Tol’s Priceless Tweets

My last post criticizing changes apparently made to the recent IPCC report by Richard Tol in order to promote his own work and views was online for only about 20 minutes before Tol responded. The exchange which followed was priceless.

It began when I posted to Twitter highlighting the new post. I posted again, giving more information. Tol promptly responded to the second tweet:

I immediately responded with my normal, sardonic attitude, pointing out the ineffectualness of his response. He seemed unhappy when he responded:

I’m not sure what kind of professional scientist goes around cursing at people on Twitter. I’m also not sure what point Tol thought he was making. All I’m sure of is a comment like that deserves mockery, which I provided.

Tol responded to the mockery by following up on the point I still don’t understand:

At this point, I’d normally show you his next tweet. Unfortunately, while he did respond to my remark:

He has since deleted that tweet. I hadn’t anticipated that, and I hadn’t taken a screenshot of the tweet. Fortunately, the app I use on my phone to connect to Twitter does not respond to people deleting tweets. I was able to take a screenshot of the deleted tweet on it (tweets in the image are in reverse chronological order):

Screenshot_2014-04-20-01-58-50

My response to Tol wasn’t worded well. I should have switched things around between the two tweets. Phrasing issues aside, you can see Tol acknowledged he made a mistake. I have no idea who he supposedly mixed me up with, and I find it hard to imagine how he would have.

Regardless, with him having admitted the mistake, I made a (small) effort to mend things, asking Tol if the apology covered his ridiculous cursing. He answered in the negative:

And has since stopped responding.

To sum up, Richard Tol dismissed my new post as me “just talking nonsense.” He then cursed at me, made a wildly untrue claim about what I said in order to accuse me of making a baseless accusation, deleted the tweet, claimed to have mixed me up with some unnamed individual, told me I deserved to be cursed at then ran away.

Priceless.

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11 comments

  1. Not really.

    Again, I can’t follow these sequences, but people respond in a flash when they feel they’ve been wronged, or someone is completely wrong about them. etc. Things can misfire. Tweets and comments are like people talking.

    It looks like Tol was talking about a table and you about your own blog post, which is not about a table but a graph?

  2. It seems fairly evident that Tol is responding to more than just your criticisms, hence his confusing misfire of a tweet. That may also serve to explain his heightened sensitivity and use of blue language. Bear in mind as well that ‘f—–ing’ from someone writing in the Queen’s English does not bear the same weight as it does on our side of the pond. Something like that ought to be like water off a duck’s back. Your concerns about the IPCC process are legitimate, and whether it be one of us or them, nobody should be abusing said process. Stick to your main issue. Leave the “Church Lady” schtick to someone else.

  3. Shub Niggurath, I don’t know why you think my post was “not about a table but a graph.” Immediately after showing the graph in my post, I showed a table, saying it was the source for the information used in the graph. I also cited values from the table, discussed information only available via the table, discussed the source of the table and remarked on the footnote for the table. I don’t know why you’d have trouble following these sequences, but I gave more attention to the table than the graph. That’s what one would expect given the graph just shows a subset of the information available in the table.

    Dr C, I’m sure he has responded to other criticisms. However, I don’t believe anyone made the claim he said I made. It’d be an incredibly stupid thing to say, easily proven false just by looking at the caption of the graph. Why would anyone have said it? And even if someone did, I’m sure he wasn’t talking to them at the same time as me. If not, how would he mix up my post which did the exact opposite of what he said with what some unnamed person supposedly said?

    What I think is Richard Tol didn’t bother to read my post. I think he, at best, skimmed it. He might have even just read my tweets. Either way, he didn’t know what I actually said but went off half-cocked based upon some idea he thought I said. I think after that he realized he was completely wrong but didn’t want to admit he hadn’t actually read what he was responding to. To avoid an embarrassing admission like that, he created an unverifiable story about some unnamed person so he could say it was just a mix up. That seems most likely to me. That said, even if someone had made the idiotic claim he attributed to me, there’s no way he could have possibly read my post and thought I made it. His responses were unquestionably uninformed whether or not he made up that story.

    As for the “Church Lady” schtick, I’m not sure why you said it. That, plus you saying it “ought to be like water off a duck’s back” makes it sound like I’m offended or upset. I’m not. I’m amused. The idea Tol’s almost immediate response to a post criticizing him is to curse at the author is hilarious. The entire reason I wrote this post is I couldn’t stop laughing. Somebody writes a post with detailed criticisms of him, and this is how he responds? How can you not laugh?

  4. Dr. C:

    Your concerns about the IPCC process are legitimate, and whether it be one of us or them, nobody should be abusing said process. Stick to your main issue. Leave the “Church Lady” schtick to someone else.

    I concur on both of these points. Nobody should get free passes, and nobody should throw girly fits because somebody dropped the f-bomb.

  5. Well, ok. You are the final arbiter of what you actually meant. From this reader’s perspective (and apparently from Shub’s and Carrick’s too, if I’m reading them correctly) you sounded fairly incensed at Tol’s lingo. Apart from that, keep up the good work. BTW, I’ve been curious (and getting curiouser, to quote Alice), erm…don’t you have a job or something? Who has time to wage battles on so many fronts?

  6. Dr C, I’ve been told people hear the tone they expect. I don’t know how true that is, but I’ve noticed problems with tone on many occasions, including in real life. The strange thing is people in real life tend to think I’m more apathetic than I am while people on the internet tend to think I’m more incensed. I get dry humor can be hard to pick up on, but the interpretations I see baffle me at times.

    For example, I have trouble seeing how anyone would take this as angry:

    I immediately responded with my normal, sardonic attitude

    I’d think “sardonic attitude” would be an obvious clue as to my feelings. Similarly, what kind of “girly fit” could I be throwing by pointing out a person cursing by saying:

    He seemed unhappy when he responded

    I struggle to see how I could have understated things more than saying the person who cursed at me “seemed unhappy.” An understatement that severe has to be a joke. Can you imagine me, my face all red and tensed, angrily exclaiming, “He seemed unhappy”?

    If phrasing like “seemed unhappy” makes people think I was throwing a fit, what would they think of Richard Tol’s tweets? Do they envisage him in some sort of roid rage, smashing furniture while screaming obscenities, or do they somehow take his cursing to indicate a calmer attitude? Part of me worries it’s the latter.

    Anyway, maybe this is a good litmus test. True skeptics won’t jump to conclusions about how a person feels 😛

  7. Dear lord. That smiley face is going to give me nightmares. I need to remember not to use it.

    Anyway, I forgot to answer your question. I am sad to say I am currently unemployed. I have more free time than I’d like, and I have a smart phone which lets me stay active no matter where I am.

    You might be surprised to find out blogging and the like don’t require that much of my time. Most of my posts are written in a single session, with the writing/editing portion taking less than an hour. The time consuming parts are looking up information, finding references and deciding how I want to structure my posts. With topics I’ve followed for years (such as Michael Mann’s work), the first two aren’t that bad. I already know the information, and I’m acquainted with most of the references. The main challenge is just figuring out how to explain things in a simple and coherent way. Even that’s not too bad as I can think about what I’ll write while doing other things. As long as there’s no developing stories or new subjects I need to research (like reading up on the Aggregate Impacts debate so I had the background to cover the IPCC section), I only need an hour or two a day to keep up.

    Since the topic of how we interpret what people say came up above, here’s an interesting exercise to do. Go back and reread this comment, but switch the order of the second and third paragraphs (but leave, “I forgot to answer your question”). How does that change your interpretation of the comment? What if after saying I was unemployed, I threw in the comment:

    I could say all the normal things about how finding a job in the current economic situation is difficult, but it doesn’t really matter.

    And finally, what if I included that comment but you didn’t switch the paragraphs around?

    That gives four different ways I could have responded with changes that’d only require two marks of a pen from an editor. Each has a different tone. If you think about it, you can probably tell why I picked the one I picked.

  8. Having a dry sense of humor myself, most of the time I pick up on that. Unfortunately, I have also experienced those times when people DON’T pick up on my humor and they get upset. (Usually, it’s my mother….). AFAIC, all is well in Izuru-world, and as I said, keep up the good work.

  9. Brandon, it did seem like you spent a lot of your focus on the use of a vulgar word by Tol as an intensifier. (I don’t personally use “cursing” for the way that word was used, I just call it “use of vulgarity”).

    Being as I’ve heard that word used in conferences during talks by people asking “very direct” questions, well it just seemed like an odd thing to focus on, and distracted from the main issues, such as they are.

    To be honest, I’ve got such a low opinion of WG3, that for somebody to even agree to be part of it already has negative connotations for me.

  10. Carrick, even if some emphasis had been misplaced, that’s still not throwing a girly fit over somebody cursing. If something that minor were, I’d have to say your use a harsher tone in your depiction of my post meant you were throwing a… fit.

    Note, I left off “girly” because I have no idea what the difference between a “girly” and “manly” fit would be. I’m going to chalk that up to my lack of experience in throwing fits, but feel free to assume I’m just not good at sexism.*

    Quick question though. Did you type WG3 by mistake? The chapters/sections I discussed in the last couple posts were from WG2.

    *This is a joke.

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