(h/t to climategal and www.curryquotes.wordpress.com)
ETA: This post is in honour of Judith Curry being declared “Climate Scientist of the Year” at the Post-Normal Conference in Lisbon – h/t to Bishop Hill. Tallbloke gave her a commemorative t-shirt with a Josh cartoon on it — the cartoon depicts a trash can labelled “Climate Science”. Curry quips “My reaction to climate change”. Say no more…
Here’s the video:
Over at Curry Quotes, I came across the use of the term “cadre” in Judith Curry’s commentary on climate science.
Here is the quote in question:
“When I refer to the IPCC dogma, it is the religious importance that the IPCC holds for this cadre of scientists; they will tolerate no dissent, and seek to trample and discredit anyone who challenges the IPCC.”
What image does this language create in the mind?
Here’s the Oxford definition of “cadre”:
Pronunciation:/ˈkɑːdə, ˈkɑːdr(ə), ˈkadri/
- 1 a small group of people specially trained for a particular purpose or profession:a cadre of professional managers
- 2 a group of activists in a communist or other revolutionary organization.
- a member of an activist group.
Now, I don’t know about you, but the term “cadre” has a very negative connotation to people in the west. It smacks of communism, of totalitarianism and as you can see from the Oxford excerpt, that connotation is well-deserved. It may refer to a group of specially trained personnel or it can be a military term (cadre is used in West Point to refer to senior students in charge of junior) and it is used in reference to communist revolutionaries and activists.
Thanks to Curry Quotes for highlighting this quote. It’s so rich in meaning, one could spend some time pulling it apart and enjoying each juicy tidbit of smear and innuendo.
So I will.
Aside from the term “cadre”, which we see has military, communist, connotations, Curry uses the word “dogma”, which is clearly religious in connotation and denotation.
Dogma is the established belief or doctrine held by a religion, or by extension by some other group or organization. It is authoritative and not to be disputed, doubted, or diverged from, by the practitioner or believers. The term derives from Greek δόγμα “that which seems to one, opinion or belief” and that from δοκέω (dokeo), “to think, to suppose, to imagine”.
It seems to me that the original Greek is more generous, and our modern usage of it more limited to a set of religious beliefs that are inviolate. I think Curry is like Francis Crick before her, who referred to molecular biology’s “dogma” and later recanted when others pointed out he didn;t really understand the meaning of the term.
As it turned out, the use of the word dogma caused almost more trouble than it was worth…. Many years later Jacques Monod pointed out to me that I did not appear to understand the correct use of the word dogma, which is a belief that cannot be doubted. I did apprehend this in a vague sort of way but since I thought that all religious beliefs were without foundation, I used the word the way I myself thought about it, not as most of the world does, and simply applied it to a grand hypothesis that, however plausible, had little direct experimental support.
I suspect Curry doesn’t really understand the meaning of the term and hence uses is with a great deal of inaccuracy. Dogma is meant to indicate something that is beyond question and that is not appropriate for a discussion of science. Scientists question many aspects of all theories — even when there is a consensus view in the discipline. To use dogma to relate to modern science is to be inaccurate and doesn’t bode well for any sense of security in the value of Curry’s analysis.
Onto the notion of dissent. Here is another term torn from politics. It indicates the opposite of consensus, or agreement. Curry suggests that this cadre of scientists “trample” and discredit anyone who disagrees with them. Strong words. One gets this image of Mann and his fellow climate scientists in jackboots, crushing opposition.
She provides no evidence of this – of legitimate climate scientists trampled, whose careers were destroyed and publications denied by this jackbooted group of rogues. Here is her comment in response to Steig:
So who are these brilliant young scientists whose careers have been destroyed by the supposed tyranny of the IPCC? Examples?
With regards to Eric Steig’s point, it is a nice statement, but it is an anecdote, the experience of one person. There are hundreds of contrary experiences.
All she has is a few emails with scientists making overblown statements on which they never acted. Sure, there have been many criticisms of folks like Singer, Lindzen, McIntyre, McKitrick, Michaels and others linked to the denialist movement, but they do not count. Singer and Michaels have outright admitted to being funded by oil interests and so in this debate they lack credibility. McKitrick and McIntyre are not scientists so their “dissent” doesn’t really count. If they want to be considered peers, they have to publish science in the peer reviewed literature and open their work up to criticism.
She may be referring to the Climate Research debacle, in which Von Storch and other editors resigned over the publication of a paper that was not up to snuff, but that is an example of the very opposite of what she claims. It is an example of peer review being thwarted by denialists.
Here’s more from Curry:
“[A]t the heart of the IPCC is a cadre of scientists whose careers have been made by the IPCC. These scientists have used the IPCC to jump the normal meritocracy process by which scientists achieve influence over the politics of science and policy. Not only has this brought some relatively unknown, inexperienced and possibly dubious people into positions of influence, but these people become vested in protecting the IPCC, which has become central to their own career and legitimizes playing power politics with their expertise.”
On we go with more smearing. In this quote, Curry alleges that the IPCC is led by a “cadre” of scientists whose careers were made by the IPCC — but not properly. They bypassed the “normal meritocracy process” – which must mean the long slog of publication, teaching and fighting for grants. We can all guess to whom she is referring. “unknown” “inexperienced” “possibly dubious” people. The evil Michael Mann. She alleges that these scientists then play power politics with their expertise.
Yet, it was her side that played power politics — I refer to the efforts on the part of Inhofe and his group, to Joe Barton and Whitfield – and Cuccinelli – who have been playing power politics with congress and the courts in an effort to discredit climate science.
When pressed to provide evidence on her blog, Curry offers surprise that anyone thought she was referring to actual climate scientists:
“I’m surprised that people thought I was attacking climate scientists in my original post. Climate scientists have been pawns in all this; some have been victims and others have benefitted. If anyone can be labeled as a “villain” in all this, it would arguably be the UNEP/UNFCCC; but in a way that begs the question of how all this started and who started it.”
[A]t the heart of the IPCC is a cadre of scientists whose careers have been made by the IPCC. These scientists have used the IPCC to jump the normal meritocracy process by which scientists achieve influence over the politics of science and policy…(my emphasis)
“I’m surprised that people thought I was attacking climate scientists in my original post. Climate scientists have been pawns in all this; some have been victims and others have benefitted. If anyone can be labeled as a “villain” in all this, it would arguably be the UNEP/UNFCCC; but in a way that begs the question of how all this started and who started it.
Then she does a disjointe review of the history of the UNEP/UNFCCC and comes up with this backtrack — kind of:
Do we blame Mann and Santer for this? Heck no (well they were complicit, but not to blame). These were decisions made by people that were higher up and with pressure from policy makers. At the time of publication of the TAR in 2001, Mann was 3 years post Ph.D. Santer is a few years younger than I am, which was pretty young (early 4o’s) in the early 1990′s when the SAR was being prepared. Whatever their scientific talents or contributions, they were put into a highly political situation that required a lot of judgment and experience to navigate these things.
So what cadre of scientists trampling on their dissenters does she mean?
In the commentary, there is some attempt to discover who this evil bureaucracy really is that Curry holds responsible, but in the end, this huge bureaucracy trampling the careers of worthy dissenting scientists is really a non-bureaucracy — a group of volunteer scientists who really can’t be called a bureaucracy in the traditional sense of the term.
Here’s the Oxford online:
bureaucracy noun (plural bureaucracies)
- 1 a system of government in which most of the important decisions are taken by state officials rather than by elected representatives.
- [count noun] a state or organization governed or managed as a bureaucracy.
- [count noun] the officials in a bureaucracy, considered as a group or hierarchy.
- 2 excessively complicated administrative procedure:the unnecessary bureaucracy in local government
It’s hard to see that the IPCC conforms to this, but perhaps it’s the UNEP/UNFCCC?
Now, the UNFCCC is a treaty, so it’s hard to see it as a bureaucracy that is running roughshod over the careers of dissenters. But maybe she means the secretariat, located in this building in Bonn, Germany…
Germany, of course, is known for having had many jackbooted types in the past… Need I say more????
As for the UNEP, its secretariat is located in Nairobi, Kenya.
Here’s a photo of the UNEP staff — you can see they are all wearing a beige vest — a uniform perhaps?
These must be the people Curry refers to — the bureaucrats who trample and discredit dissenters… Scary…
Can she really mean these people are the ones responsible for the whole sorry affair? It must be them for we know she wasn’t indicting the climate scientists, who are after all the pawns in all this, although they are complicit…
Lubos Motl shows up with his own overview of the ones responsible, and who does he include but the most scary of all:
They would clearly include environmental activists, scientists who honestly believed a threat that was a fringe science a few decades ago, but maybe even Margaret Thatcher who previously wanted to suppress the mining unions (before the IPCC was born).
Many of the initial people did “almost” legitimate things. Again, I have no doubt that some scientists had legitimate concerns and they honestly believed that what they preached followed from the physics. However, there abruptly came a moment for “speculators” – people who made bets that this thing would grow and they could grow with it.
The people were in many sectors – media, politics, activism, and of course science – and these parts of the society, with a vested interest to support the alarmism, managed to do so, indeed. They could support each other by having alternative tools.
Curry finally intervenes about a third of the way down in the comments section:
I am trying to redirect this dialogue away from the behavior of individual scientists, and even to some extent the collective of IPCC scientists, to the broader institutional issues. Consider something else beyond the nuances of what a particular email message meant.
She starts the entire discussion off with clear and unequivocal references to climate scientists. Now, after people discuss individual scientists like Mann, she tries to rein them in. Dogwhistle then retreat, chum then retreat.
Quite the act.