When someone cannot argue on the basis of evidence and logic, a tempting ploy is to discredit their opponent by tarnishing their character. This is, of course, an invalid argument, since it is entirely possible that even one of tarnished reputation can offer a correct and convincing argument. Alas, the general public and the media, people who are laughingly called “journalists”, is not capable of engaging in this simple exercise of rhetorical criticism. They believe in their “gut”, after all.
Representative Eddie Johnson challenged Chairman and Representative Lamar Smith on this kind of tactic. Here are excerpts from the letter I urge you to read:
Still, some can see what’s happening, and have the balls to speak out.
Applause to Representative Eddie Johnson.
Update, 24th November 2015
Lamar Smith responds. Ars Technica weighs in. The article Smith is flaming about was published Science. A copy is available, as is its supplementary material. Roberts at Vox provides an overview, summary, and evaluation. I’m interested in this because of my own work on and writings about the supposed “hiatus”, for which I find very little evidence, if some statistical contradictions in some published work.
Smith’s goals certainly change depending upon with who he is speaking, ranging from ferreting out fraud, to seeing that miniscule amounts of taxpayer dollars are properly spent. And he presumes there are political motivations for work, where data, taken at face value, can be used to establish results. Representative Smith, like many on this issue, forget that scientific research does not follow the rhetorical rules of a courtroom. In fact, viewed from a statistical and especially Bayesian perspective, American courtrooms (and perhaps other courtrooms) are terrible mechanisms for deciding important things. (See also 1 and 2.)
Irrespective, it seems to me Smith’s Committee is incapable of reproducing the calculations needed to verify the results of Karl, et al, and, so, is pursuing the only thing they know how to do. And, if I may be permitted a bit of the same liberties Smith is being allowed, assigning motivation for something he cannot possibly know, the reason he’s doing this is to once again cloud evidence for warming in the collective mind of the American public during the COP21 negotiations in Paris, or, at least, dominate the news media with intimations of wrongdoing while these are ongoing.
You are a public servant, too, Representative Smith. Who pays your campaign bills?
Oh, surprise, surprise, it’s the oil and gas industry. That doesn’t influence you the least bit, does it?
It’s hard to believe. But it can happen.
And it did happen. Not from Lamar Smith, who is on a rabid witch-hunt against scientists from NOAA. The courage came from another Texan, congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, who has stood up to Lamar Smith and his smear tactics.
You really ought to read the letter she wrote. And we should all thank her.