I guess it’s safe to say that my life has a certain Forest-Gump-like quality to it, in the sense that I have been at the scene of important events without playing much of a major role in them. I’ve met famous people, worked on important projects, seen war and the end of war, etc.

I was working as associate producer for a video production company in the early 90s when we were approached by a young woman who wanted us to do a documentary. After a long period of intense psychoanalysis she had come to believe that long-repressed memories of ritual child abuse had resurfaced, were true and were horrible. Her recovered memories were detailed and intense. They contained narratives of horrific crimes committed by satanic child abusers.

Before we took the commission, my boss asked me to investigate. Certainly there were plenty of media stories about this type of incident–there had been accusations, trials and even one or two convictions. So I clipped newspaper articles and talked with a couple of reporters. One of them named an FBI agent who had been assigned to look at the broad phenomenon–he went from case to case, trying to build a picture of what was really going on. I got his details, called him and he volunteered to come out and meet with our team.

And what he said was as horrifying as the stories that the young woman had told. “I’ve investigated hundreds of these cases–done forensics at scenes where these children were supposedly held, ceremonial sites where other children were supposedly sacrificed. I’ve looked for blood, fingerprints, clothing, fibers. I’ve spent years on this. And I’ve never found one piece of evidence that any of this has occurred. I believe this is the largest case of mass hysteria this country has ever experienced. People who are deeply dissatisfied with elements of their lives look for some root cause to hold responsible–and being a victim of satanic child abuse that was so horrible that you repressed all memory of it relieves you of the responsibility for parts of your life you cannot accept.”

And it turned out he was right. There are worshippers of Satan. There are child abusers. They are not the same and what these people thought were repressed memories were dark fantasies.

Fast forward a bit. There have been a number of instances in the past twenty years where phenomenon have emerged that required a validated and logical explanation. Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy–a disease of cows that damaged brain activity, then physical control and led to death. Most prevalent in England, press reports speculated that hundreds of thousands of English folk would perish from it. And the press and the politicians claimed scientific support for this. It created a public furor that led to the massacre of millions of cows and a reorganization of the entire agricultural sector in the UK.


As we all know, BSE was a terrible scourge for those afflicted, but it was about 157 people in total who actually suffered from it over a 20-year period. And it turned out that the politicians and the press hijacked the agenda away from more conservative scientists, used their own shoddy math to overrule scientific conclusions and come up with mystery projections of mass infection, deterioration and death.

And so it has been ever since. From the safety of vaccinations and genetically modified organisms to the menace of pesticides and fertilizers, Western Civilization has bounced from scare story to scare story, with each one first seized upon by politicians and the press, then pushed out at the general public as the results of scientific inquiry–and then revealed as hopelessly exaggerated or made up out of whole cloth. Power lines. Cellular telephones. DDT.

These all were new phenomenon that sometimes actually posed a threat to small numbers of people, but were clearly less dangerous than the heart disease, stroke and cancer that actually claim most of us at the end of the day. But their newness counted for more than the small number of victims affected and those who profit from a state of perpetual fear rode that horse as far as they could. Some of them were deft enough to change horses in mid-stream, moving from one alarm to another.

And so what of global warming? Is it in fact another new scare? It has elements of it, surely. There are politicians, preachers and pundits who have sounded the alarm without understanding the issue. There are many who have exaggerated the findings of sober scientists and a few scientists who have been less than sober themselves.

And these…villains… for want of a more incendiary term, these villains have adopted the tactics and strategies that were effective in promoting previous scares. Many resorted to hiding the defects of the science instead of promoting honest exploration. Where the scientists predicted modest sea level rise, the hysterics inflated it to drastic floods and where the scientists said that they couldn’t say what would happen at a regional level, hysterics in each region of the world said that theirs would be hardest hit.

But global warming isn’t like the other scares. First, because the globe actually warmed rapidly for a 25-year period. Not at an unprecedented rate, but at an unusual one. There was a real phenomenon. Second, because those who sought to ride the global warming horse to glory were opposed almost immediately, first by those with vested interests at stake, but later by a large number of very diverse people who reacted against the tone and the hyperbole and decided to check the numbers. So although the European Union and California put in stringent emission limits, the world as a whole did not. And although green energy received billions of dollars in subsidies, they proved additive in nature to the energy mix rather than substitutes for more proven fuels.

And now, decades later, we see that those most invested in climate alarmism have resorted to calling current weather the result of climate change, insulting the scientists who clearly say otherwise and anyone old enough to remember or read of similar events in the past. And the warming has stalled–no warming for 16 years, we’re told, during a period where humans have emitted one-third of all emissions in recorded history. And the line in the sand is drawn.

Without disputing the science behind the theory of global warming, without objecting to the temperature record or the declining ice in the Arctic, it is finally safe to say, as James Hansen did before resigning from NASA, that temperatures have stalled. Or as James Annan has said, speaking safely from Japan, that higher estimates of atmospheric sensitivity will probably be dropped from consideration. The Economist, after a decade of lining up with the most pessimistic of public affairs officers, has written clearly and accurately that climate change needs to be re-evaluated in softer terms. And one now can be a skeptic or a lukewarmer and laugh at those still shrilly hurling insults at those who don’t fall in line with their dogma.

There is apparently a time limit–a half life–for public scare stories. Eventually, like Wakefield’s lies about vaccines and autism or the phony claims about GMOs, things like the Hockey Stick Chart, Gleick’s theft and forgery of opposition documents and the bland overconsumption of energy by those championing its restriction undermine the scare stories and leave the public numb.

The job now is to preserve the scientific narrative that was obscured by the alarmists. The recent period of global warming was not imaginary. We are moving into a future that will see us emitting far more CO2 than we are now. Temperatures may have stalled–but they have not fallen, despite the movement of several phenomenon into phases that push temperatures lower. We’re not out of the woods yet.

But if we can keep the alarmists off the stage and out of the newspapers, perhaps a more realistic dialogue can address the real phenomenon instead of the nightmares.


24 responses to “Sci-Jacked

  1. Best. Blogpost. Ever.

  2. Excellent summary.

  3. I agree with this post. And I would agree that CO2 causes global warming — except for the solid, unarguable scientific evidence that it doesn’t.

    Climate alarmists are trying to spin the clear, empirical, unambiguous evidence to support their scare. But honest scientists accept whatever Planet Earth is telling us. And the planet is telling us that the rise in CO2 is not the cause of any measurable global warming.

    Which is an extraordinalily good thing, because neither China, nor India, nor Russia, nor a hundred smaller countries have any intention of moderating their CO2 emissions.

    It is with great consternation that skeptical scientists [which are the only honest kind of scientists] view the climate alarmism and demonization of “carbon”, when all the real world evidence is falsifying that scare.

    Make no mistake: scientists as a group are no more ethical or honest than any othere group of professionals. They can be bought and paid for just like professional bicycle racers, or or professional politicians. It takes better than average moral character to stand up and tell the truth: that nothing either unprecedented or unusual is occurring with the climate: extreme weather events are moderating over time, global temperatures have stalled for a decade and a half, polar ice cover is above its long term average, etc.

    The global rise in temperature has increased at the same rate — about 0.35ºC per century — since the end of the Little Ice Age. That rate of rise has not accelerated for hundreds of years, even though CO2 has risen by ≈40%. Thus, it is clear that the rise in CO2 is not affecting global temperature.

    Honesty is in short suppy among professional scientists. Peer pressure is immense, and it takes a brave scientist to point out that there is no scientific evidence to support the belief that the rise in CO2 is anything but harmless and beneficial,

    History may or may not judge the mendacity of those promoting the “carbon” scare. But the public is now starting to realize that the ‘science’ supporting the scare fails upon close scrutiny. And the fact that the alarmists refuse to engage in any real debate is reason enough to look for ulterior motives in their increasingly dubious position.

    • “Make no mistake: scientists as a group are no more ethical or honest than any othere group of professionals. They can be bought and paid for just like professional bicycle racers, or or professional politicians.”

      Negative, but go on with your assertions, they’re entertaining enough.

      • Jim,
        Do you have some evidence showing that scientists are more resistant to temptation than are other well educated segments of society?

      • Well,the original reference was w.r.t. “professionals”, not the well-educated, but take it up with dbstealey if you’re interested in that issue, he’s the one laying down the assertions (read: character assassinations) as if they’re stepping stones.

        And ask him/her how much time he/she spends with scientists while you’re at it. And how the graph linked to “proves” the case that CO2 has no effect on temperature.

        I’m sure you’ll get all kinds of answers hunter./

      • Jim,
        Try speaking to the point instead of simply dismissing it. If scientists are less susceptible to corruption/temptation, why is that so?

  4. The set of human emotions is
    Positive: Happiness
    Neutral: Surprise
    Negative: Sadness, anger, disgust, fear.

    If you want to motivate someone to action, you push the negative buttons.That’s why warmist PR is so effective.

    It’s not that we skeptics don’t have any negative buttons to push. Carbon reduction (with the current immature technologies) has huge costs, financial and humanitarian.

    Our PR machine is just totally ineffective, that’s all.

  5. Good post. I would add that getting out of the woods is an unpredictable technology development – whether its fusion or synthetic bio, or most likely something i’ve never heard of.. Thus its this uncertain time-to-arrival during which we are in the gap: no viable alternative energy meanshaving to stomach the side effects, or cut down.
    This is the time period that needs to be *managed* – how bad can it get, until we’re forced into the pain of energy use reduction? This is clearly where alarmism has failed the public – like showing Florida go under water in AIT. This is something which would take centuries to occur, and not a fair portrayal of the negative impact during the *gap* period.

  6. Tom,
    I am concerned about your remark about “Wakefield’s lies about vaccines and autism”. Given that this is a serious and defamatory allegation to make, can you substantiate it ? As far as I am aware no-one has demonstrated in any way that Wakefield knowingly or recklessly misrepresented the facts in the sub-category of autism he was researching – regressive autism linked to associated bowel disorders, with measles vaccine virus present in the intestinal tract.

    Also do you know of any evidence that the claims in Wakefield’s paper have been refuted by subsequent investigations ? As far as I know there have been no such investigations because a ruling was made at the time by Prof Roy Salisbury, Director of Immunisation at the Department of Health, that it would be unethical to conduct medical trials involving a control group of unvaccinated children – which is a circular argument: You can’t research the effects of a procedure officially classed as beneficial and safe without denying some of your subjects the benefits of the procedure – which is unethical.

    I would be interested in your reply.

  7. Tom, this hits close to home. I’ve spent almost three decades in law enforcement and can personally testify to the hysterics of false memories. One of the more interesting aspects of the phenomena is that false memories are more vivid and detailed than real ones.

    Back before I worked for the Minneapolis Police Department, I lived just downstream from Jordan Minnesota, a sad little river town that was swept up in the hysteria of a sexual abuse scandal.

    It all started with a real incident, a child abuser who lived in the trailer park, but the county attorney was a truly scary lady who went on a rampage. Within a few months, she had scores of people under investigation. Google “Scott County Sex Abuse Case” to read up on the lurid details.

    Saddest of all is what happened to the kids. These children were counselled into the wildest, most perverted accusations imaginable – that will scare them forever.

    At one point, the kids claimed that babies were being murdered and their bodies thrown off a bridge in the backwaters of the Minnesota River. A deputy who knew the area, knew for a fact that bridge was a tiny foot-bridge that crossed a creek, not the river, and the creek was inches deep.

    When he told the prosecutor this, she spit on him. She didn’t like deniers who didn’t believe the children.

    My takeaway from the incident is that people will believe anything.

    One more point to add, if our forensic team pulled anything like the Hockey-team, they would do some serious jail time. The same thing goes for violating Data Practices by deleting emails.

    • GregS,
      You make extremely good points.
      I came from a regulated financial background.
      If accounting reports were treated the way ‘the team’ treated their science, those preparing the reports would be lucky to get away with SEC civil fines and sanctions and to avoid felony indictments.
      I wish the skeptics now sitting so quietly on “CG3 would at least give us some some excerpts and updates.
      There is no way that there is nothing to report after this much time passing since CG3 was released. It is starting to smell a bit.

  8. Tom, On the big things that I’ve studied, science hasn’t worked the way it is supposed to during my lifetime. There is a lot of data out there contradicting the big bang, general relativity, and plate tectonics. Who cares? Why should CAGW be any different?

  9. “Temperatures may have stalled–but they have not fallen, despite the movement of several phenomenon into phases that push temperatures lower. We’re not out of the woods yet.”

    Not even close to being out of the woods. Not even remotely close.

    • I guess that settles it then. Thanks for the info!

      Wonder what you would have said 16 years ago about the possibility of a pause in warming. Maybe “Not even a possibility, not even a remote possibility”?

      • Tom, I think the idea of a pause in warming–or more accurately put, a sawtooth shape to the temperature trends–would have been so non-controversial as to not merit mentioning. Which is why I don’t think it was often discussed. Now that it’s gone on for a bit more than expected, it’s getting a lot of press. But I don’t think 16 years is all that long.

        To me, the surprise is of course that it has happened at the same time as we have emitted one third of all our historic CO2 during the same time. I think that’s something that is worth exploring in depth.

      • TWF, There are several observed short cycles in climate. In the volcanic explosivity index there are two spikes at 9.5 and 10.8 years which gives a beat of around 80 years so an anomalous decline for about 40 years shouldn’t come as a surprise.
        If you are really interested, look at Scaffetti’s stuff. We have a trend of about 0.06 C/decade with several oscillations superimposed on top.

      • Hiya Marty–Hey! I’ve been saying 38 years as a minimum period to look at just from a stats point of view–you say 40 from a climate p.o.v. What a coincidence.

        Sawtooth waveform on a slightly rising trend. What is so hard to understand about that?

      • Actually, It is 39.5 years but I rounded up and simplified a lot. I think that one significant figure is all that I’m up for.

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