more to your likening.
     I have always endeavoured to draw from the fountain-head; that my curiosity, as well as a sense of duty, has always urged me to study the originals; and that, if they have sometimes eluded my search, I have carefully marked the secondary evidence, on whose faith a passage or a fact were reduced to depend.
     

  • BBD

    Anteros

    You are quite correct to stress that trends over short periods should not be over-interpreted. Although this does make me wonder why you have so far made it the subject of four comments on this thread.

    Here’s my slightly modified version of short trends in BEST (original by ‘Sphaerica’ at SkS)

     

  • http://initforthegold.blogspot.com Michael Tobis

    harrywr2, there are several problems with your scenario, but “If they had something that could function as a roller then the whole thing becomes quite likely.” just violates the point of the exercise. The whole idea that L & H are trying to argue against is the rollers.

    Also note that the items being moved were much taller than they are wide. This is the most dubious part of the theory. To conform with a bit of folk history from a folk that had been devastated by history, these guys are being pivoted in a position where they want to tip over. What’s more, the larger ones could only be controlled from well below their center of gravity.
     

  • Nullius in Verba

    “I keep trying to loosen my filters, in this case and I’m still finding the Lipo and Hunt scenario having difficulty making it through. That the moai are a symptom not of overshoot and collapse, but of a small, sustainable, post-deforested society that nonetheless never noticed the drawbacks of transporting heavy objects in energetically unstable configurations,…”
    It’s good of you to try – assuming you meant it.
    I have to say, I’m finding some difficulty myself in seeing why anyone should think it was difficult. “Walking” a heavy object to move it is a common tactic that most people hit on all by themselves, and the obvious advantage of doing it in an “energetically unstable configuration” is the leverage it gives you.

    As you tip the mass onto a corner the couple needed to hold it up is the weight multiplied by the horizontal distance between the centre of gravity and the supporting corner which is at most half the width. The couple applied by a rope at the top is the height times the sideways force you apply. So you get a mechanical advantage of about twice the height to width ratio, in effect using the statue itself as a lever.

    Prehistoric aboriginals knew this, but I suppose in our modern technological world many of us have lost touch with some of the practicalities of muscle-powered engineering. I do sometimes wonder if you ever did succeed in forcing modern people back to a “sustainable” lifestyle, how they’d ever manage. Perhaps people ought to try it for a few years before they advocate it.

    The problem with confirmation bias (and indeed most other cognitive biases) is that you really, genuinely can’t see it. Nobody can. It’s like the back of your own head – only other people can see it. Everybody has filters that enable them to judge at a glance what ideas are worth considering. Everybody knows that their filters are up to the job, and are anyway clearly better than other people’s.
    That’s why we need other people who disagree with us – who have their own biases and blindspots of course – to argue with. That’s why it’s such a bad idea to lock ourselves into small mirrored boxes, telling ourselves it’s ok because there’s nothing worthwhile to see in the outside world anyway.
    That only applies to us ordinary people, of course.

  • http://initforthegold.blogspot.com Michael Tobis

    NiV, a fair point on the leverage, but with many technical issues attached.

    Again, note that the tallest statues are 10 meters high. Now we attach stone age ropes to the stones using stone age technology. Perhaps we hook the rope around the statue’s nose. Then to do the swivel on circumference point A, we need the team pulling on the resisting ropes to torque around A, and another team pulling in the opposite direction to prevent the torque from moving the statue into a gravitationally unstable position. This tug-of-war stably established, we now need to provide a swiveling torque to advance the statue a good fraction of a diameter. 

    I do not know what the minimum tipping is to achieve this on the surface in question, but we can calculate the maximum easily enough; it’s the arc sin of the aspect ratio; taking an aspect ratio of 5, I get a maximum tip of 11 degrees. Anything past that point (which you could easily get from a small failure in the pivot point or the ground under it or the rope or one of the teams) leads to dismembering, life-threatening disaster. And you get to tip something like 5000 times to get to your destination, and you have tired, hungry stone-age technology folk using stone-age ropes estimating the angle by eye instead of doing their day jobs.
     

    I suppose it’s possible. I just would want to sit it out, myself.
     

  • Nullius in Verba

    Again, I don’t see the difficulty.
    The stone age technology for attaching stone age ropes are called “knots”. To apply a torque you just tilt it slightly in the direction you want it to go. You only really need to tip it enough that the other corners come off the ground, although it is easier to hold if you tip it far enough for the CoG to be over the corner. The less you need to tilt it, the better. And while I don’t expect there to have been any large excess of food, I doubt they’d be going particularly short either. Even in the poorest of societies, famines are intermittent affairs. You wouldn’t survive long if you were that weak – there’s a lot of hard labour involved.

    Seriously, go get a chair, tip it until it’s just balanced on it’s back two legs, and then gently pull on it side to side. You’ll find it takes very little manipulation to “walk” it across the floor.

  • http://initforthegold.blogspot.com Michael Tobis

    What about a chair that is 30 feet high and weighs 90 tons?

    In theory you are moving the damned thing downhill and no energy input is needed, whether you roll it or you swivel it. If you screw up rolling it, you risk the statue but not life and limb.

    And yes, indeed, the amount of force required to hold it up gets lower and lower until the point where it is zero, but that is exactly the point where it decides to topple over and kill you…
     

  • Fred

    Below is a link to a several part BBC documentary from a few years ago influenced by the Diamond perspective:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5DBTtC4J0OY&feature=related

    Pretty persuasive until you read about the Lipo and Hunt refutation.  A great demonstration of how “settled science” can be overturned. 

    KK has done a great job in presenting this story.


     

  • Nullius in Verba

    #57,
    Heh. Was that the sound of you conceding the point? I think it might have been!

    What if it is 30 feet high and weighs 90 tons? If its ‘feet’ are one foot apart, it takes a sideways force of 1.5 tons to tilt it. That’s the weight of about 15 people.
    And as you tilt it the force reduces gradually to zero, and then increases again just as gradually. Quite easy to control.
    And compared to a lot of the things sustainable people are forced to do to stay alive, very safe.

    You said earlier that you was trying to loosen your filters. Try a bit harder.

  • BBD

    MT; NiV

    This is anecdotal, but I will risk it.

    I grew up amid stone quarries in the Pennines (UK). Quarrymen would walk slabs that stood no taller than shoulder height and no more than about 3ft wide. Nobody would try to walk a block or pillar.

    Where machinery could not be used, blocks, pillars and larger slabs were laid horizontally and shifted on rollers.

    I cannot imagine anyone familiar with the problems and dangers of moving large pieces of stone over uneven ground (eg within the quarry itself) accepting that the EI statues were walked.

  • Nullius in Verba

    #60,
    Are you talking about moving by a single person, by hand, or by teams with ropes?

    If you have good quality rollers available, then rollers are better. They’re faster and they require fewer people. They’re also more complicated, and more difficult to make and use.
    But I still don’t see why that means it would be particularly difficult or dangerous to do it by other methods.

  • BBD

    NiV
    Rollers are simplicity itself. Take from the back, feed in at the front.
    But I still don’t see why that means it would be particularly difficult or dangerous to do it by other methods.
    You clearly haven’t ever moved a large piece of stone or watched anyone else do so.

  • EdG

    #60 BBD

    “I cannot imagine anyone familiar with the problems and dangers of moving large pieces of stone over uneven ground (eg within the quarry itself) accepting that the EI statues were walked.”

    That risk-averse logic about the dangers may not have applied given the probable religious aspects of this process and their belief systems in general. That also may have influenced how they moved these heads. Perhaps they had to keep them upright to appease their gods?

  • http://www.veteransfreedomfarm.org steven mosher

    Well.
    part 2 explains that vertical versus horizontal is hotly contested
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DNkS1zuAQyw&feature=related
    interesting.

  • Nullius in Verba

    #62,
    Rollers that roll smoothly are more difficult to make, and require a smooth bed to roll on or they just don’t roll. On rough ground you’d have to build a road or rails.

    I have seen people move large lumps of stone. And large lumps of metalwork. The mechanics of it is quite straightforward. If you want to play it safe, you can build frames around the stone to support it in case it falls, but it’s probably not necessary.

    You would need a lot of people, though, which is why people don’t normally do it when they have machinery available. By the time you’ve rounded up 500 people and got them all organised, you could have brought in a crane or tractor, and done it with half a dozen. In a hi-tech society people are more expensive. You have to do things faster. It’s a different context, with different optimums.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    For what it’s worth, here is my opinion on the topic of this thread, which is not about rolling statues:

    1. MT’s reaction to the author’s comments in the thread was not optimal.  If you critique an author, and this author shows up, you have no choice but to behave and own your critique, extending the courtesy of reading the book.

    2. Lipo’s reaction to MT’s reaction was better, but not optimal either.  If someone is interested in your book, you don’t do the honest broker dance and hide behind it, or speak as if everyone read it.  It never is impossible to present the skeleton of an argument.

    3. I have no opinion on the optimality of Keith’s reaction in MT’s thread, although I do not that the topic of this post interestingly does not mention much of the discussion between him and MT, for instance the distraction of rolling statues, which incidentally reappears here.

    4. I agree with about everything Mosher has said, except perhaps for the usual cheap shot “I too had hopes for MT”.  In particular, I too would pay for having discussion with authors.  Giving books for free in echange from a discussion venue seems to be like an interesting business model.

    ***

    Now, since everyone now knows I am acting in good faith, it would be interesting to know if the author of this study came to be aware of this article by MT, or if he stumbled upon this article all by himself.  It would be interesting because of the title of Keith’s article.

    In transactional analysis, there is a game called Let’s You and Him Fight (LYAHF).  There are contexts where this lead to destructive interactions.  So this might not be something we should abuse.  I’m not implying that LYAHF is always wrong.  During an intellectual dispute, this sounds like a fair strategy.  I’m simply wondering because LYAHF looks a lot like why MT dislike false-balanced journalism.

    I’m not trying to play the oppositge game here: Let You And Him Not Fight.  I could not care less if people fight, or not.  It does no good to care about blog behavior.

     

  • Lewis deane

    Your mad, Michael, but that’s why we, just, like you.

  • Alexander Harvey

    I would look to see if the statues show any sign of evolving.

    If they were moved in the upright position by some swaying or rocking motion it would be interesting if the moments of the block, which goes to determine the natural frequency of the rocking, would make for easy and rapid locomotion. Some proportions might be much quicker than others.

    One could determine what proportions work well, preferably by a team that does not know the actual proportions. It would be interesting if it turns out the the statues conform, or better still that they evolved to conform to some optimum over time.

    I have little or no knowledge of these statues so I would like to know about the base and any curvature it may have. If you could make them sway, they might rock back and forth with comparatively little additional input once they commenced swaying.

    If they were swayed back and forth say every 20 seconds (six steps per minute) 2″ per step equates to 20 yards per hour and maybe half a furlong a day.

    I think a bottom heavy statue would sway more quickly and more stably.

    Similarly I have no idea how fast they had to be moved, or how far, or over what sort of surface. If the surface was capable of compaction to move just one, would be the chore, but it might leave a beaten track behind it.

    I would wonder whether given a chosen method of locomition the statue had been made for easy of transport which is different to questioning how to move a given statue. Unless they had very strict rules concerning how the statue was proportioned they may have tried to carve the statue for easy of movement.

    Alex

  • Lewis deane

    The statues sigh and if you look askance they talk. Look, Michael, there is a way of digging and there is a way of digging. You know you were wrong and yet, like a child, you can’t admit it. Shall we be the cognoscente that knows, meanwhile you give your fatuous nonsense on your blog? 

  • http://bigcitylib.blogspot.com bigcitylib

    I will just note that, having over the past couple of weeks read some of the papers related to this topic, the late dates of Lipo and Co. seem the strongest part of their argument.  Which is to say that some other people not Lipo and Co. seem to have found their dating methods convincing, and there are a few others that have proposed dates a little earlier than their’s but later than Diamond et al.  I am not in a position to evaluate these myself technically, but there  seem to be enough so as not to rule them out.

    The “walking” the statues stuff seems kooky (but is this an argument from personal incredulity?). More important, there seems to be some semantic slipperiness to the Lipo and Co. argument: to them, its not quite an overshoot and collapse scenario, just something similar but more mild. 

    Plus their “no evidence of warfare theory” seems to have been thoroughly refuted even by some of those they quote in support of it.  No links though.  Google it yourself.

    Plus: if you want to sound credible,
    don’t ref Peiser or E&E.  That should be an axiom of science like e=mc2.  If people don’t realize that, then they haven’t been fully trained in their discipline.

    As for Mr. Tobis; he could have been more polite.  KK could be less naive.  We all have our weaknesses.

  • http://initforthegold.blogspot.com Michael Tobis

    The stuff on youtube is interestingly neutral on walking statues but is nevertheless completely incompatible with the Lipo & Hunt chronology. It speaks of a pre-European collapse, and an abrupt decline of birds and fish in the diet coincident with the disappearance of the forest.

    This is the sort of thing about which the record tends to be clear. So on top of the other mysteries of Easter Island comes the mysterious behavior of the anthropologists.

    Regarding Willard’s question, the appearance of Lipo and Hunt was certainly not my doing. Indeed, it was their appearance that put me off balance. I no more expected them to show up than I did Benny Peiser, as I had just come from being quite dismissive of their position. 

    So, (as I expected) one can ask them why birds and fish abruptly disappeared from the Easter Island diet a century before the first contact with the modern world.

    But I find the description of Easter Island as a “small” island a matter of interpretation. An island of five miles by ten is not tiny; I don’t know of any Montrealer who knows every corner of our “little” island. Perhaps a veteran cab driver here and there.

    And I know that, far from feeling cooped up on our “little” island, we have a tendency to be utterly indifferent to anything across the bridges and tunnels (and vaguely contemptuous of people who put up with crossing them on a daily basis).

    The point is that’s a lot of forest for 10 or 15 thousand people to cut down by hand, even aided and abetted by rats. 

    As I recall, Diamond describes covering the entire pathway from quarry to beach with a carpet of logs. This is more of a railway than a roller system. It seems excessive. But even so, at 163,000,000 square meters, at 3 meters distance between trees that leaves 16 million trees. So if there were 800 statues, and the statue industry were the sole consumer of trees, we’d want something like 20,000 single-use trees per statue. That also seems hard to credit.

    So I don’t know that we have the whole story yet. The idea that the palms were also sacrificed for food seems necessary to make it add up. But I don’t see how L & H can dance their way out of a pre-European collapse, either.

    re Lewis #66, btw, thanks, I think, though this doesn’t appear to be a consensus opinion either.

  • http://initforthegold.blogspot.com Michael Tobis

    re #68. Oh please. By contemporary (all too shabby) standards I am something of a champion at admitting mistakes, and this is only partly because I am willing to make a few.
     

  • http://www.veteransfreedomfarm.org steven mosher

    but willard I did have high hopes for MT
    I have visited his site. I have tried to make only constructive comments. I have never had a comment blocked. What you dont get is that I actually like MT. he is a wildcat as am I. we may disagree, but I do like him. And I did have high hopes for him. Now, i would say, that I have hopes for him that are fair to middlin.
    you don’t get me. probably never will. Tom also does not get me which is why he wonders why I dont hold grudges against MT. They are pointless and do more harm to me than MT.

     

  • http://www.veteransfreedomfarm.org steven mosher

    haha.

    funny that you bring up TA willard. childhood reading matter for moshpit

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Steven,

    To refresh your memory, here is how a parent talks to a child:

    > I had highers hopes for you.

    Here is how an adult talk to an adult:

    > I have higher hopes for you.

    Notice the difference? 

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    And I did not bring up TA, Keith does.

    Keith Made Me Do It. 

  • Tom C

    Lipo and Hunt are mild-mannered, liberal archeologists?  Don’t believe it.  They are actually crypto-AGW deniers.  Dissatisfied with their university pay, they make a pact to sell themselves to fossil-fuel interests in order to put their children through dance lessons and at some later point, college.  Making the connections through shadowy, underworld intermediaries, they receive a tape with their instructions, which later self-destructs.  Their mission, should they decide to accept it, is to”¦kidnap James Hansen? Steal more of Mike Mann’s E-mails? See that Gavin Schmidt gets carpal-tunnel?  No. None of these.  It is to see that Jared Diamond’s Easter Island hypothesis is discredited!

    You don’t get it? Well, that’s shows how devious and mendacious the fossil-fuel interests are.  Think about it.  Where at one point you might have had a credulous Iowa farmer watching a Discovery channel episode and saying “Edith, imagine rolling them thar big-nosed statues down the hills”, he now would be saying “Can you imagine walking them thar things all the way down to the beach”.  So, from there it’s only a skip and jump to saying “I just don’t believe them thar scientists who say we are going to have no snow, I mean more snow, I mean more rain, or is it less rain”¦ whatever!”.

    Yes, yes, that was the plan.  And they nearly pulled it off.  They sneaked academic papers through peer-review, wrote a book, filmed a National Geographic episode ““ all in the service of this nefarious plot.  But, one careless move and the game was given away.  They dropped their guard, after years and thousands of hours of meticulous deception, and referenced Benny Peiser in E and E.  Again, it nearly went un-noticed but for the eagle eye of Mike Tobis.  Fortunately for us, for our children, and their children, and the very planet, he caught them, and called them out.  Thank you Michael Tobis.

  • Lewis deane

    At some point, it seems, enough people take silly ideas for plausible that somebody needs to address them. But the silly idea factories have been in overdrive of late. This means if you are going to get anything done at all you have to set your filters to cope with the vast number of false positives. The occasional false negative is among the negative consequences of the amount of BS in the world. 
    Michael, that’s just a speciousb excuse. No one is asking you to filter – what are, a blue whale? – every statemnent in the world. It’s quite simple – if you critise someone without reading them, as if you have read them, you are a fraud and a liar. Do you want to be thought of as that? Think again. 

  • Lewis deane

    I’ve realised that Michael doesn’t really realise what ‘good society’ is about. Addressing real arguments is not his business. He puts, literally, his finger up your nose, and , though your speaking about Nabokov and his idiosyncratic translation of Pushkin, he has to say ‘Whaaat? Are you telling me the snow isn’t white?!’. One says ‘Of course the snow is white, Michael, now go away.’ Now, go away!

  • Lewis deane

    Can I just curtail any further sophistry, Michael, by summarising what you ‘think’:

    ‘I don’t like the result of this research and, therefore, no matter how good or strong it is, I will disparage and insult the authors. Besides, I don’t give a damn about people and they’re alleged disasters unless it furthers my politics. My politics are not people, people are a means to my politics!’

  • Lewis deane

    ‘Could I be wrong? Sure. I could be wrong about many things. One should question one’s own beliefs constantly. But there is some skill involved in picking the points where challenging yourself might have the most utility.’

    I’m sorry I frankly don’t believe you and I call you out on it. When have you ever changed your mind? And, if you have, was it because it was against or for your politics? But your not honest enough to yourself to admit you have any politics? Like Romm, your disingenuous enough to believe you have no politics! What an idiot, what a coward, what a liar! 

  • Lewis deane

    Beautiful, Tom C #77, and yes, Michael, thank you, thank you!

  • http://www.veteransfreedomfarm.org steven mosher

    sorry willards
    i was reading from the bottom up.
    bad habit.

  • Lewis deane

    By the way, this William Paley thing, for whom you needed wiki to reference you, what an idiot, are you going to blame Aristotle for not knowing about ‘climate disruption’!? Or Socrates because he doesn’t know Michael Tobis? And Anaxagorus because you weren’t and are not, quit the ‘nous’? 

  • Lewis deane

    No, I’m sorry, I can’t let this rest, Michael, you’re not really well educated, either didactically or autodidactilly, as your reference to Paley shows (using wiki and telling us that is really sad). And yet you have the cheek to use the authority of your scientific background to pontificate on all kinds of subjects?! And then you have the even worse cheek to condemn Judith Curry for putting up a particular peer reviewed paper on her site?!! What a nerve, what a cheek!

  • Lewis deane

    Jeff Norris,

    Writing well is about thinking well. One only writes badly because one thinks badly and one only thinks badly because one writes badly. It is all about good education, of which we lack. Case in point. 

  • Lewis deane

    Because I have the time and because, as yet, no one has condemned my comments and, probably, because you’re all asleep, I’ll write my own op ed (in the spirit of Keith’s well attested journalistic professionalism!)

    Life is hard, very hard, and wild, unimaginably wild, but, also, very ‘ordinary’, habitual, shall we say.

    We get into habits of thought, of feeling, ways of orientating ourselves to the world, that, sometimes, become impossible to get out of. So that it is not ‘this is true’ or ‘I see this’ but ‘Would to God it was true’ and, if it isn’t I will see as such. The world is extraordinary and dangerous and to meander, as we do, through it’s treacherous depths is courage enough. So I blame no one, least of all Michael, who think they have found a straighter road. But I want a different courage, a new courage, that say’s, on the one hand, it sees the enormous and overwhelming complexity of the world and is not overly daunted, is not afraid, and, on the other hand, says I can live by hypothesis, I can be honest enough and humble to know that each step I take is a guess and a conjecture and there are others who are wiser than me and may have a better guess and conjecture – and, Lord, do I need them? Yes, there is ‘expertise’ and thank God for it. But we are all, ultimately ourselves, individuals, private folk, who must, I hope, make real decisions for ourselves. Yes, we may be obtuse, dullard, the ‘meer’ crowd but in the end any real political and, therefore, existential, meaningful, decision is with us. Speak to the man and woman, speak to us men and women. For we will listen.

  • StuartR

    I love the fact that there are many people arguing against the walking hypothesis using the powerful and persuasive “Argument from Personal Incredulity”, an argumental technique noticed and named by Richard Dawkins when describing the people who use this argument against the possibility of eVoling complex orgams such as the eye. In this case many people seem incredulous that anyone could avoid the “obvious” horizontal easier technique.
    I sympathise I’ve used this argument myself when I heard that the wheel was never used in the New World for any practical purpose until Europeans came along. No carts or wheelbarrows nothing. I thought it bizarre and that it couldn’t be true but I only had my common sense to back me up, and yet it turns out to be the case no matter how strongly I look and apply my denial.


    An indirect thanks to Michael Tobis, I’ve always had a feeling that Diamond’s collapse thesis didn’t resonate with me, and so have ordered this new Lipo and Hunt book and look forward with anticipation and hope to see if their resonance has a sweeter tone ;-)

  • OPatrick

    StuartR, I don’t think the argument is simply one of personal incredulity. There is little doubt, I think, that moving huge and long blocks of stone like this is more commonly done horizontally using rollers or sledges. There would need to be good evidence that these blocks were being moved vertically and I’m not sure there is good evidence of this (and we all know that reading a book from a non-expert’s perspective is unlikely to be a reliable way of getting this evidence on its own).

    In the case of the New World not using wheeled transport my understanding is that there was clear evidence of this, so personal incredulity would be going against the evidence. Similarly with the evolution of the eye I’d say that personal incredulity would have been quite justified before the complexities of evolution were being worked through. However, as evidence that complex organs (not necessarily the eye itself) could evolve became prevalent the continued reliance on incredulity is not justified.

  • StuartR

    OPatrick

    “I’d say that personal incredulity would have been quite justified.” I agree that personal incredulity is always justified, no one can can take away my personal incredulity. But justified as an argument? Maybe you mean Occams razor then. If a simpler solution can be applied then that is the best one until evidence otherwise comes along.
    I’m not sure what you mean by “reading a book from a non-expert’s perspective is unlikely to be a reliable way of getting this evidence”  if you imply Lipo and and Hunt don’t have expertise at moving cuboidal blocks of stone along their smaller area base then I guess you are right, and I should avoid all evidence from such amateurs on this narrow subject, after all we all know the size of the edifice that depends on them being wrong, and that could crumble, if they are right on this narrow point!
    I do note that between them they have 35 years experience in Pacific islands anthropology  and archaeology that helps them understand why humans do things and what they have done, so maybe they have something persuasive to say? I’ll know tomorrow when I get my book from Amazon. 

  • Anteros

    StuartR -

    Have you ever come across a reasoned justification for Occam’s razor? It always strikes me as a weak way of choosing between alternative but equally under-determined hypotheses. What about the most attractive, or the most elegant of the alternatives? Has there been any studies on the inductive success of more simple theories?
    I’m not suggesting that I wouldn’t intuitively apply Occam’s razor myself, I just wonder if anyone has thought a little more deeply about it.

  • StuartR

    Anteros

    “Have you ever come across a reasoned justification for Occam’s razor?”

    I haven’t seen one recently, although it does often seem tacitly accepted by most parties in most disputatious forums. I am sure there are some justifications out there both for and against. And also there are the works of Popper and Kuhn as well to throw into the mix!

    As I understand it and formulated above, Occams razor, “If a simpler solution can be applied then that is the best one until evidence otherwise comes along.” seems a reasonable rule of thumb. I think it is safer to use once you know it isn’t actually a law so it doesn’t preclude more complex and straightforward truths emmerging. But if it is considered harmful to hold this idea too closely and the need to break out of its embrace can be shown I am all ears!

  • Anteros

    StuartR -

    It does indeed seem a reasonable rule of thumb…..that’s the reason for my scepticism! Perhaps my thinking is that maybe the problem might only be, as you say in ‘holding this idea too closely’. Then again, I’m not familiar where this principle has been exclusively the reason to exclude alternative theories. Perhaps I am being picky [it's not unknown..]

    I’m not sure I remember Kuhn talking about Occam’s razor, but that probably says a lot more about my memory of reading Kuhn than it does about the contents of his writings.

    Yes – remembering that it isn’t a law allays some of sceptical feelings!

  • StuartR

    Anteros

    I confess I don’t remember Kuhn directly talking about Occam’s razor either but he and Popper were the first people who came to mind when I thought about how people weigh up and value hypotheses and move forward their knowledge.
    I think it is almost certain that if Occams razor was somehow a universal law that was mandatory and applied thereon after its first discovery, then we would not have a great deal extra to show in the development of human knowledge since Occams days;-)

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    In case Lewis Deane still surmises we are sleeping:

    http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com/post/13062030645 

    This kind of opening moves me more than the usual NIGYSOB games. 

  • OPatrick

    StuartR, no I didn’t mean that Lipo and Hunt were non-experts, I meant that I, and the large majority of people in this discussion, would be reading it as non-experts and we all know that it is very easy to sound persuasive to a non-expert. On its own I wouldn’t rely on a book as evidence, except possibly in the negative sense if there were obvious and overwhelming flaws in it, I would also want to look at other informed opinions about that book and the theories in it.

    I meant more than Occam’s razor, though it is a sensible enough rule of thumb, which we all use every day. Whe you can’t see any reasonable alternative then a weak theory might be more convincing. When there is a reasonable alternative then evidence for it needs to be stronger. There may be reasons why the Easter Islanders transported the statues vertically (perhaps there was some element of respect for them – they thought the gods (?) might not be too impressed with being tipped on their sides), but in the absent of evidence I’d go with the mode of transport observed in other similar situations.

  • jorge c.

    1) Lipo & Hunt wrote in mark lynas blog tha: “(…) anyone who has seen a palm tree cross-section with its thin, brittle bark and soft fibrous interior would quickly recognize these would not be suitable. Nor frankly would they have been capable of supporting the weight of multi-ton statues as rollers.”
    are they wrong??? because if they are right, they have a very good point…
    2) i have seen pictures from ancient egypt, where large stone statues of the pharaons were moved around with levers and a little sled (sorry not links)
     

  • StuartR

    OPatrick

    I admit I won’t, and can’t, rely on a book as evidence for anything, but as I said above I am hoping that “maybe they have something persuasive to say”, and of course I might learn something else too about polynesian island life and history, and failing that there is always that possibility of a picking up a nice counter resonance to Jared Diamond :)

    Once I have the book in my hand I assure you I am in no need of any “other informed opinions about that book”.

    Although I agree I may later feel the need to look for further informed opinions about the theories inside it.

    Right now though I feel I don’t want to read too much more in case I see some spoilers! 

  • Eric Adler

    Anteros, @91,
    You can find a number of justifications by going to Occam’s Razor on Wikipedia. There are a number of different explanations and links to references.
    In my opinion the best explanation is empirical. This principle has been effective in developing the body of science that we have today, which is excellent at predicting physical  phenomena, and underlies all the great technology that have transformed the life of humans. The simplest explanations with the fewest ad hoc hypotheses have lead to this progress.

  • huxley

    jorge @97: Having grown up in Florida, I too wondered whether the “soft fibrous interior [of a palm tree]” could support multi-ton statues as rollers.

    Another Florida point — there is a tourist attraction called Coral Castle which consists of over 1000 tons of coral rock sculpted into statues and  buildings. One man did all this work in thirty years working secretly and alone. When questioned, the man answered that he “understood the laws of weight and leverage well.”

    I wouldn’t sell the Easter Islanders short on being able to walk 288 statues into final position plus 92 statues some lesser distance over the course of 250 years.

    And even if they used palms as rollers, it’s hard for me to imagine that statue rolling was the key to deforesting the entire island which was once covered with palms.

    No, either way, I think there is more to the story and that orthodox scientists have prematurely grabbed onto the man-made eco-collapse narrative.

    I suggest leaving the question open and continuing research.

  • Holly Stick

    StuartR I think the main reason they didn’t use wheels in the New World was that there were no animals that could pull carts. 

  • StuartR

    Holly Stick

    “StuartR I think the main reason they didn’t use wheels in the New World was that there were no animals that could pull carts. ”

    As soon as you said that I thought Good point! And so then I Googled “Llama cart” and found this. It made me laugh, :)  

    http://www.britishllamasociety.org/Activities/Carting/Llama%20Carting.html

  • StuartR

    Holly Stick
    “StuartR I think the main reason they didn’t use wheels in the New World was that there were no animals that could pull carts. “

    I posted a response that is in moderation because of the link I suspect.
    But I recommend Googling “Llama cart” you should find the British Llama Society has a page devoted to Llama Carting it’s hilarious. I’m so proud to be British :)

  • http://veteransfreedomfarm.org steven mosher

    re 91
    Have you ever come across a reasoned justification for Occam’s razor?

    no.  In the end everyone is a pragmatist. Few of us will openly embrace it as an epistemology.

  • Holly Stick

    StuartR those are cute! I like this: “…The best driving llamas are ones that are bold, do not mind leaving the herd and are perhaps the ones that do not like you so much, good because they are constantly going to be moving away from you!…”

    But pulling a cart in flattish Britain is not like pulling one (or being pushed by one) up and down the Andes mountains.

  • http://veteransfreedomfarm.org steven mosher

    wrt 95.

    I found it ironic that nobody talked  to the man who said “speak to us, we are listening.”

    Is it perhaps more enjoyable to talk to people who don’t listen?  

  • StuartR

    Holly Stick
    “But pulling a cart in flattish Britain is not like pulling one (or being pushed by one) up and down the Andes mountains.”

    True. But if I’d spent most of my adult life as a bricklayer on a pre-Columbian building site and then one day some genius went whistling past me with a fully laden wheelbarrow, I would fall down and worship him ;-)

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Okham’s Razor is itself an argument against abstract objects.

    Since Okham’s Razor applies to abstract objects, this might very well be the most abused notion of all the Internet. 

    Here are some arguments for nominalism:

    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/nominalism-metaphysics/#ArgAgaAbsObjUni

    Spoiler: in the end, realism wins.

  • Lewis Deane

    #95 Thanks, Willard,

    I am of course overwhelmingly flattered! To be a little self-critical I, as usual, might have got a little straid by the rhetoric and obscured, at the end, my major wish for a ‘new courage’, a courage based on uncertainty as the absolute sine qua non of existence and our embracing of it. Someone once said give me a hypothesis, any hypothesis, that I can test and knock down but please don’t give me your beliefs. The latter term, of course, is ambiguous in it’s usage, since it can either be a working hypothesis or a sacred cow. It’s the latter of which we speak

  • Lewis Deane

    By the way, NIGYSOB is a new one on me. I had to use google and wiki (God forbid! And what a hypocrite am I?!) to find out what it meant. Interesting and, yes, I do hate the ‘gotcha’ mentality, of which all of us are at some time or other prone. I hope Michael’s silence is that he has gone out and is, at this very moment, reading the book. I have a secret affection for his passion, even if I don’t agree with his politics. Hence my ire. One is only upset by stupidity when it is committed by those one likes or attacks what one likes. I have hope – a resource often lacking these days!

  • Lewis Deane

    My memory of mathematics is now pretty sketchy but wasn’t Occam’s Razor ‘proved’, in a ‘soft’ sense, at least in terms of mathematics or am I misremembering? Of course, whether a theory is ‘complex’ or ‘simple’ seems intuitively a matter of indifference as to it’s ‘truth’ content. However, I think the logic is more solid than that. Firstly, there is historical evidence that the ‘simpler’ explanation has often proved not only more powerful but more akin, if I can put it this way, to ‘reality’. Secondly, it is ultimately based on what Leibniz might call the ‘economy of nature’. Of course Leibniz was wrong (though not provably so) with his so-called ‘monads’ but was a great mathematician (and logician). This principal assumes an unprovable but satisfying intuition that ‘nature’ uses the least means to produce the greatest affect. If this principal is assumed – and isn’t science and it’s power progressing on this assumption – real work in physics, for instance, can be done. Indeed, today, some might say there is a real corruption in physics because this principal is, in part, ignored. Too much Star Trek, I believe.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Lewis Deane,

    Simplicity is a tough tack in contemporary epistemology:

    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/simplicity/

    As a principle, or an ideal, using Ockham’s Razor sounds commonsensical.  

    But when we try to formulate it as an objective device that things can go awry.  It’s tough to know for instance if simplicity should be a syntactical concept or a semantical one.  If it’s a syntactical concept, we reach paradoxes such as this one:

    > Borrowing techniques from information theory, it can be shown that certain syntactic measures of simplicity are asymptotically independent of choice of measurement language.

    And this is only one problem.

    Reading that page should be enough to realize that simplicity is not that simple.

  • Lewis deane

    Of course, Willard, of course. Isn’t simplicity itself seductive? That is it’s problem. What often erks me, even with the greats like Einstein, is there attraction to aesthetics. Can’t the truth be ugly, too? What if it is? The dominance of Mathematical aesthetics over real, Faraday like thinking disturbs my partial ignorance. If I wasn’t so lazy or past having the confidence to investigate I’m sure there are a couple of ‘sacred cows’ I could flay and eat for breakfast. And, of course, my laziness disturbs me more than these interesting problems!

  • http://initforthegold.blogspot.com Michael Tobis

    0) Still reading

    1) Well, since talking to the guys yields “read the book”, not much point talking to the guys. The remaining issue is whether “read the book” is good advice. Coming from an author the advice contains little information. I would like to hear it from someone else.

    2) As I said already, my back of the envelope leads me to question the idea that deforestation for statue transport has the scale needed to denude the island without assistance from the other factors.

    3) Whether some or most statues can be moved upright tells us nothing. The largest statues have to have been moved, and were among the most recent ones, so whatever equipment was needed for them existed through the statue building time. Demonstrating the swivel technique on a modest sized statue is insufficient to prove plausibility. And I can’t see how you safely swivel a thirty foot obelisk from well below the center of gravity.

    4) The crucial question insofar as its applicability to our own situation is whether the statues were being built at an especially rapid pace at the time of the deforestation, which led to violence and the first collapse.  The sequence of events constructed by L&H seems specifically designed to avoid that conclusion, rather than to explain the evidence. The resulting story is unsatisfying and feels ad hoc and lawyerly. In short, it has the flavor of denialism. 

    5) L & H have no beef with overshoot and collapse as a general rule, apparently, but they are disinclined to attach it to the Rapa Nui population. They are funded by an Easter-Island based institution, which in turn must receive external funding from somewhere. So the motives of their funders, notwithstanding Tom C’s amusing satire of my position in #77 above, remain murky.

    6) L & H’s idea of a marginally sustainable society of 3000 is called into question by the enormous expenditure of resources required to put up 900 statues. It seems much more plausible that these were put up by a society in surplus. Most other workers put the peak population of the island at 10000 to 15000. It is also clear form evidence that fish and seabirds abruptly disappeared from the diet, and it seems generally agreed that both of these can be accounted for by abrupt deforestation. 

    7) The large number of unfinished statues is consistent with a frenzy of statue-building contemporaneous with the collapse. I personally find this the most interesting aspect of the story. I think our own moai are our portfolios and bank accounts, symbols which we ourselves mistake for substance, totems which represent wealth and which we agree to allow to control distribution of wealth, but which are not actually wealth at all.

    8) Insofar as my hopes for Planet3.0 are concerned, I handled the matter badly. I probably should have resisted the temptation to feature it altogether,  despite my longstanding fascination with Easter Island (see point 7 above). We ought to focus on discussion of what is true, not of what is bunk.

    9) Unfortunately, we see that harsh disagreements, even and perhaps especially clumsy ones, attract attention and participation far more than calm conversation does. This article generated far more participation and research than any other in our short history to date. I don’t know if that means that the prospects for a site which is more interested in genuine news than in bunk are totally implausible but it doesn’t bode well. So I find the relative success of the piece ironically discouraging.

  • Lewis deane

    By the way, Leibniz (who wrote in French I might add and was part of the first very enlightened Prussian Frederick – if I remember rightly – please correct if I’m wrong!) is a very interesting and beautiful case of logic serving the needs of illogicality. Like Berkeley, if you read him, one cannot gainsay his ‘logic’. We are ‘monads’ and it is almost impossible (!) to say otherwise. One of the most pleasurable moments in my life was reading Berkeley on The Concept Of Vision (I think that’s the title, though I’ve forgotten). Such beautiful logic which undeniably leads to ‘Idealism’ and because of which the great Hume was roused from his slumbers. What is beautiful and logical is not necessarily, therefore, true (think of Parmenides or the fallacies of Zeno). But great that we can read and enjoy these “mad philosophers’!

  • Lewis deane

    ‘Unfortunately, we see that harsh disagreements, even and perhaps especially clumsy ones, attract attention and participation far more than calm conversation does. This article generated far more participation and research than any other in our short history to date. I don’t know if that means that the prospects for a site which is more interested in genuine news than in bunk are totally implausible but it doesn’t bode well. So I find the relative success of the piece ironically discouraging.’

    This is somewhat typical of Michael T’s worst side. Imply, in a somewhat roundabout, sneaky and less than courageous fashion, alleged failings in the host because he caught you, in flagrante, with your pants down. Pull them up, go home, think!

  • http://initforthegold.blogspot.com Michael Tobis

    By the way, never make eight points on a website comment unless the eighth one is particularly cheerful.
     

  • Lewis deane

    And, of course, we have the requisite ad hominem, viz:-

    ‘ L & H have no beef with overshoot and collapse as a general rule, apparently, but they are disinclined to attach it to the Rapa Nui population. They are funded by an Easter-Island based institution, which in turn must receive external funding from somewhere. So the motives of their funders, notwithstanding Tom C’s amusing satire of my position in #77 above, remain murky.’

    What Michael T and his friends lack is historical perspective. If they had that, they would know how much their language is the language of the pseudo-philosophers of supposedly Marxist or, alternatively, fascist thought (conceptually, there is no difference) who smeared there opponents in similar fashion and at very critical moments in history. This is my ire and why I will always, in such cases, stamp on Michaels feet. ( And by the way Marx: “I am no Marxist!” ) 

  • Lewis deane

    You can never count, Michael – you made nine points! You always get the numbers wrong. How can one trust you with any picture?

  • http://initforthegold.blogspot.com Michael Tobis

    LD #116, I said and implied nothing about Keith in the above. I am not being sneaky in any way. I am talking about Planet3.0 not about C-a-S.

    Did Keith catch me with my pants down? I am thinking about it. 

    How should one deal with stuff (specifically, academic writing) that one considers totally unconvincing, once it leaves the academy and becomes part of public discourse?

    As I’ve said many times, it’s clear that to me that too much attachment to modern journalistic neutrality is a form of collective suicide.

    I’d rather have a press willing to be wrong once in a while than one that will never make a judgment.

    It’s a difficult matter because telling someone their professional work is wrong is intrinsically outside the bounds of politesse. Within the academy, what is normally done is that the bad work is ignored and the originators of it may eventually have trouble obtaining resources. It’s a crude solution, but in the main works.

    Once we are to the postnormal phase (or whatever you want to call it) where the debate is outside the academy, where someone who is more interested in winning a battle than finding the truth is wielding the result as a weapon in some policy battle, polite inattention no longer works.

    If the result is wrong, someone has to bell the cat. Someone has to say that a wrong thing is wrong.

    It’s not going to win any popularity contests, any more than the press used to do back in the days when it had any, um, courage. But without that function, arguments devolve into competing clusters of bullshit, which sure enough is what we see.

    The incapacity or refusal of the press to say “this work is wrong” is a big part of why we, the world, are busy paddling our collective boat toward the abyss. 

    Clearly, in carving out a new approach to reporting science, there is an ethic to calling out stuff that the reporter doesn’t believe. That ethic has not yet been worked out, and not surprisingly, an advocate for the conventional contemporary view-from-nowhere American journalistic ethic is likely to find any attempt unacceptable.

    So I have to try to parse out people’s distaste into two parts. How much is distaste for stuff I really handled badly, and how much is distaste for types of language that many people consider distasteful but which is stuff we really desperately need more of

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    I believe MT made 10 points, starting with zero, as any programmer does.

  • Keith Kloor

    Michael (114, 120)

    It’s been quite an education reading your comments at the Planet 3 thread and over here. If memory serves, you’re fond of the term “bafflegab.” Well, the way you’ve laid it on–and keep laying it on is mighty impressive.

    But here’s the thing: those of us who care about intellectual consistency (and those who are sympathetic to you) are no doubt shaking their heads in disappointment. At this point, I’m not sure if you’re continuing on in this vein out of pride or blindness.

    Either way, like I said, it’s been a real education.  

  • Anteros

    MT@121 -
    You use a phrase with which I am not familiar, but which very well summarises why it is so hard for me to communicate with your world view. You say -

          “….we, the world, are busy paddling our collective boat toward the abyss”


    Some may think it just a colourful phrase or rhetoric, but surely it is a way of seeing, understanding and feeling about the world. The most cursory study of the history of belief shows that people have been saying exactly the same kinds of things – irrespective of any evidence, unrelated to any science or reason, and seemingly unaware that they are merely the latest in an interminably long line – since man first learned to speak.


    It is one of the most baffling realisations – that people who claim to cherish the principles of reason and testable hypotheses set so much store by something that is demonstrably only a ‘vision’ or ‘sentiment’ about human affairs. To say [or to 'see'] that “We are heading for disaster” is so common and so prevalent in the psyche of mankind one would expect most of us to have learned to identify in ourselves something that clearly has only one history – that of being false.
    Perhaps we should all spend a year at school learning the first one thousand and one doomsday myths – and perhaps why it is so easy for each generation to forget the fearful certainties of their forebears. And that they were as unfounded, misplaced and wrong as those that came before.


    Doubtless you have an extensive list of things that are in ‘crisis’ and as I have observed on many occasions, you are so convinced that you have interpreted all the ‘signs’ correctly that you have no wish to even discuss  the matter with non-believers; the only thing left to determine [with other believers] is ‘how bad it is going to be’.


    My question is what distinguishes this way of thinking from that which underpins fundamentalist religious certainties?

  • OPatrick

    My question is what distinguishes this way of thinking from that which underpins fundamentalist religious certainties?

    Evidence.

  • Anteros

    OPatrick -

    What people have always staunchly believed to be evidence always turns out to be simply faith or wishful imagination. If you think you have ‘evidence’ for something ‘disastrous’ that will happen in the near future, I suggest you check for a few thousand historical precedents. All of them, without fail, believed they had ‘evidence’.

    Just like the religious fundamentalists.

    And just as wrong.

    It is a state of mind, not a feature of reality.

  • OPatrick

    Anteros, I suggest you are wrong.

    Can you pick an example of previous predictions of ‘doom’ which has had anything even remotely approaching the level of evidence to back it up that concerns about anthropogenic climate change do?

  • Anteros

    OPatrick -

    Here, we already have to part company, because when you talk about ‘evidence’ to back up concerns, we are engaged in a different process. I accept that people have concerns – always have, always will – about the future, but ‘evidence’ to back up those concerns is looking for [and finding] things that appear consistent with the worry. That to me is not evidence, it is confirmation bias.

    The beliefs of the past are always diminished after the event – it is incredibly difficult to re-create the sense of certainty [and belief in the abundance of evidence] when the catastrophes simply failed to occur – the fears seem misguided.

    Thomas Malthus was utterly certain of the misery and doom that was certain to come – he had every piece of evidence he needed and there could be no doubt. 170 years later people still believed the same things with the same certainty. They were perhaps even more spectacularly wrong. I can’t get the link to work, but Google ‘earth day predictions 1970′ and read through the predictions of all the demographers, geographers and environmentalists. Again, they had more ‘evidence’ than you could throw a stick at, but their predictions were almost of another universe. None of it came true..

    There has never been the slightest correlation between ‘evidence’ for doomsday and the course of future events.

    Of course, the future is a mystery – if it wasn’t we wouldn’t have such an enormous capacity to imagine so fearfully about it. But the fear and imagining is constant – it is part of who we are and doesn’t change over time. So, however ‘convincing’ our era’s doomsday myth, there is always the intellectual knowledge that throughout history, the myths of others have been equally persuasive.

    Weirdly, having said all that, I don’t doubt that AGW is real – to some extent. What I don’t have, in spite of my capacity for imagination, is a belief in catastrophe.

    I cordially invite you to a celebration of the HADcrut and RSS data sets showing 17 years of cooling at the end of 2013….

     

  • Lazar

    Nice quote by Lewis Deane @113…
    Can’t the truth be ugly, too?”
    Love it!

  • OPatrick

    Anteros, you seem to have just waved your hand in the air rather than coming up with the example I asked you for. If you want to focus on the Earth Day predictions you need to be a lot clearer about what those predictions were, what the huge amount of evidence for them was and why it is that they haven’t come true (i.e. is it because some of the issues warned about were actually addressed?)

    I’ve googled it and mainly found a lot of extremist sites repeating much the same argument you have put forward and with a similar lack of references. Where was the huge body of scientific research backing up the predictions? Where were the endorsements from virtually every scientific body of international repute?

    Do you prefer to focus on Malthus? Do you genuinely want to argue that his predictions are on a par with current state of knowledge and understanding about anthropogenic climate change?

    There is very strong science suggesting there is a realistic and significant chance we are facing consequences from anthropogenic climate change that would be catastrophic to human civilisation. Do you dispute this?

  • Keith Kloor

    Anteros, OPatrick,

    At this point, I don’t care if the conversation drifts to the usual battle over climate change. But let me be clear about something: that frame of reference is Michael Tobis’ fatal undoing in this particular argument over Easter Island. He has a distorted lens that causes him to view everything through this claustrophobic prism. That’s why he is unable to view the Easter Island competing arguments on their own merits. He sees ridiculous parallels to the politicized aspects of the climate debate.

    I might as well have been talking to a wall at the Planet 3.0 website thread, and I imagine the authors of the book felt the same way.

    His latest comments here and there show he does not grasp the nature of his bias, and how it has led him to act not just impolitely, but unscientifically. He grudgingly acknowledges the former, but cannot see the latter. A terrible shame.

  • Anteros

    I think we most certainly have to agree about the strength of the science. I think climatology is primative and immature – the best the IPCC can come up with is that there is a probability that ‘most’ of the half a degree or so of late C20 warming is attributable to anthropogenic influences. Everything about the future is speculation or the product of models that have a poor record of predicting the past let alone the future.

    I’m certainly not convinced by weight of numbers. See Dan Gardner for studies on how ‘experts’ make worse predictions than the general public.

    To my mind, what there is the least evidence for is for something that qualifies as catastrophic. I certainly hear some hysteria and fear and genuine worry. But catastrophic to human civilisation? I think for the vast majority of human beings it will pass them by without them even noticing.

    But you can be absolutely certain that the myth of doomsday will attach itself to some new and imagined fear.

  • OPatrick

    Keith, do you have any concerns about Benny Peiser’s involvement? I’ve no idea how significant this is, nor whether it justified Michael’s suspicions, but it surely raises the chances that something else is going on here? I haven’t seen an unambiguous response from Hunt and Lipo on their funding sources and I will freely admit that this feeds in to a sense of paranoia in me, even though I don’t tend to hold the ‘funded by fossil fuel industry’ view of where disinformation comes from.

    Are the parallels so ridiculous? You’ve claimed in the past that things are ridiculous when they clearly weren’t (links between climate change, food shortages and unrest in the Middle East for example). I think you have an argument that Michael has not dealt with this well (but doesn’t it sicken you that this is what draws the most attention to his site?) and indeed that he is viewing things through a ‘claustrophobic prism’ (?!) but I’m not convinced you can dismiss his concerns out of hand.

  • OPatrick

    Anteros:
    I think for the vast majority of human beings it will pass them by without them even noticing.

    Really? On what basis do you think this? The vast majority of humans are already noticing impacts of climate change, even if it is uncertain that any one of these events is directly attributable to anthropogenic effects. If flooding and droughts increase globally, as predicted, how will this not impact on enormous numbers of people?

    Seems to me you are clinging to a position that isn’t justified by the evidence.

    Which bit from Dan Gardner should I be looking at?

    And have you given up on an example of ‘doom-mongering’ that has comparable evidence to that backing up concerns over anthropogenic climate change?

  • Anteros

    I can understand the concern over funding to an extent. It is incredibly hard to not be suspicious in such a polarised environment. But isn’t it a little bit far-fetched to think some research by scientists with decades of experience would be somehow twisted by links of the most tenuous sort to another issue entirely?

    I feel the same way when I hear people saying that somebody has corrupted the whole IPCC process because they were once a member of the WWF…

    Perhaps I’m naive – do people think that Diamond, Hunt and Lipo spend their working lives trying to fit pre-history into environmentalist [or other] metaphors? Has Benny Peiser got a criminal record, or is it just because he’s off-message?

    My problem with MT is simply the utter certainty of his convictions. If this thread started with the ideas of resonance, I have to say that Michael’s militant certainties have a strange resonance with his statement on his blog that it is about ‘scientifically informed conversation’.

  • OPatrick

    As I’ve said before, I think you confuse certainty that the evidence is strong enough to justify taking action with certainty about that evidence itself.

    Benny Peiser is director of the GWPF. Do you think he is going to be seen as deserving of the benefit of the doubt?

  • Marlowe Johnson

    Keith can you point  to some relevant science on the questions that MT raises? honest question (no snark)

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    > My problem with MT is simply the utter certainty of his convictions. If this thread started with the ideas of resonance, I have to say that Michael’s militant certainties have a strange resonance with his statement on his blog that it is about “˜scientifically informed conversation’.

    Indeed, this underline a real concern. There is something in the tone of MT’s pronouncements that won’t help reach out to people who disagree with him.  He should recall that nothing is ever certain, that these are just beliefs anyway. 

    One can just feel the genuine character of these are concerns when we see what follows:

    - MT is a militant endowed with certainties.  

    - It’s tough to distinguish MT from a religious fundamentalist.  

    - MT does not have a scientific attitude. 

    So here’s the script:

    - MT has not the proper tone.
    - With the proper tone, we can judge MT’s attitude and integrity.

    Identifying the game underlying this script is left as an exercise for the auditor.

    A very interesting game to play, nonetheless.

  • Keith Kloor

    Marlowe,

    You want to play the game, play it. I’m not interested. (No snark) Honestly, I can’t be bothered.

    Or think of it this way. You know that famous saying about knowing porn when you see it? Well, I’ll just leave it at this: someone who doesn’t know anything about Easter Island should at least be able to recognize when someone is not engaging in good faith. In other words, you know it when you see it.

    Now why would I want to have a discussion with someone like that? Why would any scientist lurking on that thread want to, either? Michael has done himself a tremendous disservice. 

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Marlowe,

    I believe that Keith already played bender’s game at Michael’s: 

    > Read the blog. 

  • Marlowe Johnson

    Whatever Keith.  

    We all agree (and MT admits) that he could have been more polite.  However, that doesn’t then mean that it’s impolite to ask for a cogent argument or links to papers that support superficially implausible claims made in a book.  Believe or not, some of us are just curious and aren’t really interested in the point scoring that *you* *seem* to love so much. When someone says they can’t be bothered to defend their opinion it naturally raises questions about the merits of the position doesn’t it?

    MT acted like an a$$hole earlier and later Manned &trade; up to his credit. Consider doing the same.

  • OPatrick

    Keith:
    Now why would I want to have a discussion with someone like that?

    Because you think you’re right and they are wrong?

    Because you know something at least about the nature of the climate debate and so understand the suspicions that are aroused even if the response seems unjustified and over the top?  

    Because you can look at other things the person has said and judge their character by more than just a single response? 

    Because there is always the potential for neutral readers who might be influenced by what you say?

    Or possibly it suits you to be offended and withdraw from engagement (and I don’t mean that as a specific accusation towards anyone here, but rather as an observation of what seems to happen regularly when certain people get too close to having to justify their positions).

  • Keith Kloor

    Marlowe,

    You missed the point. Your defense of Michael is pure tribalism. If Michael were just guilty of being impolite, that would be one thing. It’s the way he’s made his argument. I laid it out in this post and all through that thread with him.

    You can interpret me calling him on it anyway you like, it doesn’t change the bafflegab he’s written (and continues to hold to) and his unwillingness to man up to how he arrive at it.

    Just amazing to me when you guys who revere science can’t see it when anti-scientific rhetoric is is used on your own side. I mean, are you kidding me with this stuff? Are you just trying to be polite yourself, or do you honestly don’t see it?

     

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Keith,

    I could underline places where our archeologists near bad faith, but I’m not sure that’s our topic right now.  We should disregard for a moment the details of our sorry game, and look at this interesting standoff:

    A says he won’t buy B’s book unless he can see its argument.

    B says he won’t tell his argument’s book unless A buys the book.

    Both A and B show unwillingness to cross the bridge.

    This is a problem for the publishing industry, I say.

    Perhaps this is a problem only a very honest broker could solve.

    In our case, as I already stated, I believe that MT should buy the book and read it.

    Onlookers have not commited to buy the book, though, and I fail to see how their dignified communication closure take that into account.

  • Keith Kloor

    OPatrick (141)

    I engaged with Michael all through the thread of his own post. I stayed with him long beyond I should have, when it became apparent he was willfully ignoring my points.

    Here’s the thing that separates me from probably most of the people who comment at my site: I don’t have the certainty that so many seem to have about a good many issues that get argued here. (So take climate change for example: many think we are approaching tipping points that will result in climate catastrophe; just as many others think there is nothing to worry about.)

    With respect to issues like Easter Island, the biggest problem I see in these kinds of debates, aside from the ideological/political confirmation bias, is the ahistorical tendencies. I think I’m going to address the latter in a related post. 

  • Keith Kloor

    Willard, 

    I don’t see a standoff. I see someone who has basically argued from personal incredulity. I see someone who has written reams of bafflegab rationalizing his personal incredulity.I see someone who says he could have been a little nicer when writing his bafflegab.

    I see a scientist who can’t admit when he’s not acting like one.

    As I’ve said before, it’s quite possible to have an intelligent, reasoned debate BEFORE reading the book.

    What I see is someone trying to close down debate so that the book doesn’t even get taken seriously.

    There is no reason for me to take someone seriously when they engage in such fashion. But I’ll point it out for others to see, should they care to.

  • http://veteransfreedomfarm.org steven mosher

     we could of course bring up some analogs.

    skeptics who  refuse to read the science
    other folks who refuse to read the mails and books about the mails.
     

  • Lewis deane

    Willard is right, of course, there where ten points, starting with zero ‘as any programmer knows’. Not eight as the purdered Michael said nor nine as I said. I can’t count either!

  • Keith Kloor

    SM (146), 

    Those are fair analogs. Of course, interested observers who don’t have the time to invest will also turn to (their) trusted sources who (supposedly) have done the reading.

    In the end, none of that makes a difference to the extreme ends of the spectrum. That leaves the (usually silent) middle up for grabs. 

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Keith,

    You’re coatracking your own pet peeves here.  I don’t see a standoff in our case either.  I already told you.

    I was asking you to consider the stand-off from a more general standpoint.

    I see you won’t respond to reason.

    Very well.  I tried.

    I had higher hopes for you.

    * * *

    Let’s see if you’ll listen to the rest of my argument:

    In his first reply to Dr. Lipo, of which you quote only the first sentence, we had a list of questions.  I wish there were answers for that.  But here is what Dr. Lipo answers:

    >  If you are not willing to read our book then there is precious little to discuss since you apparently know what the answers are already. If you would like to discuss the evidence of the record and how archaeologists have been explaining it for the past 10-15 years, I would be happy to talk. But if you want to keep to your faith-based approach, there little hope of finding a common ground. Your suspicions about funding sources also makes me wonder if you also prefer tin-foil hats.

    So Dr. Lipo won’t answer MT’s question.  MT entertains a faith-based approach and wears a tin-foil hat.  

    You’ll notice in his reply to Diamond that Dr. Lipo also played that card:

    > Diamond insists on missing evidence to argue for a longer chronology.  His argument asks us to accept on faith the notion that “the evidence must be there, we just can’t find it.” 

    This is not science.  This is just posturing.
     

  • Lewis deane

    Anteros, I think the real question is what is assumed? OPatrick would like to talk about the almost inevitability of us going to Hell in a hand cart (especially ‘us’). And, as you say, this is a very old meme. But it isn’t just it’s formal semblance that one should pay attention to. In almost every case it is based on an assumption of stasis but stasis of one particular variable – that of human beings. How ironic, considering that is purpose was always, in the end, to change that stasis, to redeem the ‘fickleness’ of human nature which, at the same time, they assume not to exist. There is also a certain loss of nerve here – a nihilism, which would to disparage that on which it is based – our hard won freedoms. I like Monty Pythons take at the Hollywood Bowl – ‘let’s have a cuppa!”

  • Keith Kloor

    Willard,

    If you want to set yourself up as the debate judge, awarding points to the sides as you see it, that’s fine. Just don’t expect me to play along.

    You’re also welcome to play semantic games. Just don’t expect me to play along. 

     

  • Eric Adler

    KK @130,
    It seems to me, that you are arguing that MT’s bias, automatically makes his argument lack scientific merit.
    The fact, that MT is biased, is not sufficient  to demonstrate, that Lipo and Hunt are correct, in their claims about the timing and causes of the decline of the eco-system of Easter Island.
    The claim  that deforestation was produced by rats, rather than humans doesn’t seem right.  Also  it doesn’t seem right that a society which had so few people and resources would carve so many huge statutes at once and leave so many lying around.  The smaller statues could be moved upright, but certainly not the huge ones that weigh 80 tons. I think on balance Diamond is more likely to be correct about what happened than Lipo and Hunt.
    We all accept that human reasoning is usually motivated by some combination of psychological need, previous belief, or material reward.  It is not  wrong to be curious about what this motivation could be, even though the motivation has no direct bearing on the  merits of a given scientific proposition. It does explain why some things that should be obvious to people are ignored. MT thinks that obvious things have been ignored and is trying to figure out why, hence his question about the funding. To me it seems more likely that  Lipo and Hunt simply want to discover something new and big, and overturn an accepted dogma. It has nothing to do with what motivates Benny Peiser.
    Scientists who have made great discoveries have been very wrong about some aspects of science. That has not stopped humans, as a species, from making fantastic scientific achievements.
    This controversy has made me curious about Tobias’s background, so I checked his bio on Wikipedia. His extensive background as an ecologist, and a student of different cultures, makes his opinion on this topic worthy of consideration, even though he hasn’t done any field work on Easter Island.

  • Lewis deane

    Marlow Johnson #140,

    It’s not about politeness, it’s about sheer boorishness. What can you object to in the following statement:

    “One should not make judgemental statements about third hand heard conclusions without having examined the source and the argumentation of source.’

    It’s quite simple. It wasn’t that Michael was rude (par for the course) but that he was wrong! And he knows it and, yet, he fails to stop. I don’t know what’s happening in that head (perhaps his ‘funding’ is corrupting him) but one always hoped that he’d have the character to realise when he’s being absurd. No such luck! 

  • OPatrick

    OPatrick would like to talk about the almost inevitability of us going to Hell in a hand cart (especially “˜us’). 

    Lewis deane, if you trust in your own arguments why would you need to misrepresent the positions of those you disagree with?

  • Keith Kloor

    Eric (151),

    Well, I’m sorry to have to tell you this: you’ve confused Michael Tobis with someone else–possibly because you misspelled his name. So you might want to recheck that one. 

    Now, you conflate something that’s very important to point out. You write:

    “The fact, that MT is biased, is not sufficient to demonstrate, that Lipo and Hunt are correct, in their claims…”

    This is not at all what I’m doing. Yes, I’ve shown that Michael is biased (we all are to some degree, as you note), but it’s how badly biased he allowed himself to be while engaging with Lipo and Hunt. It compromised him, to the point where he couldn’t legitimately engage with the archaeologists. This is so obvious for all to see.

    Lastly, I have not asserted that that Hunt & Lipo are right. Yes, I find their argument compelling, and based on their experience, their previous scholarship, and their standing in the academic community, I find them to credible. But I have not argued in this thread or at the Planet 3.0 thread that they are right. I have argued that they haven’t been fairly or credibly engaged with by Tobis. 


  • EdG

    Thanks folks. This has been a very interesting, revealing, and entertaining thread.

    I must say that it was most admirable that MT did attempt to address some of the questions and criticisms directed at him. Refreshing change from those who don’t. But for someone who obviously considers themselves to be an enlightened genius above the unwashed masses, MT did not demonstrate any indication of that. Perhaps, like the ‘missing heat,’ that alleged intellectual power is temporarily hiding somewhere or suppressed by Chinese aerosols.

    P.S. Like Lewis (#150), I see Monty Python material everywhere in this debate, most obviously the Spanish Inquisition, the Dead Parrot and the Black Knight. And almost everything in The Life of Brian. I sure wish they were still around to do something on this. 

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Keith,

    I’m very sorry to hear that.  I really am.  If you prefer your faith-based approach where you can say whatever pleases you because you intuitively know when porn is porn, very well.  If you prefer brownie points by entertaining easier interlocutors, very well too.  That’s not very scientific, let alone courageous, but it’s OK.  Playing NIGYSOB games is good to sell editorials and is easier when you target people that won’t respond to your game. So I expect no less from you.

    * * *

    Don’t you feel there’s something wrong when people treat each others like that?

    As I see it, NOTHING whatsoever will EVER justify we talk to one another like that.

    MT is not Making You Do It, you know.

    If you don’t like these games, beware your choice of titles, next time.

    * * *

    Here’s the first paragraph of Lipo & Hunt’s review of Diamond:

    >  We are hardly surprised that Jared Diamond would write that we are “transparently wrong” about Easter Island.  He has a vested interest in defending his “ecocide” storyline published back in 1995 in Discover Magazine and again in his bestselling book Collapse. We acknowledge that Diamond has much at stake here.  But so do the Easter Islanders.  So too does the field of archeology.  And so too does the truth.

    Now, that’s an interesting script there.  Two scientists fighting against a guy who has vested interest.  Their sole interest?  The TRUTH.

    Here’s Lipo & Hunt’s closing paragraph of their introduction:

    >  It is also important to note that Diamond is not an archaeologist and has not done archaeological or palaeoecological research in Polynesia. We have been doing research and primary archaeological field work on Easter since 2000. One of us (TH) has worked in Pacific Island archaeology for nearly 40 years and taught at University of Hawaii for 23 years.  On Easter Island we have done more field work and covered a greater breadth of archaeology than anyone else in the past two decades.  Our work has been peer-reviewed and published in science’s most selective and prestigious journals.  We outline in detail the evidence from our work and that of scores of colleagues working on the island in our book The Statues that Walked.  Diamond would have readers believe that the majority of archeologists who have studied Easter Island support his thesis.  It is simply not true. The new evidence that we and other serious scholars have provided over the past decade not only contradicts the old story that Diamond has so heavily invested in, but has led to a new consensus among the majority of scholars around our work.

    Now, auditors might ask: why is it IMPORTANT to note that Diamond is not part of the archeological establishment?

    These are not scientists speaking.  These are tenured scholars manageing their reputation and defending their guild. 

    And yet, Keith, you said their arguments were convincing.

    This is true, but what is revealing is that you isolate MT’s behavior from all this destructive dynamic while dismissing his effort to understand the case, while you disregard Lipo & Hunt misdemeanour and underline their professional attitude.

    * * *

    In any case, that MT defends a contrarian opinion might be considered noteworthy, however shabby was his behavior in that new instalment of climate porn.  Peiser should beware what he’s wishing for.

  • Lewis deane

    No, Eric Adler, and don’t be foolish. Michael’s bias does not preclude him being completely fair and rational. Even Marx and the old Marxists were not that – indeed, they prided themselves on their ‘objective’ perspective. What Michael here has done is a sin of pride rather than ‘science’ (for science had no entry here). He commented and condemned a book he’d heard of third hand, which we all might do, but, then, having been called out on it, he continued and continues to bluster that he, with retrospective sophistry, was justified, instead of saying ‘My bad, I’ll read the book and come back to you’. And then he has the cheek to impugn our host for pointing out his folly. Because, of course, this is a dum sight for dullards and we could never raise ourselves to tie the great MT’s shoes. How appalling, how appalling!

  • Keith Kloor

    Lewis (158),

    No need for name-calling. Also, no need to defend the host of this blog. I’m used to being regularly impugned.  

    Willard (157)

    Cute. You’re more than living up the to the title of the post. 

    Also, FWIW, I don’t have a problem when climate scientists reference their long years of expertise in related debates. Do you? Some people are experts in their field, after all. Doesn’t make them right in a particular debate, but seems legitimate to point to one’s CV.   

    So I don’t understand why you are implying that this is a bad thing to do on the part of Hunt & Lipo. I’m guessing you choose doctors based on their familiarity with their medical speciality, which happens to be based on years of experience. I mean, if I have to have heart surgery, I’d rather have it done by a heart surgeon that a general practicioner. 

  • Fred

    Anteros (131) is right on.  Climate science is primitive and immature.  We do not even know all the important drivers of climate.  Like in any scientifically active area it is to be expected that theories will be erected and then torn down as relevant new facts are brought into view and interpreted. 

    The Easter Island controversy is informative because it shows how seemingly convincing scientific theories can be challenged and even overturned as new facts are interpreted and gathered.  MT was probably too quickly dismissive in his rejection of Lipo and Hunt’s work and this may have been fueled by his investment in Diamond’s pre-historic environmentally caused collapse theory.  But I think he still has a lot of good ideas.   

    Anteros is also very correct on his insight about how difficult it is to predict the future.  As Giovanni Boccaccio wrote in the Daecameron:

    “…the wisdom of mortals consists…not only in remembering the past and apprehending the present, but in being able, through a knowledge of each, to anticipate the future, which grave men regard as the acme of human intelligence.”

    Interestingly, in his professional capacity I believe MT is involved in programming climate models.  These models provide predictions of future climate conditions, often over long time periods.  I have some experience with certain types of computer models.  Models where there is no out of sample testing demonstrating correct predictive capacity are of completely uncertain value.  By the very nature of the time periods involved, long-range climate models have no out-of-sample test results.  Also, when used over shorter periods I understand climate models have not been accurate.

    Its pretty easy to construct a model but something very different to have it work in predicting the future in a noisy environment where a lot of influences interact.  As Anteros and Boccacio realize (but not a lot of AGW proponents seem to) predicting the future is most difficult.      
     

  • OPatrick

    As most people who are ‘proponents of AGW’ understand, uncertainty about the future makes the problems we face worse, not better.

  • grypo

    The only “certainty” is the “uncertainty” that the globally changing climate provides us.  It is also certain that those least responsible,  most politically impotent, and most unsuited to deal with the “uncertainty” are most at risk, soonest.  Once one sees the debate in an ethical framework, the common narrative about who is debating what fades away, bringing clarity where poor narratives sow confusion.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Keith,

    Thanks for the compliment.  I try to do my best, even when I don’t proofread much.  To answer your question:

    Yes, stating that Diamond is not an anthropologist and to list one’s CV as *important* to consider right from the start is moot at best.  This can be mentioned in the byline perhaps, but that one’s underline it, while at the same time taking a jab at the opponent looks ungentlemanly to me.

    This appeal to their own authority is also noteworthy, considering what Steve Lekson says of the archeologists’ take on Diamond’s books:

    > What was academic archaeology’s reaction to Diamond’s books?  In a word: outrage.  Guns, Germs, and Steel became (and remains) a favorite target in graduate seminars across the country.   We find errors!  So we flay it, dismember it, and dance on its bones.  That’s what we teach as “critical thinking” ““ accentuate the negative, eliminate the positive, latch on to loose ends and yank hard.  As if ANY archaeological argument can withstand intense, sustained scrutiny!   Nothing archaeologists write or say is secure from challenge or safe from query, beyond a measurement of a post-hole or a count of flakes.    I try to teach students that critical thinking encompasses positive as well as negative, but these are dismal, cynical times.

    This article comes from one your tweets:

    http://twitter.com/#!/keithkloor/status/135662484999766016

    I can concede that if Diamond never went to Easter Island, it does not look good.  I’m not sure why.  They do not explicitely state why.

    In any case, there is clear evidence that Lipo and Hunt are playing the Scientist game.  They only are searching for the Truth.  They only look at the Evidence.  Their critics do not look at the evidence.  They are faith-based.  They are not scientists.

    Disclosure: MT plays that game too.  At least it’s supposed to be a hard science.  Playing that game in archeology does sound ungentlemanly to me.

    * * *

    Look at this this way, Keith.  Suppose Lipo & Hunt took time to  answer MT’s questions.  I surmise this would have made MT look even more shabby, to use your term.  Don’t you think?

    I agree with you that MT’s reaction was not inviting. But you have to admit that Lipo & Hunt’s choice to leave readers in the dark, while understandable and justified, was suboptimal.  I know this is not your topic, which is to explain why you had higher expectations from MT, in the past tense that is, but can we agree on that?

  • EdG

    #152 Eric writes: “The claim  that deforestation was produced by rats, rather than humans doesn’t seem right.”

    Ah there’s the rub. Humans brought the rats. Thus this point, and this question, is muddied at best. It isn’t really an either/or question. I would suggest that the obvious answer, and the most probable one, is that both species had a cumulative effect. People cut down mature trees while rats prevented more from growing (both directly through seed eating or ? and/or their impacts on other species).

    That said, I will emphasize that like MT, I am making this comment without looking into the ecological specifics of this EI question nor reading the H & L study (though I have Diamond’s book). Just applying known ecological effects from other areas to that scenario.

    Feel free to correct me or critique this suggestion. I confess that I do not know about things which I have not read. 

  • NewYorkJ

    “Read my book” is indeed a good strategy for avoiding discussion as are the constant stream of insults KK and others level at MT here.  Oh the games people play.

    If one is really acting in good faith, rather than responding mainly with “read my book”, they will be able to easily present the specific arguments from their book that backs their points or refutes an assertion someone else is making.  It should be quite easy.  One can assume that the author is familiar with his own book, and even has an electronic copy of it somewhere that they could post (or send privately) sections from.  Failure to do so is simply punting as L&H are doing.  If “read my book” was a valid argument, we all should write books that summarize every argument we’ve made.  Then we no longer have to talk.  We can have a robot repeat “read my book”.

    Neven summarizes the responses:

    http://planet3.org/2011/11/14/the-statues-that-walked/#comment-1333

  • Marlowe Johnson

    Keith,

    I’m trying to move our particular conversation past MT’s behaviour (since we both agree) to get a better understanding of the substantive areas of disagreement between Diamond and L&H.  I ask you to substantiate why you disagree with Diamond and you tell me to read a book or look it up myself.  To top it all off you accuse me of be ‘tribal’**

    If I were in a tribal, point-scoring kind of mood, I might suggest that this latest saga is yet another fine example of your penchant for hippie bashing and tone trolling when challenged.

    As someone who has an interest in archaeology and environmental issues, I’d have thought that you’d be more than happy to provide your readers with pointers to relevant material that discusses a topic like Easter Island.  I guess I underestimated how much you prefer playing the role of concern troll.

    **like the term ‘verbose’, it is difficult to use the word ‘tribal’ in a conversation without falling into a self-referential hypocritical trap.

     

  • EdG

    #166 “hippie bashing”?

    I missed that. I thought hippies were extinct, or at least mostly extirpated.

  • Fred

    grypo (162): regarding “seeing the debate in an ethical framework” thousands of jobs have been lost in the Keystone pipeline decision motivated, at least in part, by AGW concerns.  Many more US jobs have been lost due to an energy policy that has discouraged the development of fossil fuel resources.  Higher unemployment rates lead to higher suicide rates.

    Meanwhile, billions of dollars in government funds have been wasted on wind and solar energy projects.  These have taken funding away from more worthwhile endeavors and have sucked up financing away from wealth-producing private sector purposes.

    Spain, previously cited as an example of the green energy economy future by Obama has just elected a new government.  Its unemployment rate for those under age 30 is 1/3.

    All this human damage and more has been brought about by AGW theory.  When you ask proponents and climate scientists what evidence shows that CO2 increases cause harmful warming you get zilch.

    I was hoping after my last post MT might stop by to defend or explain the usefulness of climate models that have no out-of-sample testing showing their predictive validity.   

  • Keith Kloor

    @163

    Steve Lekson’s argument is an interesting one, which I intend to address sometime soon. Meanwhile, let me provide some context. But first, I should say that I’m a big fan of Lekson’s. Have spent much time talking archaeology with him. I’ve also quoted him in stories and did a nice Science mag interview with last year. He’s a great thinker/synthesizer, which might give you some clues to why he’s coming to Diamond’s defense. For Steve too likes to come up with big narratives. But to his credit, he’s not as invested in them as Diamond is with his. More on that soon.

    @165
    Lipo & Hunt have engaged in detail. They published a long rebuttal to Diamond at the Lynas site, Lipo took time to answer questions from commenters and Tobis at Planet 3.0. When it became obvious that Tobis was not interested in debating in good faith, Lipo said, well, what the hell, if you’ve already made up your mind that the book might is not worth reading, then why should I even bother continuing to talk with you? 

    So it’s a false allegation that this is what their counter argument amounted to: read my book. 

    But keep on acting tribal, if you must.

  • Keith Kloor

    Marlowe,

    That hippy-bashing charge is fun, isn’t it. Neat red herring. I can see why you’re a fan of David Roberts. He loves using that one, too.

    When you can understand what I’m getting at with my post, then maybe we can move on. (Hint: it’s not about MT being impolite.) 

  • OPatrick

    Keith, I think Lipo answered only one question, and Hunt none, before Michael’s over-aggressive comment appeared to end the discussion. I’m unconvinced that this is long enough for them to have become convinced that Michael was not interested in arguing in good faith.

  • Marlowe Johnson

    @170

    I say hippie-bashing, you say tribal.

    Different strokes for different folks. 

  • grypo

    Fred,
    Your ethical concerns are perfectly fine discussion material until you start to try and downplay the risks of anthropogenic sources of climate change.  With this you get away from the ethical discussion and merely fall into the trap that Keith describes in # 144

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Marlowe,

    To answer your question you asked earlier, and since Keith won’t bother, I found this comment from MT, vintage 2009:

    > I think the Wikipedia article on Easter Island has been hijacked by someone with an agenda. I have been contemplating doing independent research into it and rewriting the article. I found Diamond’s description far richer and more compelling, though I suppose that doesn’t make it true. But the appearance of a contrary story on Wikipedia is not decisive. 

    We already notice to argument from incredulity Keith underlined earlier.  This is one of the three comments in that thread:

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/2009/04/13/beware-of-cautionary-lessons

    The title of Keith’s post reminds me his first sentence at Michael’s:

    > Fellas, it really sucks when a popular environmental meme gets thoroughly deconstructed, doesn’t it? 

    A motivational question, if you ask me. 

  • EdG

    #172 What is the best stroke for bashing hippies?

  • NewYorkJ

    If we dissent from KK, we are “tribal”.  Curry likes that game too.  It’s also a way to avoid discussion.

    OPatrick’s #171 covers it.  Since KK’s account is so obviously skewed, we must conclude he is being “tribal”.  One can see this confusion in KK’s paraphrase:

    KK: Lipo said, well, what the hell, if you’ve already made up your mind that the book might is not worth reading, then why should I even bother continuing to talk with you? 

    This isn’t a direct quote from Lipo, but “the book might is not worth reading” is an interesting grammatical slip.  MT in fact stated:

    I am trying to decide whether it is worth reading.

    He hasn’t clearly made up his mind about it, and in fact asked a series of questions that Lipo punted on, claiming MT’s views were “faith-based”.  That aside, rather than answering the question on funding sources (arguably inappropriate but shouldn’t be difficult to answer), claimed MT has a “tinfoil hat” for daring to ask.  If one doesn’t see Lipo’s response as far from adequate, one would have to conclude that person is being “tribal”.

  • Marlowe Johnson

    Thanks Willard.  I guess I’m not seeing the ‘thoroughly’ part of the ‘deconstructed environmental meme’…nor it seems am I getting Keith’s point in this particular post…

  • Tom C

    Mr. Kloor -

    The tribe is proving your point in spades.

    Marlowe, Willard, et. al. – MT demanded to know the funding of Lipo and Hunt.  This, of course, is the well practiced insinuation that anything written that goes against alarmist orthodoxy is due to the writer being a “tool of the fossil-fuel industry”.  In this instance, the charge is so ludicrous that it identifies MT as being a paranoid ideologue.  Not that most of us needed anything else to identify him as such.

    What’s even more dizzying is that the alarmist orthodoxy is now being stretched to cover seemingly unrelated topics.  I imagine a day in the no-so-far future when one could write a paper on “Autumn Picnics in Medieval Times” and be accused of fossil-fuel shilling by means of over-emphasizing the Medieval Warm Period.

  • http://www.skepticalscience.com Steven Sullivan

    176 comments on *this*?  Christ, we *are* doomed.
     

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Marlowe,

    I’m just digging in the archives.  Speaking of which, I also note this article Keith pointed in another thread, just for you:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/25/science/25diam.html

    Perhaps it would be more like what you want?

    As far as where Keith is going, I believe it’s in the title itself:

    Beware of Eco metaphors.

    Here’s another title:

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/2011/09/21/the-collapse-of-a-green-parable-for-collapse/

    Green like collapse parable.  It sucks when your favorite metaphor turns into a myth.  It does not take much to transform a metaphor into a myth. 

    This is sound advice.  And there are so many metaphors or parables of collapse out there that we could build a whole site on this.

    What is the name of the blog, again?

    ***

    Tom C,

    You claim:

    > Marlowe, Willard, et. al. ““ MT demanded to know the funding of Lipo and Hunt.

    A quote would be nice. 

  • Lewis deane

    Keith, sorry for ‘defending’ you! I didn’t call anyone anything, I merely pointed out that Eric Adler was ‘being foolish’ not is (or was) foolish or, indeed, heaven forbid a fool. There is a sense in which your attempt at ‘balance’, Keith, can be somewhat irritating! But whatever gets you through the night , ‘sallright, ‘sallright!

  • Eric Adler

    Keith @155,
    Eric (151),
    “Well, I’m sorry to have to tell you this: you’ve confused Michael Tobis with someone else”“possibly because you misspelled his name. So you might want to recheck that one. ”
    Thanks. I did recheck it and you are right.
    Something strange happened. I typed “Michael Tobis biography” into the Google window, and got the Wikipedia biography of Michael Tobias as the first item.  I didn’t look carefully  and Google didn’t ask me  “Did you mean Michael Tobias?”.
    I wonder about what the ecologist Michael Tobias thinks about the story of Easter Island.

  • Lewis deane

    Grypo,

     The only “certainty” is the “uncertainty” that the globally changing climate provides us.  It is also certain that those least responsible,  most politically impotent, and most unsuited to deal with the “uncertainty” are most at risk,soonest.  Once one sees the debate in an ethical framework, the common narrative about who is debating what fades away, bringing clarity where poor narratives sow confusion.

  • Lewis deane

    That came out all wrong but never mind.

    Those ‘least responsible’ and ‘political impotent’ (what are they children?) are rapidly becoming richer and more and more potent. What would you prefer – there development, which inevitably means pumping the gases you so deplore or there remaining in poverty just so you can feel less anxious about tomorrows weather? Perhaps their, a la Mother Theresa, is virtuous to you. And yet if their rich they will be able to cope with almost any exigency. 

  • http://veteransfreedomfarm.org steven mosher

    WRT 148

    “Those are fair analogs. Of course, interested observers who don’t have the time to invest will also turn to (their) trusted sources who (supposedly) have done the reading.”

    I guess my approach on these things is that I try not to pontificate if I have not read the material myself.  There are plenty of exceptions of course but usually I try to consider whether the reading material in question is germane to the core of my position.

    Here is one way of looking at  it.

    If I am MT I believe in sustainability independent of easter Island.
    If that place never existed my arguments would not change. It’s sugar coating. Its the handwriting analysis in a murder trial where I have video of the killer. Its compound and has very little probitive value. yet it is defended to the death.

    MT’s reaction to being challenged about this “history” is to cling to the uncertain evidence . You see the same thing with the HS. As the evidence gets farther and farther away from the core argument ( we have video of the killer for christs sake) the rancor increases and people start saying and doing things they would not ordinarily say or do. That is an interesting phenomena. Something willard should comment on.

    let me put it this way. If easter Island never existed MT would still believe in what he believes in. He doesnt believe what he does because of easter Island. Also C02 would still cause warming even if the HS never existed. It just doesnt matter. So, why do people fight so hard about stuff that doesnt matter. And why does their behavior change when they discuss these things.  

     

  • Lewis deane

    But this is an old and tired story, that of a Gladstonian project. Ie Britians front line soldiers, in it’s imperialism, were the priest and missionaries, the ‘do gooders’, whose zeal was to ‘civilize’ the ‘barbarians’. That is to say without that premise of a passive untutored ‘Other’ they had no business. Michael only ‘liked’ the Easter Island story because it had ‘emotional resonance’. Lipo and Hunt are taking that away from him. About the Easter Islanders themselves, he couldn’t give a damn, as he says. Just like the poor of Calcutta or the ‘poor’ chinese, once they no longer fit into a Western Imperialist rhetoric, however ‘benevolent’, they are no longer of any import. It’s disgusting!

  • http://veteransfreedomfarm.org steven mosher

    “Green like collapse parable.  It sucks when your favorite metaphor turns into a myth.  It does not take much to transform a metaphor into a myth.”

    I like your idea of a site dedicated to the metaphors on all sides of this debate. 

  • http://initforthegold.blogspot.com Michael Tobis

    I actually wonder whether my near-collision of names with Michael Tobias hasn’t affected some people’s opinions of me. I don’t think like he does at all.
     

  • Lewis deane

    OPatrick

     I’ve heard this before but it, of course, makes no sense unless one translates it back into it’s emotional origin, viz:-

    ‘The less I know about the future, the more I am afraid.’

    Your fear is a biographical detail, not an argument. 

  • Lewis deane

    I was trying to reference this statement but there is something going odd about chrome:

     As most people who are “˜proponents of AGW’ understand, uncertainty about the future makes the problems we face worse, not better.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “So, why do people fight so hard about stuff that doesnt matter.”

    Because argument from authority requires maintaining a reputation for infallibility. It only doesn’t matter to the science.

     

  • http://initforthegold.blogspot.com Michael Tobis

    Mosher’s point is interesting, but he misses the reason that this strikes me as important.

    Diamond’s description of the Easter Island story did in fact change my understanding of human behavior substantially. Given the robustness of the story he told (and the care with which he expressed relevant doubts and uncertainties) I read that section of his Collapse book with confidence and astonishment.

    The interesting and terrifying part of the story is not the overshoot, which is not uncommon in isolated cultures, as the rest of Diamond’s book explains. The interesting part is how the islanders doubled down on behaviors that had become maladaptive (though they were previously quite reasonable). To that precedent for our current growth obsession there is no match in the record of which I am aware.

    Now, of course, if it’s a fantasy, it’s a fantasy, and it should be shot down. But on the other hand, it is like the polar bears and the hockey stick. It presents a useful, accessible reference point for telling the tale of sustainability to the public, and consequently it presents a juicy target for those who do not want that story told. So when these questions arose, I was far more suspicious than I would be about something of lesser resonance.

    It’s not about whether they affect my beliefs about the outlines of our predicament in the large. It is that they fit in so precisely with my beliefs about the social environment, the politicization of science, and the willful injection of noise at the point of public communication of science.

    Again, recall, my original point was about the participation of Peiser and his gang’s pet journal in the undermining of the scenario which Diamond described. This only surprised me in its brazenness. It certainly tended to confirm my suspicions.
     

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    > So, why do people fight so hard about stuff that doesnt matter.

    Like a wise commenter said in a related thread, I blame the goats. 

  • Lewis deane

    Willard

    ‘As if ANY archaeological argument can withstand intense, sustained scrutiny!   Nothing archaeologists write or say is secure from challenge or safe from query, beyond a measurement of a post-hole or a count of flakes.’

    Indeed, but you’re asking for any kind of relativism, are you?

    ‘Suppose Lipo & Hunt took time to  answer MT’s questions.’

    Why should they? Who is Michael to them?
    In any case, there is clear evidence that Lipo and Hunt are playing the Scientist game.
    What? They are being scientists? At issue here is not Lipo and Hunt or Luigie and the muppets but Michael and his reaction to contrary evidence. It is not Lipo and Hunt that a defence.
     

  • Lewis deane

    ‘That need a defence’. I need a new browser!

  • NewYorkJ

    The Peiser connection is certainly suspicious, as are some of the arguments L&H make.  The first 3 arguments they make on Lynas’ blog are:

    1.  Diamond has a vested interest.

    2.  The thesis they are sure is wrong was developed with racist motivations, and morphed by Diamond to support an environmental twist.

    3.  Diamond is not qualified.

    So they begin with 3 pure ad homs.  So I don’t quite understand how Lipo would be put off by asking where they got their funding from, or why such a double standard exists on politeness.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “But on the other hand, it is like the polar bears and the hockey stick.”

    Quite so. I suppose it’s the same reason Peiser was attracted to the issue: if you’re looking for bad science and exaggerated alarmism, you can bet that advocates will sail closer to the wind if the claims have the public accessibility and emotional resonance to persuade. Pro-action advocates are less critical about them because they’re so useful. Anti-action advocates are more critical, not just to counter their effectiveness, but because they’re rich seams for more dubious material.

    That applies in both directions, of course. I’m not saying otherwise. But still, no doubt it has occurred to you that when certain high-profile pundits for the pro-AGW-concern side, such as yourself, take sides on a particularly ‘emotionally resonant’ issue, that others might see it as a warning sign the same way you see Benny Peiser’s involvement?

  • Lewis Deane

    Michael, your whole mindset is, confusedly, expressed in the following sentence
    ‘It is that they fit in so precisely with my beliefs about the social environment, the politicization of science, and the willful injection of noise at the point of public communication of science.’

    The politicization, prior and always prior to the science, is, of course, yours. When you complain about others ‘politicization’ you’re a bit like the whore who complains about the competition. It’s comical, it’s pythonesque. Let us just take this sentence, for instance:

    ‘But on the other hand, it is like the polar bears and the hockey stick. It presents a useful, accessible reference point for telling the tale of sustainability to the public’

    What else can that mean than that you use and abuse fairy tale science in order to get your politics across. If the facts don’t fit, forget the facts. But the non plus ultra of that way of thinking is if the science no longer tells the story your politics would like forget science. ‘Science’ is only meaningful to you if it has ‘emotional resonance’. You are the politician.

  • OPatrick

    Lewis deane: I’ve heard this before but it, of course, makes no sense unless one translates it back into it’s emotional origin, viz:-
    “˜The less I know about the future, the more I am afraid.’
    Your fear is a biographical detail, not an argument.

    So a small-farmer, who is finding that the crops they have grown for many years are no longer suited to the climate they experience, looking to the future and seeing uncertainty about the way the climate in their region will develop is just having an emotional reaction? Or indeed a local council trying to decide how best to spend resources to adapt to changes in climate is just being emotional when it’s concerned about the uncertainty of the future?

    Not that the fear induced by uncertainty, which I would argue is actually existentially unsettling, is to be ignored either. 

  • Lewis Deane

    NewYorKJ,

    ‘The Peiser connection is certainly suspicious’.

    Why precisely, pray? His tenuous connection is just a red herring but his sincerity, as far as his thinking is concerned, I don’t see contested by you. These attempts to smear by six degrees of separation are quite pathetic.

  • OPatrick

    “˜But on the other hand, it is like the polar bears and the hockey stick. It presents a useful, accessible reference point for telling the tale of sustainability to the public’

    What else can that mean than that you use and abuse fairy tale science in order to get your politics across.

    Well, just a thought, but perhaps it means ‘it provides a useful, accessible reference point for telling the tale of sustainability to the public’. Sustainability is a real issue and communicating it is important. 

  • Lewis Deane

    ‘So a small-farmer, who is finding that the crops they have grown for many years are no longer suited to the climate they experience, looking to the future and seeing uncertainty about the way the climate in their region will develop is just having an emotional reaction? Or indeed a local council trying to decide how best to spend resources to adapt to changes in climate is just being emotional when it’s concerned about the uncertainty of the future?’

    Yes and of course. An emotional appeal will not work in the cold and objective halls of science. Does one, outside those halls, feel sympathy for those alleged anxieties? Of course, too. But I’ll have you note that the one section of the American US economy that is flourishing, that has ‘never had it so good’, are the farmers of Nebraska and mid west USA. Nature has never been so fecund. And their daughters have never look so pretty nor their sons before, for a long time till now, thought ‘I want to be a farmer like my father’. Stuff that Virginia tobacco in your pipe and smoke it!

  • Lewis Deane

    ‘Sustainability’, as you must know, OPatrick, is shorthand for a very particular politics. If you don’t know that then, all I can say, is that you might be somewhat naive!

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Lewis Deane,

    You ask:

    > Indeed, but you’re asking for any kind of relativism, are you? 

    I’m not sure the observation that archeology relies on all kinds of induction leads to relativism.  Not that it’s all soft and mushy: we have isotopes, DNA, etc.  It is an empirical science, after all.

    There must be a reason why the interpretations of the archeological evidence are so contested.  The most obvious reason, to me, is that the evidence is scarce and the theories are multifarious.  I’m sure Keith can attest: archeology debates made him think of the name collide-a-scape, after all.

    In his response to Lynas’s post, Diamond referred to a third edition of Bahn’s and Flenley’s standard source book Easter Island, Earth Island:

    > Some of us may be eager to embrace claims that those native Easter Islanders really were innocent wise stewards of their environment, and that evil Europeans destroyed their paradise.  But research on Easter Island published since my 2005 book, and now fairly summarized in Bahn’s and Flenley’s just published new third edition of their standard source book Easter Island, Earth Island, enrich and don’t overturn our previous understanding of Easter Island.  The islanders did inadvertently destroy the environmental underpinnings of their society.  They did so, not because they were especially evil or deprived of foresight, but because they were ordinary people, living in a fragile environment, and subject to the usual human problems of clashes between group interests, clashes between individual and group interests, selfishness, and limited ability to predict the future.  Does that remind you of any problems that we ourselves face today?  That’s why we find Easter’s story so gripping, and why it may offer us lessons.  You’ll find good coverage in Bahn’s and Flenley’s new book.

    http://www.marklynas.org/2011/09/the-myths-of-easter-island-jared-diamond-responds/

    The story of the wise innocent stewards is appealing too, don’t you agree?

    I suppose you know that story, you were a commenter on that thread.

     

  • StuartR

    I have to report my resonance review of this book so far:)

    Before I’ve even got to the walking statues the ouline of the history of the island by Lipo and Hunt has a different outlook than implied and proposed by Diamond et al. The islanders far from being the ciphers and representatives of all that is bad in exploitative humanity show the opposite (and in my view more normal) characteristic of humankind in that they have had to display great ingenuity and adaptive abilities. Without too many spoilers, any assumption that Rapnui was some sort of Eden that was spoiled by man now seems to me an incredibly naive one, the opposite is more the case that is unfolding. On a volcanic island that had been dormant for 3 quarters of a million years, the whole story of the discovery of evidence for Lithic mulch farms, and walled gardens, which seemed very mundane at first flush actually reveals some remarkable reasons for their creation and is quite an eye opener. This has got me hooked in the opening 1/4 – I am glad I have got this book now and I am looking forward to rest of what is actually quite a short book. Recommend so far :)  

  • NewYorkJ

    LD (#199),
    It’s not all that tenuous.  In H&L’s article “Chronology, deforestation, and “collapse: Evidence vs. faith in Rapa Nui prehistory”, they cite Peiser twice.
    The abundant evidence from multiple field studies does not support Flenley and Bahn’s claim for an early date of deforestation across
    the island, nor does it fit their story of an ecologicallyinduced
    collapse (see Peiser 2005; Rainbird 2002).

    As Peiser (2005) has pointed out, some writers have
    transposed an actual documented historic genocide with
    prehistoric “ecocide” where the victims are blamed for their
    own demise.

    When anyone relies, even in part, on E&E material, it raises suspicion.  See the history of Peiser and that journal.  Note also how L&H dance around this.  Diamond pointed out:

    Diamond: Hunt and Lipo, relying partly on a paper by Peiser…

    So H&L respond to this by creating a strawman.

    He mistakenly says we relied on only one source (Peiser, who does not even appear in our book’s bibliography

    As for the second part, their own work, which I presume is in their bibliography and used in part to form some conclusions, cites Peiser.  Presumably this is why they created the strawman – to indirectly concede Peiser was one source.

    Now it’s fair to say that relying at all on Peiser or attacking strawmen doesn’t discredit everything they say.  Prominently displayed in their introduction on the Lynas post are other tremendously compelling arguments as Diamond not being qualified and having a vested interest to push a thesis that originated partly from racism and morphed by him to support a “doomsday” ecocide scenario.  Shame on MT for daring to ask them about their funding, a rather easy thing for them to answer I would think.

  • Lewis Deane

    Willard, I suggest you pay attention to StuartR’s comment. What is to be noted is the heroic proportions of the story, at least by my lights. That a tremendously heroic and adventurous people discovered, settled and prospered on this remote and strange Island. Tremendous civilization, tremendous courage, tremendous ingenuity. The story is one of the best of our histories, not it’s opposite, not a ‘warning’ about the ‘arrogance’ of us human beings. So what that it didn’t last for ever, nothing does, we won’t. Emerson: ‘It’s not how much coal you have but what you do while it’s burning’. As beautiful as Columbus, as breath taking as our landing on the moon. A story of hope.

  • grypo

    Lewis,

    “What would you prefer ““ there development, which inevitably means pumping the gases you so deplore or there remaining in poverty just so you can feel less anxious about tomorrows weather? Perhaps their, a la Mother Theresa, is virtuous to you. And yet if their rich they will be able to cope with almost any exigency. “ 

    I’m not sure how you conclude children will be richer, or assume that I want them to pump gas.  These types of arguments belong in ethical framework, ie, how do we ensure our decedent generation a chance at prosperity while not forcing them to use this prosperity in adapting and mitigating against problems that they did not cause.  But climate ethics do not stop there.  It is also important to  those sovereign nations at lower latitudes who 1) will likely be well outside normal summer temperature variations within a few decades and 2) did not cause the problem.  

    But the point is that we can’t fix these problems if people continue to question whether or not the risk exists.   That question has been answered a million times over.  Solving the problems means actually showing up!

  • Lewis Deane

    Willard, I believe the narrative you reference is the very narrative under dispute and therefore is somewhat mute. I, also, have my own kind of politics, which I should declare, except it is so idiosyncratic there is really nothing to declare. Basically it is being so painfully ‘open’ that some might diagnose a ‘masochistic’ pathology. “Do I contradict myself? Very well I contradict myself.” This being ‘open’ implies trust and such trust implies trust of mankind. Ie the opposite of misanthropy, a disease I fear, is assumed by Michaels politics, though, I think, not natural to him. Therefore I’m compelled to an heroic narrative and not a gloomy and bestial one. Diamonds was gloomy and bestial, seeing the Eastern Islanders is mere objects of an, of course, totally evil Western intervention. History is more interesting and more complex than that ( I reference Horatio’s pompous but true statement). And mankind is much ‘nicer’ than people will allow. And more evil, too, as one rightly acknowledges!

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Lewis Deane,

    I don’t disapprove reading Lipo & Hunt.  Diamond provides good reading too, I am being told by Keith’s source.  What we would need is the code of both books: their lists of references should be made public.

    Citations are book code.  The rest is only advertising.  I jest.

    But I do note stories.  That myths get replaced by stories of courage tells me that we’re into a storytelling business.  That there was courage on the island does not forbid to think that there was stupidity too.  

    I gotta go now, but I have not forgotten your asking about the Scientist game. 

  • Lewis Deane

    NewYorkJ,

    I don’t care if they cite him, Peiser, a thousand times. Address the substance, not the person.

  • Lewis Deane

    ‘Courage’ and ‘stupidity’, Willard, how I love mankind. And story telling is our business, in fact, if you think about it, our only business. What is that wonderful passage in Shakespeare about chucking sticks in a fire whilst telling each other tails…I forget (‘I shall wear my trousers rolled’).

  • NewYorkJ

    I don’t care if they cite him, Peiser, a thousand times. Address the substance, not the person.
    Tell that to L&H.

  • Lewis Deane

    #208 Of course, the Eastern Islanders, according to Diamond, where the victims of their own hand not ‘western intervention’ – my tired eyes fell into cliche. They were heroic, all the same.

  • http://initforthegold.blogspot.com Michael Tobis

    #196 and #197 actually start to point in the general direction of my original point, albeit by leaning backwards. My point is that, despite its many flaws, science itself as ordinarily practiced is rarely biased, although individual workers may have their biases.
    My claim is this: It is only after a piece of science captures the popular imagination that the politicization ensues. Lewis Deane in #197 finally takes note, and replies with the conventional naysayer’s wisdom that politicization does emerge from within science. At least we agree on what we are disagreeing about, which in these parts is a victory in itself.
    Science left to its own devices may be inefficient and stodgy and cruel and clubby (well, it is all that) but it is not in any way motivated to be biased in its content. Which is why, despite its flaws, it still works. Scientists normally (in their professional conduct) care about funding agencies and journals, i.e., about peer review. This means the tradeoff is between being uncontroversial, and getting modest approval, or being carefully controversial and getting mixed notices and attention.
    There is very little encouragement and indeed a certain amount of discouragement for getting in the newspapers. The net result is a rather traditional, slow-moving consensus with relatively rapid and vigorous elaboration but little taste for controversy and a huge aversion to error.
    Publicity is discouraged with good reason. Because when something gets out that upsets a particular constituency, that’s when you risk being challenged in the public sphere, as opposed to normal scientific channels.
    Controversy usually begins with a party that is threatened by the direction that the science is taking, not within the academic cloisters, but in the popular imagination of some segment of the public.
    And the scientist is woefully unprepared for the battle, where answers are expected in hours, not in years, and where ulterior motives, real and imagined, swirl about with abandon. (see comment #195 above)
    In short, the mechanism of politicization of science is:
    Science -> publicity -> drummed up controversy -> confused public
    Most scientists don’t like this or want it. So when science as proxy politics happens, there is usually some pressure group outside of science involved that doesn’t like the science. Which in the case at hand may or may not explain L & H, but accounts nicely for E & E.

     

  • Tom C

    Tobis does display formidible chutzpah in his timing.  The same week that he goes after two obscure archeologists and intimates that they forfeited their integrity to advance a corporate agenda, we learn that none other than James Hansen has amassed a small fortune for his alarmist advocacy.  Actually, his chutzpah pales compared to that of Hansen himself, who has spent a decade or more accusing his fellow scientists of enriching themselves by backroom payments from oil companies.  All this without a shred of evidence while he is handsomely profitting from scare mongering.  The mind reels.

  • Lewis Deane

    So, I’m a bit confused, were you addressing the substance of Lipo and Hunts book or were you just waffling inanely, like any first student, about what you call ‘science’. I fear your hat has tipped and is covering your left eye. Push it back.

    As you know, Michael, I did not ‘finally note’ anything, since I’ve expressed the same, in my occasional forays into fora numerous times. Let me put it plainly so that your absurd attempt to restore authority by patronizing people can be pricked.

    Michael Tobis’s politics dictates his science. If science does not agree with his politics, so much for science.

    Is that simple enough for you?

  • Lewis Deane

    That was addressed to Michael, by the way, not you, Tom. Though I think one should avoid the whole funding issue, tot caelo, except, of course, as you do, in pointing out hypocrisy. One despairs and strikes out because of it but one should resist!

  • Lewis Deane

    ‘It is only after a piece of science captures the popular imagination that the politicization ensues’

    Michael, this is just plainly not true and it is childish, in the extreme. You are so invested in your own ‘vision’ it is like talking to a mad man. Something I have experience of. That you and others like you have a hand in the ‘science’ just flabbergasts, and, frankly, terrifies me. A ‘recusant’, if you were a judge, would be in order. Do you have the slightest idea of what consequence your rummaging around in science has? Do you really understand the stakes we are dealing with? Or do you just lie back and rub those peer reviews all over. I do not understand how we have come to this pass? That someone so obviously political can have a hand on the tiller, science, of our only claim to still be civilized? I’m appalled, I’m appalled.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Lewis Deane,
    I only have time now to note this comment by Patrick:
    http://www.marklynas.org/2011/09/the-myths-of-easter-island-jared-diamond-responds/#comment-3364
    It starts like this:
    >  Oh my, oh my, this argument seems to have devolved from the critique of Diamond’s analysis and conclusions to a discussion about market forces and their ability (or not) to prevent resource depletion . I kept checking the dates of the posts as this all seems so 2006 with John H channeling Milton Friedman and Julian Simon simultaneously.
    We clearly see that the web of stories goes beyond ecocide.  Yourself use it to criticize MT’s politics, which I believe you do not know very well.

    In any case, it continues like this:
    > I am not an expert but have considerable knowledge of Rapa Nui. I researched, did most of the writing and producing for a 1 hour documentary on RN. Part of my research meant spending a week at the 5th Annual Conference on Easter Island and the Pacific. (a full fledged academic conference, with presentations discussions and workshops. All of the presenters were highly qualified and most were university affiliated.) I met John Flenley there and spent many hours with him discussing his research and the issues it had raised for him. Then I went to Rapa Nui for several weeks of field research of my own.

    Now, if that Patrick guy exists, I believe he deserves a better rebuttal than libertarian claptraps hurled by this john h.  No acknowledgement from Mark Lynas, who might have been busy setting up a rebuttal by Lipo & Hunt, no doubt. 

    * * *

    Noteworthy: a bit later in that same thread, Fred Spier mentions a book published in 1991, by  Clive Ponting, entitled A Green History of The World.  Paul Kingsnorth confirms Spier and adds:

    > What I find funny about this whole discussion is that it is transparently not about Easter Island at all. Mark has openly admitted it’s a subject he knows nothing about (which makes the ideologically-flavoured certainty expressed in the original post rather “¦ suspect, to say the last). Most of the posters clearly know nothing about it either, whatever their view. But everyone has very strong views on whether we’re headed today towards collapse or cornutopia. Maybe you should all just ditch the metaphors on both sides, and be honest about what you’re arguing about.

    No answer by Lynas there either.  Too bad, as this paragraph wins the Internet, in my opinion. 

  • Lewis Deane

    Ah, cornutpoia, I remember it well!

  • harrywr2

    #214
    Controversy usually begins with a party that is threatened by the direction that the science is taking
    Or a party looking to profit based on weak evidence.
    Science is no less and no more corruptible then the law, or politics, or journalism or any other profession.
    The easiest people to corrupt are always those that don’t know they are being corrupted or somehow believe they are ‘immune’ from the  weaknesses of humanity.

  • http://www.veteransfreedomfarm.org steven mosher

    MT its weird that you  consider Easter island to be central to your
    beief system. The math you present on sustainability is far more difficult
    to argue against.

    you almost had a convert.

  • http://planet3.org Michael Tobis

    I didn’t say it was central to my belief system. I said it had affected my thinking: it leads me to conclude that people cannot be relied upon to wake up in time, that old ways of thinking that no longer work have an enormous power over societies.

    Of course it doesn’t change the numbers. But it makes the politics even scarier.
     

  • http://www.veteransfreedomfarm.org steven mosher

    Well, you are a person and you are waking up. That makes me wonder if you   think that you are fundamentally different than other people. 

  • http://www.veteransfreedomfarm.org steven mosher

    And perhaps that feeling of being different is preventing you from being a more effective communicator. Something to think about. Not a diagnosis.
    are you coming to AGU?

  • Holly Stick

    See also Barbara Tuchman’s The March of Folly.

  • OPatrick

    steven mosher, what do you understand by the concept of reliability?

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Lewis Deane,

    While I still am in a hurry, I told you I’ll describe the Scientist Game.  I believe we can start by the Lipo & Hunt response, of which I’ve already quoted the first and fourth paragraphs.  Here is the third one:

    > An important role of scholarship is to examine long-held myths and see if they hold up under modern scientific tests.  The original Easter Island thesis, in any of its iterations, including Diamond’s, does not.  Let us point out that we didn’t go to Easter Island to tear down Diamond’s thesis. We went there to support it by filling in the missing archeological data. It was only when we convinced ourselves that any iteration of that original story, including Diamond’s, had no archeological evidence to support it and much to contract it that we began to see where the research was leading us.

    http://www.marklynas.org/2011/10/the-easter-island-ecocide-never-happened-response-to-jared-diamond/

    So Lipo & Hunt present themselves as scholars.  One of their role is to examine long-held myths. I did not know they were mythologists had that role, but nevermind.

    So they went to Easter Island to examine a myth.  But they went without any preconception.  Not even a working hypothesis, it seems. They certainly did not want to “examine” Diamond’s thesis, which is being presented here as a “long-held myth”.

    While part of their job is to debunk myths, they went to Easter Island to “fill up archeological data”.  Almost clerical work.  I suppose scientists use modern scientific tests to get that data.

    Their amazing discovery that Diamond’s thesis was not holding up the most modern scientific tests should have come to them by surprise. They did not go to Easter Island to “tear down” Diamond’s thesis, after all.  They were simply accounting for missing data.  

    Not only that, they found that Diamond’s thesis did not have “archeological evidence to support”.  How on Earth could Diamond write a whole book without evidence, we just don’t know.  That this book contains a list of references does not count as evidence, we must presume.

    Because, you know, these papers do not count as evidence.  Diamond’s thesis does not rest on *any* archeological evidence.  

    None whatsoever.

    So Lipo & Hunt, while going on Easter Island to gather missing archeologica data and using modern scientific tests, happened to write a book tearing down Diamond’s thesis, which is a deep-seated myth resting on no archeological evidence. 

    Sometimes, you’re just lucky. 

    And so they wrote a book, to show how lucky they were.

    Since Lipo & Hunt authorize themselves the court metaphor, auditors might do the same and ask themselves if that self-anointing story of Pure Scientists Fumbling on Truth and Debunking Myths would stand in court.

    They tell us that they seek Truth only look at Evidence.  They just can’t do that without telling us.

    This looks like the Scientist Game to me.  

    Please bear in mind that I take no position on their archeological position.  Let’s say I practice another kind of archeology.  I’m simply describing the game they are playing while telling their stories.  

  • StuartR

    re 228
    “How on Earth could Diamond write a whole book without evidence, we just don’t know.”

    And so on, and so on. Looks like many examples of that “Argument from Personal Incredulity” there again.

    Does that technique appear within the TA cannon or have an equivalent label? If so is it actually considered a positive device to use in argument – a tenet of the TA practitioners world view?

    Read the book Willard. Every single point you raise is answered, your “Incredulity” should melt and fade away and then you can make some constructive reasoned responses that don’t depend on that game.

    And yes, I am not saying what’s in the book either, I happen to think Lipo and Hunt’s scholarship speaks eloguently enough for itself. How awful of me! I read the book and cheated!

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    StuartR,

    Perhas you like more formal arguments.  Here goes:

    (1) Diamond’s book contains a list of references.
    (2) These references contain evidence.

    Both of these claims are backed up by empirical data that lies outside Lipo & Hunt’s book.

    I conclude from these observations that it is not true that Diamond’s work does not rest on *any* archeological evidence.

    I conclude also infer from that conclusion that your claims I need to read Lipo & Hunt’s book to understand the game they’re playing at Mark’s have no merit.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Let’s rephrase that last sentence:

    > I infer from that conclusion that your claims I need to read Lipo & Hunt’s book to understand the game they’re playing at Mark’s and that the argument you underline is based on incredulity have no merit. 

  • Marlowe Johnson

    @228
    +1

    one of your best sir. 

  • StuartR

    re 230
    Reading the book is a free pass, I can’t stop you, you might find something meaty to argue against and impress us all. It took me two days and I’ve had other work to do. You could have read it by now but it seems you prefer to parse Lipo and Hunt’s possibly grammatically flawed formulation on a blog that Diamond had “no archeological evidence to support [his story]“. (I would rather interpret they meant Diamond’s interpretation is wrong and unsupported by the archaelogical eveidence, but that’s me) and on that statement you build a list of statements of incredulity based upon that apparent “evidence” denial.

    On the occasion you vary the building upon the “evidence” incredulity you say:

    “So they went to Easter Island to examine a myth.”

    Now I may be giving something away here, but that position is not supported by what they say in their book. If you read it you wouldn’t be able to just plainly assert that. Rather you would have to say they are lying.

    So I think I can understand why you prefer making an argument from the most parsimonious use of the information available. In fact you appear to create all the information you need from the least generous interpretation you can make. I agree it is all a game I suppose, it is dawning on me that the heading of this post is incredibly apt.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    StuartR,

    My objective, in the comment you criticize, is to underline the Scientist Game played by Lipo & Hunt which can be seen in their response to Diamond’s critique of their book, as publish at Mark’s.

    Yet again, you are burdening to read another book to fulfill this objective.  OK, perhaps not “burdening”.  What term do you suggest to convey what you’re trying to do here?

    As far as I am concerned, a few minutes reading that response can save many hours reading the book.  Because, well, that’s what would fulfill my objective: to see how Lipo & Hunt come up with the Scientist Game to defend their research and their book and attack Diamond’s credibility.

    If you want to explain to us that what they do in that response is being contradicted by what is in the book, I’d gladly reconsider.

    * * *

    To fulfill that objective, I do not need to show that what Pio & Hunt are saying is false.  I simply have to show what it is that they’re doing.  Perhaps this would explain why you contest this sentence:

    > So they went to Easter Island to examine a myth.

    You are telling us that this is not what they say in their book.  Perhaps, but here is the first sentence of the paragraph I quoted:

    > An important role of scholarship is to examine long-held myths and see if they hold up under modern scientific tests.  

    They presented themselves as scholars.  They presented their research as a professional endeavour.  If a part of their job as scholar is to example myths, and they’re going to Easter Island, what in the Earth do you think they will do there?

    I am not exactly sure what they did.  But I do know what they tell me they should.  And part of that is to debunk myths.

    Here is the next sentence:

    > The original Easter Island thesis, in any of its iterations, including Diamond’s, does not [stand up examination by scholars].  

    But the authors assure us that this was not their intention:

    > Let us point out that we didn’t go to Easter Island to tear down Diamond’s thesis. We went there to support it by filling in the missing archeological data.

    So their intention was clerical.  And they end up writing a book.  Because debunking myths is part of their job.

    I have no reason to doubt the nobility of their intention, nor any part of their story.  I only need to describe what they are telling us.  Even if that story is true, it is still the story of pure-hearted scientists, just doing their job.

    Please observe how the paragraphs of the introduction of this response unfolds:

    (1) Diamond has vested interests, while they have vested interest in Truth.

    (2) Diamond is following a tale told by ethnocentric researchers, only removing the hints of racism.

    (3) Part of their job is to debunk myths, and that’s what they did, although it was not their intention, which were clerical.

    (4) Diamond is not an archeologist, but they are tenured professors, with a new consensus of professional archeologists to back them up.

    However true this might be, this looks to me like what I called the Scientist Game.

    This is not hidden under a pile of century old stuff.  This is right in front of your face.  In their introduction, Lipo & Hunt do play the Scientist Game.

    Do they play that game elsewhere?  I don’t recall.  I’ll go take a look.  With only the best intentions in my heart.  

    Just doing my job.  With no vested interest.  Serving Truth only.  

    * * *

    I’ll return later to the way they portray their evidence-based reasoning.  The last word of the previous sentence provides a hint.  

    For now, just imagine that you are Jared Diamond.  How would this introduction sounds to you?  Would you still pursue a dialog with these authors?  

    In fact, do you feel that these authors want to entertain a dialog with Jared Diamond?

  • Marlowe Johnson

    Keith,

    Given your criticism of MT for the manner in which he engaged L&H when they commented on his blog, I’m curious to hear your thoughts on what you would say to L&H wrt to their behaviour towards Diamond, as noted by Willard.

    “For now, just imagine that you are Jared Diamond.  How would this introduction sounds to you?  Would you still pursue a dialog with these authors?
    In fact, do you feel that these authors want to entertain a dialog with Jared Diamond?”

     

  • StuartR

    re 234:

    “what in the Earth do you think they will do there?”

    I dont have to speculate. I know what they say they *did* there. I am not calling them a liar I believe them. So I don’t have the option of the lego brick construction of taking their opening sentence:

    “An important role of scholarship is to examine long-held myths and see if they hold up under modern scientific tests.”

    and then plugging it in to the undeniable fact that they went to Easter island, and then finally constructing:

    “So they went to Easter Island to examine a myth.”

    That is just a construction of yours. 

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    StuartR,

    So I see you really like formal arguments.  Here is another one:

    (1) Scholars went on an island to do their jobs.
    (2) Part of the jobs of scholars is to debunk myths.

    Since I don’t want you to offer any construction of mine, I’d like you to tell me what is the conclusion missing.  Alternatively, we could also take a closer look at the second paragraph of that introduction, the only one I have not quoted yet.  The most interesting one, in my opinion, as I don’t believe they can claim not to have an idea of Diamond’s work before embarking in their journey.

    Since you like evidence-based reasoning, tell me what evidence do you have to imply that I believe they’re lying.

  • StuartR

    re 237
    willard

    “Since you like evidence-based reasoning, tell me what evidence do you have to imply that I believe they’re lying.”

    You must have inferred that idea from what I said here:

    “If you read [the Lipo/Hunt book]  you wouldn’t be able to just plainly assert that. Rather you would have to say they are lying.”

    Isn’t that clearly a hypothtical? I am not accusing you though I admit I may be making discursive mistakes here but let me be clear I meant *if* you continued to make the following assertion:

    “So they went to Easter Island to examine a myth.”*

    And then you later read the book and see this one sentence from  that refutes this claim.

    “When we began our work on the island, we fully expected our findings  to corroborate [Diamond's] account.”

    Then you would be effectively saying they are lying if you repeated it.

    *I admit  I took the implication of that sentence to mean you think they went merely to debunk a *myth* not to confirm facts. And subsequently you have said

    “Because debunking myths is part of their job.”

    It is quite possible you didn’t mean that by that sentence alone and I am wrong. Have I misinterpreted what you were leading to there?

     

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    StuartR,

    Indeed, I believe you are misinterpreting what I am saying.

    I could not care less the reasons why Lipo & Hunt went on Easter Island.  I can’t read minds.  I can only read their words.  The relevant words for my inquiry are at Mark’s. 

    In that response, they start with the observation that part of the work of an scholar is to debunk myths.  The following sentence is to the effect that they found out that Diamond’s explanation of what he calls a collapse is a myth.  If you take the stance that I am trying to read their response, not read their minds, I believe you’d understand what I’m saying when I describe:

    > So they went to Easter Island to examine a myth.

    Wherever they go, they must be prepared to examine myths.  Part of their jobs is to examine myths.  Another part of the scholars’ job is to gather data.  Another part is to confirm the evidence we have so far for a theory.  Et cetera.  They don’t need to plan to do these things to intend to do them when need be.

    My reading of this is quite minimal: they say part of their jobs is bust myths, and so they did, even if it’s not with the plan of debunking myths.  That they did not intended to debunk Diamond does not matter much, if your job is to debunk myths and you go a trip to do your job.  

    You have to be prepared to do your job.  Part of your job is to debunk myths.  I am almost stating an analytical proposition here.  This follows from what they say.

    They clearly state that they did not intended to disprove Diamond’s thesis.  It just happened that way.

    I believe them. But even if we believe them, we can still wonder how declaring this motivation matters to their evidential-based reasoning.  Even if they were deeply jealous of Diamond’s popularity, they could still be right, and Diamond wrong.

    What matters is the evidence anyway.  Another time, perhaps.  I need to go.

    ***

    If you don’t like this sentence, I can write another one.  Let’s say:

    > So they went to Easter Island to do their job; their plan was simply to collect data, but part of their job is also to examine myths; and they found out that Diamond’s theory is a myth.

    Would that describe better what is written in that response?

    Perhaps we can interpret what they’re saying with this usual formula:

    > They are scientists, and as scientists they need to call BS when they see it.  They saw BS.  They call it.  Whenever you see BS, it’s their duty to call BS.

    Would that be OK with you?

    That would be OK with me. 

  • StuartR

    re 239
    willard

    “My reading of this is quite minimal: they say part of their jobs is bust myths, and so they did, even if it’s not with the plan of debunking myths. ”

    In my opinion your reading bears no resemblance to the people who wrote the book or even the people who wrote the reponse on the Lynas blog. It is too strong and unfair to attribute to them a desire to “bust” anything. Have you seen them say it? I haven’t in their book. Or on the Lynas blog.

    Also, I wanted to emphasise this but forgot earlier, with regard to how they refer to Diamond they quote him less than a half dozen times, the first in the introduction acknowledging his popular theory laying the ground work fairly IMHO, the rest of the times very obliquely e.g naming who he had relied on for research. In fact one of the things that struck me after reading this post and then reading the book is that I did *not* see any evidence of any personal antagonism against Diamond, a couple of times they favourably quote him in their support with regards to his Germs and Steel thesis.

    “They are scientists, and as scientists they need to call BS when they see it.  They saw BS.  They call it.  Whenever you see BS, it’s their duty to call BS.

    Would that be OK with you?”

    A strong way to say it but I would say that is a valid assessment of the flow of events, I agree. 

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    I’m glad we finally agree, StuartR!

    Indeed, it would be “too strong and unfair to attribute to them a desire to “bust” anything”.  It just happened that they did.  And that it is their job to do so.  I believe them.

    And I’m not seeing any *personal* antagonism between these researchers.  It just happens that they play the Scientist Game.

    You will notice this game being played by many scientists.

    Many scientists.

    Chances are that this is an effective game, that this game has its virtues, and that this game might be suboptimal.

    If you agree that this game is suboptimal, that would be enough for me.  I would then have provided evidence for one of the first claims I made in the thread.

    ***

    Describing this game does not imply we ascribe intentions.
     

    Take for instance the second paragraph:

    > Diamond’s thesis about what happened on Easter Island is not new, building as it did on presumptions originally offered by the first Europeans to set foot on the island in the early 18th century. Sadly, this thesis was not challenged because it so conveniently confirmed 18th century prejudice about superior (European) and inferior (everyone not European) societies. Thor Heyerdahl expanded the story and added a further racist twist about lighter-skinned people who accomplished much, and darker-skinned people who incited rebellion, warfare, and ruin.  Diamond simply continues the tradition by reworking the tale to remove the racist elements, relying instead upon an environmental twist put forth by popular writer Bahn and palynologist Flenley. 

    What are we to conclude from this paragraph, StuartR?

    Would that be fair to say that Lipo and Hunt did know a certain tradition, that they are quite critical of that tradition, and unless they brought lots of books on their voyage, they knew that tradition long before going on Easter Island?

    There are so many interesting words there.  Take “conveniently”.  Or “prejudice”.  Or “racism”.  Or “popular writer”. 

    There is a story there, don’t you think?

    Anyway, I got to go.

    Bye,

  • StuartR

    re 241
    willard
    You say they are playing the scientist game. Are you saying Lipo and Hunt don’t know they are playing this game and this is something you have divined by reading some behaviour via skills acquired from TA? I ask this because it is not readily obvious to me how I should see this from my point of view. We are talking about TA which is something I don’t have to agree is a valid assessment of anything useful frankly. It is more pertinent to talk of direct provable errors in their work or provable deceptions or double standards.

    That is why I wanted clarified your stance on testable points and mentioned that you would have to say they lied if you didn’t accept some basic assertions from their book. I wasn’t getting precious on Lipo and Hunts behalf, I am sure they couldn’t care less, but I was saying that words that asserts actions and motives that amount to an accusation of lying or dishonest behaviour, with no evidence to back them up, are almost as bad as arguing from personal incredulity.  I see no point entering into your scientist game analysis, from my point of view I have to learn a whole new discipline that I am not sure I want to. And before you say it I think I can anticpate the objection that I am taking my ball away and not playing ;-)

    That Thor Heyerdahl had views that could be described as racist today is probably disputed, I have heard and read enough myself to conclude he had views from another time I would label as racist myself. So the fact the Lipo and Hunt mention this and then later say that Diamond uses Heyerdahl’s thesis with only the racist section stripped out, could, I agree be touching on a game of tainting the opposition by association, but this is a behaviour that is well within the bounds of knowledge I have, I don’t need TA to see this, it is familiar in the more argumentative exchanges such as that one that unfolded on Lynas’s blog. Maybe they will come to some mutual understanding, but possibly not, I think that Lipo and Hunt are right about one thing – that Diamond has a lot at stake here, more than Lipo/Hunt are gaining, and I would say that Lipo and Hunt could be forgiven some barbs when you analyse the opening salvo from Diamond in that exchange.

    To be briefer, I don’t think there is anything too complex needed like exploring game theory or some TA analysis, I think it would be advisable reading the book and then assessing the resulting development in the blogoshere after that without over-larding meaning on the blog exchanges, would better provide understanding at a human level what is going on here.
     

  • StuartR

    Now after reading 5 threads, 3 on Lynas 1 on Tobis, and this one, I feel I have to add this comment.


    Besides Lynas I don’t see evidence of one single person, blog host or commenter who has bothered to read TSTW and then made an argued point  based on the direct contents of the book. That includes Diamond and of course Tobis. I allow I may be wrong here so if anyone is still reading this and can tell me otherwise with some evidence that a point was made with direct reference to TSTW then I would love to see that and I would retract that observation. Also I make an honourable exception for Keith Kloor who’s reasons for this post speak for themselves and are not dependent on having read TSTW.


    There is not whisper of evidence or proof shown that Lipo or Hunt have shown any approach or background in climate denial, yet looking through these threads I see, for example, empty insinuations made observing that their publishers Free Press is the same as the publishers of the Bell Curve – I notice in the UK that Simon and Schuster has the imprint so I could take it upon myself to work out some juicy connections there to – and so on and so on, with little scholarly content just attack attack. Several familiar names in the alarmist sphere lining up for a good tolchoking of what they must assume is the usual denialist old man in the subway lined up for their pleasure.

    This whole episode is fascinating.


    I can see this being a kind of watershed now (maybe as KK has intended) where some of the more reasonable observers may say to themselves “Hey, is this the right way to hold a debate? Is something going wrong here? How we could let things get out of hand?”


    It is quite a thing to find that having now personally read what is a rather short and pithy scholarly book in two days, which lays out a story which isn’t overloaded with extra baggage about moral interpretations or parallels with the rest of history and future of humanity, but rather just examines a clear isolated – both in time and space -  set of dates and proposed events, and then details their arguments against each point with dry evidence. That I at the end as the reader feel well armed with a picture that makes every lazy, crass sneer and innuendo put up against it seem toe curlingly bad.


    I feel like the exploiting foreign colonialist who has come armed with powerful weapon and have to be careful I don’t scare the natives who choose to play a cargo cult game of holding their raffia work muskets back to me in response.


    As I said above. This whole unequal “power” I feel I hold would collapse back to parity  in an instance, if I dealt with someone who also had read the book and could point out errors in what I say, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. I guess that is why literacy is one the gifts of humanity we overlook in our technological age today. Even the lowliest can be elevated by taking the time to read a book ;-)

  • Holly Stick

    Ahaynes read it and made some criticisms here:

    http://planet3.org/2011/11/14/the-statues-that-walked/#comment-1449 

  • StuartR

    Thanks Holly I’d missed that comment from yesterday 2:28 pm in some US time zone, I’d looked through the Tobis thread early yesterday here UK.

    A curiously passive voiced review im my opinion e.g. “arguments they advance do seem extremely weak”, and also another argument is described as “an argument which seems ignorant of the ecological concept of “limiting factors”:” but not shown to be wrong for not subscribing to concept of “limiting factors. Yes it is a review, but a review containing the requisite disdain that is needed right now, witness ;)

    “You really want to be out of range of the handwaving here, the propwash is intense and if you venture in range you could lose your head. The just-so stories are painful to read.”

    Also I liked this:

    “Much of the book was devoted to the rock windbreaks and to “lithic mulching”, i.e. covering the soil around your plants with rocks to reduce evaporation. Presumably this info was to make the point that the islanders were being savvy gardeners & tenders of their habitat, not wastrels.”

    Much of the book wasn’t devoted to just that, but a delightful interpretation of the motives of the authors none-the-less, and dare I say I see an interpretation of the motives of ahaynes herself as exposed as wanting to see the islanders really as required to oblige and fit the desciption of “wastrels”?

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    StuartR,

    I’ll need to think a bit more before doing justice to your overall argument.  I agree with many things you say.  I do disagree with some points too.  

    These are the two that jumped at me:

    You mention that not many persons read the book.  You took exception with Keith’s reading of the book, because his post speaks for itself.  Quite frankly, I see no reason why you would extend the same courtesy to me.  All of my posts related to the Scientist Game were related to Lupo and Hunt’s response to Diamond.  You must admit that I don’t need to read the book to read that response.  

    That you keep dancing around with “read the book” moves is quite irrelevant to what I am saying.  But if you insist, I could compile all your speculations about people who has not read that book.  That’s not difficult to do: all I need is to read back your comments.

    Reading is a powerful skill.  I think we both on agree.  Yet, you seem to claim that the Scientist Game is not testable.  Disregarding the difficulties with the criterion of testability (philosophers of science have ditched it in the 1930s), I will note that all there is needed is to read what the authors said and use common sense.  

    To see that, take this comment about Thor Heyerdahl.  Since I know you like formal arguments, here is another one:

    (1)  L&H claim that Thor Heyerdahl exemplifies a tradition in Easter Island archeology.
    (2)  L&H claim that this tradition is racist and ethnocentrist.
    (3)  L&H claim that Diamond’s thesis is related to this tradition.
    (4)  L&H claim that Diamond replaces the racist tone with the ecocide myth.

    You must agree that all this is testable.  The test is to read the second paragraph of L&H’s response to Diamond.  All these claim are the empirical data I need to conclude:

    (C) L&H associate Diamond’s work with a tradition they identify as racist and ethnocentrist.

    I do believe this conclusion follows from the premises of my argument.  This is what L&H’s claims in their second paragraph *does*.   Auditors could ask why they do that.  Game analysts mainly ask what it is they’re doing.

    Lipo and Hunt starts their response by association Diamond’s work with a tradition they underline as racist and ethnocentrist.

    This move is quite frequent among scientists.  In fact, one can see this move time and again in the history of ideas.  For instance, at the beginning of the 20th century, many philosophers called one another “psychologist”, according to which logic rests on psychology.

    ***

    I note you admit that what Lipo and Hunt say in their introduction could be interpreted as “barbs”, to be forgiven because of Diamond’s critique of their book.  Diamond Made Them Do It, so to speak.  I can understand that what Diamond says can explain Lipo and Hunt’s reaction.  But in no way do I believe what Diamond says justifies what Lipo and Hunt says.

    To see that, perhaps the best way is to ask Keith’s question:

    Is it the way to hold a debate?

    My own answer is: perhaps not, but it is what people do.

    This is a game scientists play. 

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Damn, I should proofread:

    > Quite frankly, I see no reason why you SHOULD NOT extend the same courtesy to me.   

  • StuartR

    re 246:
    Willard

    “That you keep dancing around with “read the book” moves is quite irrelevant to what I am saying.”

    Well then we part ways. Since this thread started from the observation of Tobis’s criticism based on self declared ignorance of soucre material whilst criticising it. I agreed that it is astonishing that this is happened, I think that intelligent people should read source material, i.e the book in this case. That is not something I am dancing around I am asserting it.

    I will say one thing further though, I look at the end of your logical chain and see this

    “L&H associate Diamond’s work with a tradition they identify as racist and ethnocentrist.”

    I am neither justifying L&H nor do I agree that L&H are accusing Diamond of racism.

    “This is a game scientists play.”

    No Lipo and Hunt wrote a book clearly outlining answers to all the questions relevant to current knowledge about the history of Rapa Nui. What happened later is the peanut gallery.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    StuartR,

    I believe you are wrong in your interpretation of this sentence:

    >  L&H associate Diamond’s work with a tradition they identify as racist and ethnocentrist.

    This sentence does not say that Diamond’s work is racist.  It only says that it associates Diamond’s work with a tradition that is racist and ethocentrist.  I’ll note that you have not said the same thing about “ethnocentrist”.  Auditors ought to ask why.

    Your parting interpretation is intriguing:

    > No Lipo and Hunt wrote a book clearly outlining answers to all the questions relevant to current knowledge about the history of Rapa Nui.   What happened later [this is a game scientists play] is the peanut gallery.

    This interpretation entails that Lipo and Hunt did not respond to Diamond at Mark’s as “scholars”.  This can be proven wrong simply by reading the fourth paragraph from that response, for instance:

    > On Easter Island we have done more field work and covered a greater breadth of archaeology than anyone else in the past two decades.  Our work has been peer-reviewed and published in science’s most selective and prestigious journals. 

    If that does not suffice, we could take a look at the list of references at the end of their response.  There are more than 20 titles in that list, and most of them are from the peer-reviewed litterature.  So much for the peanut gallery.

    * * * 

    I believe that I have enough evidence to show how you “dancing around” with TSTW. Here is what you say now:

    >  Since this thread started from the observation of Tobis’s criticism based on self declared ignorance of soucre material whilst criticising it. I think that intelligent people should read source material, i.e the book in this case. That is not something I am dancing around I am asserting it.

    I believe the topic is TSTW, but MT’s criticism of it.  

    I believe intelligent people should be able to distinguish TSTW from its criticism.  

    And I believe you are showing this intelligence when you say:

    > Also I make an honourable exception for Keith Kloor who’s reasons for this post speak for themselves and are not dependent on having read TSTW. 

    I believe I have provided enough evidence that my “reasons” are not dependent on having read TSTW.  

    I believe I have provided enough evidence that talking about games people play is nearer this topic’s post than questioning people’s intelligence like you just did.

    If we must part away, the evidence I see is that your position regarding what is the topic of this thread has “walked”.  It walked so much, actually, that it danced, 

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Damn NOT:

    > I believe the topic is *not* TSTW, but MT’s criticism of it.  

  • StuartR

    re 249

    willard
    “If we must part away, the evidence I see is that your position regarding what is the topic of this thread has “walked”.  It walked so much, actually, that it danced, ”

    I am not at all confused about what “the topic of this thread” is. It talks about Exhibit A and Exhibit B. Exhibit B Talks about someone crticising and dismissing a scholarly work by people without having read the scholarly work itself. That is to say being “willfully ignorant”. The order of chronology is important here too. The authors of the scholarly work criticised responded in good faith and then found out this startling admission of wilful ignorance.

    Exhibit B of the above post defines what interested me about the topic on this page. I have emphasied the benefit of reading the book gives is important. I said I was ordering the book. I got the book and reported my first impression. I finished the book and reported my concluding impressions. I haven’t changed my approach one bit. Possibly rather dull of me.

    If you later talk about “science games” that you claim the authors play on an a blog without reference to this primary topic, and do not want to engage with it, and ignore that I say I have no idea or empathy with this theory of covert “science games” than I can only end up ignoring you.

    The thing about supposedly all powerful theories that speak of interpreting peoples real actions and motives without regard to what the subject says he himself says he is aware of, is that it risks leaving the person applying the technique confused, and the subject it is applied to uninterested in responding.

    Please consider me an SOB you GOT ;-)  

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard


    StuartR,

    I am glad that you are not confused about the topic of this thread.  I stated my opinion it on November 19th, 2011 at 6:45 pm.  I extended my take on that topic on November 21st, 2011 at 10:58 am, and I tried to generalize even more on the November 21st, 2011 at 11:40 am, in a comment which does remind me of your dance.  I underlined Lipo’s Buy my Book departure move, a move we also saw in his exchange with Diamond.  On the November 21st, 2011 at 1:01 pm, I did connect the Scientist Game with our actual topic.  

    Then I mentioned a post by Steve Lekson on the criticicisms of Diamond’s book by the archeological establishment on the November 21st, 2011 at 2:02 pm, a post I have evidence you have not read.  And on the November 21st, 2011 at 3:19 pm, I reported to Marlowe some of my discoveries into Keith’s archives, which I also have no evidence you have read.  On the November 21st, 2011 at 4:08 pm, I also mentioned to Marlowe two other references I found via Keith, for which “I have no evidence you read”, to use your trick.

    Until then, and forgetting some irrelevant posts, I had not shown the Scientist Game in its extended form (so to speak), and around that time Lewis Deane asked me about it.  On November 21st, 2011 at 7:10 pm, I promised to tell him more about it.   On November 21st, 2011 at 8:30 pm, I reported two commenters that were not properly answered at Mark’s.  And on the November 22nd, 2011 at 8:24 am, I did talk about the Scientist Game.

    And then you came around with your “Read the Book” dance.

    I provided most of the reasons and the evidence you asked, and when you answered any of my challenges, you did so indirectly and not without minimizing your concessions, the latter being about Lipo & Hunt not acting like scientists at Mark’s, a point your last comment does not even acknowledge.  So as far as I can tell, you simply did the Honest Broker Dance.

    Quite sincerely, I could not care less about your sympathy.  That only tells me you are getting tired dancing around, which is sad, since I need someone around that pretends he’s interested.    

    If you change your mind and stick around, we could still talk about evidence-based reasoning, as I promised I would.  But before that, prepare to acknowledge everything you kinda forgot.  For I have not.
     

  • ul
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Collide-a-Scape

Collide-a-Scape is a wide-ranging blog forum that explores issues at the nexus of science, culture and society.

About Keith Kloor

Keith Kloor is a NYC-based journalist, and an adjunct professor of journalism at New York University. His work has appeared in Slate, Science, Discover, and the Washington Post magazine, among other outlets. From 2000 to 2008, he was a senior editor at Audubon Magazine. In 2008-2009, he was a Fellow at the University of Colorado’s Center for Environmental Journalism, in Boulder, where he studied how a changing environment (including climate change) influenced prehistoric societies in the U.S. Southwest. He covers a wide range of topics, from conservation biology and biotechnology to urban planning and archaeology.

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