Ever wondered how it would feel to be dropped from a helicopter into a swirling mass of crazed, genetically modified oceanic whitetip sharks in the middle of a USS-Indianapolis-style feeding frenzy?
Just ask Nate Silver. He’s been living the nightmare all week – ever since he had the temerity to appoint a half-way skeptical scientist as resident climate expert at his “data-driven” journalism site, FiveThirtyEight.
Silver has confessed to The Daily Show that he can handle the attacks from Paul Krugman (“frivolous”), from his ex-New York Times colleagues, and from Democrats disappointed with his Senate forecasts. But what has truly spooked this otherwise fearless seeker-after-truth, apparently, is the self-righteous rage from the True Believers in Al Gore’s Church of Climate Change.
“We don’t pay that much attention to what media critics say, but that was a piece where we had 80 percent of our commenters weigh in negatively, so we’re commissioning a rebuttal to that piece,” said Silver. “We listen to the people who actually give us legs.”
The piece in question was the debut by his resident climate expert, Roger Pielke, Jr., arguing that there was no evidence to support claims by alarmists that “extreme weather events” are on the increase and doing more damage than ever before. Pielke himself is a “luke-warmer” – that is, he believes that mankind is contributing to global warming but is not yet convinced that this contribution will be catastrophic. But neither his scientific bona fides (he was Director of the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research at the University of Colorado Boulder) nor his measured, fact-based delivery were enough to satisfy the ravening green-lust of FiveThirtyEight’s mainly liberal readership.
Here’s a taste of some of the comments:
Pielke is just a disaster as an analyst.
Hey Nate, I was thrilled to see that you were creating your own website, but boy, this this post is not a good way to gain support among viewers like me. I am a scientist and honestly, Roger Pielke has not only been largely discredited as a climate change scientist; in fact he is not a climate scientist, but has a political scientist.
This article is misleading which seems to be a sad recent trend from Nate Silver. Climate change will impact weather extremes in many complex ways, and how it interacts with social vulnerability as described in this article will be very important.
Fact is Pielke is not an expert in climate and if he would have published his research it would have been mostly ignored. So he found his niche to become successful. And that niche is trolling climate change reports with a passive aggressiveness that isn’t easily ignored.
Embarrassing. Lying and opposing climate action straight out if the gates.
Nate – Please take some time to actually listen to the actual physical scientists in the field – more than just a jet-lagged afternoon at Penn State. Please. I have very high regard for you but publishing Pielke’s nonsense, especially this opening article, which has been previously debunked, is doing your reputation no favors.
Nice to see the Climate Denier off the mark with BS in his first article. It’s too bad, I’ve enjoyed the stats based analysis on 538 many times on other sites, but if this incarnation is just going to give a platform for misinformation and propaganda by big oil, I think I’ll skip it.
Can Nate Silver really not see what’s going on here? As a data-driven analyst he surely should. First, he ought to note that a suspiciously large number of these apparently unbiased commenters appear to work in the environment industry (Nature Conservancy; co-founder at Sustainable Growth Initiative; etc). Secondly, he might have observed that many of them appear to value ThinkProgress (the ravening Soros-funded attack dog of climate alarmism) as a source of unimpeachable authority. Thirdly, none of the criticisms appears remotely to address the facts of Pielke’s argument: they’re all ad hominems and appeals to authority.
In other words, Silver should not be taking these criticisms seriously because they’re not serious criticisms. It’s just propaganda from the usual greenie suspects.
Another thing Silver might have noticed about this feeding frenzy is that these savage, bloody, relentless attacks look eerily synchronized – almost as if the entire brutal chompfest had been co-ordinated by some Borg-like collective intelligence.
And he’d be dead right, too, for this is how the greenies roll.
And this one in Columbia Journalism Review (“That’s why so many writers have been concerned about FiveThirtyEight’s climate writer, Roger Pielke, Jr, a University of Colorado professor, who ThinkProgress once called ‘the most debunked person in the science blogosphere, possibly the entire Web.'”)
And this one in The Week (“That kind of squid-ink careerist nonsense is what led Foreign Policy to put Pielke on its list of climate skeptics. It’s what led the late, famed climatologist Stephen Schneider to dismiss him as a ‘self-aggrandizer who sets up straw men, knocks them down, and takes credit for being the honest broker to explain the mess.’ Pretty much.”)
This is just the chattering classes, talking among themselves, cross-referencing each others’ selective factoids and doing what they enjoy most: conspiring to destroy the career of a heretic whose truths they find inconvenient to their relentlessly alarmist narrative.
And it’s not just activists and bloggers who play this dirty game. The stench goes right to the top. Or very near the top. Earlier this month, Obama’s science czar John Holdren actually decided it would be a good use of public money and White House website space to put up a six-page criticism of Pielke, Jr.
Is the president giving orders to his science adviser to make the case that carbon-dioxide emissions are the cause of weather disasters in the United States despite the best science that argues otherwise? Or is his science adviser misinforming the president as to what the collection of science actually says, leading him to pursue carbon-dioxide regulation where it is not needed?
Look, I know it’s not fun being attacked by ravening feeding frenzies of crazed oceanic whitetips. I’ve been there myself, metaphorically at least. But if you’re going to set yourself up, as Nate Silver seems to want to do, as a fearless seeker-after-truth, part of the deal is that you can’t allow yourself to be spooked just because a bunch of self-righteous enviro activists are writing horrid things about you on the internet.
Either man up, Silver, or give up.