08 December 2009

Sarah Palin's Nonsense

UPDATE: This post has some commenters riled up. Please do be sure to read down to the part about science policy. For those wanting to debate whether the CRU emails call into question proposals being pushed in Copenhagen, I suggest visiting Ben Hale's blog, where he is taking on all comers on this sort of question as related to the emails. Anyone who wants to debate how policy gets made based on "sound science" and not "politics" is free to make that case in the comments here. Good luck;-)

You won't find two more wrong statements in an op-ed anywhere in 2009:
This [email] scandal obviously calls into question the proposals being pushed in Copenhagen. I've always believed that policy should be based on sound science, not politics.
The tragedy of the CRU hack is not that opportunistic politicians will seek to exploit it for political gain -- that is, after all, what politicians do. The tragedy is that a large part of the scientific community will respond to such political exploitation in kind, without dealing with the important issues raised by the emails, further exacerbating the pathological politicization of climate science. It is a downward spiral that Sarah Palin is happy to help along.


  1. Okay, Roger, I give: what are the statements you say are wrong? The only two things I see there are (1) that the CRU files call the grounding of the Copenhagen proposals into question, and (2) that Palin believes policy should be based on sound science.

    It would seem that since we know the IPCC has misstated their citations of at least one of the risks of warming, and mistakenly asserted GHGs as the only anthropogenic forcing worth considering, the support for the notion that the Copenhagen proposals are questionable is pretty well supported.

    On (2), I'm not sure you can logically question her assertion of her own beliefs in any case, but looking back over her record in Alaska (I've been covering her since before she was nominated) I can't think offhand of a counterexample.

  2. -1-StY

    1. The emails do not call into question the proposals being put forward at Copenhagen. There are many dodgy proposals, but the emails hav nothing to do with them

    2. Of course policy is based on politics, how absurd to say otherwise.

  3. You've jumped the shark here. The "scandal" calls into question the proposals put forward at Copenhagen -- the scandal being what the emails (and data) reveal. What's wrong with basing policy on sound science? I think your PDS has gotten the best of you here.

  4. Roger,

    If what Palin says is untrue, you should notify the Met Office ASAP.

    Actually, the Met Office has got it right. I think it’s you who needs to face the facts.

  5. Enter everybody's favorite conservative punching bag, Sarah Palin. Roger, I really thought you were above this. I see no such post from you about Al Gore's global warming buffoonery. His "Several million degrees..." to describe the center of the Earth, and this guy is the poster child for AGW?!

    If you are going to hold any politician’s feet to the fire, then let's not pretend that you aren't batting for the lefties on this one. When it comes to ridiculous pseudoscience-related comments Al Gore is a virtual Medal of Honor winner next to Palin’s PFC rank.

    When politicians start talking a little too much science they quickly become cannon fodder for scientists like you. Arguments like Palin’s are easily dispatched like shooting fish in a barrel. Or perhaps more like getting AGW papers through an IPCC screen. Easy money.

    Please correct me if I am wrong. Otherwise, please be the honest broker on this one and go back to picking on people you own size, i.e. your peers.

  6. Not a bad ope-ed overall in my opinion. I think I would be more concerned about the climate nonsense peddled by the likes of Obama and Holdren - after all - they are the ones in power, unfortunately.

    Sure, policy is based on politics, but distorted science leads to distorted policy.

  7. I really hate to say this, I really do, but Sarah Palin is correct.

    We are being driven towards hair-shirt policies by poor science and not a lack of science. Quality has been replaced by quantity.

    For example, the claim that humanity is experiencing 'unprecedented' rises in global temperature has no foundation in the data.

    The ClimateGate emails make it plain that the scientific consensus on this matter had no basis in fact and that the settled science wasn't. Privately doubts were being expressed, dissent was being suppressed and 'tricks' were being employed to fix the data.

    Who would have thought that even Sarah Palin could see the obvious.

  8. Palin is absolutely right. Decisions are being taken on cutting emissions based on temperature records by British government funded employees of the CRU, who clearly cannot be trusted. The other record at NASA GISS is the product of their co-conspirators. The third record, I believe, is also American.

    What scientists say is irrelevant if they are merely stating the position of their employer.

  9. I suppose she could have meant "they call into question the need for the proposals..."

  10. Roger,

    You jumped the shark here. Palin derangement may have gripped the side of the political divide that you sit on, and I wouldn't be surprised if the strain is particularly virulent in college faculty lounges, but you've usually managed to avoid being sucked in with crazies. Sorry to see you succumb this time.

  11. Roger,

    Using "Palin" as link bait? Or, are you just so desperate to prove your liberal creds?

    Many of us turn to your site for common sense postings, not nonsense politically-deranged postings. Please stick with what works and helps all of us.

  12. Roger:
    Interesting choice of a Sarah Palin picture. Sometimes the picture or headline can dramatically change the meaning of a story, viz, swimming polar bears.

  13. Roger
    You're trying too hard. Sarah Palin's statements are essentially correct and, indeed, consistent with most of what you write on this blog with respect to politicization of climate science.
    By painting yourself into your tiny little corner as the critical-but-non-skeptic-perfectly-objective AGW Honest Broker, you may end up losing everyone.
    Gabriel Gonzalez

  14. 1. So you're saying the science is settled? I disagree, and think that emails certainly do raise questions about the validity of capping CO2 emissions.

    2. I'm sure you also blogged about how absurb Obama was in discussing policy and science in regards to stem cell research, right?


    "The public must be able to trust the science and scientific process informing public policy decisions. Political officials should not suppress or alter scientific or technological findings and conclusions."

    Or do we only take Sarah Palin to task for such "absurb" statements?

  15. I think the emails call into question the statement "the science is settled," the value of peer review on this subject, and the contention that temperatures are higher than they have been in a thousand years. Not directly related to the emails except by when they were revealed is the fact that raw temperature data in Australia and New Zealand shows very little warming over the last century.

    Taken together they seem sufficient reasons to legitimately question the value of Copenhagen.

    Re the picture: Does the University have a set of approved pictures of public figures, or did you pick that one on your own?

  16. Whoa, CBDenver. We must have been on the same wavelength last night. Jump the shark AND PDS. Obviously, this must be proof that Karl Rove was exercising his mind control to get his talking points into our brains. ;)


    This week, we have politicians saying that Copenhagen is our last chance to stave off the extinction of our species and lots of other really, really stupid stuff. There may never be a week with a more target rich environment for politicians acting the idiot. So our question -- with all that ridiculous idiocy to focus on, why Palin and a statement that makes a lot more sense than anything most politicians ever say?

  17. This is actually where I came in to this blog. The game here is that Sarah Palin represents the naughty oil companies and that nice Al Gore is on the side of the citizens.

    Gore, who is himself a front for Occidental oil, reputedly left the White house with 2 million dollars and is now estimated to be worth half a billion. It is unlikely an entire New York mafia clan will have made that kind of money in nine years.

    Former U.S. vice-president Al Gore left the White House with less than $2 million US in assets, including a Virginia home and the family farm in Tennessee.


    Al Gore could become world's first carbon billionaire


    My comment about Palin was removed from the Guardian today, because it was so offensive. Not to Palin, but to Americam 'progressives'.

    I was a practising anarchist in my youth.

  18. I like to add I am no supporter of Sarah Palin. To me she lacks substance and credibility, and is an all too easy target, but on Climategate she has hit the nail on the head (either by design or by accident). You cannot pursue hair-shirt policies as advocated by the eco-brigade on the back of current climate science. The science is far from settled.

  19. Commenting on Sara Palin remarks is truly wrestling with a pig --her remarks. Supporters and detractors alike come away soiled after the experience. Much bigger fish to fry such as EPA's whimsy to arbitrarily regulate the US economy using the fig leaf of protecting climate.

  20. Reminder, there is a home for rejected comments at this blog, here:


  21. This seems to be a bit of a stretch on your part.
    Shoud politicians make policy based on sound, or unsound, science?
    Should politicians be guided by science at all?
    Should Sarah Palin get a roylaty for these traffic driving pro-forma attacks on her?
    She has said nothing in this context that Obama, Gore, Bush, Hansen, Krugman, your father and untold numbers of others have said:
    Political decisions should be made on sound science, not on sheer political convenience.
    It is interesting to me that Palin seems to require strict discipline and word parsing for anything she says, while Gore gets to blither endlessly on about an Earth that is millions of degrees in its interior, or that the science is settled.
    The vigor with which Palin gets attacked strikes me as nearly Freudian in its galvanic reaction time.

  22. -5- and -17-

    Criticizing some of Al Gore's comments ... I hadn't thought of that ;-)

  23. Roger-
    I totally agree that it is absurd to suggest that policies are not based on politics. That is why I suggest you take a look at our President's remarks on the stem cell executive order on March 9. Perhaps you can nominate it for the most wrong speech of the year. In it, Pres. Obama moves the bar on funding based on a different ethical perspective from Pres. Bush's, insists that the decision is based on the soundest science, and then engages in a little moral grandstanding about how his administration is restoring scientific integrity - when it was a decision based on ethics, not science. Given the time, I'm pretty sure I could come up with a speech in which the president suggests that his climate change policies will be based on the soundest of science. My only point is to suggest that this line of reasoning is not unique to Palin - and you may have gone a bit rhetorically overboard in pointing out how wrong and absurd her statement was. If she is, then a whole lot of other people are.

  24. -23-Wallace

    On Obama's stem cell remarks, you are correct. See Dan Sarewitz's comments on this in Issues in S&T, fall I think (www.cspo.org) and in this blog's archives.

    Commentary on Obama's science policies are overdue here (a discussion of the Plan B decision is also needed), but until I finish my book, it'll be all climate all the time ;-)

  25. Roger,
    Why did you choose to draw Sarah Palin's comments out of the huge stew of similar comments being made by politicians daily. It wasn't too long ago that you were praising the Obama administration for its promise to rely on sound science in policy making. Is science off limits to policy now? I'm a little confused by this post. Are you just nit-picking the way she phrased this? She's not a scientist, not an "honest broker." I may not agree with the way she interprets science, but I'd say she's no worse than most other non-scientists and all other politicians.

  26. -25-Tamara

    Fair question ... I highlighted the two points that she made that are directly related to conversations here over recent weeks about science, policy and politics.

    First, she seems to think that the CRU emails have implications for climate policy based on what they say about the substance of the science, which many leading scientists seem to think that they have to respond to on the basis of science. It is that dynamic I wish to highlight. If we are in a situation of Sarah Palin (or the like) versus "the scientists" then science loses (from a political standpoint). So she wins whether she wins a science debate or not. Many scientists fail to understand this, and play along.

    Second, She disavows politics, which ironically enough is a view that she seems to share with many of her opponents -- i.e., we need only rely on sound science. This of course is malarkey. Politics is how we get done the business of society.

    These two areas of inter-relationship of Palin's perspective and those of scientists are well worth discussing. However, as you can see, getting beyond the tribalism is, as usual, a bit difficult ;-)

  27. This is and the Friedman article read to me like a response to the academics posting here the other day. Complaining about right wing bias, and the preponderence of denier posters.

    I'll have to study some American politics.

    Let me get this straight. Friedman, Revkin, Romm, The New York Times, Al Gore and Barack Obama, John Kerry, Bill Clinton are all left wing, is that correct?

    Bernanke, Krugman, Greenspan, Summers, Soros, Geithner are socialists. Goldman Sachs were Obama's biggest donors. They must be socialists too. They are massively investing in emissions trading like Mr Gore. No question about it then, Goldman Sachs are reds.

    All I need is a climate science phd and I'll be posting on Realclimate in no time. Two years max.


    The Guardian are so confident of the Pavlovian response to Palin, they have published her article.


    The best comment is one suggesting that the Guardian has finally found someone George Monbiot could beat in a debate. I have my doubts.

  28. Aha. You're saying policy does get based on politics first. Palin is saying she believes policy should be based on good science first. Elsewhere, as in the article I linked, you suggest the EPA's finding is based on poor science, and I at least took this to be saying the finding is therefore flawed.

    So I'm still missing a step here. Is your objection that you're saying it's impossible to base policy on sound science over politics and therefore Palin's belief that policy should be based first on sound science is naive?

    As to the other point, I think you're indulging in a little pilpul here. The emails themselves don't directly address the Copenhagen proposals, it's true. On the other hand, the emails are only about 5 percent of the CRU files disclosed, and in combination with the other files and with the ongoing effort to figure out what exactly is going on with the CRU analysis, they do call into question the scientific basis for the IPCC AR4 conclusions, on which the Copenhagen proposals are being based. So saying the CRU emails call the Copenhagen proposals into question seems, at most, an inoffensive elision.

    I've got to admit, I'm not following the point of your argument to Tamara at all. I've got a horrible cold, maybe that's my problem,but it seems that you're objecting to Palin succeeding politically if she does so by asking for sound science. I can't imagine that you'd find it preferable for her to succeed politically if she did it on the basis of unsound science, but the inference from that is that you object to Palin succeeding politically no matter what.

    Which is fine, but why gussy it up with the complaint about the emails?

  29. "Anyone who wants to debate how policy gets made based on 'sound science' and not 'politics' is free to make that case in the comments here."

    It is fairly obvious that by 'politics', Palin means 'politicized science' - ie, policy should be based on sound science rather than politicized science - and the premise for any need to debate the above as well as the premise underlying your criticism of one of the two most 'wrong statement sin an op-ed anywhere in 2009" pretty much disappears.

    Gabriel Gonzalez

  30. -29-GG

    I've engaged in rather extensive discussions of "politicized science" here over the past weeks. In itself, it is not a problem, we want science used in politics. If Palin (or you) means something more nuanced, then more nuance in the writing is needed, otherwise it is just wrong.

    I don't let my students get away with "well, you know what I meant" -- op-eds in the WP don't deserve a free pass either.

  31. Roger

    One of the very few things that made me angry as a lecturer and a student was a lecturer who didn't make him/her self absolutely crystal clear in assessments. Palin makes more everday sense than you do, although we (now) understand what you were getting at.

  32. If extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, then extraordinary claims supported by fraudulent evidence must surely require even more extraordinary evidence.

    Dr Pielke, you state:
    "You won't find any two more wrong statements in an op-ed anywhere in 2009."

    By this time you will have noticed that a number of people disagree. I do also, and submit that you are blinded by bias against the source.

    How many times have we heard that tired old claim about "2500 scientists" at the IPCC, when the real number is closer to 100? Using that as a first search criteria, I would expect that we could find pro-Copenhagen op-eds in plenty that have more than two claims that are considerably "more wrong".

    If you do not believe that policy should be based on sound science, then you should cease representing yourself as a scientist, as you are facilitating the egregious damage that has already been done to the public perception by Mann, Jones, and their cabal of Potemkin architects.

    Stand up and call for open, honest and exhaustive investigations before science produces a report on public issues, lest science lose its seat at the polycymaking table altogether.

  33. Roger,

    I have no intention of visiting Ben Hale's site. I've gone over there three times, usually at your direction and never found him to say anything remotely intelligent.

    I can't believe you're digging your heels in this way about Palin's comment. You are being completely ridiculous.

    As the NFL guys say on ESPN -- Come on, man!

  34. How about this one--it's almost a lol:

    "good environmental policymaking is about weighing real-world costs and benefits -- not pursuing a political agenda."

    Just think of all the time citizens and their leaders have wasted, from ancient Athens to Copenhagen, debating WHOSE costs and benefits, when all they really had to do was weigh them!

  35. “…policy should be based on sound science, not politics.”

    Roger, you would be correct if you replaced ‘should be’ with ‘is’, but that is about as correct as Mann using proxies upside down. You seem as reluctant as Mann to admit you are wrong here.

    And don’t say politics is needed to determine the final policy; the statement only says ‘based on’, not ‘totally determined by’.

  36. (spotted following on internet-Irving S.)

    Freedom Lovers: At least something will be rotten in the state of Denmark when the White House Squirrel (tied to Acorn) arrives in Copenhagen to find ways to CHEW us out and SNUFF out freedom! Speaking of Copenhagen, we've gotta find ways to cope with that squirrel which keeps hoggin' the spotlight! Squirrel Watcher

  37. Roger,

    It's hard to miss the fact that you've decided to take on Sarah Palin, a person somewhat less than an expert in the questions involved. I'd be rather more interested in what you would have to say about Christopher Monckton's assessments of this entire scandal.

    Mrs. Palin's point, however, is indeed a political point, and aimed politically at a political audience. She wasn't writing for you. She wasn't writing for the Washington Post. She was writing for its many and varied readers, and all those who would be linked to the article via email, and so on. In other words, she was appealing to a wider audience. Therefore, simplification of the concepts is really not unusual, is it?

    That firmly in mind, let's examine your pull-quote from Palin:

    "This [email] scandal obviously calls into question the proposals being pushed in Copenhagen. I've always believed that policy should be based on sound science, not politics."

    You assert that we cannot find two more erroneous statements in an Op-Ed anywhere in 2009.

    First, let's measure these two statements: Do these emails, files and the scandal surrounding them call into question the proposals being advocated in Copenhagen? Yes or no? True or false? We must answer an emphatic "Yes," or "True."

    Whether you agree or not, the simple fact is that the proposals being advocated in Copenhagen HAVE BEEN called into question by this scandal. We wouldn't be talking about this, and you wouldn't be blogging about it, if it hadn't been called into question. Quite plainly, statement number one by Palin is true. Therefore, your assertion that first of these two statements is 'wrong' is false.

    Now let's examine the second statement by Palin that you have criticized as 'wrong:' She said she has always believed that policy should be based on sound science. This statement is neither about policy, nor about science. It is about her beliefs. If this is what she believes, who are you to leap inside her head and assert otherwise? Do you have any evidence that she has ever believed otherwise? Do you have anything at all to suggest that the former governor is being anything less than honest in representing what she has always believed? No? None at all?

    Well then, this makes twice that your assertions were false. You made two essential assertions: That her first statement was wrong, and that her second statement was wrong. Your over-arching assertion was that a person would not find two statements more wrong in any Op-Ed anywhere in 2009.

    I have found three(3), all wrong, terribly wrong, and all right here in your blog posting(a.k.a. Op-Ed piece.) It is still 2009, as of this writing.

    You may now close down your blog, having expressed many apologies to your readers, as well as the former governor of Alaska.


  38. Oh, and Roger, if you're going to use an image of Palin while attacking her, you might consider one not so obviously intended to catch her in some snarling configuration. I'd suggest this one:

    Palin as anybody but a leftist sees her


  39. Hi Roger,

    This post surprised me. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop but it never did.

    As near as I can tell, you are arguing Hume's case, that one can't derive an "ought" from an "is". But surely the solution to this conundrum is not to say that it is "ought", or "policy" all the way down. Our common sense, Ben Hale notwithstanding, tells us that facts matter for policy formulation. A cost-benefit analysis, for instance, depends upon an accurate scientific appraisal of the uncertainties.

    Facts are not all that matter, and values affect even the science, but it is uncharitable to suppose that Sarah Palin was addressing such philosophical points -- much less to assert that "you won't find two more wrong statements in an op-ed anywhere in 2009."

    I think you are right about the potential for endless politics in this scandal. This is indeed sad.

  40. Why should policies be based on solid scientific credible evidence.

    Right now they plan to take away mine and every American's freedoms. Freedoms that the government should have no right to take away, as they are the ones allowed the privilage to protect our rights which were endowed by our creator. The right to life, liberty and the persuit of happiness. What freedoms will be taken? As of now they will decide where my electricity comes from, and perhaps even how much I am allowed to have. They will decide the car that I am allowed to drive. I know that right now the government has been making some on the side details of both of these things, but now they want to completely get involved into it. They will have the position to enter into every single activity of my life and everyone elses. What is the temperature on you A/C or heating? How much hot water are you using. Are you allowed to have children, how many? None of these activities are carbon neutral. They will be forced to dig deeper into our pockets to get the money to build all these theoretically carbon neutral energy sources. I wonder though, how much Ozone does a windmill create, or 250,000,000 electric motor driven cars. How much of the beauty of our coutry needs to be paved over, covered with solar panels and how much sky line is going to be covered with windmills to reach an 80% reduction CO2? I have seen a place that did the calculations, $200 trillion with a T is the amount of digging in my pockets required. Landscape the size of Iowa covered in solar panels and landscape the size of Utah covered in windmills. Forced onto us by the government with no say so at all. Why? Because the science is settled. We are talking about now just incremental changes in our lives, we are talking about the absolute total loss of American freedoms. So how much scientific proof do you think I will need before I am willing to give up on what has made America the greatest country in all of the world of all times? I will need absolutely uncorupted well founded and completely repeatable scientific evidence.

    As of yet, looking at what the emails show, we do not have uncorupted science. We also do not have well founded scientific evidence. We have had exactly no reviewed and tested evidence. Is that too much to ask for before I give my backing to stripping of American values and my freedoms, and my children;s freedoms and every generation thereafter?

    You are so much less of a human being than others have led me to beleive. I am so completely not ever going to give you credibility, even if you make statements that are in support of my beliefs. To give cover to the stealing of our freedoms on the weak evidence that has been shown to be the scientific concensus is forgivable, but not forgetable. You deserve to be placed in as much regard to credibility as Jones and Briffa and Mann. I will never visit your site again.