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A look back - SkS in 2012

Posted on 18 July 2017 by BaerbelW


Getting hacked and striking back

In January, Ari Jokimäki started publishing his New research from last week, a new feature very well received by the readers of Skeptical Science. 

SkS-NewResearch-20120110Introducing "New research from last week" as seen in January 2012

One of the most stressful incidents for our team came to light in March, when we discovered that "It had happened". The "it" being getting hacked badly, with all of the website's content, including our private forum, getting downloaded over the period of a month and then made publicly available. Two years after this event, Bob Lacatena published "A Hack by any other name", a series of 7 blog posts, detailing what had happened and how we found out. Even having lived through this experience, Bob's recounting it makes for a fascinating if long read!

Not being distracted for long by the hack, our team quickly regrouped and kept on publishing articles and updating rebuttals through the rest of the year. At the end of March, Kevin Cowtan introduced the Skeptical Science Trend Calculator which lets you critically evaluate claims about tenperature trends. In April, John Mason started publishing his 3-part History of Climate Science which also features very neat graphics created by John Garrett (jg).History


In September John published another article about our team which also contains some hilarious conspiracy theories about SkS:

Over the years, a number of conspiracy theories have sprung up about SkS. It's hard to say which is the most amusing (so many to choose from!) but high up the list is this excitable conspiracy theory endorsed by a Watts Up With That moderator:

"...a well known billionaire is funding the pseudo science blog sceptical science. That billionaire is a multiple convicted felon who worked willingly for the Nazis in WWII. How is that not headline news?"

Billy from Facebook has another theory on the SkS gravy train:

"John Cook is the creator and he is an advisor to rothschild australia who controls australias carbon market. Its hard for me to except considering my research has uncovered a huge rothschild connection and he is an advisor for their board which handles the cap+trade and carbon tax market in australia."

The most flattering conspiracy theory has to be this comment which I often quote in public talks as evidence of the powerful potential of social media:

"I worked out recently it's impossible for one man to turn out a constantly updating and slick as grease website 'in his spare time'. I even went as far as to surmise he may just be a front for the IPCC or Globe International as it would need a team of professionals to create such a site and probably a few PR experts at the head."

In October the Skeptical Science team led by Dana Nuccitelli and oceanography expert John Church published the Comment on “Ocean heat content and Earth?s radiation imbalance. II. Relation to climate shifts”.  In typical SkS international coordination style, the paper's authors included an American (Dana Nuccitelli), a Canadian (Robert Way), a New Zealander (Rob Painting), and two Australians (John Cook and John Church). The paper features the often used ocean heat content graphic:


Figure 1: Land, atmosphere, and ice heating (red), 0-700 meter OHC increase (light blue), 700-2,000 meter OHC increase (dark blue).  From Nuccitelli et al. (2012)

In December several members from the SkS-team headed for San Francisco to attend the AGU Fall meeting again and to participate in several oral and poster sessions.

During 2012, 504 blog posts were published by 57 authors and it was the first year that others published more posts than John, freeing up his time for other tasks, like pursuing his research and PhD. Dana Nuccitelli published 126 articles, John Hartz 118, Ari Jokimaki 56 and John Cook 30.


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