After the recent resurfacing of the debate about using the word ‘denier’ to describe those opposing the Climate Consensus, many consensus advocates made gestures towards either abandoning the term in the future or at least agreeing on the corrosive effect the term has had on discourse.
However, Michael Tobis went further. He has abandoned the floundering Planet 3.0 and returned to his former blog Only In It For The Gold. He recently put up a post called ‘The D-Word and the S-Word’ where he unblushingly states that “I don’t usually call anyone a denier or a denialist by name, though I’ve been in a lot of internet arguments and may well have slipped up a time or two.”
Update: As a courtesy I thought I’d post a comment on his blog to let him know that I am criticizing him, but Tobis has blocked me from his blog.
I have a lot of history with Michael Tobis, mostly characterized by ill-feelings on both sides. Tobis had a habit of conducting sustained smear campaigns, first against scientists (Roger Pielke Sr. and Junior, Judith Curry), journalists (Andrew Revkin, Keith Kloor and myself when I was writing at Examiner.com) and of course bloggers–especially Steve McIntyre, Lucia Liljegren and Steve Mosher. Mosher was the target of one of the most profane (if unintentionally funny) posts I’ve ever seen on a blog. Tobis wrote it. He still seems proud of it, apparently not seeing the silliness of it. He’s also proud of the hatchet job he did on Judith Curry. Apparently calling her incompetent (without taking the trouble to read anything she published) is something that Tobis thinks took courage.
His favorite tactic in his smear campaigns was to make sweeping accusations (He accused me of not knowing anything about science, which stung a bit until I saw him make the same accusations of, well, scientists…) but he never would specify any point that his targets were guilty of.
For example, with Judith Curry he wrote “We have reached a point where it is impossible to judge that Curry is in touch with the science that she is supposed to be a prominent participant in. So has she lost touch, or has she never had much scientific insight to begin with? That’s the only question any of this burbling raises.”
But in the next paragraph he wrote, “On the other hand, to be honest no paper of hers has ever come across my radar in anything I’ve investigated.”
As I was a frequent commenter at his blog in its heyday, his walking away from the D-Word did not really strike me as true. I vividly recall one exchange at his blog:
Blogger Tom said…
What many of us hear: … ‘You are the scummy equivalents of skinheads who deny the Holocaust ever occurred.’
January 12, 2011 at 3:37 PM Delete
Blogger Michael Tobis said… Right, Tom, that’s, um, the point.
So I thought I’d play a little game. The rules of the game were:
Find instances of Tobis using the word ‘denier’ or one of its variants.
Time limit: One hour
Only Tobis’ writing–no quotes of others using the term.
Search limited to Only In It For The Gold–no tracking down comments on the many blogs Tobis has ranted at.
Results of a one-hour search at Only In It For The Gold follow:
Update: Don’t miss Sou’s comment #15 at the Shewonk thread on the delicate balancing act of the denier sites. I hadn’t thought of this. It argues against participating.
Blogger Tom said…
What many of us hear:
(equations, rhetoric, hysteria, etc.)… ‘You are the scummy equivalents of skinheads who deny the Holocaust ever occurred.’
January 12, 2011 at 3:37 PM Delete
Blogger Michael Tobis said…
Right, Tom, that’s, um, the point.
January 12, 2011 at 3:53 PM
I believe that climate denialism is a social, not an intellectual or philosophical, movement.
Post title: What Deniers Hear
Bell uses the key technique that denialists use in debates, dubbed by Eugenie Scott the “Gish gallop”, – See more at: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2011/01/forbes-rich-list-of-nonsense/#sthash.uFgMvPwW.dpuf
“Skeptic” is hardly the name for this! “Denier” or “denialist” really isn’t bad, but in addition to rubbing some people wrong, it doesn’t capture the mindboggling recklessness of their activities.
If I bend over backwards to treat the deniers with respect on the grounds that there might be a few genuine skeptics in their ranks, meanwhile looking under every rock for any point of disagreement with people who have their heads screwed on right, my site starts to look like, well, Judith Curry’s.
It is one thing to engage, carefully and consciously. It’s another to butter up the lazy denialists and bash the diligent efforts of genuine scientists.
Remember the story on here about how the denialists made a big fuss about something perfectly reasonable
Denialist websites issue headlines like
Greenpeace Leader Admits Organization Put Out False Global Warming Data
Post Title Spot the Denier Bug
Find a typical article on a typical denialist site, and spot the biggest error!
RC has been able to generate rapid responses to denier pseudoscience
One thing an anti-Morano would do would be just to monitor Morano and take advantage of his efforts as an early-warning system for new denialist nonsense.
Morano is taking his nomination as chief denier literally
Post Title: The Opposite of Denialism
OK, the new meme among the denialists is that the tide is with them,
I don;t think this is what the denialists have in mind when they ask me what would “falsify the hypothesis”.
The denialists have picked it as one of their favorite refutations but it really doesn’t refute much of anything.
The author of the denialist-celebrated point of view, by the way, has also written a brief celebration of what he calls “post-autistic economics”,
No question that a full-blooded GCM is not for amateurs, but with this much at stake you’d think the denial camp
The article is rife with the usual denialist sleight of hand and drivel, but it is not at all clear that the author is insincere.
but it’s still frequently brought up by the do-nothingists (who don’t like to be called denialists but don’t deserve to be called skeptics).
OK, we really need a name for those people that is less respectful than “skeptic” and more so than “crypto-Nazi”, even though the latter, as an interpretation of “denialist”, is a specious back-formation.
one of the most irritating aspects of denialism