“White House science adviser attacks Roger Pielke Jr. for his Senate testimony, Pielke responds with a skillfull counterstrike“ (2014-03-01). Anthony Watts actually thinks Dr. Roger Pielke Jr., “skeptical” political scientist, can teach Dr. John P. Holdren, the American President’s Science Advisor as well as Past President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, about climate science!
Is this truculent hubris, or just plain old Dunning–Kruger syndrome? You can decide, but I’ll just whisper this to Anthony: “skillfull” is spelt “skillful”. I know, I know, it takes a lot of fingers to keep track of the “l”s. Also, “counterstrike” should have a dash in there somewhere.
Republican Senator Jeff Sessions had recently tried to use Pielke’s testimony from July 2013 to run the old “nothing’s changed”/”warming is good anyway!” shell game while questioning Dr. Holdren (linked on Rabett Run). Dr. Holdren testified that increased drought in the American West and Southwest has been a consequence of anthropogenic climate change. Sessions tried to dispute this irritating fact using Pielke’s – totally honest-broker, like, fer sure – testimony claiming there hasn’t been a change in drought trends. Dr. Holdren promised to back up his testimony and put Pielke’s in context and did so a few days later. It makes for an amusing read, unless you’re Roger Pielke Jr.
When Dr. Holdren cited research confirming his testimony and exposed Pielke’s classic quote-mining, Pielke revealed his debating ninja skills a blog post titled John Holdren’s Epic Fail. First, the right-wing nutters at The Daily Caller oversold Pielke’s argument in its partisan coverage of the testimony and Dr. Holdren thought they were quoting Pielke directly. Oh, that’s terrible! But more importantly, while Pielke had written that there was no change in drought trends, he put a little footnote-y thing to a journal paper that if you bothered to track down out of idle curiosity and then read through the whole thing shows that there has in fact been an increase in drought in the West and Southwest. That’s how you win the internets. Otherwise it’s all hurt feelings and wailing about politicizing the purity of collegial science. “Tone” is a favourite fall-back position for Pielke.
So no, Anthony: shouting a lie (Pielke’s “Take Home Points”from his 2013 testimony) and then whispering the 180° opposite truth (in a completely opaque footnote) doesn’t count as a “skillfull counterstrike.” It’s just building an escape hatch into the lie.