One of the most salient features of cranks is their inconsistency. A major difference between someone who is trying to reason scientifically and someone who has a fixed belief they are trying to defend against rational inquiry is the scientific thinker is looking for synthesis. They want things to fit together nicely, to make sense, and incorporate as much of the data as possible into a cohesive picture or theory that is convincing to ones peers so they adopt your view.
A crank, on the other hand, doesn’t care about internal consistency, presenting a cohesive picture of any kind, or creating a body of knowledge to be adopted and utilized by their peers. If someone has a different theory that is completely different from theirs they don’t care, as long as it remains opposed to the scientific theory that impinges upon their fixed belief.
Case in point, Jennifer Marohasy’s blog features this post which exclaims with glee that Kerry Emanuel has reversed his position on the role of global warming on hurricanes based on this news piece. In an example of crank magnetism Dave Scot at Uncommon Descent has also picked up this thread only he exclaims that Emanuel has reversed his position on global warming itself (check out the intellectual company you keep when you’re a global warming denialist, sheesh).
What becomes immediately clear, however, is that this is only evidence of the scientific incompetence of these individual writers, their lack of reading comprehension, and the inconsistency of global warming denialists’ approach to the scientific literature. So, what is it we do, boys and girls, whenever a crank mentions some finding in a scientific paper? Look at the primary source! It’s the first step, and I guarantee you the crank’s didn’t read or comprehend the paper at all. Here it is, free at MIT (PDF). Not only does the paper consistent with an impact of global warming on hurricanes, but the cranks have latched on to a paper that uses computer models *gasp*. You see, the endless refrain from global warming denialists that computer models have no value goes out the window the second they perceive a modicum of support from a paper that uses them.
As far as Kerry Emanuel reversing his position, they got that wrong too. Here’s what he told me:
Unfortunately, reports about my paper have been greatly distorted. I am certainly not denying global warming, nor am I denying a link to increasing hurricane power, but I am pointing out that one particular technique suggests less of an increase going forward than we previously feared. Also, the technique, when applied to historical climate data from 1980-2006, strongly re-affirms earlier analyses that show that hurricane power has increased by about 50% over the past 25 years.
Oops. It’s hard out there for a crank. This paper is consistent with global warming increasing hurricane intensity, it just predicts less of an effect going forward. I’m sure Dave Scot and Marohasy will immediately retract all their bogus claims, distortions and lies about this paper, Kerry Emanuel, and, no doubt, their sudden belief in models. While I’m waiting for that to happen though, let’s keep this in mind as an example of how cranks don’t actually care what kind of evidence they must use to preserve their fixed belief, or that it be consistent with their previous statements, arguments, etc. All that matters is that science they oppose ideologically gets crapped on.