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Pitman: paid $190,000 a year to throw baseless insults

Cartoon: Professor of Ad Hominem Attacks
Last week a paid public servant spoke untruths, but instead of being exposed by the media, he was aided by our taxpayer-funded public broadcast network. Andy Pitman spoke about the socio-economic position of a group he avoids, and let down UNSW, abused the title “Professor”, and misled the public.

The journalists allowed the baseless smears to be broadcast without question, not just once, but twice.

Professor Andy Pitman on ABC Radio: Eleanor Hall interviews Andy Pitman on glaciers.

Robin Williams thought it was so “useful” he rebroadcast the same factually incorrect, irrelevant material on his “science” show. Oops.

It’s hard to cram more anti-truths into one declaration:

“My personal view is that climate scientists are losing the fight with climate sceptics. That the sceptics are so well funded, so well organized, have nothing else to do, they kind of don’t have day jobs, they can put all of their efforts into misinforming and miscommunicating climate science to the public, whereas the climate scientists have day jobs and this isn’t one of them. All of the efforts you do in an IPCC report is done out of hours, voluntarily, for no funding and no pay, whereas the sceptics are being funded to put out full scale misinformation campaigns…”

Let’s correct the six seven-delusion paragraph

1. Skeptics are well funded?

The misinformation helps to sell out the nation that supports them, to a corrupt foreign committee whose recommendations will mainly end up profiting large financial houses.

Let’s put a perspective on just how spectacularly wrong these claims on ABC radio are.  ExxonMobil paid all of $23 million to skeptics worldwide in total, over ten years. In the same period, the US government alone was spending around $2 billion a year on climate scientists. And if you include other climate industry players, from 1989-2009, the total funding is $79 billion dollars. Hence believers of the big-scare could dip into a pot that was at least 3,500 times as large as anything the skeptics of the same scare could draw from. (All this info comes from my Climate Money paper).

If there was any equivalent funding for skeptics, Greenpeace would have found that paper trail and the scare-friendly press would have told you all about it. Big-Oil could hardly hide $79 billion now could they?

Andy Pitman earns far more from his beliefs than this skeptical advocate and infinitely more than most skeptics (who earn nothing) while he postulates on things he has done no research on and misleads the public. (Take me to court Andy. I don’t mind discovery of documents, but I don’t pander to bullies’ requests in public.) Most skeptical scientists are those no longer in the pay of government or other alarmist organizations, free to speak up without losing their jobs. They are mainly retired.

In reality it can cost money to be an active skeptic. To print out handouts, to organize speeches at local community halls, to do mail outs to our representatives, or to pay for transcripts of interviews that misrepresent the science. It says a lot that there are so many people willing to put themselves out, money and time-wise, in order to save us from the scare with no evidence.

Pitman has received over $6 million in grants — obviously not paid to him personally, but paid into accounts he controls–for research he directs. Presumably he also earns at least the base salary of a UNSW Professor, I gather, $190,000 a year. For a science PhD that’s not bad, especially if you throw in multiple overseas trips with all expenses paid, and the odd-rock-star-radio interview with no hard questions. It’s a wicket worth defending.

2. Skeptics are “well” organized?

Organized how exactly? With no PR department, no union, no association,  no office, no UN agency, usually no budget, and … though you can see how we fund national multi-million dollar televised Ad campaigns like “Think Climate, Think Fraud”, oh that’s right …  that was Kevin Rudd: “Think Climate, Think Change” (give us your money).  That cost Australian taxpayers $13.9 million dollars.

Pitman cries poor while his scare campaign team includes the major western governments, the UN, the banks, big oil (they always funded alarmism more, and now don’t fund skeptics), the green movement, the alternative energy suppliers, the reinsurance industry, and many businesses. About all the skeptics have is donors on blogs and a few dedicated organizations of like minded people, such as the indefatigable Heartland (which is in turn funded mostly by private donations, with no more than 5% from any single corporation). Skeptics are tiny voices against vast machines.

Pitman wouldn’t recognize a genuine grassroots movement if it mowed him down.

3. Skeptics are misleading the public?

Misleading? You mean like climate scientists who are using tricks to “hide the decline”, removing data from 75% of worldwide temperature stations, ignoring the best ocean temperature network data, colluding to keep contrary papers out of publication, avoiding FOI requests, abusing statistics to make scary hockey sticks no matter what data you feed them, and ignoring the masses of data and analysis (much of it peer-reviewed) that undermines the carbon dioxide theory of global warming? Or, how about putting most “official” thermometers next to airport-tarmac or air conditioner outlets, or pretending that one tree in far north Russia can measure global temperatures?

Strangely, it’s not skeptics who howl that “only peer review counts” while at the same time pretending that speculative information from the WWF, Greenpeace and a student’s paper of mountaineering anecdotes were peer-reviewed research by hundreds of experts.

4. “Explaining science is not my job”.

According to the UNSW Guidelines, it is. It’s what Professors are paid to do: to foster leadership and excellence in their academic area within the university and the community. As it happens, over the last 18 months, I’ve asked Pitman in writing to publicly name any misleading points from the Skeptics Handbook. He has refused.

5. I, Andy Pitman, volunteer to help the IPCC

As Andrew Bolt so aptly pointed out, Andy Pitman’s grants list includes around $60,000 in funding  “for costs incurred as lead author on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change”.

That’s not most people’s idea of volunteer work.

6.  Skeptics don’t have day jobs

Pitman, contradicting himself suddenly, claims many “fully funded” climate skeptics don’t have day jobs, and for once he’s half-right, but scores an own goal by using the truth. Most active skeptics don’t have day jobs, precisely because there aren’t any paid climate skeptic positions to have. Many skeptics are retired, because no one else has time to audit the IPCC “for fun”.

Many skeptics are retired, because no one else has time to audit the IPCC “for fun”.

As far as I know (correct me if I’m wrong), total ARC grants specifically available for research aiming to disprove the theory of AGW in 2010 are exactly $0.00, as has been the case since time began. (That’s another scandal, for another day.)

Who should be protecting Australia from paying reparations based on bogus science? When the bogus science is climate science, Andy Pitman ought be high on that list. Instead, he helps to sell out the nation that supports him to a corrupt unaudited foreign committee whose recommendations will mainly end up profiting large financial houses.

7. An ad hominem attack is “scientific”?

Notice how we’re not talking about climate science? Why, on a planet that goes around the sun, is a professor of science launching ad hominem attacks? A science undergraduate should grovel with embarrassment for making this mistake. High school debaters have stronger reasoning skills. Yet, the science reporters on the ABC don’t even blink.

So what if I was paid, oh, let’s say, $190,000 a year, by… an oil sheik (I’m not).  But if I was, how would that change the satellite recordings that I write about from Universities on the other side of the world from me? What kind of conspiracy theory do you have to hold in your head to nullify the evidence with any information about funding?  I’m a commentator forgoodnesssake, I don’t even collect, hold or publish results from the sediments, corals, ice cores, pollen, diatoms, boreholes, or tree rings that I talk about.

“Rabid” is the word for this reasoning.

Aren’t we all grown up enough now to attack the ball and not the man? (Which goes for Penny Sackett too, our Chief Scientist, who said that exact thing tonight on The 7.30 Report. Where was Sackett last week? Did she miss the chance to admonish Pitman for attacking skeptical scientists?)

Look Mum. No logical errors here

Lest anyone think I’m committing the same logical error as Pitman by pointing at his vested interests, let’s put a razor fine point on it. He claims we are winning the debate because we have so much funding. We claim he’s losing because he has no evidence. At no point have I ever said his science is wrong because he is paid.

So why post about his funding?

One: To show that he’s not only illogical, but spectacularly wrong as well. It’s a baseless smear campaign.

Two: The $6 million in research grants vs the $0 in skeptical grants tells us nothing about the atmospheric climate, but shows that there is a Gravy Train, and he is on it. And he’s the one who suggested that people’s opinions were affected by funding. Go soak in that irony.

Three: If people are going to try to bully and smear us, it helps to make it painful for them, by pouring the truth right back at them.

Since he effectively said “follow the money”, I just said, “ok”. And did I mention that the carbon market was worth $130 billion last year?

Speaking of money, who is paid to audit the IPCC?

Officially, no one is. No agency, no institution, no government department. Information from that UN conglomerate committee controls global markets, and yet answers to no elected government, no ASIC, no SEC, no ACCC. Nothing. There ought to be teams of skeptical scientists paid to check on the alarmists, but no one at all is checking, except a few unpaid scientists and bloggers.

The bottom line

Pitman peddles misinformation about science and misinformation about skeptics. He could start by apologizing to the Australian people who pay his salary. Then he could say thanks to the Australian scientists working pro bono to do part of his job for him.

What a sad week for Australian science, a dismal day for Australian universities, and a low point for the ABC.

It’s not so hot for taxpayers either, we’re funding someone who throws baseless speculation and insults back at the same Australian citizens he’s supposed to serve.

Thanks to David, Phillip, Janama, Helen and others.

UPDATE: I corrected the name of the first ABC interviewer. Thanks to Karyn Wood who pointed out the error. BTW: Karyn’s ABC interview with Monckton is here where he has a chance to answer the critics.

NOTE: There is an Andy Pitman in the US who doesn’t not deserve or want any emails. Please don’t spam.

Eleanor Hall
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