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Scott Adams again

edited March 2017 in Deniosaurs
I'm having difficulty quitting Scott Adams. Here is his latest.

He refers to a headline "Climate change computer model vindicated 30 years later...." Then he offers to bet a million bucks that he, Scott Adams, could do that.  More specifically, "I can come up with a climate forecast model that ignores C02 and still predicts the temperature 30 years from now ...."

And he isn't going to. Aw shucks! A climate model that ignores greenhouse gasses would be a scientific miracle. A revolution in physics. Such revolutions have happened. Let's hear him out.

Scott Adams adds he is 100% confident he can do it, "using my current skill set."  So that revolution in physics is in the bag already. Probably it is already in Scott Adams' head!  And we have testimony that Scott Adams has quite a smart head. Very persuasive testimony. From the source itself. So it is likely true.

But then, as so often happens, @SA continues to write, and utterly spoils the illusion. He doesn't propose to model anything. He proposes to pull a bunch of numbers out of his butt and *call* it a model. Repeatedly.
And one of those numbers will turn out 30 years later to be true, so he wins his bet.

Get it? It is just like the old story about the investment-adviser scam. The guy who sends different stock predictions to a bunch of different people, then ....  Scott Adams goes on to compliment his readers as being smart enough not to fall for that old scam.

So Adams equates physical modeling with pulling-numbers-out-of-your-butt, and a successful model is a scam. And he congratulates his readers for how smart they are for knowing about such scams.

One problem is that he his a pretty good storyteller.
Another problem is that it has lessened my taste for Dilbert cartoons. One of his best tropes is when a character uses logical-sounding rhetorical trickery to turn something on its head or put down another character. It is funny in a cartoon. it became less funny when I found out that Adams likes to practice these tricks in real life. And even less funny because he does it for the purpose of reinforcing climate denial.



  • What, does he want money for it.
    Why doesn't he just do it?
    Another case of the fool believing he's smarter than experts.

    Thanks for not posting the link and I'll do my best to resist the morbid urge to go over there.

    If you engage them, maybe share this link.
    Published on Aug 24, 2015 - 1:40 min
    Prof Alley gets passionate about the motivation of scientists.

    Climate change is real, so why the controversy and debate? Learn to make sense of the science and to respond to climate change denial in Denial101x, a MOOC from UQx and edX.

    Denial101x isn’t just a climate MOOC; it’s a MOOC about how people think about climate change.
    Any research used to develop this content has been cited on a references page within the subsection for this lecture. 
    To register and learn more:

  • Oh and 100% confidence sounds like an absolutist, not healthy, we need a touch of self-skepticism.

    Oh, and don't forget, unidirectional skepticism equals denial.      =)
  • And @SA keeps at it. His post yesterday is an enumerated list of denier talking points, which he ties together by the plot device of giving helpful advice to climate scientists on how to communicate better. If only they could answer these questions or stop trying these arguments, the deniers would start to listen. How helpful!
    In case anybody here wants advice from the self-styled master communicator on how to do it better....

  • edited March 2017
    It took me a while, but I'm coming to understand Adams and his posts on global warming.
    Scott Adams is an entertainer. His acolytes find this entertaining. From their reactions, it seems they have witnessed a bull fighter doing battle with the AGW bull, goring it a few times. They stand and cheer.
    Then Adams takes a bow. He tells his acolytes how smart they are. Then he lets them in on a few secrets of his bull-fighting, which he calls "persuasion." So they can talk knowingly about the sport and go do battle themselves.
    Of course in the reality-based community Adams looks like a foolish figure waving a stage sword at straw bulls. None of his posts make a lick of sense.
    But his followers see a blood sport. With their side scoring points and wounding the enemy. They are enchanted.
  • That's what made Anthony Watts so popular.  Unfortunately, while we scratch our heads, they seem to be making more converts.
  • "While we scratch our heads, they seem to be making more converts."

    That is Adams' hook in some sense. The narrative structure that he uses to tie together his climate denier blog posts is that climate communicators aren't very skilled at persuading the public. There is probably some truth to that, and he has a lot of verbiage about persuasion, so it seemed like it could be worth reading.
    However Adams is only interested in helping out the deniers.

    The episodes in his narrative run like this:
    -- He, Scott Adams, finds something-or-other not persuasive.
    -- He "explains" why it is not persuasive, meaning he deploys some denier arguments.
    -- He salts the explanation with some words from his master persuader manual so his acolytes can feel they are seeing the expert's techniques.
    -- It is the climate scientists' fault for not persuading him. They have made climate science look like a scam (one of his favorite conclusions), so of course nobody believes them.

    Another way to frame this episode is:
    -- I (Scott Adams) choose not to believe you. You can't make me. So nyah!
    -- My disbelief is all your fault, I have no personal responsibility to even try to align my beliefs with reality.

    Ultimately, it is hard to shake the feeling that mostly the deniers are choosing to abdicate personal responsibility for what they choose to believe. And it is hard to know how to get around that.

    However putting the onus solely on the deniers seems like itself a cop-out. Surely we can do better at climate communication.

    (But we aren't going to learn how from Adams.) So it is all very unsatisfying.
  • I think from now on I will refer to Scott Adams and his band of climate-demented acolytes as The Adams Family.
  •  Some of the analogies in this rant are tailored to Adams' particular bugaboos, most are more generic. But they aren't going to appreciate it over on Scott Adams' blog, so I'll post it here.


    Why do I keep driving around drunk? It is possible that the alarmists are right. But I'm not qualified to know. I just look at the patterns. And the patterns tell me that they can't persuade me to stop.

    Think about it. Drunken behavior is a complex model. Can't be accurately predicted. Notoriously so. You can model reaction time, and judgment, just create a bunch of different predictions and one of them would be right. They *might* be scientific, but it looks to me just like what the scammers do. Nobody has ever created an accurate model of what a drunk person would do.

    And the predictions of doom require another complex model after that of what happens during the drive home. Seriously, I have driven home many times. And the alarmist models that said I would kill myself and others have been 100% inaccurate in my experience.

    I agree that 95% of the people I know tell me I need to stop this, and disaster will happen. How is that distinguishable from a mass delusion? There have been many mass delusions in history. They all look the same.

    Did you know that alcohol is natural? And some organisms feed off of it? What is the 'correct ' percentage of alcohol. You can't tell me. There are records showing that in historical times in Europe a lot of people drank mostly beer, not plain water. I won't go so far as to call it the Medieval Beer Period, but it's the truth. And that was when European civilization was flourishing and advancing. The notion that alcohol is a pollutant is nonsense. And the notion that a mere one part per thousand in your blood could cause you to kill yourself and others simply doesn't pass the smell test.

    Can you seriously claim that alarmist organizations like MADD and the National Safety Council don't have their own filters on? They see money. They see prestige. They have their point of view, and they will always see the world in a way that reinforces it.

    Want to witness some cognitive dissonance? Just ask some MADD person what fraction of an accident was caused by the alcohol, and what fraction was caused by natural variability. Accidents happen without people getting drunk. They can't answer that simple question. Ask how often driving home drunk *doesn't* cause an accident. They just freeze up, they don't want to know the truth that they know.

    And anyway I'll believe the alarmists when they all give up driving. The spokesperson for the National Safety Council drives to work. While at the same time warning everybody about drunks driving on the roads. Har har. Clearly he makes his money from drunk driving alarmism and at the same time doesn't really believe driving is dangerous. Very unpersuasive.

    They tried to make me go to rehab, I said No No No! I am not a denier. It's just that you can't persuade *me*. So there.

  • That was good.

    There's the flip side to that.

    'The Drunken Driver Has the Right Of Way'


    The loudest have the final say,
    The wanton win, the rash hold sway,
    The realist's rules of order say
    The drunken driver has the right of way.

    The Kubla Khan can butt in line;
    The biggest brute can take what's mine;
    When heavyweights break wind, that's fine;
    No matter what a judge might say,
    The drunken driver has the right of way.

    The guiltiest feel free of guilt;
    Who care not, bloom; who worry, wilt;
    Plans better laid are rarely built
    For forethought seldom wins the day;
    The drunken driver has the right of way.

    The most attentive and unfailing
    Carefulness is unavailing
    Wheresoever fools are flailing;
    Wisdom there is held at bay;,
    The drunken driver has the right of way.



  • Totally timely!
    This thought is not like what you posted, but in a similar spirit.
    Arguably, we would benefit from having a more of a strident radical fringe. It is the strident radicals who make the sensible middle acceptable to mainstream public discourse. I think it is something of a psychological necessity for a lot of people to be able to say "I can agree with *these* folks, they make sense to me, in contrast to *those* folks over there who are unhinged and over the top."

     Global warming doesn't have that much of a radical fringe. The result is that the deniers accuse the sensible center of being the radicals. "From their chicken-little predictions of disaster they want to take our freedoms away and destroy the economy." We've all heard that before. They need a vision of radicalness to oppose, and they pin that vision on us, and that makes the mass of people who are off to the side observing the debate reluctant to join us.  If there were a *real* radical fringe that people could point to, we would be better off.
  • Heh, you got a good chuckle out of me Mboli.
    As for the radical fringe... saying the world's doomed unless we repent stop burning oil does sound pretty radical. It's just too bad it's also true.
  • edited April 2017
    Quite the Tragedy of The Commons we're witnessing.  Considering what's going on with ocean biology and land biology, seems our days are numbered no matter what cosmetic changes we manage to muster in the next years.  Although from all indications, absolutely nothing constructive will happen cosmetic or any other,  keeping the peddle to the metal is the order of the day.   Very, very depressing.   

    Being a person who for whatever reason has been actively striving to understand the world and being a conscientious engaged citizen all my life, more and more I find myself thinking I need to unhook, ignore it, detach like most others have managed.  Face the fact that nothing I've done has made the slightest difference, except in stealing time from other people and things that want/need more of my attention.

     Focus on my little circumstance, which relatively speaking is quite nice, simply focus on local and be prepared for when the fallout reaches my neck of the woods.  Continue enjoying the day to day as best I can until it's my turn to die - what else is there?
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