Doctor Patch: A Legacy of Laughs

From the CLIMATE NUREMBERG HUMOR SECTION

Fans of Rajendra Pachauri are hoping a laugh-a-minute monologue he delivered at a fundraiser yesterday stimulates interest in his earlier work.

The polymathic technocrat’s sense of humor tends to be eclipsed by his preëminence as ‘the top UN climate scientist,’ which is understandable enough; if there’s one thing nobler than winning the laughter of the masses it’s winning their tears.

But Pachauri’s wittier, more subversive moments have not gone unappreciated either. A Nuremberg reader and resident pachyologue lists a few highlights from a long life of laugh-jerking:

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The Appliance of Deniance: A Debunking

John Cook BSc (Hons)
Guest blogger

This week I received an intriguing tweet:

Translating climate science denial CN2

Figure 1 An intriguing tweet I received this week.

The message links to a rather strange video whose discursive function isn’t entirely clear at first. It appears to be an attempt to generalize skeptic thinking to everyday situations, as my friend @A_ suggests.

Science Nazi: Cook makes no secret that he's a fascist for facts.

Science Nazi! It’s no secret our guest author John Cook is a fascist for the facts. “My hobbies include orchestrating the mass murder of millions of myths,” he kids, adding: “I’m not kidding!”

The deniers who made the video are apparently aware that denial is no longer tenable in the climate change context, and are seeking to shift the focus of their denial to real-life topics (firefighting, contraceptives, engine maintenance, relationships, etc.).

Expect this tactic to become increasingly common as the science continues to firm.

On one hand we deserve a pat on the back—the science is evidently working!

On the other hand, we mustn’t rest on our laurels. Just because they’re not denying climate science any more, it doesn’t make their denial any more acceptable. Denial is wrong, by definition—whether it’s applied to the dangers of climate change or to the real world.

So let’s consider some of the video’s myths in their proper, debunked context before hitting the YouTube link.

(You’ll notice, as always, that the correction is stated before the fallacy it corrects. You should never risk exposure to misinformation without first girding your loins with the equal and opposite science.)

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Apparently the ‘Trouble With Girls’ Speech is Controversial

From the CLIMATE NUREMBERG HUMOR SECTION

Readers may recall our coverage of yesterday’s address by Rajendra Pachauri at the annual Women In The Laboratory fundraiser.

Pachauri glasses m2

Pro tip! You can tell when Dr Pachauri isn’t having an ironic laugh at the expense of the conventions of the genre: he always takes off his glasses if he’s speaking literally.

Given that Pachauri was speaking to a whole room full of women, you’d think it would be fairly straightforward to find out exactly what he said. Strangely, though, there seems to be material disagreement on a whole range of quotes in Kay Fabe’s report. Just hours after the fact, we’ve already heard two irreconcilable descriptions of the speech from CN’s readership.

Rather than pick the competing rumors apart in some kind of quixotic quest for The Truth, we decided it was better journalism—or at least faster journalism—just to repeat them. As always, caveat lector and all that!

Our first informant writes,

Dear CN,

I happened to be one of Dr Pachauri’s rapt audients in Delhi yesterday. It’s a shame the normally dependable Kay Fabe has misheard, misremembered or misreported his funniest passage:

Let me tell you about my girl troubles. Four things happen when girls are in your research institute: they have heaving breasts; excited by their heaving breasts as they breathe in and out deeply, you’re overcome by a lust you have never known before; you fall in love with the girl behind those breasts, with sincerity and unfathomable depth; and you cry when she refuses to give you that textual healing.

Your spirit is destroyed, you continue to long for her, and your tears flow incessantly. Which not only puts you off your cricket game but has impacts downstream, on the lesser aspects of your life—your dharma, your religion, the quality of the science.

There you are, chairing an IPCC meeting and surreptitiously sending her messages; and she still refuses your fervent offers to keep and nurture her heart.

What the hell? That makes about as much sense as—say—not letting me touch you, even though I’ve always treated your body with reverence and as sacred!

Women. Amiright?

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‘Let me tell you a joke about my troubles with girls,’ jokes Pachauri jokingly

Pachauri, maestro 2 terracedStill got it: “All my life, women have wanted me to speak to them,” says Dr Pachauri [right]. He’d just celebrated his 59th birthday when he first addressed Women in the Laboratory [left]; his keynotes are now a drawcard at WITL’s annual ball. “Whenever I deliver a speaking-to, I get the audience laughing—but also thinking. There’s something intimate, almost erotic about that, say scientists.”

Introducing the CLIMATE NUREMBERG HUMOR SECTION

Valued Berger,

Welcome to our new Humor section,‡ which highlights some of the wittiest, drollest remarks from climate’s razor-sharpest thinkers.

CN’s Asia correspondent Kay Fabe—desperate to be treated as more than a pretty face in the newsroom, apparently—has just filed the perfect story to kick the genre off.

‘Science needs you,’
Pachauri tells world’s 29-year-old women

 KAY FABE DELHI, IN.

Thanks to social media, which is my way of saying Twitter, yesterday’s hilarious comments by Dr Rajendra Pachauri have gone so virulent, so fast, that some are already calling him the fresh prince of stand-up science.

pachauri-champions-womens

A Life in Women: Pachauri has been a leading speaker on women’s issues for years. But yesterday this serious thinker took on a decidedly unserious topic—women in science—with very funny results!

The world has long admired Pachauri, not just for “ending the debate over whether climate change matters” as Foreign Policy put it in November 2009, but for his personal qualities: cleanliness, articulateness, a religious devotion to science and a healthy distrust of skepticism.

What we’ve never fully appreciated, though—even in hard-core pachyphile circles—is the climate guru’s wicked sense of humor. Now, in the wake of a virtuoso observational riff that literally had the audience a-twitter, will the Nobel laureate’s contribution to comedy finally get the attention it deserves?

Dr Pachauri was the main speaker at a gala fundraiser for Women In The Laboratory—the group that represents millions of women in Asia’s science, technology, engineering and mathematics [STEM] sector—held yesterday in Delhi.

The polymath earned widespread chuckling and applause with a facetiously self-effacing opener:

“It’s strange that a chauvinist monster like me has been asked to speak to women.

“Three things happen when girls are in the lab: they have generous breasts; you fall in love with them; and they cry when you can’t stop cupping them in the conference room.”

“You know the problem with letting girls work in a scientific environment? They burst into tears as soon as you even suggest you can’t take your hands off their breasts,” he joked, to an audience made up mainly of Indian women and Ivan Oransky.

“Am I right?”

Frank, uninhibited feedback is the lifeblood of scientific research, he explained.

“But sometimes you wonder if it’s worth the drama. I’m often tempted to delete an SMS or WhatsApp message rather than incur the contempt and revulsion of a shapely young subordinate…

“Which couldn’t possibly be good for the science,” noted Pachauri, Nature‘s 2007 Newsmaker of the Year.

“There are days when you just want to let go [of her breasts], walk away [from her breasts] and treat her like the rest of her flat-chested coevals. You can’t, obviously—that wouldn’t be honest. It’s just denial.”

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We Are All Scared Scientists Now

For those left behind, trauma

Climate supporters everywhere have been in an emotional purgatory since news first broke of the disappearance of our scientists. Today, a planet’s vigil for eight very special, very scared people enters its critical third blog post—but investigators fear the agony has just begun.

“An early breakthrough is unlikely,” admitted Australian Federal Police Commissioner Andrew Colvin on talkback radio this morning.

Unexpected

Scared Psychologists: CN’s Stefan Lewandowsky believes it’s important to panic about one new thing a day. “The day nothing causes you to soil yourself is the day you truly become old,” he frets. His global network of clinics, Lewandowsky Living With Fear Technologies™, boasts thousands of ‘satisfied shitless’ clients.

Meanwhile, colleagues and grad students at the universities where the eight neurotics worked are being offered free hysteria counseling.

At a media conference today Senior Detective Donald Jenner of the AFP’s Missing Scientist Unit described the emotional and behavioral toll this crisis is taking on the climate-academic population.

“Thousands of climate scientists, [climate] ethicists and [climate] psychologists will be wetting their beds again tonight—not only in Australia, but wherever there’s a large climate-hyphenated community. All their kids can do is give them an extra-big hug when they get home from work today.”

“At the risk of cliché, these tragic situations do bring the community closer,” Det. Jenner continued. “Friends and family of climatologists tell us they’re checking their loved ones’ blogs for the first time in years. Speaking as a parent myself—though I don’t personally have [a climate scientist] in the family—nothing could be worse than looking back and wishing you’d refreshed your browser sooner.”

A peer in fear speaks up

Before he fled to England, Stefan Lewandowsky was in close contact with a number of the desaparecidos, and considered it a “privilege” to call himself “a peer in fear.”

The psychology professor spoke to us in a wide-ranging interview, interrupted only by the continual need to look behind his back. He didn’t mean to be rude, he explained, but enemies could be closing in at any time from any compass direction.

(Lewandowsky admits his obsessive vigilance can make social life awkward, but is convinced it’s paid off. “I’ve never been raped,” he boasts, “by surprise.”)

Eternal vigilance

You can’t be too paranoid these days: The slightest noise from the rear could presage the approach of Lewandowsky’s nameless pursuers. “See, this is why I asked for a chair against the wall,” he whines for the umpteenth time.

“There was talk at one point of my becoming the ninth Scared Scientist,” he recalls.

“In the end, though, we agreed that cognitive scientists aren’t [actually scientists]. Thank Christ… otherwise I’d probably be there right now, by [my frightened friends’] side, huddled in a gibbering mess in the corner of some godforsaken shipping container.”

Lewandowsky adds that he “get[s] seasick at the drop of a hat.”

The climate cognician—best known for overturning decades of rational risk analysis [RRA] with his discovery of Lewandowsky’s Uncertainty Principle—says he yearns for specific information, no matter how grisly, on the fate that’s befallen his phobic friends.

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A prestige press classic: Science historian Fred Pearce on the unhidden story of the ‘decline’

From a story by Fred Pearce—Dendroclimatologists blame industrial emissions for the sudden inability of dendroclimatology to measure the sudden climate change dendroclimatologists blame on industrial emissions—which  first appeared in the science pages of The Guardian:

No man’s proxy

But why the decline? What was behind this sudden, obviously unprecedented, divergence?

Using common sense, Mann, Jones and colleagues worked it out:

Things are going fine, botanically, for thousands of years. Then one day during the Kennedy administration, a new chemical (its precise identity still subject to debate) emitted by the pollution industry makes previously-compliant bristlecone pines fly into a tantrum and reject the science of bristlecone pines. The irritated individuals—some of the oldest living life forms on Earth—dedicate themselves, from the organelle level up, to a vendetta against peer-reviewed botany that continues to this day.

To hell with the literature on growth rings, MXD and the “proper” way to respond when the temperature changes, they thought. They were here, keeping their ghostly vigil over the American desert, when Moses first experienced the thrill of taking a life, and they were sick of letting ivory-tower dendro geeks 1% their age say when to decline, incline, submit or deviate.

After all, this wasn’t the Middle Ages anymore.

They were no man’s proxy. They had too much self-respect.

bristlecone 9

Twisted science: Bristlecone pines are “straight like denier logic,” quips Dr Michael E. Mann, whose PhD in physics enables him to extract “rings” from these miracles of evolution.

News of the physiological mutiny spread throughout the brotherhood of bristlecones like a shot (at least by Ent standards), thanks to the well-known, centuries-old, mainstream science of ‘teleconnection.’ Don’t be misled by the New Agey voodoo-science name: ‘teleconnection’ is no figment of Dr Mann’s imagination, no pseudoscientific deus ex machina born of a perfect storm of ambition, career panic and unscrupulousness. Far from it. You’ll find ‘teleconnection,’ of trees, in the index of any decent college-level Intro to Biology.

The long march through the literature: First steps

Eager to share this explanation with their colleagues—and subject it to the scrutiny of peer-reviewed scientific examination on the off chance that there was a minor flaw somewhere in their thinking—Mann and his collaborators had soon submitted a paper about the divergence.

Alas, replied the editors of prestige glossies like Nature, Science and the trade rag Sap, the thesis was too self-explanatorily true for its own good. An arboreal Internet; a xerosphere convulsed by trophic revolt; an unknown industrial byproduct that continues to sicken the oldest living species on Earth, and the government that allows it to happen? Yes, yes, all eminently plausible.

But where’s the hook? There doesn’t seem enough “new” here to justify a whole paper. Perhaps it’s more of a letters-to-the-editor job, they suggest.

That’s what Mann, Jones and subauthors try next. But it’s like flaying a baby. Their baby. They’d have to find thousands of words of fat to trim—and Mann isn’t in the habit of writing fat. Every word had a job. It was there for a reason: to feed its family. Michael Mann can’t stand to put a single hard-working American word out on the street, and he’ll be damned if he’ll do it to thousands.

This excerpt was reprinted with the author’s protest. —BK

What the lesser outlets are saying about Our Missing Scientists

seattle-times-logo-mastheadThe [scientists’] families have dismissed the runaway theory unanimously, describing their loved ones as “cowards,” “cravens” and “slaves to fear” who “would never have set foot outside their domain, unless something—or someone—spooked them.”

Climate scientists have no natural enemies, but police are not ruling out fell deeds.

“Certain circumstantial data are reminiscent, if not redolent, of dodgy play,” explained a media liaison officer for Australian Federal Police, “but apodeictic proof of villainy has yet to be uncovered, so it is too early to rule out fair cricket.”

The Sydney Morning Herald“It’s not like Tim to let a domain name lapse,” said the father of one scientist.

The grandma of another chimed in.

“Have you met [the group of friends]? An ISP bill would be chump change. Climate scientists might only get eight months of work a year but they’re obscenely [well] compensated. It’s silly money, really.

“Are we seriously meant to believe eight academics on $190,000 couldn’t do a whip-round for fifty bucks when their [virtual] landlord was up their arse[s]?”

The 92-year-old woman was even more scathing when she took into account the site’s lack of premium features (“really, no comments?”), static sitemap and shallow navigation structure (“two or three clicks deep, if that”).

“Packages this minimal, blogging platforms are practically paying you to take off their hands these days,” she felt.

“If [my grandson] and his mates paid more than $9.99 [last year], they got bloody well gypped.”

One of the mums agreed. “That would be pretty gullible, even for them.” nytlogo379x64Police in Australia have praised the “fast thinking, slow thinking” and “community spirit” of an anonymous citizen who discovered the eerie ghost property late last night. Perturbed by what he could only describe as “suspicious inactivities” at the site, the punter rang a national crime hotline sometime later to articulate his vague forebodings.

Two members of the squad [which discovered the pitiful state of the blog] are on Sadness Leave.

NSW Police Force Assistant Commissioner Peter Barrie told a press conference today: “In 2015, the National Crime Command is urging people to ‘Follow Your Instincts’ if you suspect something is dodgy.

“Last night’s good Samaritan did exactly that. Remember, ‘If You Sense Something, Say Something. No Matter How Ineffable.'”

Acting on the tipoff, detectives from the IP Sniffer Dog Unit and Missing Evidence Task Force carried out a daring pre-dawn browse of the address.

“But there was nothing to see. Or perhaps: nothingness,” said Assistant Commissioner Barrie.

Although squatters had ‘bagsed’ the site (an Australianism thought to mean something like ‘claimed’), the desolation was otherwise “utter,” he recalled.

Hardened cyber-detectives—twenty-year veterans of the squad—were reportedly among those affected by the sepulchral silence and measureless emptiness. An AFP source says at least two members of today’s strike force were given Sadness Leave, triggered presumably by the unspeakable and immemorial vacuum that dwells where science’s favorite fraidycats should be.

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