Tim Holmes : Wrong on Balance


At risk of tumbling after The Guardian newspaper journalists into a deep dark rabbit hole of possible intellectual compromise falls young Tim Holmes, who attended the Guardian’s “some parts of the debate have been edited out for legal reasons” Climategate event on 14th July 2010 :-


What on Earth were The Guardian thinking, inviting Steve McIntyre and Doug Keenan to share a platform with Professors Trevor Davies and Bob Waston at a public meeting ?

Don’t The Guardian know that the general public have had their views so seriously warped by the Climate Change sceptic-deniers that no serious, open discussion/debate would be possible ? All you seem to get from sceptic-deniers is hot-and-cold insults, sniping and over-detailed analysis of minuscule slithers of Science. Their position is rock-solid anti-Science, from my analysis. There is nothing to be gained from talking to them in my opinion.

Personally, I categorically refused to attend or report on this event, as the very basis of its format was ethically challenged, to my mind.

I’m not even going to risk poisoning my mind by listening to the whole “some parts of the debate have been edited out for legal reasons” podcast :-


Here’s what Tim Holmes had to write on the event :-


Now, when I first met Tim Holmes, my first impression was that he was smart, even although we almost immediately disagreed about something, which created a nervous frisson. He writes some good stuff :-


But his post for the Climate Safety web log indicates to me that he is awfully inexperienced with Climate Change scepticism-denial.

The first character assassinations and professional conduct accusations of Climate Change scientists by so-called “sceptics” (who are actually contrarian deniers) were probably before he was even on solid food, or at least out of nappies (diapers), so he cannot possibly know how long we have had to put up with this nonsense, and how desperately entrenched the various positions are.

Where does Tim Holmes fall down ? By giving Steve McIntyre the time of day, I think, here :-

“…there are some legitimate doubts about how far the “sceptical” panellists – or at least Steve McIntyre – fall into the agenda-driven “delayers” camp home to most climate change denial – even if his links to vested interests remain very real…”

Tim, you’ve been hoodwinked, my boy. Steve McIntyre has been trying to claim the moral high ground for a long time now, but the outcome of his “work”, as he well knows, and intends, in my view, is to cause obstructions to the true course of Climate Change Science.

He is not simply an “obsessive (though inept and deluded) amateur”, he is deliberately trying to take down Climate Change Science, as far as I understand it.

Tim goes on to say : “Moreover, it seems clear that, in at least one instance revealed by UEA’s emails, the “sceptical” groups exposed a real problem – namely that flaws in a particular piece of research were glossed over by at least one of its authors.”

Tim, if the Climate Change Scientists were left alone to carry on their academic dialogue, they would resolve issues that have arisen. They don’t need Steve McIntyre to correct them. In fact, this intense critical scrutiny by amateur outsiders is probably the reason that Climate Change Science has not had the opportunity to pin down all errors immediately by the usual academic means. The sceptic-deniers have been interfering in the normal course of the evolution of hypotheses.

Tim then slips into the twilight zone here, “Equally troubling has been scientists’ apparent closing of ranks around this issue – suggesting that in some cases, publicly engaged climate scientists have been not only – and commendably – defending good science, but sometimes simply protecting their own profession and its members. ”

But Tim, with the history of Climate Change sceptic-denier brutality, the Scientists are always going to be over-cautious about going public on anything, even admitting errors.

If any group of people has had to face the level of attacks that Climate Change Scientists have had, it is only to be expected that they would try to defend themselves, circle the wagons and pull down the blinds.

Tim says, “It is worth reminding ourselves, then, that in any field of study, assiduous attention to detail from obsessive outsiders – even including those who are largely incompetent, deluded or ideologically driven – can sometimes produce findings of real importance. This is even true in such stark cases as the historical study of the Holocaust, where deniers’ criticisms have apparently played a real role in producing genuine discoveries. If climate scientists are given license to waive such criticism where it is legitimate, clearly this is a problem for the open and transparent scrutiny of research. For that reason, the outside “auditors” on the panel to my mind deserved a hearing in at least some measure.”

True scepticism can help advance Science. Cynical harrassment does not. How dare Steve McIntyre declare himself an “auditor” of a vast range of Science he appears to know very little about ? What authority can he possibly claim ? What some refer to as “backbiting and intimidation” may be great skills in the playground, but not in Science.

Tim nearly redeems himself with this, “…Veteran environmental journalist for the Guardian and New Scientist Fred Pearce characterised them as “a new generation of sceptics” more properly seen as “data libertarians”, from whom CRU had closed themselves off. But it quickly became clear that Pearce’s account was utterly delusory…”

But for Tim to give any toehold to Steve McIntyre, in my opinion, after all the ruses he’s apparently used, and all the psychological tricks he’s said to have played, is out of order. The way Steve McIntyre presents himself is not the way he plays his game, it seems to me.

Tim finishes with, “Whether the general public will get the message in a serious way any time soon, however, remains an urgent question, and one that still confronts us.”

The reason that the general public have not got the message about the risks and uncertainties of Climate Change is that the full scope of the Science has been obfuscated and clouded by people like Steve McIntyre. Surely you have to realise that ? Why didn’t you say it ?

Tim, you’re out of field on this one, and I’d say you’re wrong, on balance.

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