Friends of G&T censored
From time to time, those of us who address greenhouse denial with parody, satire, derision and ridicule need to take a break from writing parody, satire, derision and ridicule and consider the nature of parody and satire vs derision and ridicule and reflect on the differences between them. Thus in analysing Wegman's smear of the Hockey stick, we got as far as Wegman's title and observed that Wegman has failed to distinguish between global vs northern hemisphere reconstructions. This is the fact. Observing that "these expert statisticians can't count the number of hemispheres" is derision and ridicule. Terming this "southern hemisphere denial" is the parody. In contrast to our superficial analysis, the heroic work of John Mashey dissects the Wegman report, tracking through the presentations at right-wing think tanks, pulling apart the statistical sleight-of-hand and going as far as to subdivide the plagiarism into SS (striking similarity) vs IT (identical text).
Lurking in the background for those of us writing parody is always Poe's law that states that it is impossible to write a parody that won't be taken as real by someone. On the other side is what we propose as Mitchell's law: that some bits of reality are so ridiculous that few can believe that they are not parody. This law is named for its exemplar, Chris Mitchell, editor of The Australian. Examples are the award to Mitchell from the mining industry, for excellence in environmental reporting and the editorial linking of the ICC and IPCC as reported here: IPCC linked to match fixing in test cricket.
These matters came to a head last weekend, when the online outlet for informed comment The Conversation, published an article on ENSO prediction by Stewart Franks.
Professor Franks is famous in Australia for two things. Firstly for being a scientific advisor for former senator Steve Fielding, helping the senator with what he had learned from the Heartland Institute (see FoGT post of Finally Free From Family First's Fraudulent Fuckwit Fielding for comments on the senator's retirement).
Secondly Franks with collaborators at the University of Newcastle is famous for his analysis of warming of the Murray Darling basin. ( Lockart, Kavetski and Franks Geophysical Research Letters , VOL. 36, L24405, 2009 doi:10.1029/2009GL040598). This used a biased sampling that, when applied to station latitude, would have the whole area moving north by 2.79 degrees in 58 years. This had been pointed out in a paper in ( Geophysical Research Letters ,VOL. 37, L10706, 2010 doi:10.1029/2009GL042254 ) by Cai, Cowan, Braganza, Jones and Risbey and reported by Friends of Gin and Tonic as Australian research agencies hide evidence for young earth.
In the comments to Franks' Conversation piece, one blogger posted our "young earth" article, only to have it suppressed by the moderator. More significantly as an example of Mitchell's law, when Andrew Glickson reported the same criticism, his comment was also suppressed.
Now it is not surprising that The Conversation suppressed the parody, not because such things are beneath their dignity, but, having done such things themselves as avoid the tyranny of Big Seatbelt as a parody of anti-vaccination arguments, they didn't want to draw attention to our competition.
The FoGT "young earth" piece linked two ideas. One was that the analysis by Franks and collaborators would imply rapid movement of SE Australia. The second is that this rapid change was sort of consistent with then-senator Fielding's professed view of a possibly young earth. The first part is true, the second part is parody, and not even numerically accurate. The Newcastle technique would have Australia moving so fast that the south might have been still attached to Antarctica while the north was first encountered by the Dutch in the 17th century and when Abel Tasman sailed south of what he called Van Diemen's land he would have been at great risk from icebergs.
In suppressing Glickson, The Conversation seemed to have succumbed to Mitchell's law and treated both parts of the FoGT piece as so ridiculous that they must be parody and assumed that Glickson must have been doing more of the same.
A less noble interpretation is that The Conversation were so embarrassed by having commissioned an article on statistical prediction of ENSO by someone responsible for such a statistical howler, that they tried to cover up Franks' past failure. This may also be why, when The Conversation published Franks' piece mis-representing Braganza and colleagues, their "disclosure of interest" failed to note that Franks' had had his statistical practice exposed to ridicule by Cai, Cowan, Braganza, Jones and Risbey. Maybe this is all just attention-seeking on the part of The Conversation, hoping to get themselves noticed by Media Watch.
For his part, Franks is understandably sensitive to ridicule - he has been a scientific advisor to Steve Fielding - how much more ridicule can one man be expected to take?
Prof Dr Moritz Lorenz.
Sarah Palin School of Geography, Economics and Quantum Computing,
University of Narbethong,
West Island Campus, NZ