A Failure to Communicate

I’m often unsure of whether or not I should try to draw attention to silly conversations I have. On the one hand, a discussion between me and another person need not be promoted for all to see. On the other hand, this blog is about absurdity in this world, and people often provide it in direct communication with me. I’ll provide an example.

People who’ve followed this blog know I have a history with the blogger Anders. I won’t revisit it here. Suffice to say I have a low opinion of him and his blog. That makes it awkward for me to side with him and his commenters.

Still, sometimes they’re right. In the comments section of a recent post of his, there was a discussion of skeptics versus pseudoskeptics. A user (Jaime Jessop) tried to get Anders to give more information about who he considered to be pseudoskeptics. She had little success. However, one user responded to her efforts by saying:

It would be interesting to see who Jamie regards as being a genuine sceptic. Perhaps he would be willing to list, say, three prominent sceptics, people who he would view as having a similar level of scepticism as he does.

Jessop declined to provide such a list. The user then said:

Well, maybe just one then? I’m sure the others wouldn’t be offended by being left out. Unless, perhaps, you have that niggling feeling that any one you do name is going to be easily exposed as not being notably sceptical.

This included a typical, snide remark which is designed to insult and will tend to sabotage a discussion. It’s rude and obnoxious, but whatever. Jessop responded by saying:

As you are insistent, two sites which I use a lot are Notalotofpeopleknowthat and The Hockeyschtick.

Note, Jessop does not say these sites have a similar level of skepticism as she does. She does not even say they are skeptics. As such, when people criticized those sources as not being skeptical, she is technically correct to say:

I did not hold up these two particular websites as being examples of what you so condescendingly term ‘genuine scepticism’ – I merely pointed out that I make reference to them quite a lot and I can provide many examples from them of why I refer to them, none of which come from your examples above. So please calm down guys and try very hard not to get too carried away.

Jessop did not actually say her examples were examples of skeptics. She was asked, twice, to provide examples of skeptics, and she acted as though she was responding to those requests. She specifically prefaced her examples by saying she offered them because of OPatrick’s insistence in asking her for examples of skeptics.

Jessop was asked to provide examples of skeptics. She responded by providing two names. To now claim those names were not offered as examples of skeptics requires us believe her response was a total non-sequitur which just happened to perfectly fit the question she portrayed herself as answering.

But it goes on. I had gotten the link to that discussion on Twitter, and I commented that I was sad I had to agree with Anders on the issues:

I was asked what issues, so I responded:

Some discussion happened then Jaime Jessop posted:

This remark was peculiar as at that point, I had never quoted Jaime Jessop. That means it was impossible for me to have misquoted here. Regardless, I’m all for people reading the thread and seeing for themselves. They’ll see I said the same thing on Twitter as I’ve said here, and I believe they’ll see it is accurate. As the exchange continued, Jessop said:

The idea that I was “desperately” doing anything is strange. I can’t imagine what I did which made me seem desperate. Why would I even care enough to be desparate? I had never heard of Jaime Jessop before. If anything, I should be expected to want her to be right as I don’t like Anders or his blog.

In any event, I told Jessop I had read her comments, and they didn’t contradict anything I said. I also pointed out my lack of desperation. She disagreed. When I tried to get an explanation, she said:

In no world is, “Read it” an explanation. It’s never an appropriate response. I remarked on this point, and Jessop said:

That seems to have been the end of the exchange.

This began with Jaime Jessop answering a simple question. When her answers were criticized, she claimed when answering the question, she didn’t actually respond to what the question asked. When I pointed this out, she accused me of misquoting her when I had never even quoted her. When I tried to get her to explain how my description of events was inaccurate, she refused, effectively telling me to, “Look it up.” When I pointed out that isn’t an explanation, she declared I was either unable or unwilling to understand.


I get in exchanges like this all the time. I had one yesterday when a guy claimed interracial were prohibited in some states as recently as 20 years ago. His argument would constantly change, but he’d always insist it was the same. It didn’t matter if you quoted his earlier remarks word for word.

Is it bad to highlight such exchanges? Should I have not highlighted one a while back where I was called a racist? How about when it was suggested I’m a pedophile? There’s a lot of discussion in the blogosphere about Stephan Lewandowsky having a paper retracted for a related issue. A blog post is obviously different from a scientific publication, but should I perhaps abide by similar standards? Or is this more like journalism, where as long as you have a legitimate interest in sharing the material, it’s fine?

I don’t know. What I do know is I can’t keep ignore absurdity like this. The world is full of insane things (many of which are far worse), and if I don’t talk about them, I’ll go crazy.

Or hey. Maybe I am the crazy one.

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27 comments

  1. Brandon, for starters, Physics appeared inclined to label all/many/a substantial fraction of sceptics as ‘pseudosceptcs’, and Jaime wanted Physics to put an more exact estimate on it.

    Physics is not willing to name a single sceptic as a ‘true’ sceptic, but he and the others want Jaime to name some people so they can check whether or not they were ‘true’ sceptics. Jaime resisted, rightly.

    There is a tussle there between a bunch of windbags and a single commenter, about who accedes to whose question first. Do you see it?

    Your post above, instead, describes the sequence in a plan, matter-of-factly way, on at the end of which Jaime Jessop is refusing to name sceptics. In doing so, you miss an important dimension to the whole discussion

    Arguments such as the above are always centered around what you think the point of a conversation is. You are not the only subject to this problem. It is the bane of internet conversations.

    With you however, this problem compounds because you insist on (a) you being the person who defines the point of an exchange is, and (b) not allowing any deviation from (a). This apparently includes conversations you were not a part of.

    I have gone back and read threads where a careless word (in lieu of a more careful wording) sends everything careening off the rails, in discussion with you. I appreciated the lessons and try to slow down when writing and use the words which will convey the meaning I want to. So, I write the above with the perspective of someone who understand, to some degree, how you view things.

  2. Shub Niggurath, your first three paragraphs say nothing relevant. They have no bearing on anything I’ve said. It doesn’t matter what games people may be playing. They said what they said, and it is perfectly reasonable for me to point out what they said wrong. You then move onto making an offensive remark:

    With you however, this problem compounds because you insist on (a) you being the person who defines the point of an exchange is, and (b) not allowing any deviation from (a). This apparently includes conversations you were not a part of.

    I haven’t done anything like what you describe. I haven’t said a word about what “the point of an exchange is.” All I’ve done is describe what was said. It had nothing to do with the motivation of the people who were talking. Not only am I not attempting to “define[] the point of an exchange,” I don’t care what the point of the exchange was.

    I have no idea how you say:

    So, I write the above with the perspective of someone who understand, to some degree, how you view things.

    With a straight face. Not only is your entire comment discussing things completely irrelevant to what I said in this post, it contains completely untrue claims about me. If you want to know “how [I] view things,” all you have to do is read what I wrote in this post. If and when you do, you’ll find there is nothing in it which remotely justifies your description of me.

  3. All I’ve done is describe what was said

    Yes. This is exactly my point. Your contention that what you describe is what happened.

    Your description is incomplete. It leaves out important aspects.

    I pointed out one such aspect. What did you have to say in return? ‘first three paragraphs nothing relevant’.

  4. Shub, if that is exactly your point, you should have said that. You didn’t. You specifically said I:

    insist on (a) [me] being the person who defines the point of an exchange is, and (b) not allowing any deviation from (a). This apparently includes conversations [I was] not a part of.

    That is nothing like what you now claim was your point. The point of something is its purpose. The “point of an exchange” is not “what was said,” but why it was said. It’s difficult to see how someone would mix the two up, and such a mistake doesn’t fit your comment at all. You specifically referred to the purpose of what was said, multiple times. You were clearly not talking just about what was said.

    Now then, if you want to talk about what was said, not why it was said, we can. I’m not going to pretend that’s what you were originally doing, but we can change the focus. If we do though, you’re going to need to do more than make hand-waving remarks like:

    Your description is incomplete. It leaves out important aspects.

    I pointed out one such aspect. What did you have to say in return? ‘first three paragraphs nothing relevant’.

    You claim my description “leaves out important aspects” then say you “pointed out one such aspect.” However, your post did nothing to explain why anything you said was relevant, much less important. The same is true of your new comment. Neither of your comments say a word indicating how anything I said was impacted by the aspect you brought up.

    If it’s relevant, explain how it’s relevant. Don’t just make hand-waving comments criticizing me for saying something isn’t relevant when you’ve done nothing to show it is.

  5. Jaime is not ready to accept physics or any such jack**’s classification of who is, or isn’t a skeptics/pseudoskeptic. She’s however not averse to telling aloud who she thinks are sceptics

    Do you find the above contradictory? If you find the above contradictory, the problem lies there. Not in what she wrote.

    Physics is not ready to answer how many skeptics he thinks are ‘pseudoskeptics’.

    Why should Jaime answer questions when Physics doesn’t? Where are these represented in your post?

    Take this portion of your narrative above:

    “She responded by listing people who aren’t skeptics.”

    Nice, unbiased story-telling there. By bland assertion of the very issue under question: “Hockey Shtick and Goddard are not skeptics. Jaime Jessop called them skeptics and tried to back out of her assertion.”

  6. Shub Niggurath, you’ve accused me of giving an inaccurate portrayal, yet you are directly contradicting Jaime Jessop herself:

    Jaime is not ready to accept physics or any such jack**’s classification of who is, or isn’t a skeptics/pseudoskeptic. She’s however not averse to telling aloud who she thinks are sceptics

    Do you find the above contradictory? If you find the above contradictory, the problem lies there. Not in what she wrote.

    Before responding, I need to point out something. As a moderation policy, I will not allow for the partial bypassing of filters. Censor curse words in their entirety or don’t use them at all.

    Anyway, what I find contradictory is Jessop specifically said she didn’t want to say who she thinks are skeptics. She even explicitly claimed to have not done it. I quoted this in my post:

    I did not hold up these two particular websites as being examples of what you so condescendingly term ‘genuine scepticism’

    I cannot see how you could have actually read this post or Jaime Jessop’s comments and come up with the interpretation you’ve advanced. The same is true for your comment:

    Nice, unbiased story-telling there. By bland assertion of the very issue under question: “Hockey Shtick and Goddard are not skeptics. Jaime Jessop called them skeptics and tried to back out of her assertion.”

    The people Jessop listed (she claims not as skeptics) were not “Hockey Schtick and Goddard.” They were, as quoted in this post, “Notalotofpeopleknowthat and The Hockeyschtick.” I have no idea why you’d think Goddard was one of the two people. I didn’t mention his name in this post, and I’ve never claimed Jessop listed him as a skeptic.

    You’ve now (in order) misrepresented me, your own comment and Jaime Jessop’s remarks. You’re additionally refusing to do the simple, normal thing of explaining why what you bring up is relevant, instead saying:

    Physics is not ready to answer how many skeptics he thinks are ‘pseudoskeptics’.

    Why should Jaime answer questions when Physics doesn’t? Where are these represented in your post?

    As I told you above, if what you say is relevant, explain how it is relevant. Point to what I said that it has some bearing on. Until you do that, you might as well be asking, “Where is the average weight of a pygmy elephant represented in your post?” Both questions have the same answer: It isn’t because I don’t see the relevance to what I wrote.

  7. Jaime offered the names as examples of people she read. She said not all parts of what people write against the orthodox narrative were equal threats to the narrative.

    I think people should be given the freedom to say something and characterize more fully what they mean, in open, honest conversation.

    Jaime did give names. She did give names after being asked for names. But she was neither deemed it appropriate nor wanted to participate, in an exercise of labelling who were true sceptics and ‘pseudosceptics’.

    Both the above are taking place. Where are they represented in your post?

  8. In any case, the problem is what Jaime said etc. It started for me with you saying something like this on Twitter

    Still, sometimes they’re right.

    What are they right about?

    I can explain what I understand from reading a thread, but that can be an endless game. What were OPatrick, Oilman and the other geniuses right about?

  9. Shub Niggurath, I have absolutely no idea what you’re saying at this point. I suspect neither do you. So long as you refuse to give any indication how anything you say would be relevant to what I’ve written, I don’t see any point in responding.

    Maybe someone else can make sense of what you’re writing.

  10. Actually, I found Shib’s post fairly easy to understand, and am surprised that you didn’t. I still don’t have a clear enough picture to say Brandon is wrong and Shib is right, as the followup posts did not provide additional context that is supposedly missing.

  11. Referring to the surrounding posts, this reminds me of Martin Vermeer’s insistence at Arthur Smith’s that Mann’s statement, ‘Regression algorithms are blind to the sign of the indicator” because regression algorithms ARE blind to the sign of the indicator. That this is said in response to a question about upside usage gives it a specific meaning, was lost on Mr Vermeer.

  12. MikeN, I can see a simple point it appears Niggurath is trying to make. However, that point has nothing to do with anything I said. If my interpretation is right, his point is easy to understand. It’s also easy to see it’s irrelevant.

    I’ve tried to get clarification, but Niggurath seems uninterested in providing any explanation as to how his comments are relevant. He also seems uninterested incorrecting the multiple false claims he made. Instead, he appears to be creating a narrative which often fails to match reality.

    I may get the “point” he wants to make, but I don’t get the absurd way he has gone about trying to make it.

  13. I think Shub’s point is valid. Reading thru the thread, it may be the quotes around ‘genuine skepticism’ is significant, as these posters held up as genuine skeptics, Stephen Schneider, RealClimate, etc. There is also a difference in reference to a site and to skeptics, so are those sites single people, or a group blog?

    You also left out the preceding paragraph to the statement in question.
    Oh deary me, I give two examples of websites which I frequently visit and you guys immediately look upon this as a springboard to try and discredit my own sceptic viewpoints by minutiae reference to points made in articles on those websites – all of them, I might add, which I have not read. This is classic attempted discreditation by association and I’m afraid it won’t wash. If you want to dissect MY scepticism, you need to look at MY blog and I will be more than happy to discuss any ‘issues’ you have. As I’ve already said, I consider most of the climate sceptic blogosphere to consist of people who have genuine problems with accepting the party line on consensus global warming ‘science’. Like I said, I consider some of the information on those websites to be a more credible threat to the ‘consensus’ than other information. At no time, did I indicate WHICH information, so you are second-guessing my preferences outrageously.

  14. MikeN, whether or not Shub Niggurath’s point is valid doesn’t matter to me at this point. It isn’t topical. Jamie Jessop was asked to list the name of skeptics, and she responded by providing two names. She later claimed her response didn’t answer the question she was asked. This is despite the fact it was made in response to the question and was worded perfectly to answer the question. I say that is absurd.

    Her response, by any sensible interpretation, should be taken as an answer to the question she was asked. It’s possible that was not her intention. If so, she could have just said she misspoke. She didn’t. Instead, she denied that her response was an answer to the question she was responding to, and she insulted me for saying it was such an answer.

    That is what this post is about. If people want to discuss things in addition to that, that’s fine. They just need to clarify they’re discussing something else. They need to not pretend they’re responding to anything said in this post.

    As for the paragraph you say I left out, why are you highlighting it? I left out a lot of material. People do that when providing excerpts. Is there some point you’re trying to make by quoting something I didn’t quote? If so, it’d help if you’d say what that point is.

  15. I missed where you are commenting on that thread, and your dispute.

    “I give two examples of websites which I frequently visit and you guys immediately look upon this as a springboard to try and discredit my own sceptic viewpoints by minutiae reference to points made in articles on those websites”

    So the objection is to the dissection of the names provided. I think the quotes around ‘genuine skepticism’ is relevant too. I see your point, and it looked pretty straightforward, but in context, I’m not so sure.

  16. MikeN, the problem is that quote from Jaime Jessop is her comment doesn’t make sense. A user wanted to know who she “regards as being a genuine sceptic.” She responded by saying she thought “it would be unfair of [her] to single out just three sceptic bloggers who [she] would deem to be genuine sceptics.” That shows her interpretation was exactly in line with the questioner’s, as well as the one I discuss in this topic. When she was pressed on this issue, and she gave a list saying, “[a]s you are insistent.” That means she is still referring to the same issue – examples of genuine skeptics. It was only when her examples were criticized that she suddenly claimed:

    I did not hold up these two particular websites as being examples of what you so condescendingly term ‘genuine scepticism’ – I merely pointed out that I make reference to them quite a lot

    The quotation marks don’t matter for the point I’ve been examining. Regardless of what term was used (or if it was used in a condescending manner), Jessop was asked to provide examples of it, she acknowledged what she was being asked to provide, she responded by saying she’d provide examples of it, then she provided two examples.

    You could replace the phrase “genuine scepticism” with anything else, and it wouldn’t make Jessop’s comments and less nonsensical. There is no way anyone could possibly have interpreted her comments the way she claims to have written.

    And Shub Niggurath has not done a single thing to address that even though it’s the entire point of this post.

  17. Brandon, perhaps if you were going to highlight the Twitter exchange we had and bring attention to my conversation at TTP, it might have been polite to let me know, me being the other party, just so I could put my side of the story. Found out by chance about this conversation.

    I don’t have much to add here other than to point out that I made it clear in my response to first being asked about who I considered to be ‘genuine sceptics’ that I thought it unfair to single out 3 in particular. I then responded to OPatrick insisting on naming just one by naming two sites which I said I ‘use a lot’. In hindsight, now aware of the tactics employed by TTP members, I should have qualified my statement there and then by saying that I did not hold them up as ‘genuine sceptics’, only that I referred to them frequently for information of particular interest to myself. But the bait was laid, the trap set and I took it. Realising that TTP members were then questioning my ‘quality’ of scepticism by attempting (unsuccessfully) to ridicule Paul Homewood and Hockeyschtick, I made my position very clear in retrospect and that should have been the end of it.

    But then you misrepresented the whole exchange, in my opinion, with your Tweets, so I put the record straight I thought. But here you are, unbeknown to me, still ruminating over the episode. I must admit, I find it strange that you would even consider it worthy of any particular note, but I suppose as an example of a breakdown in communications it is as good an example as any other.

  18. Jaime Jessop, I’m not sure how you can bring up issues of politeness when you broke off communication with a string of insults. I think when someone decides they’re done with a conversation, people have no obligation to inform them they’re continuing the discussion without them. Even if doing so would be polite, I don’t think you have any room to raise issues of politeness.

    As for the idea you were somehow “trapped,” had you not responded in a way that could only be taken as claiming those two individuals are skeptics, nobody could have criticized you for believing they are skeptics. It is nobody’s fault you answered a simple question in a way nobody could possibly interpret the way you claim it was intended.

    As for feeling I’ve I misrepresented you, you have never done anything to show any inaccuracy in anything I’ve said. If I’ve done what you claim, quote what I said and show how it is inaccurate. That’s how conversations work.

    They don’t work by insulting people and running away.

  19. I think the issue here is quite plain. You didn’t like being called out about misrepresenting me; you had no logical comeback to my supposedly ‘breaking off conversation with a string of insults’ by tweeting “Then what can I say. You either wilfully misrepresent it or lack the intelligence to understand it.” Am I supposed to be patient with a person I don’t know landing on a Twitter conversation thread, saying I was wrong and misrepresenting – without good evidence – what I had to say in another online conversation?

    “As for feeling I’ve I misrepresented you, you have never done anything to show any inaccuracy in anything I’ve said. If I’ve done what you claim, quote what I said and show how it is inaccurate. That’s how conversations work.

    They don’t work by insulting people and running away.”

    Two glaring inaccuracies here. I posted a link showing that you had indeed misrepresented me by not showing the context of the conversation and, in a sane world’, you would have acknowledged that fact and got on with your day. But no, you chose to ignore this and persisted in you accusations that I had transgressed the boundaries of reasonable conversation. Hence my final tweet. I did not ‘run away’ thereafter as you state. What happened is you did not reply. Big difference. More misrepresentation from yourself.

    Re-visiting that conversation on Twitter, your abbreviated version above leaves critical points out. I did in fact correct my poor use of English saying ‘misquoted’ instead of ‘misrepresented’ and pointed out in the process that you were being pedantic. Further, one of your opening comments was this:

    “I saw a couple. A user asked @Balinteractive to list a couple skeptics. She responded by listing people who aren’t skeptics.”

    If you want to be pedantic, NO user asked me to list a couple of sceptics. One asked me to list 3 ‘genuine sceptics’ which i refused to do and another said ‘well, maybe just one’. It was this comment which sparked my response that you were “misquoting” (misrepresenting) me.

    Can you please confirm that you do not consider Paul Homewood and Hockeyschtick as ‘sceptics’.

    Can you also explain how, in the context of the conversation before and after on that thread and in particular in view of my reply ‘as you insist, here are two sites which I use a lot”, you felt it justifiable to tweet the above comment and then continue to insist that I was in the wrong even when I pointed out the actual conversation?

    I don’t really have the time for this nonsense over something so trivial, but it would appear that you are ‘offended’ by what went on and wish to exact retribution in some way. I’m sorry you feel like that but I reserve the right to put the record straight if I do feel I am being misrepresented and I do reserve the right to be blunt and impatient if I feel that people are not engaging with me on an honest and reasonable footing.

  20. Brandon, it would seem that there were a lot of comments after that which I have failed to notice that were not notified to me by Twitter so I apologise for not responding, but I didn’t run away as you say. I’m going through these comments but they don’t seem to suggest in any way that you backed away from your arguments so the above comment still basically stands. The further basis for your antagonism towards me is revealed in your distaste for Steven Goddard and me ‘supporting’ his accusations of malicious data manipulation (fraud) of the various temperature records by NASA GISS. I took on board some relevant criticism at TTP and adjusted the wording of my blog to reflect that but I am still far from convinced that the NASA GISS ‘adjustments’ are entirely innocent and scientifically justifiable.

  21. Ah, found the thread where you reply to my final comment thus:

    “Explanations work far better than insults. Acting as though you couldn’t possibly be wrong is silly.”

    Not much I could have meaningfully said in response to this. Shub then advises you that if you want explanations you should get unbanned by Anders and then visit the thread and then goes on to say that he is reading the thread on TTP and is failing to get your point, to which you make no reply.

  22. Jaime Jessop, please try to refrain from making so many separate comments to express thoughts which could be put in far fewer.

    In the meantime, realize this remark:

    I posted a link showing that you had indeed misrepresented me by not showing the context of the conversation and, in a sane world’, you would have acknowledged that fact and got on with your day.

    Will not convince anyone. Posting a link and saying, “Read it,” is not showing anything. It’s not proving anything. It’s not even contributing. If you think a link shows something, you need to explain what it shows and why it shows such. Anything else is pointless and rude.

    As it happens, I had read the comment you linked to, multiple times. It didn’t contain anything which showed me wrong. I pointed this out, and your only response was to insult me. That’s not how any reasonable person would behave. So when you say:

    I don’t really have the time for this nonsense over something so trivial, but it would appear that you are ‘offended’ by what went on and wish to exact retribution in some way. I’m sorry you feel like that but I reserve the right to put the record straight if I do feel I am being misrepresented and I do reserve the right to be blunt and impatient if I feel that people are not engaging with me on an honest and reasonable footing.

    Realize this entire thing is your fault. If you were right, it would be easy to show. You’ve chosen not to. You’ve chosen to refrain from explaining how your response to OPatrick could possibly be interpreted as “merely point[ing] out that [you] make reference to them quite a lot.”

    That is the entire point of this post and the exchange we had. Despite its importance and simplicity, you’ve refused to address it with anything more than hand-waving. If you are wasting your time, it’s only because you refuse to make a case on a single, simple point.

    Incidentally, there is nothing in my writing which suggests I am trying to “exact retribution.” I don’t know what you’re reading to conclude I am, but it’s not what I’m writing.

  23. I’ve nothing more to say here. You are obviously not going to give an inch in your conviction that you did not misrepresent me on Twitter and I am going to maintain that you did indeed misrepresent me by ignoring the context of the conversation and my other comments on that thread.

    I note that you did not respond to my question about Paul Homewood and Hockeyschtick even though it is very relevant.

    Good bye and have a nice life.

  24. Jaime, I think Brandon made a reasonable statement, and you haven’t done a good job of explaining yourself. Most people would interpret what you wrote as ‘Here are two people I consider skeptics.’ Your later comment backtracks from that.

    I don’t see how it is relevant whether Brandon or I consider Paul Homewood to be a skeptic, and I have no idea.

    I think failure to communicate is the correct title indeed.

  25. MikeN, thanks. That’s basically what I would have said. I just hadn’t gotten around to it because I’ve been working on a new post.

    Speaking of which, I need to finish tidying that one up. I think the issue I highlight in it is pretty remarkable. For a teaser, I’ve discovered another abuse by the IPCC.

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