The left brain knows that all love is fleeting

I understand that Nate Silver’s business model involves punching hippies and, probably, laundering think tank propaganda (same for Ezra Klein’s). Even so, Roger Pielke looks like a bad hire:

“Once again, I am formally asking you for a public correction and apology,” Pielke wrote in the email that was sent to both Trenberth and his bosses. “If that is not forthcoming I will be pursuing this further. More generally, in the future how about we agree to disagree over scientific topics like gentlemen?”

Pielke dismissed the notion that he was making a threat, calling the claim “ridiculous.” Nevertheless, Silver told the Huffington Post that he apologized to both Mann and Trenberth and made clear that “Roger’s conversations with them did not reflect FiveThirtyEight’s editorial values.”

I don’t know why Pielke would resort to this. His place at the trough is pretty secure:

He does accept the reality of climate change, and keeps his criticism just inside the boundaries of accepted science (e.g., with strategic footnotes). So when he gets an irritated response from, say,President Obama’s science adviser John Holdren, who accused him of selective quotation and obfuscation, Pielke can twist the criticism around and write a stern, head-shaking article about how those darned Greens are just getting way over their skis on The Science. This is the Breakthrough Institute program for hippie-punching your way to fame and fortune, and its success on the career track is almost as striking as its wretched failure as a political tactic to actually achieve anything on climate change.

The appeal of Klein and Silver is that they’re numbers guys, wonks! All we liberals know that objective reality is on our side and that we can trust anyone who uses fancy infographics and not low brow Fox News pie charts.

The truth is that loving liberals’ page views won’t pay the eight-figure rent, and that Nate’s and Ezra’s ability to “do the math” will just mean they’ll make the obvious calculation and sell us out that much faster.






69 replies
  1. 1
    ceece says:

    they said it once before but it bears repeating

  2. 2
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Congratulations, Roger Pielke Jr.! Your name has been added to the tumbrel manifest!

  3. 3
    DougJ says:

    @ceece:

    Great song, right?

  4. 4
    jl says:

    I don’t have time to follow all this stuff, and am not familiar with all these people hired.

    I do know that the first thing I heard of Silver’s analysis of the 2014 midterms is that the GOP would do better than 2012 or 2010 because they had a better luck recruiting good candidates. That kind of subjective opinionating sounds a lot like the gut pundit fluff that Silver used to criticize.

    What I have seen of the new Five-Thirty Eight is pretty superficial and disappointing so far. I will read it, though, if Silver does a serious analysis of midterms. If not, there is always Sam Wang. Some posts from late 2013 indicate he will be doing some analysis for the midterms.

    Sam Wang,Princeton Election Consortium
    http://election.princeton.edu

  5. 5
    smith says:

    Deleted my bookmark to 538 when this Pielke stuff arose. I figure I’ll hear about Silver’s political forecasts soon enough from other blogs, and will look to Wang if I want to see numbers.

  6. 6
    Bargal20 says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Um, yeah, no. Pielke’s Ph.D. is in political science, but demands that climate scientists treat him as an equal in scientific discussions about climatology, and threatens them if they justifiably snort in derision.

  7. 7
    2liberal says:

    @smith:

    Deleted my bookmark to 538 when this Pielke stuff arose. I figure I’ll hear about Silver’s political forecasts soon enough from other blogs,

    i did this exact thing also

  8. 8
    The Sailor says:

    That would be this Pelke? “Pielke earned a B.A. in mathematics (1990), a M.A. in public policy (1992), and a Ph.D. in political science”

    I don’t see “climatologist” in this list.
    And he better be careful screwing with Mann, Mann fights back.

  9. 9
    The Snarxist Formerly Known as Kryptik says:

    Who would’ve thought 2 years ago that Silver would work on a little unskewing of his own? Why’d the GOP ever need that Dean Chambers guy anyhow?

    Bleh.

  10. 10
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    @Bargal20:

    Pielke’s Ph.D. is in political science, but demands that climate scientists treat him as an equal in scientific discussions…

    That may be good news for me. By extension, my nearly fifty year old lit. degree should qualify me to argue particle physics with those who are at the forefront of the field.

  11. 11
    efgoldman says:

    @The Sailor:

    And he better be careful screwing with Mann, Mann fights back.

    Right. Mann has libel cases in both US (vs National Review) and Canadian (against an author named Tim Ball) courts.

  12. 12
    jl says:

    unskewing or attempts at unskewering?

  13. 13
    Lyrebird says:

    Completely OT but almost as good as the song:

    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/201.....olside-ad/

  14. 14
    WaterGirl says:

    OT, but the Shanesha Taylor Fundraiser has surpassed 50k. I still don’t see anything about whether she has an attorney or why they won’t let her out on bail now that she has the money.

  15. 15
    WaterGirl says:

    It’s kind of sad for me to see Nate seeming to be going off on the wrong track. I have always felt like he is one of the good guys. I hope he is able to right the ship and get back on track.

    Edit: I wonder if this might be the Peter Principle at work. Being really good at baseball predictions and political predictions does not necessarily make you go at hiring people and navigating the political waters associated with a new venture of this size.

  16. 16
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @WaterGirl: She won’t get out until Monday at the earliest. Courts won’t be open until then.

  17. 17
    Baud says:

    Once again, I am formally asking you for a public correction and apology,” Pielke wrote in the email that was sent to both Trenberth and his bosses. “

    Or else we duel! Choose your seconds.

  18. 18
    RSA says:

    This post on RealClimate gives a nice summary of a recent back-and-forth with Pielke; he doesn’t come out of it very well. (Also, there’s a nice explanation of extreme weather events, with charts.)

  19. 19
    dr. bloor says:

    Ezra’s clusterfuck has been an inevitability–the man oozes ambition. Too bad to see Silver decide that The Peter Principle needed more validation.

  20. 20
    aimai says:

    Good point. Contrarian/conservative dollars spend as good as liberal ones and there is just more money sucking up to that crowd. Or at least staying on their mattering click map.

  21. 21
    WaterGirl says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: I did not know that. Do you think that with all this publicity she might get a decent attorney to take her on pro bono?

    It’s funny, tonight I am catching up on Outlaw the Jimmy Smits TV series from 2010, and there is a similar case on there. On the show, he is trying to get the charges dismissed on the basis of equal treatment under the law, since some people are prosecuted for leaving their kids in the car and some are not. Is that just TV and not real life?

  22. 22
    Hunter Gathers says:

    Honestly, did either one of these guys ever come off as someone who wouldn’t take the fucking money?

  23. 23
    Keith P says:

    Good grief, the horse is dead already

  24. 24
    Baud says:

    @aimai:

    Contrarian/conservative dollars spend as good as liberal ones and there is just more money sucking up to that crowd.

    You can’t chase that money and maintain integrity. The money will always demand more and greater lies.

  25. 25
    Joseph Nobles says:

    The truth is that loving liberals’ page views won’t pay the eight-figure rent, and that Nate’s and Ezra’s ability to “do the math” will just mean they’ll make the obvious calculation and sell us out that much faster.

    And DougJ’s vorpal blade went snicker-snak.

  26. 26
    Hill Dweller says:

    @dr. bloor: Klein’s wife inexplicably hammered Obama for the purported lack of women and diversity in his cabinet last year. I’d love to hear her views on her husband’s hiring practices.

  27. 27
    RuhRow_Gyro says:

    Math is hard.

  28. 28
    TedtheKind says:

    Was anyone else crestfallen to see Jon Stewart kiss Silver’s ass in the midst of all this? I’ve seen him refuse to go in for the kill, but I’ve never seen him lay down covering fire for a media personality like that.

  29. 29
    Keith G says:

    “I’ll take it further”

    That was a threat? Fuckin really…a threat? Please tell me that he said more. As in, “Next time I’ll rip off your balls and shove them down your mother’s throat”

    That would be a threat.

    Jaysus, why have so many gotten so emo over a few pencil necks? It can’t be because it’s a slow news month because it sure as hell hasn’t been

    they’ll make the obvious calculation and sell us out that much faster.

    Sell us out? That’s taking it rather personally.

    Klein and Silver have exactly one vote apiece and as of yet, neither has the type of scratch to be able to buy a Congressperson or get buddy-buddy with a soon to be president, so even if they did sell us out, I doubt that I would be able to tell the fucking difference.

    Trumbrells, indeed.

  30. 30
    The Sailor says:

    @Keith G: Threatening to sue is a threat, copying a person’s boss is also assholish behavior.

    And this: “More generally, in the future how about we agree to disagree over scientific topics like gentlemen?””

    Is a ridiculous thing for any scientist to say, science relies on facts, his facts are wrong.

  31. 31
    Steeplejack says:

    @DougJ:

    Okay, that Fox News pie chart is hilarious.

  32. 32
    DougJ says:

    @The Sailor:

    It’s CCIng the boss that makes it an unbelievable dick move. Without the CC, one could interpret the email as a threat or not, depending on context, but with the boss cc’ed….well, it’s a threat.

  33. 33
    Keith G says:

    @The Sailor: When a headline tells ” X theatenens Y” and the following article (three paragraphs down) mentions “threatening emails” without, at that time, exclaiming that the threats entailed nothing more than the possibility of paper paper cuts … that seem a bit emo.

    Legal action is mentioned in the 6th paragraph…legal action?

    I bet they were shaking.

  34. 34
    Jewish Steel says:

    “If that is not forthcoming I will be pursuing this further…”

    I guess that’s threatening if you imagine in said in Omar’s voice.

    @2liberal: Me three. On my second visit when I saw it was going to be a bunch of vapid click-bait bullshit.

  35. 35
    AxelFoley says:

    @Hill Dweller:

    @dr. bloor: Klein’s wife inexplicably hammered Obama for the purported lack of women and diversity in his cabinet last year. I’d love to hear her views on her husband’s hiring practices.

    And while she did that, her husband droned on and on and on and on and on and–ok, you get it–about how much fail Obamacare is because of the website.

    Always, always, always follow the money…

  36. 36
    Jewish Steel says:

    @The Sailor:

    Is a ridiculous thing for any scientist to say, science relies on facts, his facts are wrong.

    Yeah. I thought the peer review process was supposed to be brutal. That’s the whole point, right?

  37. 37
    Keith G says:

    @Jewish Steel:

    On my second visit when I saw it was going to be a bunch of vapid click-bait bullshit.

    The place seems pretty vapid indeed. When I have checked in (a few times), there might be one thing out of a dozen that looks like it might be worth a click. And that is not a partisan judgement – it’s a how to best spend my time judgement.

  38. 38
    Hill Dweller says:

    @AxelFoley: Don’t forget the lack of music for people to enjoy when on hold.

  39. 39
    Jewish Steel says:

    @Keith G:

    On their front page right now:

    Are American Teenagers Getting More Promiscuous?

    Are you fucking kidding me?

  40. 40
    bk says:

    How many more posts are we going to have about this guy??? I know, money back blah blah blah

  41. 41
    Keith G says:

    @Jewish Steel: They’re just screwing around.

  42. 42
    liberal says:

    @Keith G: hah hah…

  43. 43
    liberal says:

    It’s only anecdata, but I saw Silver on some newsy talkshow once, before 2012, and on actual “normative” issues he struck me as pretty neoliberal. That, plus the BS about climate change, leaves me not very surprised.

  44. 44
    Kevin says:

    @Keith G:

    Well Keith, threatening legal action often does make people “shake”, especially when they don’t have the money for long legal battles. There is a situation right now in the science/atheist blogs. A woman wrote an article about being sexually harassed at the workplace and at conferences.

    She did not name the person, however, knowing who she was, some people put it together (and I believe others even had similar stories of the same man). Well, now this man has demanded she retract what she said, and is now suing her. This has gotten very expensive for her. She is able to end it by lying and saying that he didn’t sexually harass her, but she won’t give him that cover.

    So yeah, legal threats are absolutely something that make people shake. And it makes employers shake too (which is why the cc’ing of the boss was even more of a threat. lots of bosses look at it and say “this isn’t worth the trouble”, and would fire or muzzle the employee).

  45. 45
    Kevin says:

    @bk:

    You can always just not read the posts.

    For people who whine about topics….start your own blog and write what you are interested about.

  46. 46
    liberal says:

    …edit fn not working on phone…BS about climate change in his book…

  47. 47
    Joel says:

    “Agree to disagree over scientific topics…”

    Pretty much destroys any credibility anyone has on science.

  48. 48
    srv says:

    Wow, meltdowns in the interons are so much faster than in the old world.

    You know, life has been so much simpler since I accepted Krugman as my lord and savior.

    I wonder if he has groupies.

  49. 49
    Joel says:

    @srv: matoko_chan is back and she’s ready to party!

  50. 50

    Whom to grift, whom to punch? Those are the easy questions.

  51. 51
    nellcote says:

    @Joel:

    “Agree to disagree over scientific topics…”

    Big Bang vs Creation-ism. Teach the controversy!

  52. 52
    The Sailor says:

    @Keith G:

    and the following article (three paragraphs down) mentions “threatening emails”

    The article has nothing to do with the fact that he was threatening in the email.
    And any legal action is expensive to defend even the most spurious charges.
    And fuck him getting an apology, he’s a poly sci hack not a climatologist.

  53. 53
    nellcote says:

    @TedtheKind:

    Was anyone else crestfallen to see Jon Stewart kiss Silver’s ass in the midst of all this?

    Didn’t watch it but Stewart performed as expected. DudeBros gotta stick together.

  54. 54
    James E. Powell says:

    Ezra Klein is going to be the Richard Cohen of his generation. Years after he fully adopts the conventional corporate version of everything, he will still be referred to as a liberal.

  55. 55
    mclaren says:

    The truth is that loving liberals’ page views won’t pay the eight-figure rent, and that Nate’s and Ezra’s ability to “do the math” will just mean they’ll make the obvious calculation and sell us out that much faster.

    Ezra Klein has already sold us out. Get a load of this classic Klein headline from the old wonkblog at Washington Post:

    “Inequality isn’t `the defining challenge of our time,'” Ezra Klein, 13 December 2013.

    Coming from a guy who makes at least $750,000 a year, this is pretty hilarious.

  56. 56
    sw says:

    You are supposed to be a numbers wizard and you hire a bozo like Pielke who either doesn’t know how to deal with a data set or is deceitful and you lose your cred pretty damn quickly.

  57. 57
    trollhattan says:

    Where’s “Erin”-go-baaah from last night to tell us we don’t respekt Pielke Jr.’s cited Science (since Pielke Jr. doesn’t do science n’ stuff)?

    At a nickel a post it’s a hard life in mom’s basement.

  58. 58

    Silver is very good at poll analysis for political predictions, and I take his analysis that the GOP is very slightly favored to take the Senate as an important sign that we need to fight hard. We could definitely use some more GOP outreach failures, but those are not things that the numbers can predict. Aside from that, I don’t care what Silver thinks about anything. He has an area of expertise, and I respect that area.

    Ditto Klein. He was good at analyzing the ACA and its provisions in a way understandable to the common dufus – me. I wasn’t paying attention to the rest of his schtick, and after I stopped needing ACA analysis I didn’t pay attention to him at all.

    For that matter, ditto Krugman. Good economist. His opinions on how politics work are no more blessed by heaven than any of ours.

    So really, until Silver’s numbers analysis goes bad, I don’t care what fluff heads he hires to write idiot commentary.

  59. 59
    Steeplejack says:

    @nellcote:

    Jon Stewart is a weak interviewer. It is his Achilles’ heel. But he has been torching the Republicans like a madman in his other segments.

  60. 60
    LosGatosCA says:

    @Hunter Gathers:

    I’m happy to confess that I’m ready to take the money, too. But nobody is offering, not even Soros.

  61. 61
    LosGatosCA says:

    @Steeplejack:

    Just following that old IT project rule of thumb:

    10% of the project takes 90% of the time, and

    the other 90% of the project takes the other 90% of the time.

    Either that or they don’t understand the difference between a pie and a bar chart.

  62. 62
    Dexter's new approach says:

    I smelled a rat as a read that article when it was first posted. It had a cherry picking, making-a-case feel to it. Like, let’s find a not-bats-shit crazy academic to challenge the climate change “orthodoxy”. And he put up a lot of distracting stats and charts that are hard to disentangle if you don’t understand charts and science to argue something that is peripheral.

    What is with these Political Science and Economics academics that think that can just hop over all the hard-science experts to explain climate change?

    It was one thing for him to challenge the idiots in baseball and the poll institutions that were relying on out-dated, old-school methods. With climate change, it’s already way more data-driven and sophisticated than anything he has done, with nearly all detractors relying on god and money to attack the general premise. So to hire this poorly-qualified gadfly seems really poorly thought out.

    I want to like the new 538. I love the concept. I want to be patient, but it’s so bad right now that I’m not sure how it can recover.

  63. 63
    amy c says:

    @TedtheKind: People see what they see, but I didn’t read that interview as Stewart “kissing ass.”

    He did give Silver a pass, yeah. The whole interview was a big softball. Jon Stewart does this a lot and I don’t love that about his show. But it wasn’t the kind of “OMG I love this guy!” or “Jeez you are so smart and so brave” kind of fawning I’d associate with kissing ass. (And Stewart most definitely does that sometimes.) Stewart was friendly with Silver, but not particularly gushing.

    Other than Stewart’s general tendency to be a weak interviewer, I suspect it was because Silver looked fucking terrified. Nervous, sweaty and overwhelmed. It was actually pretty uncomfortable to watch the guy.

  64. 64
    jayjaybear says:

    More generally, in the future how about we agree to disagree over scientific topics like gentlemen?

    Everything that’s wrong with the current American social milieu in 16 words.

  65. 65
    RSR says:

    It’s all the same BS game. Big tobacco, climate change FUD, fracking, education reform.

  66. 66
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Keith G: And one of our resident contrarians defends a contrarian. I’m shocked, shocked.

    You know, the tumbrel manifest isn’t just for Villagers.

  67. 67
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Bargal20: His opinion (obviously poorly informed) on climate change is not reason enough to be placed on a tumbrel manifest.

    However, threatening legal action is prima facie evidence of assholishness in the pursuit of an agenda, which is definitely tumbrel manifest worthy.

  68. 68
    J R in WV says:

    So what’s Nate’s site’s web address?

    ‘Cause I typed 538 dot com in and got a Chinese (I assume, not speaking/reading whatever oriental script the page was in.) Bright red page, interesting to see – I exited quickly, not knowing how safe it was to be there.

    Not that it would be interesting, looks like it would be stopping to watch a slow-motion traffic accident about to take place…

  69. 69

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