So, there's this article which is provoking lots of hot air on the twittersphere. And since I haven't blogged much for a while, I might as well add a bit more. This is a bit of a ramble as I don't have the energy for a carefully edited post.
I'm far from convinced by Tamsin's argument. I don't see why climate scientists should abandon their democratic rights (one could even consider them responsibilities) just by virtue of having some slightly better understanding of some aspects of how the world works. Merely writing down the idea makes it sound absurd to me. Of course no-one is required to be an advocate, but I don't recall taking a vow of silence when I was inducted into the hallowed world of the Climate Scientist. And why should climate scientists be singled out for this treatment, anyway? Is it really in the public interest that one entire cadre of people with a particular (relevant) expertise should be excluded from the public debate? If so, surely we should exclude the economists and energy policy experts too, for exactly the same reasons. Who would be left, apart from Monckton-types and assorted hippies and eco-terrorists?
I'm not implying that we should all be advocating things where we are uncomfortable and/or unconvinced. But it's important to be clear about what "advocacy" might mean in the various spheres that we find ourselves. In the UK, perhaps that means a detailed discussion on what particular policy is going to be most effective in controlling carbon emissions. In the USA, it's more likely to be the question of whether one is permitted to accept that anthropogenic climate change actually exists. I think it's highly plausible both that Gavin knows a lot more than his audience, and that Tamsin does not know much more than hers, on their respective debates. While she claims her approach has won lots of friends, I would be interested to see the reaction if she chose to express and defend her "absolutely mainstream" climate science views on her blog, rather than the meta-science that she's focussed on so far. I suspect the sceptics would get markely less effusive in their praise (even though, in the UK, most sceptics are far removed from the caucasian wingnuts seen across the pond).
Finally, the idea that concealing our political views is the way to increase trust in climate science, seems entirely misguided to me. Biases don't go away just by not being talked about.