Why Encourage the Devil’s Advocate: Groupthink by Irving L. Janis

ALMOST by definition you can’t win an argument against a Devil’s advocate. But the Devil’s advocate can play a valuable role in any serious discussion. If you come to this blog, expect to be challenged. I don’t post for fun, or for followers, I post to test my ideas and to gather more information. So I encourage dissent.

I wrote the following review of a book called ‘Groupthink’ by Irving L. Janis back in 2009 for ‘100 Great Books of Liberty’. The ideas I discuss have relevance to any group. Groups of people, by their nature tend to seek out a consensus, but groups are more resilient and more likely to get closer to the truth when they are open to new ideas and when they confront dissent with rational argument. 100 ideas

“ON April 17, 1961, a brigade of about fourteen hundred Cuban exiles aided by the United States Navy, Air Force and CIA, invaded the swampy coast of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs. Its objective was to overthrow the government of Fidel Castro but nothing went as planned. On the first day none of the ships containing reserve ammunition arrived, on the second day the brigade was surrounded by twenty thousand well-equipped Cuban troops and on the third day the surviving twelve hundred men were taken to Cuban prison camps. According to Irving L. Janis (1918 – 1990) this operation, which was approved by the Kennedy administration, ranks among the worst fiascos ever perpetuated by a responsible government.

The first chapter in Irving’s book Groupthink – Psychological Studies of Policy Decisions and Fiascos explains the Bay of Pigs fiasco in terms of six major miscalculations by well meaning and intelligent men and concludes they suffered from groupthink. Groupthink is a term first coined by American author and sociologist William Whyte writing in Fortune magazine, but it was Irving who went on to write two books about it. He defined groupthink as a syndrome where the strivings for consensus can override the realistic appraisal of alternative courses of action. The theory is now sometimes associated with the suppression of individual initiative, but Irving (a research psychologist at Yale University and professor emeritus at the University of California) was most concerned with group dynamics and the value of individual expertise and opinion only as it contributed to the effective functioning of groups with a policy or decision-making role.

According to Janis, during the Bay of Pigs planning sessions President Kenney was provided with alternative courses of action and brought at least one articulate opponent of the invasion plan to an important White House meeting. But the President’s style of conducting meetings provided little opportunity for discussion of alternative perspectives and evidence. Furthermore, some members of the group were silent at critical times because they felt they could not break with formal protocols to express their views. In effect President Kennedy, perhaps unwittingly, prevented a proper evaluation of the flawed CIA invasion plan. Janis also blames groupthink for escalations in the Korean and Vietnam Wars and Pearl Harbour.

But Janis does not suggest that groups of people are doomed to bad judgement and wrong decisions. Rather Janis shows that thinking that does not consider all the available evidence may result in bad judgement and wrong decisions.

In the second part of Groupthink – Psychological Studies of Policy Decisions and Fiascos under the heading ‘Counterpoint’, Janis uses the Cuban Missile Crisis as an example where President Kennedy and his inner circle successfully avoid succumbing to groupthink tendencies while benefiting from “the morale gains of high cohesiveness”. Janis shows how President Kennedy learnt from the Bay of Pigs fiasco and introduced a series of sweeping changes to the decision-making procedures of his team, which broadened debate and discussion at meetings. Scepticism and critical thinking were now valued and the President’s brother Robert enjoyed playing the role of devil’s advocate.

Even though the book was written over two decades ago, it potentially provides a rigorous frame work for evaluating some of the big policy decisions of our time including the invasion of Iraq and the Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol is a consequence of United Nation’s policy on anthropogenic global warming as formulated by its Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). This Panel has formal meetings, discourages dissent and has promoted the idea of a scientific consensus. Those who question the scientific consensus were once dismissed as in “the pay of big oil” but as the number of so-called sceptics has grown over the years and now includes many professors with impeccable credentials, these dissenters are now more likely to be dismissed as simply holding a minority and irrelevant opinion.

According to Janis, irrespective of the personality characteristics and other predispositions of the members of a policy-making group, the groupthink syndrome is likely to emerge given particular conditions including when the decision-makers constitute a cohesive group, lack norms requiring methodical procedures and are under stress from external threats. This can lead to illusions of invulnerability and belief in the inherent morality of the group leading to self-censorship, illusions of unanimity and an incomplete consideration of alternatives solutions to the issue at hand. All of these characteristics can be applied to the IPCC Panel, which is particularly convinced of the inherent moral good in both its cause and approach to the issue of global warming.

In order to avoid groupthink Janis suggests that policy-making bodies adopt nine principles including that leaders not express an opinion when assigning tasks to the group, that several independent groups work on the same problem, that alternatives be properly examined, and at least one group member be assigned the role of Devil’s advocate. If such principles were applied at IPCC meetings it is unlikely the Kyoto Protocol in its current form would have ever been proposed as a solution to global warming because it ignores the problem of emissions generated in the developing world, ignores the many factors additional to greenhouse gas emissions that can impact climate, and also fails to consider the many alternatives to reducing greenhouse gas emissions including adaptation to climate change.

It is certainly not too late for the IPCC to change its decision-making process, but the theory of groupthink appears to be not well understood outside of the US. In the US it has been used to understand the Iran-Contra Affair, the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster and even university politics in particular the overwhelming dominance of Democrats amongst professors on US campuses and as a consequence a tendency to ideological homogeneity.

Janis suggested the theory of groupthink could be applied to understand and improve the operations of any policy-making group and acknowledges that any improvement in the efficiency of decision-making can unfortunately be used for “evil as well as good”.

The theory of groupthink gives us a process for evaluating recent history and also potentially a method for those who care about liberal and free market ideals to test the extent to which their own organisations and groups are likely to reach a premature consensus on important issues. And it gives us more reasons for valuing the sceptic and encouraging the Devil’s advocate.

74 Responses to Why Encourage the Devil’s Advocate: Groupthink by Irving L. Janis

  1. Luke January 13, 2014 at 12:13 am #

    “So I encourage dissent.”

    Well you have one dissenter here – the rest are in groupthink. And I’m only a moderate.

  2. Neville January 13, 2014 at 6:30 am #

    No Luke you are definitely REPRESENTING the wider groupthinkers ouside this blog, so stop BSing .
    Your groupthinkers hold up the inclusive consensus banner at every opportunity. You’re just a silly contrarian who doesn’t want anyone here to think differently and independently from so called consensus opinion.
    The Kyoto nonsense was probably the silliest most idiotic policy ever dreamt up by stupid govts and the UN’s IPCC. They knew from the beginning that it could never work and even stated that it was a symbolic gesture.
    Even if every OECD country had signed up pronto, warming would only be delayed by 2100 by about 4 years. That’s after wasting endless trillions $ dollars that would be better spent on normal govt business around the world.
    And all so easily understood by just using simple kindy maths decades ago.

  3. Luke January 13, 2014 at 6:57 am #

    “You’re just a silly contrarian who doesn’t want anyone here to think differently and independently”


    I’m not telling you how to think – but Anthony Watts sure is – hahahahahaha

  4. Neville January 13, 2014 at 7:03 am #

    Just to try and understand the stupidity of Luke’s groupthinkers isn’t difficult. Here’s Turney’s latest garbage about too much ice in Antarctica in direct contrast to too little ice just 3 years ago.
    These people are definitely barking mad.


  5. Luke January 13, 2014 at 7:18 am #

    I’m not telling you how to think – but Andrew Bolt sure is – hahahahahaha

  6. jennifer January 13, 2014 at 7:33 am #

    Another thing, the Devil’s advocate should never dominate a discussion.

  7. Neville January 13, 2014 at 8:10 am #

    It looks like we have to do this groupthinkers thinking for him. We have two yarns a only few years apart about Antarctic ice.
    So tell us little groupthinker is there too much ice in Antarctica or too little? And how do you control it?

  8. Neville January 13, 2014 at 8:26 am #

    BTW satellite counts show there are now twice as many Emperor penguins in Antarctica compared to the previous on ground counts.


  9. Otter (ClimateOtter on Twitter) January 13, 2014 at 8:35 am #

    Jennifer, permission to repost your article, if I may. I have a group-thinker who needs this shoved down his throat… not that he’s going to learn anything.

  10. Neville January 13, 2014 at 8:55 am #

    More groupthinking from the BBC and the previous UK Labor govt. What con merchants and fraudsters they are and even the cover up was paid for by the poor taxpayer as well.


  11. Neville January 13, 2014 at 9:06 am #

    Adelie penguin numbers are booming in east Antarctica (up 75% in just 30 years) but falling on the Ant peninsula.
    It seems that ice adjustment knob is a real problem for the little groupthinkers. But ya gotta laugh at them I suppose?


  12. Beth Cooper January 13, 2014 at 9:37 am #

    Thx for article Jennifer.

    Irving Janis observes that Kennedy learned from the Bay of Pigs fiasco and
    produced sweeping changes to decision making procedures – broadening
    debate and valuing scepticism and critical thinking, including devil’s advocacy.
    Goes ter show that we can, and sometimes do break the bind of group think,
    Michel de Montaigne’s tyranny of custom and Kuhn’s paradigm. I’m reading
    Nassim Taleb’s ‘Antifragility.’ The antifragile needs to select the best option,
    … option = asymmetry +rationality, the fragile has no options. Trial and error
    is antfragile tentative exploration of options.

  13. Minister for Common Sense January 13, 2014 at 9:44 am #

    “Another thing, the Devil’s advocate should never dominate a discussion” Says Jen.

    Naturally that will go straight over the head of the person it should be pointed at.

    BTE, Irving Janis is not saying anything new either.

    Barbara W Tuchman was documenting the same matters in her book “The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam” which document one of the most compelling paradoxes of history: the pursuit by Governments of policies contrary to their own interests….when it was already apparent that this was the case at the time the major decisions were made by the rulers in charge.

    I am sure of she was alive today, then the AGW/IPC fiasco and great fraud that it is would be on her hit list of examples.

  14. Neville January 13, 2014 at 9:57 am #

    More groupthinking lunacy from a UK Greens pollie debating recent flooding etc against the rational optimist Matt Ridley.
    It must surely be a requirement that Green pollies have to be barking mad fantasists to get the job? But who are the loonies voting for these fools?


  15. bazza January 13, 2014 at 10:22 am #

    Climate ‘sceptics’ are champion group thinkers. Therefore they are not sceptics, simply denialists.

    The group think argument is acknowledged as one of the weakest of all, and is only invoked when you disagree with what the group thought.

  16. Neville January 13, 2014 at 10:37 am #

    So bazza , what are we non groupthinkers denying? Please tell us and then explain how we can fix your problem.This is the cue for bazza like all before him to take a powder for a couple of weeks.

  17. toby January 13, 2014 at 11:01 am #


    group think, theory induced blindness, call it what you like, it is abundantly clear where the group think lies….and if you cant see that then you are suffering very badly indeed.

    Oh the delicious irony of Turney continuing to bleat about climate change when a normal person would have been hanging their heads in shame, just sums up exactly where the group think lies. ( thx for the penguin link!< amazing the man hasn't hung himself with shame)

    It really does beg the question just exactly what will it take to get these catastrophists to challenge their own religious beliefs in the catastrophic effects of rising co2?

  18. bazza January 13, 2014 at 11:29 am #

    Here is a list of 19 items for the denialistas to plough through using peer reviewed evidence.
    From a huge body of peer reviewed research, there are 13 fingerprints of AGW:
    Shrinking upper atmosphere
    Less heat escaping to space
    More heat returning to earth
    Cooling upper atmosphere
    Rising tropopause
    Winter warming faster than summer
    Nights warming faster than days
    More fossil fuel carbon in the air
    Less oxygen in the air
    More fossil fuel carbon in trees
    More fossil fuel carbon in coral
    More fossil fuel carbon on the ocean
    Pattern of ocean warming

    And here are 6 independent lines of evidence that climate sensitivity is close to 3 give or take a bit but not much:
    Paleo analyses
    Interglacial analyses
    Volcano impacts
    Climate models
    Current observations
    Obs the last 150 years

  19. Neville January 13, 2014 at 11:37 am #

    Toby we should all be able to read and watch what we want to as long as we are adults. But these groupthinkers have a totalitarian agenda just like Labor and the Greens to limit freedom of the press and internet use as well.

    The Gillard govt and the Greens tried to pass legislation to limit these freedoms just 2 years ago. And if we are mad enough to vote them back into govt they will try again.

    Sometimes it can take years to de-program a young person ( but also adults )from the mind control of religious cults that is not unlike the impact on some people who have followed communism and nazism.

  20. kuhnkat January 13, 2014 at 11:38 am #

    The Bay of Pigs was a plan Kennedy inherited from Eisenhower and the CIA. It was doomed due to Kennedy deciding he did not trust the CIA, did not want to lose his GOODWILL with the world (Barry Soetoro anyone?) and cancelling further US involvement after landing the troops. Basically Kennedy agreed to the invasion and then cancelled US involvement although air support and re-supply was part of the plan. How could that possibly work?? There was no communication failure. Kennedy knew what the CIA planned and wanted and screwed them and the Cuban Patriots who wished to take their country back for whatever reasons he had in his head.

    His teenage “squeeze” in the WH recently wrote some stuff where she alleges that Kennedy believed in better Red than Dead and was biased to pandering to the Soviets rather than hard resistance and definitely not any aggressiveness against them.


    Many hold up the Cuban Missile Crisis as Kennedy standing strong against the Soviets. The Soviets did NOT pull all the nukes out of Cuba at that time. They did later when Castro became too vociferous about nuking the US mainland. Kennedy also pulled missiles out of Turkey and Eastern Europe to satisfy Soviet demands at the time and he and his administration LIED about it for decades!!


  21. handjive of climatefraud.inc January 13, 2014 at 11:52 am #

    9,135 out of 9,136 scientists believe climate change is happening
    The scientific literature leaves nothing for climate deniers to turn to

    Powell’s analysis covers 2,258 articles published in peer-reviewed journals between November 2012 and December 2013, written by a total of 9,136 authors. He found but one holdout:

    One of my favourite challengers to group-think is Roger Bacon:

    “Seven centuries ago a sickly English friar dispatched a strident missive to Rome.
    Addressed to Pope Clement IV, it was an urgent appeal to set right time itself.
    Calculating that the calendar year was some 11 minutes longer than the actual solar year, Roger Bacon informed the supreme pontiff that this amounted to an error of an entire day every 125 years, a surplus of time that over the centuries had accumulated by Bacon’s era to nine day. (In the same treatise Bacon elsewhere uses the figure once in every 130 years. The actual error is closer to once every 128 years)

    Left unchecked, this drift would eventually shift March to the dead winter and August to spring.
    More horrific in this pious age was Bacon’s insistence that Christians were celebrating Easter and every other holy day on the wrong dates, a charge so outrageous in 1267 that Bacon risked being branded a heretic for challenging the veracity of the Catholic Church.”

    Text taken from “The Calendar – The 5,000 year struggle to align the clock and the Heavens and what happened to the missing ten days, by David Ewing Duncan.

  22. Ken Stewart January 13, 2014 at 12:36 pm #

    In my previous life as a teacher we attempted to teach children how to “disagree without being disagreeable”. Both valued as important, and frequently lacking in adults. We also taught children to discuss ideas using de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats. Unfortunately children (and some teachers) associate Black with evil, so the Black Hat (being cautious and conservative, or sometimes critical, or devil’s advocate) may have been seen as a less effective thinking tool. Children (and many adults) perceive the group and social standing within it as all important, to the exclusion of facts and dissenting ideas. Left and right, liberal and conservative, believers and non-believers, are all capable of group think.
    The idea that consensus can be reached without considering alternatives or objections is foolish, and ultimately dangerous.

  23. Neville January 13, 2014 at 1:58 pm #

    What’s your point bazza? The holocene is much cooler ( 6c to 8c cooler in greenland) than the eemian interglacial, plus SLs are much lower. ( 4 to 6metres)
    The holocene is also the coolest IGlacial in the last 500,000 years.

    The early holocene optimum was much warmer than today and SLs were higher as well.
    Lukes study showed that the antarctic was warmer than today from 141 to 1250 AD and there was a cool period from 1580 to 1880 there as well.
    Also a short much warmer spike in temp for 29 years during that cooler period. And many scientists would dispute that list you’ve presented.
    But nobody here thinks the climate doesn’t change NATURALLY over time so I don’t understand what your point is?

  24. Peter C January 13, 2014 at 2:09 pm #


    You say:”From a huge body of peer reviewed research, there are 13 fingerprints of AGW:
    Shrinking upper atmosphere ?evidence
    Less heat escaping to space ?evidence
    More heat returning to earth ?evidence
    Cooling upper atmosphere ?evidence
    Rising tropopause ?evidence
    Winter warming faster than summer ?evidence
    Nights warming faster than days ?evidence
    More fossil fuel carbon in the air ok but ?relevence
    Less oxygen in the air ? consumed by burning carbon
    More fossil fuel carbon in trees so? carbon cycle, situation normal.
    More fossil fuel carbon in coral so? fossil fuel carbon is ordinary carbon.
    More fossil fuel carbon on the ocean so?
    Pattern of ocean warming oceans not warming ?evidence

    And here are 6 independent lines of evidence that climate sensitivity is close to 3 give or take a bit but not much:
    Paleo analyses
    Interglacial analyses
    Volcano impacts
    Climate models
    Current observations
    Obs the last 150 years

    These may be independent lines of evidence, but evidence of what exactly? I see no connection to the greenhouse gas theory (except the climate models).

  25. Beth Cooper January 13, 2014 at 3:24 pm #

    As Neville reminds us , the Gillard government tried ter muzzle free speech two
    years ago. The Finkelstein Enquiry concluded that a new powerful News Media
    Council should be established with wide powers of enforcement and imposition
    of strong penalties despite the fact that the Constitution gives no power to the
    Federal Govuhmint ter pass legislation ter give effect ter such recommendations.

    beth the serf.

  26. toby January 13, 2014 at 4:40 pm #

    you have to love how none of those fingerprints for CAGW include rising temperatures
    ( oh that’s right they aren’t!!) and accelerating sea level rise ( oh that’s right they aren’t!), along with the often mentioned hot spot, no more snow for skiing, a complete loss of arctic sea ice as well as a decline in Antarctic ice…..also which are not happening.

    And imagine if we actually placed any faith in climate models….well I wonder how there lack of ability to predict a 17 year stasis would appear………

    could those fingerprints our catastrophists look for be caused by anything else other than co2?

    as for less heat escaping to space…..apparently not happening and as good a reason as any to blow the theory of CAGW out the window.


    and as for climate sensitivity being close to 3….well the world better start warming up quickly to see anything like even the more likely 1c increase from a doubling of co2.

    alarmism is alive and well in the land of climate change, even as the case gets weaker and weaker for the potential catastrophic effects of additional co2.

  27. bazza January 13, 2014 at 4:48 pm #

    Nev, my point is how isolated facts have to be interpreted in relation to a body of evidence, and not in relation to your beliefs. “There is no science of isolated phenomena”!

  28. Neville January 13, 2014 at 6:27 pm #

    Well bazza please tell us how to fix it? Where are we going wrong?

  29. Beth Cooper January 13, 2014 at 7:13 pm #

    Media massage message. Jo Nova 13/01/14.

    David Rose , Mail on Sunday, reports that ‘The BBC has spent tens of thousands of
    pounds over six years to keep secret an extraordinary ‘eco’ conference which has
    shaped its coverage of global warming.’

  30. Luke January 13, 2014 at 8:30 pm #

    Speaking of dissent and groupthink

  31. Glen Michel January 13, 2014 at 8:52 pm #

    Yep, the orthodoxy maintains it’s all about CO2, and particularly mans contribution;inflexible and uncompromising these doomsday merchants.No null hypothesis no nothing in these rigid minds.The problem no doubt lies in the reluctance of these softc*cks to drink large amounts of beer and to get off their seats?Good a theory as any.

  32. Luke January 13, 2014 at 8:54 pm #

    But won’t drinking large amounts of beer interfere with turgidity?

  33. Glen Michel January 14, 2014 at 6:10 am #

    Luke,I would venture that declining beer consumption is contributing to a decline in academic thought!

  34. Luke January 14, 2014 at 6:30 am #


    By golly you are correct. So your beer swilling, right wing redneck, root-it shoot-it cut-it down, quail hunting , finger out the window, Rugby playing, lay meteorologist, who listen to 2GB and read New Idea, is under threat.

    Replaced by pinot noir and cafe latte sipping communist vegan poofter chess-playing scientific climate modellers who watch SBS and read Fairfax.

    They need a good rare steak and a kick up the bum.

    And that why we should keep the flag the same and the Queen.


  35. Rich Kozlovich January 14, 2014 at 9:38 am #

    I saw this and while I agree that it takes courage to challenge the group, and protocol, I believe the plan would have worked as outlined. It failed because Kennedy was a failure as a man with the moral fiber of a goat! Maybe that’s why they were quiet. They saw the potential, they just didn’t see the betrayal.

  36. kuhnkat January 14, 2014 at 9:59 am #


    “And that why we should keep the flag the same and the Queen.”

    Because the Queen and her offspring are doing such wonderful things with immigration policy and openness to other religions in Britain, right??


  37. Glen Michel January 14, 2014 at 10:18 am #

    ……Then I could invoke the devils advocate position.If climate modellers and their apocalyptic followers would be a bit more pragmatic and wiser…… BUT THATS NOT THE POINT is it Luke, it’s brainwashing people with a meme that suits a
    left-wing line.But we live in hope for balance and openness.
    That’s not necessarily DA, but astonishment at SMH printing some sense of reality in the form of Tom Switzers piece today.Wonders!

  38. Johnathan Wilkes January 14, 2014 at 10:20 am #

    you don’t know much of much do you?

    The royals have less power than you do and I think you are a yank.
    They not even have the right to vote if I’m correct, but if they do they certainly don’t use it.

  39. Luke January 14, 2014 at 11:43 am #

    Glen Michel – Hansen and Emmanuel are republicans. Most tea party idiot types are sceptics.

    Memes are what sceptics create all the time.

    About six memes here “climate modellers and their apocalyptic followers would be a bit more pragmatic and wiser”

    If only sceptics would stop making up shit. Licence sceptics not guns.

    KuknKat “why we should keep the flag the same” is a joke …. on who you can guess.

  40. Minister for Common Sense January 14, 2014 at 2:06 pm #

    Nick Caters article in todays Australian 14/1/14 is concerned with yet another example of group think, in that he is having go at the appalling deficiencies of the curriculum that nearly was, and thankfully isn’t to be

    Cater reveals that with old document the words “sustainability” and “sustainable” appeared 139 times in 699 pages of turgid prose…. but get this:

    “business”, appears just 6 times,

    “markets”, twice and

    “free markets”, a fat zero.

    “capitalism”, is mentioned only twice and then only in the context of being a competing ideology to communism

    And that was in the proposed curriculum for our future …. what disgusting nonsense that would have been.

    Full marks to Christopher Pyne as Minister for dumping it and special thanks to Nick Cater for writing about it.

  41. DaveMyFace January 14, 2014 at 6:49 pm #

    Well, The Sydney Morning Herald is under attack from the GAIA lovers.

    1. SMH published “How politics clouds the climate change debate” on January 3rd, and Climate Spectator journo went ballistic. Elaine McKewon is a PhD candidate in journalism at the University of Technology, Sydney. She has published three peer-reviewed research papers (in reputable journals) on the Australian news media’s coverage of climate change.. wrote the article and is not happy.

    2. SMH’s Tom Switzer has an opinion piece: “Game finally up for Carboncrats”. And the comments are going ballistic. How dare the the SMH go against thier belief: announced it would not publish letters from climate change deniers that misrepresented the facts.

    Fairfax is a dying media force, that has been forced to go tabloid to hawk its socialist views. Radio, newspaper, TV etc – all failing because it supports little GREEN rodents that don’t pay.

    Here’s one comment so typical off the stupidity of the CAGW & Tim Flannery crew:

    “Only by separating humanity from the greed, selfishness and total self-corrupting, capitalistic consumer driven economic system, will allow us to advance.
    Replace wealth with scientific knowledge.
    Focus on the wonders that surround you instead of your self.
    We are possibly the only place with abundant life-forms in the whole universe.
    Yet with our power we choose to destroy the incredible wonders this little blue planet has created over billions of years.
    We have become no better than a plague or disease, over-populating and over-consuming without morals or ethics.
    We are knowingly destroying the planetary systems that allow us and most other lifeforms to survive.
    And why do we behave this way?
    Because from the day we are born, we are brainwashed to consume at all costs.
    Darwin’s theory no longer applies to us.
    It is now survival of the fattest.
    The Orgy will soon end humans.
    What will the remains of humanity do then?”

    Sheeeesh, what an angry dill.

  42. Glen Michel January 14, 2014 at 8:40 pm #

    Indeed Dave! They remind me of innocent children-though there is no excuse for adults to engage in this make-believe.there are fairies at the bottom of the garden and so on. The naïveté of it all!

  43. Johnathan Wilkes January 14, 2014 at 9:12 pm #

    Reading the comments at the SMH re.TS’s opinion piece is an experience.

    Don’t want to do it again tho.

    Compared to those posters, Luke is the very essence of sanity, rational consideration of facts and wisdom. Irreplaceable.

  44. Luke January 14, 2014 at 9:53 pm #

    Well given my worst baiting is having no effect I guess we could try to have a discussion. Novel I know.

    So you can say Flannery is a dill and all that – but most interesting for you guys why does he hold that world view? Surely he’s not an unintelligent person. Availability of arable land and water resources is a looming issue. Oceans heavily exploited. Unlike Australia much of the world has pollution issues. Do we think resources are infinite?

    But anyway – You see prosperity – others see environmental decay. Why?

  45. DaveMyFace January 14, 2014 at 10:44 pm #


    Greens only see CO2 as pollution.

    Just a start, but the compact fluorescent lamps or CFLs, apart from the overstated illumination properties, there are known carcinogenic chemicals and toxins being emitted when CFLs were switched on, including phenol, naphthalene and styrene, and CFLs are not recommended to be used in an unventilated environments.

    Great, the Greens have done it again, stop CO2 emissions by introducing poisons? Then if it breaks, you’ve got nearly 5 mg of mercury vapour being released. Just great.

    The UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) even warn of the hazard of broken CFL light bulbs. Why do you think the Greens are pushing LED’s as much as possible, so we forget all about the CFL bulbs. Ask hospitals why they have got rid of all CFL’s, because they are a danger to children, pregnant women, the elderly and sick.

    Even the experts have been caught with this one, and they’re running a mile.

    And I think Tim Flannery wants to seed our atmosphere with sulphur in order for the human race to survive. Now is this a rational scientific example of an idiot, especially one that seems to have blundered throughout the CAGW scare campaign. He didn’t even sell many Toyota Prius sedans. (His free one is no longer on this earth, it broke down). Or should I mention Geothermal???? Heeeheeeha.

    You have to laugh at the desperate screaming pleas of the Green CAGW zealots.

  46. Luke January 14, 2014 at 11:21 pm #

    Wasn’t talking about CO2 – try air quality in many Asian cities…. unable to extend yourself Dave?

  47. Neville January 15, 2014 at 8:50 am #

    Luke, Flannery is a laughing stock, remember his 8+ plus metres SLR by 2100, his GAIA video comparing humans to ants and the planet growing a brain, his claims about dams that wouldn’t fill again etc, etc? Anyone off the street equiped with plain commonsense would do a better job.
    BTW 60 years ago modern western cities were just starting to fix their air pollution problems and China etc are now replacing old dirty coal stns with new efficient stns fitted with all the latest high tech and scrubbers .

  48. Debbie January 15, 2014 at 9:55 am #

    Flannery is indeed intelligent as well as charismatic. . .but that doesn’t preclude the possibility that he could be over zealous, clueless about subjects outside of his area of expertise, egotistical, single minded (or even myopic) and even flat out WRONG.
    Of course resources are finite. . .but if human history is anything to go by. . .human ingenuity can and does learn from errors and continues to be one of the more successful species on the planet.
    We are far from perfect of course.
    Your final comment is a real worry:
    ” But anyway – You see prosperity – others see environmental decay. Why?”
    IMHO. . .that mindset which proposes black/white, Good vs Evil, Man vs Environment (when it is really a clash of political ideologies) . . .is the main reason why more of the good stuff for both prosperity and sensible environmental management/enhancement is not happening.
    Sometimes, to me, it looks like the Maslow pyramid. . .has been woefully misinterpreted or misused.
    The people who currently claim to reside at the top of something like that pyramid and claim they are concerned about ‘higher level principles’. . . or that other ‘lesser beings’ simply don’t understand how complex and important these ‘higher level’ issues are. . . are instead very busy trashing the very things that enabled them and therefore gave them the ability to rise to such heights of ‘intelligence’.
    So even though I agree that Flannery can be classed as ‘intelligent’, IMHO he is at present guilty of perpetuating this error.
    In the vernacular. . .it is often expressed as ‘biting the hand that feeds you.’
    It’s very easy to see that when communities or indeed whole nations are experiencing ‘prosperity’ and that people can pursue higher education goals and etc. . .that’s when everything (including wiser management of natural resources) improves.
    To claim they are the natural enemy of one another is not a good recipe for success.

  49. cohenite January 15, 2014 at 11:00 am #

    bazza says:

    “From a huge body of peer reviewed research, there are 13 fingerprints of AGW:
    Shrinking upper atmosphere
    Less heat escaping to space
    More heat returning to earth
    Cooling upper atmosphere
    Rising tropopause
    Winter warming faster than summer
    Nights warming faster than days
    More fossil fuel carbon in the air
    Less oxygen in the air
    More fossil fuel carbon in trees
    More fossil fuel carbon in coral
    More fossil fuel carbon on the ocean
    Pattern of ocean warming”

    The shrinking atmosphere and rising troposphere are modelled predictions and inherently ludicrous. The troposphere is defined by the tropopause where the temperature decrease with height, the lapse rates inverts and the temperature increases defining the beginning of the Stratosphere. Therefore the only way the atmosphere can be both shrinking and the troposphere increasing is for the Stratosphere to be decreasing.

    Produce some evidence bazza, I’d really like to look at it.

    Your other fingerprints are non-existent.

  50. Luke January 15, 2014 at 12:55 pm #

    Neville don’t get it – I know you love sniffing coal but Chinese air is still heavily polluted.
    And Flannery may have said some crap – but I think he still may be highly intelligent. He still gives good dead mammal. Go back and read my initial question.

    Debbie – doesn’t matter if it’s the “hand that feeds you” and all that stuff – if it’s not sustainable then in the long run there’s a problem. Many long run irrigation systems in history have collapsed. Not a good track record. And we’re not grateful at all – Debs disappoint us with the environmental credentials of the product and consumers will react (whether sensibly or not).

    But the issue you might ask is why do so many intelligent people like Flannery see the world the way they do. You might say “oh they’re corrupt” – doubt it. They have a very different world view, communicate with influence, so you could spend some more profitable time working out why. Neville can call Flannery everything under the sun – but in reality Flannery is out there communicating with impact – Neville’s just some old codger sooking on a blog. Impact = 0.0

  51. Johnathan Wilkes January 15, 2014 at 1:44 pm #

    Flannery has/had one thing going for him.

    He spoke from gov. granted authority, and like it or lump it, many ppl. still believe that someone in authority can only speak truth and wisdom.

    The fact that he is likeable and can spin a good yarn is an asset.

    As to long term irrigation projects, I though the Egyptians had a good long go of it along the Nile.
    Of course the Aswan dam did put a dent into it.

    Other long term ancient irrigators were mostly conquered and killed- driven off by others not interested in agriculture.

    Then there were a few climate changes well before our SUVs came along.

    If there is no drastic changes to our rainfall, I frankly cannot see why the Murray-Darling irrigation scheme could not continue ad infinitum. Or for a long time, whichever comes first.

  52. Debbie January 15, 2014 at 2:37 pm #

    Ah but Luke?
    As you said yourself:
    ” Unlike Australia much of the world has pollution issues. ”
    Who here is disagreeing with you on that score?
    The question has always been whether Australia can or should do something about the rest of the world. . .and if we can or should. . .what would that actually be?
    Quite clearly. . .taxing our own carbon emissions and other policy induced measures have not had a positive effect on either Australia or the rest of the world.. .in terms of climate or weather.. .or indeed on culture.

    Re irrigated agriculture . . .the rest of the world actually watches and learns from Australia much of the time. .our water use efficiencies and on farm irrigation systems are right up there with the best on offer. It’s a bit of a pity don’t you think that the exponentially growing bureaucratic and quasi bureaucratic entities that manage the publicly owned infrastructure are not keeping up with the irrigators in terms of water efficiencies and innovation?
    Flannery’s impact has somewhat waned in recent times.
    He can still certainly get a good gig with organisations like ‘Getup’ and he’s a fave of Tony Jones’ but his ability to dictate on NRM policy has declined.
    In reality. . .I have no doubt that he believes in what he’s doing. . .or that he has a good IQ. . .but that doesn’t mean anything significant in terms of the practical application of such things as water policy or climate policy.
    A lot of what he advocates or has advocated has turned out to be not so very intelligent and in some instances. . .(such his assertion that people driving in the western suburbs of Sydney will get crankier because of AGW. . .or his assertion there would be no more snow in Australia by 2012. . .and the oft quoted assertion about our water storages. ..to mention just a few). . .have since proved to be overly politically, sociologically and ideologically based and hence rather over zealous, rather myopic and incorrect. (I can’t think of any other reason why he would pick Western Sydney over SO MANY much hotter places in Australia. . .can you?)
    And further. . .Neville is not the only person who has criticised Flannery. . .so whether Neville’s impact = 0.0 is of no relevance. ..plenty of people who do have communicable impact have criticised Flannery’s assertions.

  53. Neville January 15, 2014 at 2:41 pm #

    Luke I’m sure I have zero impact but so what? Does anyone else blogging here have any impact? I still respect simple maths and therefore I know that CAGW mitigation must be 100% fraudulent nonsense.
    What’s the sense of deluding yourself that we can benificially change the climate or temp within thousands of years? It’s nonsense and even Flannery after being pressured by the Bolter had to agree.
    But I’m never quite sure what sort of climate knob the delusionists think they’re playing with and what sort of nirvana they plan to return us to. Perhaps the LIA or Hol optimum is their preference?
    At the moment OZ is experiencing very hot temps and Nth America is suffering very cold temps, so how do you dial up an average? But geeezzzz ya gotta laugh.

  54. Luke January 15, 2014 at 2:54 pm #

    Neville parades all the usual brain dead sceptic nonsense. What’s the ideal climate? Dunno – but let’s ignore a worse one though. Control knobs indeed – all just sceptic memeing and crap. We can certainly change climate for the worst in the next 50-100 years with a much larger population. That’s the point. And there are very good reasons to potentially implicate AGW as nudging what you’ve described above, which is likely what you’re seeing and we’re only just getting started.

    You don’t respect simple maths – you’ve quoted Tisdale copiously who admitted he didn’t know diddly squat about stats. Most of your stuff is brain dead cut and paste. 90% of the time you don’t even check the actual papers behind op-eds. You’re reckless.

  55. Neville January 15, 2014 at 2:59 pm #

    Here’s Timmy’s GAIA video again. If anyone can look at this delusional fool and see anything to recommend him then I’m lost for words. What an embarrassment to OZ he is.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SeNDSeknn_c In fact it’s worse than that because he has the typical totalitarian desire to see all of us as a collective rather than being individuals.
    Just imagine Matt Ridley or Dawkins yapping this kind of uneducated gibberish?

  56. Neville January 15, 2014 at 3:17 pm #

    So tell me where I’m wrong about mitigation of CAGW through the input of the OECD? You don’t even understand simple kindy maths and have messed up trying to reference some of the papers you obviously didn’t read.
    I was the one who pointed out your mistakes in that long study you linked to. It supported my position more than yours.
    It showed a warmer Antarctica less than 1000 years ago and cooler Ant from 1580 to 1880. What a dummy. And the study showed 0.4c of warming in the 20th century (0.2c in the SH and 0.5c in the NH.)
    And you tried to con us with a fake Greenland graph that was just ridiculous. If you’re going to try a con job you’ll need to be better than that.

  57. Neville January 15, 2014 at 3:49 pm #

    Here’s Ridley and Dawkins discussing the origin of life and DNA and the universe etc. The point they make is that a rock isn’t life because it can’t replicate itself. DUH. But great to watch two big brains at work. What a contrast to dim Tim.

  58. DaveMyFace January 15, 2014 at 5:45 pm #

    Long run irrigation systems in history still working.

    The oldest continually run irrigation system is in Sri Lanka, which was started some 2,400 years ago, with tanks and drains to divert water to dry areas for rice. Today the dry zone in Sri Lanka uses this same system to produce nearly 40% of the nations rice.

    Here’s a couple of links hat are interesting.

    1. From the Irrigation Department of Sri Lanka. http://www.irrigation.gov.lk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=301&Itemid=161&lang=en

    2. The Globally-important Ingenious Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS)
    Programme ftp://ftp.fao.org/sd/SDA/GIAHS/SriLanka_ancient_irrigation_proposal.pdf

    Between 1935 and 1942 the drought affected the Kimberley Pastoral Industry as a result the Ord Scheme came into existence. The focus in 1937 was that a dam on the Ord could supplement the pastoral industry and provide reliable water all year round.

    Today, the GREEN are against any water dam construction, weirs, flood mitigation, irrigation, open water channels taking overflows etc. That is the problem with group think of this current CAGW crew including Flannery.

    How green is the pasture in the Ord. http://www.travelling-australia.info/Inform/AAGraphics04/P047050091Kz-320.jpg

  59. toby January 16, 2014 at 2:11 pm #

    If any more evidence really was required of where the group think lies this is it. What an appalling attitude and I guess sums up why Fairfax is in real trouble.


    “Don’t blame me, I’m the deputy editor … climate change turns SMH staff past and present
    SHOCK horror. Fairfax publishes article by climate denier … and a Twitter witchhunt begins.

    Crickey discovers Fairfax has let a fox in the chicken coop:

    MEET John McLean, the Big Oil-backed climate-change denier who managed to sneak an oped into Fairfax papers.

    Former Sydney Morning Herald journalist Margo Kingston tweets:

    HOW did this happen?

    Ben Cubby, deputy editor, SMH:

    I WASN’T around. We publish skeptic opeds from time to time.


    DON’T you have a policy to disclose affiliations, check bona fides, correctness of bio?


    MAYBE check w/opinion editors.

    Wendy Bacon, academic and journalist:

    THINK Ben away & not relevant editor but good question. Reg eds on hols?


    TWITTER handle for opinion editor?


    HELEN Pitt. Not sure if she’s on Twitter.


    REMEMBER it’s opinion, so not held to same standards as news reporting.

    Tweeter Sandra@abissicus:

    SNEEKILY sliding it in when reg staff on hols. SMH The Age value their credibility?

    Tweeter iwhispterloudly:

    SKEPTIC & deniers are quite different. Skeptics question whereas deniers deny evidence supported facts.


    NEEDS explanation but haven’t seen one. Readers’ editor.


    NOT that old chestnut

    Tweeter Inga Ting:

    TRUE. But The Age homepage gave it top spot. Not good.


    CLIMATE change opinion are the ultimate clickbait.

    SMH education editor Josephine Tovey:

    HELEN is away on holiday too. Maybe email the SMH/Age opinion address.


    BUT surely transparency of affiliation, correctness of bio a must?


    DEFINITELY still are! see UTS research by @wendy-bacon.


    IS there a deputy opinion editor?


    NO, different journalists would fill in when the ed is away.


    GIVEN sceptic Spooner cartoon with piece, maybe came out The Age not SMH originally.


    GOOD stuff – it seems to be hotting up. major story.

    Journalist Samantha Gilberto:

    SKEPTICS don’t hide – we are harassed, ridiculed, often sacked and denied a forum in mainstream leftwing media.


    MY first blockade, hope to survive the heat.


    SO much for the strength of ur argument – you won’t debate AGW just fire cheap shots from the safety of the ABC.


    Q&A made a big mistake letting Suzuki take on a real climate scientist, Prof Franks carved him up like Sushi!!


    NEVER mind, truth always wins out in the end.

    SMH journalist Kathryn Wicks:

    THAT was The Age, not us.”

    If you still think it is sceptics suffering from Groupthink, you need to take a serious look at your bias…..and start apologising for the damage you have all done to real science with your pseudo sceince

  60. DaveMyFace January 17, 2014 at 7:27 pm #


    So very right in your analysis of the Groupthink virus that has hit the CAGW alarmists.

    Just make up a story to deflect the truth, and verbally abuse the writer.

    Like the following:

    1. Luke “Many long run irrigation systems in history have collapsed”, “Sabai Island being inundated with sea level rise” – both obvious fabrications, but obviously believed by the alarmist. (won’t bring up SLSA temperature records in Long Boats????) Hahha.

    2. Jaycee on a previous thread “I measured the temperature of soil to a depth of 25mm with leaf litter and without” Guess what, all the Mallee scrub doesn’t regenerate without leaf litter because of CAGW and temperature increase. Botany101 enrollment for Jaycee next week.

    You can see the blind faith they have in the consensus theory of Cook. No science, just this unending faith in the globe called earth is being destroyed by CO2, and they want money for it.

    The agenda is clear, and even the IPCC is telling these crazy CAGW Groupthink crowd to lay off the extremism. Tim Flannery, Prof Turney and Will Stefan being the main target.

  61. Luke January 17, 2014 at 8:08 pm #

    Can’t trust verballing deniers can we Dave (you should be learning by now!). Read carefully what I said about Sabai !

    Aral Sea irrigation is hardly sustainable. Salinization a major global issue. Camballin locally a fizzer in Australia.

    So cocksuredness and little research a hallmark of denialism.

    And then he waffles off in more verballing and meme creation. Appalling. The agenda is clear – fifth columnists and anti-science loonies of the right need to brought under regulation.

  62. Johnathan Wilkes January 17, 2014 at 8:23 pm #

    “Aral Sea irrigation is hardly sustainable”

    never was Luke, this is where politics interfere with reason and proper science, Lysenko anyone?

    I have the dubious pleasure of having a misspent/well spent youth in Europe (Mostly in Switzerland.) Russia and China.

    Had a chance of observing some of the agricultural practices imposed from above mostly in Poland and Hungary.
    Rain or sunshine does not obey politburo directives, but ppl suffer just the same.

  63. Johnathan Wilkes January 17, 2014 at 8:31 pm #

    adding here, Aral Sea irrigation

    any idiot could have worked out the inflows, the water needed, evaporation losses etc. to see that it was not feasible on the scale and timeframe.

    And I’m sure they did, but who was going to be first one to tell?

    would you have volunteered Luke?
    Ain’t you glad you live in a democracy?

  64. DaveMyFace January 17, 2014 at 9:13 pm #

    Oh Luke,

    The proven response, ignore the info and divert.

    Well here you are:
    1. Aral Sea – now 50 years is long term, Russia only started in 1969 draining the lake for irrigation. So you definition of long term is now down to 50 years or so? See JW above. A Russian Government project??

    2. Camballin Township & Irrigation Scheme. Luke, this is even a smaller time frame, with no irrigation started apart from a 15.2 kilometer bank & a few silos being built. This was done by the WA government with expert peer reviewed scientists (no money at risk) giving advice. Well Luke, back to private enterprise.

    More examples of LONGER RUN irrigation systems please.

    I did read what you stated about Sabai Island, etc and you were wrong.

    Water under the bridge Luke. We’re talking Long Run Irrigation systems, not a DRIP system for your back yard.

    Think ancient Luke.

  65. Luke January 17, 2014 at 10:15 pm #

    Sigh – well that’s what you get arguing with deniers. More denial. Sad.

  66. Luke January 17, 2014 at 10:40 pm #

    “Some Torres Strait islands more complex due to possible subsidence.” hmmmm

    Long lived systems – hmmmm Mesopotamia – Mayans – Angkor

  67. DaveMyFace January 17, 2014 at 10:43 pm #

    Jennifer said at the beginning of this post:

    “ALMOST by definition you can’t win an argument against a Devil’s advocate. But the Devil’s advocate can play a valuable role in any serious discussion.”

    Luke, you can’t throw your teddy bear out the window, scream and then run away.

    Here is another example of Long Run Irrigation System in history that is still operating:

    The Puquios is an old system of channels that were constructed nearly 2,700 years ago. It’s near the city of Nazca in Peru and out of 36 Puquios, most are still functioning and relied upon to bring fresh water into the arid desert. Try a read of “Irrigation and Society in the Peruvian Desert” .

    And today the Puquios is being destroyed by Government officials that seem to know better that 2,700 years of history. Seems the same is happening in the CAGW that has no history, just little computer generated models.

    More CAGW alarmism, Sad really.

    History is revealing a lot Luke, and Groupthink of the warmists doesn’t allow sensible debate.

    You call it consensus, I call it GREED.

  68. DaveMyFace January 17, 2014 at 11:00 pm #


    You did state: (in another post, not the Sabai Island claim)

    ““Some Torres Strait islands more complex due to possible subsidence.”

    But not related to your first post:

    “or a picture such as Photo 7 here – 6mm year sea level rise – breaching the Sabai Island sea wall.”

    Sea Level rise breaching the Sabai Island sea wall???? You see, Luke, this is just a lie.

    Which is it Luke, you can’t have it both ways. Your little fibs come out 1st, then a little each way bet to cover.

    Sort of like an IRB instead of a Zodiac, or a Surf boat instead of a Long boat.

    And thanks for looking into more ancient Long Run Irrigation Systems, there is so much info available, if only people would explore it 1st like you have done now, better late than never.

    Thanks Dave.

  69. Luke January 18, 2014 at 12:22 am #

    Like all good deniers Dave – you could get a job editing for 60 Minutes or various police depts.

    What I said was “Why not have some pictures of the beach erosion scarps in western Cape York? or a picture such as Photo 7 here – 6mm year sea level rise – breaching the Sabai Island sea wall.”

    In the context of other pictures you could take. Simply why be selective. And I well know about and without prompting in my 2nd post mentioned the subsidence issues. But can you separate out the sea level (6mm area) and the subsidence? No unless you’re super duper with the differential GPS and altimeters. – And are there other nearby possible issues with beach scarps and salinised swamps on Cape York – yes. And sea level rise in that part of the Australia is said to be much higher than in SEQ. So back to the quote – why be selective – let’s see a range of photos!? Especially from where the action is supposed to be.

    Don’t try and verbal me matey – this is about the 4th time you’ve come a cropper now. Burdekin sediment sort of disappeared too didn’t it. You big shonky tonks.

    And I didn’t say that ALL long run irrigation systems have collapsed – but climate changey mega-droughts and salinity have been a factor in historical collapses. And maybe ongoing. Try reading Brian Fagan’s book Elixir: A history of water and human kind. I assume you know about it?

    No thanks to Dave – stop fibbing.

  70. Another Ian January 18, 2014 at 6:35 am #


    Where was the Devils Advocate?


  71. DaveMyFace January 18, 2014 at 8:52 am #

    The biggest Groupthink machine has found an OUT, an excuse?

    Is the BBC now committing heresy in the eyes of it’s GAIA followers, the Iceage is coming???


    “In 40 years we could be in a Maunder Minimum”??

    The Groupthink will have to regroup and think!

  72. jaycee January 19, 2014 at 3:10 pm #

    Article on “groupthink” delivered to a groupthink site extracted from a book edited by members of another groupthink site (IPA) and suprise, suprise!…they all agree!

  73. Larry Fields January 21, 2014 at 3:39 pm #

    Here are two contrasting quotes from the article:

    “If such principles were applied at IPCC meetings it is unlikely the Kyoto Protocol in its current form would have ever been proposed as a solution to global warming because it ignores the problem of emissions generated in the developing world, ignores the many factors additional to greenhouse gas emissions that can impact climate, and also fails to consider the many alternatives to reducing greenhouse gas emissions including adaptation to climate change.”

    [ . . . ]

    “Janis suggested the theory of groupthink could be applied to understand and improve the operations of any policy-making group and acknowledges that any improvement in the efficiency of decision-making can unfortunately be used for ‘evil as well as good’”.

    The IPCC was never about understanding how climate change works, or about solving real problems. It was always a game of “Pin the Tale on the Donkey.” And we evil humans are the donkey.

    If a hypothetical devil had been advocating anything at the IPCC, it would have been to consider a broader range of options for their long term goals of destroying technological civilization, and of enslaving people in the developed countries.

    If the hypothetical ‘advocate’ had suggested that fundamental human rights and basic honesty were important considerations, he would have been killed. The IPCC zealots never had the good intentions that are necessary for making decisions that benefit humanity.

    The IPCC was always about creating a perfect little world. And if that meant murdering billions of people, “Oops, sorry about that,” as my avatar would say.

    The vast majority of good people simply do not understand the hold that Totalitarian ideologies have over True Believers, who desperately grasp at any prefab belief system that promises to fill the voids in their empty lives. We’re currently witnessing the fourth wave of Totalitarianism: Environmentalism — after theocracy, Communism, and Fascism.

    Unlike our Totalitarian opponents, we must be honest, and fight by Queensbury Rules. Unfortunately, there’s no way to sugar-coat this: That first quote is wishful thinking.

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