The Creation of Consensus via Administrative Abuse

The existence of ‘consensus’ around core claims of global warming is often cited as some kind of warrant for action. A recent article by Roger Pielke Jr reported the IPCC response to his attempts to correct biases and errors in AR4 in his field of expertise — extreme events losses. As noted at CA, he made four proposed error corrections to IPCC, all of which were refused.

Since sociological psychological research is now regarded worthy of a generous share of science funding, a scholarly mind asks, “If failure to admit previous errors could be a strategy for building the climate consensus, what does that say about the logical correctness of the process. What are the other strategies?” Could denigration of people who disagree by Lewandowsky be worth $1.7m of Australian Research Council approved, taxpayer funds to help create climate consensus?

Wikipedia appears to be another experimental platform for consensus building. The recent comment by a disillusioned editor describes many unpleasant strategic moves executed in the name of building a consensus for the cold-fusion entries on Wikipedia.

Foremost is failure of administrators to follow the stated rules. Could this, along with failure to admit errors, and denigration of opponents be also a consensus creation strategy? The parallels with the IPCC are uncanny.

Some excerpts below.

Alan, do you know what “arbitration enforcement” is? Hint: it is not arbitration. Essentially, the editor threatened to ask that you be sanctioned for “wasting other editor’s time,” which, pretty much, you were. That was rude, but the cabal is not polite, it’s not their style. A functional community would educate you in what is okay and what is not. The cabal just wants you gone. *You* are the waste of time, for them, really, but they can’t say that.

Discouraging objectors – the main goal.

I remember now why I gave up in December last year. But I thought it was my turn to put in a shift or two at the coalface (or whatever).

Here is what I did on Wikipedia. I had a long-term interest in community consensus process, and when I started to edit Wikipedia in 2007, I became familiar with the policies and guidelines and was tempered in that by the mentorship of a quite outrageous editor who showed me, by demonstration, the difference or gap between policies and guidelines and actual practice. I was quite successful, and that included dealing with POV-pushers and abusive administrators, which is quite hazardous on Wikipedia. If you want to survive, don’t notice and document administrative abuse. Administrators don’t like it, *especially* if you are right. Only administrators, in practice, are long-term allowed to do that, with a few exceptions who are protected by enough administrators to survive.

Shades of the IPCC.

So if you want to affect Wikipedia content in a way that will stick, relatively speaking, you will need to become *intimately* familiar with policies. You can do almost anything in this process, except be uncivil or revert war. That is, you can make lots of mistakes, but *slowly*. What I saw you doing was making lots of edits. Andy asked you to slow down. That was a reasonable request. But I’d add, “… and listen.”

Good advice for dealing with administrators of consensus creation processes.

Instead, it appears you assumed that the position of the other editors was ridiculous. For some, perhaps. But you, yourself, didn’t show a knowledge of Reliable Source and content policies.

Lots of editors have gone down this road. It’s fairly easy to find errors and imbalance in the Wikipedia Cold fusion article. However, fixing them is not necessarily easy, there are constituencies attached to this or that, and averse to this or that. I actually took the issue of the Storms Review to WP:RSN, and obtained a judgment there that this was basically RS. Useless, because *there were no editors willing to work on the article who were not part of the pseudoskeptical faction.* By that time, I certainly couldn’t do it alone, I was WP:COI, voluntarily declared as such.

It seems you need an ally who is part of the in-crowd in order to move the consensus towards an alternative proposition.

When the community banned me, you can be sure that it was not mentioned that I had been following COI guidelines, and only working on the Talk page, except where I believed an edit would not be controversial. The same thing happened with PCarbonn and, for that matter, with Jed Rothwell. All were following COI guidelines.

Following the rules does not provide immunity.

The problem wasn’t the “bad guys,” the problem was an absence of “good guys.” There were various points where editors not with an agenda to portry cold fusion as “pathological science,” assembled, and I found that when the general committee was presented with RfCs, sanity prevailed. But that takes work, and the very work was framed by the cabal as evidence of POV-pushing. When I was finally topic banned, where was the community? There were only a collection of factional editors, plus a few “neutral editors” who took a look at discussions that they didn’t understand and judged them to be “wall of text.” Bad, in other words, and the discussion that was used as the main evidence was actually not on Wikipedia, it was on meta, where it was necessary. And where it was successful.

A better description of the real-world response to scholarship I have yet to see.

Yes, I was topic banned on Wikipedia for successfully creating a consensus on the meta wiki to delist from the global blacklist. And then the same editors as before acted, frequently, to remove links, giving the same bankrupt arguments, and nobody cares. So all that work was almost useless.

So consensus is ultimately created via administrative abuse!

Now its possible to see why blogs porporting to represent an authoritative consensus such as RealClimate, SkepticalScience and LewsWorld must delete objections:

… furiously deleting inconvenient comments that ask questions like “What are you going to do now that the removal of the fake responses shows a conclusion reverse of that of your title”?

But what is the result of administrative abuse?

That is why so many sane people have given up on Wikipedia, and because so many sane people have given up, what’s left?

There would be a way to turn this situation around, but what I’ve seen is that not enough people care. It might take two or three. Seriously.

Opinions on the New Zealand AGW Judgement

Apropos the New Zealand AGW case, comments below by Goon and Ross:

# Goon (8) Says:
September 8th, 2012 at 3:45 pm

Justifying the unjustifiable. Don’t believe me…. then here is where the raw data lives.

Register and have a look for yourself. Nothing even remotely approaching a 1 degree/century trend in the raw data from longer term climate sites. The only way NIWA can come up with this is by applying an extremely dodgy ‘adjustment’ to make all pre-1950′s temperatures colder and everything after warmer and hey presto, woe is me, there’s a trend. The arguement being tested in the court wasn’t anything to do with AGW, rather it was just that the methodology applied by NIWA to calculate the ‘sky is falling faster than the rest of the world’ trend is a complete crock. A trend which is then used by the same scientists to justify ever more research and lapped up by politicians keen to get their hands into your wallet.

In terms of climate change, I’m agnostic about the whole thing…..climate changes naturallly all the time and human activities no doubt contribute as well but what pisses me off is the dodgyness put up by NIWA as science. It wouldn’t stand up in any other discipline but spin disguised as science seems to be de riguer for climate science.

# Ross12 (186) Says:
September 8th, 2012 at 4:16 pm

You are correct in my view. This case was nothing to with AGW as such. It was to do with how the temperature data was collected and how it was analysed. The judge was very wrong not to allow Bob Dedekind’s evidence ( because he was supposed not an expert) — the statistical analysis for the data would be using methods similar to a number of different fields. So Dedekinds stats expertise should have been allowed.

Here is a summary of his position :

“… In fact, NIWA had to do some pretty nifty footwork to avoid some difficult questions.

For instance, where was the evidence that RS93 had ever been used on the 7SS from 1853-2009? Absent. We were asked to believe Dr Wratt’s assertion that it had (in 1992), but ALL evidence had apparently disappeared. Not only that, but the adjustments coincidentally all matched the thesis adjustments, which all ended in 1975. And no new adjustments were made between 1975 and 1992. Hmm.

Another question: Why, when NIWA performed their Review at taxpayers’ expense in 2010, did they NOT use RS93? They kept referring to it whenever the 7SS adjustment method was discussed, and it was a prime opportunity to re-do their missing work, yet instead they used an unpublished, untested method from a student’s thesis written in 1981.

Please understand this: the method used in the NIWA Review in 2010 has no international peer-reviewed scientific standing. None. It is mentioned nowhere, outside of Salinger’s thesis. NIWA have never yet provided a journal or text-book reference to their technique.

Yet a few people were able to do (at zero cost to the taxpayer) what NIWA should have done in the first place – produce a sensible 7SS using the same peer-reviewed technique NIWA kept referencing repeatedly, viz: RS93. In fact, one of NIWA’s complaints during the court case was that we applied the RS93 method “too rigorously”! In other words, when we did the job properly using an internationally-accepted method, we got a different result to NIWA’s, and they didn’t like it. In fact, the actual trend over the last 100 years is only a third of NIWA’s trend.

Their only response to date has been a desperate effort to try to show that the RS93 method as published is “unstable”. Why then did they trumpet it all this time? And why did they never challenge it in the literature between 1993 and 2010?

NIWA got away with it in the end, but only because the judge decided that he shouldn’t intervene in a scientific dispute, and our credentials (not the work we did) were not impressive enough. ”

For the AGW supporters to suggest ( as Prof Renwick from Victoria said) this a vindication of the science is utter nonsense. The judge says he is not going to make decisions about the science.
Some how I don’t think we have heard the end of this.

Lewandowsky article is a truly appalling piece of social science – Aitkin

Don Aitkin just weighted in on the Lewandowsky affair as Queensland University’s John Cook doubles down at the Conversation.

about 1 hour ago
Don Aitkin writer, speaker and teacher (logged in via email

Oh dear. The Lewandowsky article is a truly appalling piece of social science. How did it ever get past ordinary peer review? It, and the one above, demonstrate the kind of problems that Jim Woodgett in Nature two days ago and John Ioannidis a few years ago have pointed out: the failure of researchers to get their own house in order, and the poor quality of much published research. I have posted on that subject today on my website: That was before I came to all this! Perhaps someone a little better than Lewandowsky could do some research on why people believe in’ climate change’, and what their characteristics are…

Thank God there are true scholars in Australia. Unfortunately they are retired.

Carbon abatement from wind power – zero

Zip, nil, nada. That’s the findings of a two-year analysis of Victoria’s wind-farm developments by mechanical engineer Hamish Cumming.

Despite hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayers money, from subsidies and green energy schemes driven by the renewable energy target, surprise, surprise, Victoria’s wind-farm developments have saved virtually zero carbon dioxide emissions due to their intermittent, unreliable power output.

Wind power advocate Dr Mark Diesendorf, Australian academic who teaches Environmental Studies at the University of New South Wales, formerly Professor of Environmental Science at the University of Technology, Sydney and a principal research scientist with CSIRO has not been shy about bad-mouthing wind power realists. See the renewable industry lobby group energyscience for his ebook The Base Load Fallacy and other Fallacies disseminated by Renewable Energy Deniers.

The verdict is in – wind power is a green theory that simply generates waste heat.

However, Cumming said the reports on greenhouse gas abatement did not take into account the continuation of burning coal during the time the wind farms were operational.

“The reports you refer to are theoretical abatements, not real facts. Coal was still burnt and therefore little if any GHG was really abated,” he told Clarke.

“Rather than trying to convince me with reports done by or for the wind industry, or the government departments promoting the industry, I challenge you to give me actual coal consumption data in comparison to wind generation times data that supports your argument.

Also see JoNova

Lewandowsky — again

This guy, a UWA employee, was shown by a Arlene Composta to be the most naive of leftists.

He now says that climate skeptics are conspiracy theorist wackos.

We have responded to this guy before:

He thinks the cognitive processes of Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) sceptics is deficient and on the same level as “truthers” and other “conspiracy theorists”. This is serious, for merely questioning the ‘science’ of AGW one now faces the opprobrium of having one’s mental ability questioned.

JoNova raises valid questions about his survey methodology here.

The word “fabrication” has been bandied about.

If so, he gives proof that the term “Psychological Science” is a contradiction in terms.