To his eternal credit, however, he does not censor any of these comments, however scathing. Thus open, healthy, even robust, debate with him is enabled and encouraged. It's in this spirit that he hit back this morning, in quite a thought-provoking piece, not only at, I presume, people like me (at least indirectly) who he deems to have been pushed by AGW arrogance, certitude and flawed thinking "towards an ever more antithetical position" and that that is "a flawed, human, response – very similar to the flaws exhibited by those climate change monkeys sending dodgy emails to one another," (oh, my bad then, Rod) but directly at the AGW lobby itself. I'm afraid that if I and people like me, who, thanks to our own, (according to Rod) understandable weaknesses have been "pushed" to some sort of extreme anti-AGW position by, in particular, the Climategate scandal, have attracted merely his sympathy and counsel, the warmists have attracted nothing less than his scorn - albeit a reasonably equable scorn, in true Liddle-the-peacemaker style. But his post also contains an interesting warning for the AGW lobby at large, though delivered at a warmist commenter who left some pretty scathing remarks of his own, but from the other direction, that's worth quoting.
I find it genuinely difficult to debate with people who deny my right to debate; this is the case with the climate change lobby. The danger, if you don’t watch out, is that the arrogance and certitude of the AGW lobby pushes one towards an ever more antithetical position. This is a flawed, human, response – very similar to the flaws exhibited by those climate change monkeys sending dodgy emails to one another. If you work for, and are paid by, an institution which accepts climate change as a fact, then you will be disinclined to accept scientific evidence to the contrary. You hold climate change as an article of faith, and also a conduit for remuneration. This is how science becomes poisoned; but it happens in almost every scientific endeavour, and always has done. Scientists become trapped by their own paradigms; they are reluctant to let go of ideas. This is why it usually takes a generation before paradigms change. But change they always do. Remember that a generation ago we were worried by global cooling and the coming of the next ice age.Well, OK. I think that is a fair point about false positives - and it should actually count as a serious warning to all sides of this debate: check your facts and don't be too certain about your stats. However, he still fails, like all the other UK MSM professional journos, bar one or two, to give us the benefit of his wisdom about what have emerged as nothing more or less than faked statistics. But he simply chooses to ignore the reprehensible actions (the manipulation of data to produce misleading results, the dirty tricks, the stifling of opposition and the endless, alarmist propaganda campaign and so on), some of which constitute actual fraud given that vast sums of taxpayer funding is involved, and yet he satisfies his own prejudices by dismissing the perpetrators of these deceptions as "climate change monkeys".
I have no expertise whatsoever in meteorology, but I do have a bit of knowledge about stats, and randomness and chance – and it is this that leads me to a broadly sceptical point of view regarding AGW. Jim Ryan kindly responded to my blog about the UEA debacle with a lengthy and pretty rational argument, to which he appended a list of many organisations which sign up to AGW. What he didn’t say, however, was that these organisations often heavily qualify their belief in man-made climate change, suggesting that it is “probable” or “heavily probable” or “likely”. Fine. And there are many more which will not go even this far.
But it is another part of Jim’s response that interested me, because it involves statistics and displayed the almost universal misunderstanding of statistics and chance. He wrote:“Rod, you visit a 100 tumour specialists and 97 tell you you require an operation to treat the condition. The other 3 say it is benign and does not require any treatment “
The implication being that of course the 97 are right, and that any rational person would not question this supposed fact. A 97% certainty is pretty much a certainty, full stop, isn’t it?
Well, no. Suppose the tumour which the doctors believe afflicts me is a fairly rare type of tumour, one which affects only, say, one in 5000 people. If that is the case then the likelihood that I do not have that tumour, and that those 97% of surgeons have made a wrong diagnosis, and that I therefore do not need an operation, is far, far higher than the likelihood that I do have a tumour and do need it operated upon. Jim’s analogy utilizes that difficult thing to supposedly prove his point, the false positive.
So, the upshot of this is that we are none the wiser as to where, precisely, Liddle stands on any part of these issues. Is he saying that the monkeys are basically correct but they've been naughty monkeys for being so certain in their belief that they seemed to imagine all established scientific norms and moral/social (even legal) codes could be suspended, such was the size of the crisis they'd revealed? Is he arguing that this was wrong (bad monkeys) and that all it has served to do is create more monkeys (who are probably right wing monkeys, to boot)? Is he merely pretending that he is the only sane, high-brow human (therefore not a monkey) left on this crazy old planet of ours, blowing hot and cold as she endlessly does?
With the first two, from this particular post we are, indeed, left none the wiser. But I do think that my last question might have an answer - and it's most definitely a "yes". Liddle's contribution, more or less, has been to massage his own ego by placing himself firmly in the middle but raised above the scrap, sort of in the position of Umpire of the Great Global Warming
But he cannot be serious.