Posted by: Barry Bickmore | October 10, 2011

The Daily Herald Editors Can Read Minds

My local newspaper is The Daily Herald, and let’s just say that this particular paper fits well into the “reddest county” of the “reddest state” in the nation.  Since I’m politically conservative, I actually agree with many of the editorial points of view expressed in the paper, but on the subject of climate change, the Herald’s editors are WAAAAAYYYYYY out in fantasyland.  That is, I’m pretty sure they think they can read minds.  No, I’m not joking.  I’ve corresponded with the editors, Randy Wright and Jim Tynan, for over a year about their constant stream of climate nonsense, but it’s become clear that there is no reasoning with these people on this issue.

Last year, Lord Monckton came to town, and Jim Tynan gushed over how he had provided a “dazzling tour of the science,” speaking out for freedom and liberty, blah, blah, blah.  In an e-mail conversation with Randy Wright, I informed him that I could prove that Monckton had made up some of the data he used to bash the IPCC.  (You can read about it here.)  Here’s what Randy said, in part.

You should know that we don’t take anything on faith (including Monckton). When my mother says “I love you,” I check it out.

In a subsequent e-mail, Randy said,

I’m simply an enemy of pretention in all it’s forms — including Monckton’s, or yours if applicable. We’re looking at Monckton in more detail, as I mentioned.

So what was the result of their hard-nosed investigative journalism into Monckton’s claims, you ask?  I have no idea.  Somehow, Randy never got back to me on that.  But yesterday Jim Tynan published a 2/3 page rant about “The Phony ‘Consensus’ on Climate Change,” the print version of which had a large photo of Monckton giving his lecture.

Oh, they had all the usual stuff.  They attacked Doran and Zimmerman’s study of Earth scientists opinions about climate change because they thought the sample of actively publishing climatologists was too small.  I actually calculated the margin of error on their results, and it turns out that instead of just saying 97.4% of actively publishing climatologists believe humans are significantly affecting global climate, they should have said something more like 93.8-99.9%.  Yeah, a bigger sample size might have totally changed their conclusions.  Of course, Tynan didn’t provide any alternative polling data.  Instead, he gave us the Oregon Petition and Senator Inhofe’s 1000 scientists who disagree with the IPCC.  Nevermind that the Oregon Petition could be signed by anyone who claimed to have even a bachelor’s degree in any science, engineering, medical, or math field, and that it was probably more likely that a urine sample technician signed than a real climate researcher.  Nevermind that Inhofe’s report included mostly non-specialists in climate, and although he touted a few IPCC authors in the bunch, they amounted to less than 1% of the total number of IPCC authors.

I could go on ad nauseum, e.g., Tynan cited Craig Idso, who apparently doesn’t understand how water vapor acts in the climate system.  But the Grand Poobah of them all was this claim.

Moreover, a recent paper in the prestigious journal Nature reported on findings from Europe’s CERN Laboratory, the most advanced particle accelerator in the world. Scientists there have concluded that cosmic rays play a much larger role than previously thought in creating clouds on earth.

Of course, Jim had claimed the same thing in an editorial just a few weeks ago.  At that time, I wrote to him to inform him that the lead author of the CERN study had told Scientific American, “At the moment, it actually says nothing about a possible cosmic-ray effect on clouds and climate, but it’s a very important first step.”  So why is Jim still claiming that the CERN scientists have concluded something far beyond what they say is possible to conclude from their experiment?  Jim’s reply to me from a few weeks ago is quite revealing, in that respect.

I don’t think I have special insights into the physics  — I just think Kirkby is talking politics, not science (as is too often true in this debate).

To me, when a scientist in his position tries to downplay the results, it’s actually confirmation: He obviously would like for this study to disappear, but  the data were so powerful that they couldn’t be swept under the rug, at least not now.

And PR and journalistic spin are in my domain. Spinmeister’s rule no. 2:  When there’s an inconvenient truth too obvious to be outright denied, try to find some distraction or some way of minimizing the impact.

No, the report doesn’t say in so many words that “warming is a crock.” But it gives hard evidence that cosmic rays affect cloud cover. And it’s obvious that affects climate.

That’s right!  Jim Tynan, the hard-nosed, iconoclastic journalist, is too wily and sophisticated to be fooled by scientists who downplay the importance of their results.  In fact, Kirkby’s denial that his experiment is proof of a strong cosmic ray-climate connection is actually proof of such a connection!

It would be easy, at this point, to call Jim Tynan a liar, but I’m convinced that he actually believes he can read Jasper Kirkby’s mind.  It would be nice, however, if in the future Mr. Tynan would inform his readers that the source of his information is ESP.

If you would like to see a good explanation for why the CERN experiment couldn’t possibly prove what Jim Tynan says it proves, see the following video by an experienced science journalist, Peter Hadfield.


  1. “To me, when a scientist in his position tries to downplay the results, it’s actually confirmation”

    Wow. Well, at least he admits that he’s got confirmation bias, though I’m sure he doesn’t realize that’s what he’s admitting. There have been a lot of interesting psychological studies on mindsets like Tynan’s.

    People think we’re so smart, but it’s amazing how stupid our biases can make us.

  2. Funny, I thought Kirkby actually overplayed the importance, given the massive lack of similarity between cosmic ray incidence and global average temperatures, but then I’m not a scientist. It seems like an “important first step,” but not toward showing that cosmic rays control climate, rather toward something much less far reaching.

  3. “The theory (more accurately called a religion for the redistribution of wealth)…”

    You forgot to mention that they can read the minds of all climatologists, not just Dr.Kirkby!

  4. […] my last post, I wrote about how the DH editors had written an opinion piece about climate change, in which they […]

  5. Progenycide. That’s what I call it. People killing off their descendants by denying them their right to a safe climate. It’s quite despicable, but because we’re the “nice” ones, we tend to refrain from calling selfish b@stards, selfish b@stards! Time to redefine courage, folks.

  6. […] mind of a scientist so they could tell that he really meant the opposite of what he said.  Yes, mind reading.  (See here, here, here, and here for follow-up […]

  7. […] mind of a scientist so they could tell that he really meant the opposite of what he said.  Yes, mind reading.  (See here, here, here, and here for follow-up […]

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