Heresy and the creation of monsters

Judith Curry
Climate Etc.
10/25/2010

I’m having another “Alice down the rabbit hole” moment, in response to the Scientific American article, the explication of the article by its author Michael Lemonick, Scientific American’s survey on whether I am a dupe or a peacemaker, and the numerous discussions in blogosphere.  My first such moment was in 2005 in response to the media attention associated with the hurricane wars, which was described in a Q&A with Keith Kloor at collide-a-scape.  While I really want to make this blog about the science and not about personalities (and especially not about me),  this article deserves a response.

The title of the article itself is rather astonishing.  The Wikipedia defines heresy as: “Heresy is a controversial or novel change to a system of beliefs, especially a religion, that conflicts with established dogma.”  The definition of dogma is “Dogma is the established belief or doctrine held by a religion, ideology or any kind of organization: it is authoritative and not to be disputed, doubted, or diverged from.”   Use of the word “heretic” by Lemonick implies general acceptance by the “insiders” of the IPCC as dogma.  If the IPCC is dogma, then count me in as a heretic.  The story should not be about me, but about how and why the IPCC became dogma.

And what exactly is the nature of my challenges to the dogma?  Lemonick made the following statement:  ““What I found out is that when [Curry] does raise valid points, they’re often points the climate-science community already agrees with — and many climate scientists are scratching their heads at the implication that she’s uncovered some dark secret.”   This statement implies that I am saying nothing new, nothing that climate scientists don’t already know.  Well that is mostly true (an exception being my recent blog series on uncertainty); I am mostly saying things that are blindingly obvious to everyone.  Sort of like in the story “The Emperor’s New Clothes.”   A colleague of mine at Georgia Tech, a Chair from a different department, said something like this:  “I’ve been reading the media stories on the Georgia Tech Daily News Buzz that mention your statements.  Your statements seem really sensible.  But what I don’t understand is why such statements are regarded as news?”

Well that is a question that deserves an answer.  I lack the hubris to think that my statements should have any public importance.  The fact that they seem to be of some importance says a lot more about the culture of climate science and its perception by the public, than it says about me.

The narrative

Why am I being singled out here?  Richard Lindzen and Roger Pielke Sr. have been making far more critical statements about the IPCC and climate science for a longer period than I have.  And both score higher than me in the academic pecking order  (in terms of number of publications and citations and external peer recognition).

The answer must be in the narrative of my transition from a “high priestess of global warming” to engagement with skeptics and a critic of the IPCC.  The “high priestess of global warming” narrative (I used to see this term fairly frequently in the blogosphere, can’t spot it now) arose from my association with the hurricane and global warming issue, which at the time was the most alarming issue associated with global warming…

Read the rest at JudithCurry.com

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