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Climate Hustle

Journal editor resigns over 'fundamentally flawed' paper by Roy Spencer

Posted on 3 September 2011 by John Cook

Professor Wolfgang Wagner has stepped down as editor-in-chief of the journal Remote Sensing. The reason for his resignation was his journal's publishing of the paper On the misdiagnosis of surface temperature feedbacks from variations in Earth's radiant energy balance, by Roy Spencer and Danny Braswell, which we examine at Wagner concluded the paper was "fundamentally flawed and therefore wrongly accepted by the journal".

Some key excerpts from Wagner's editorial:

  • I would also like to personally protest against how the authors and like-minded climate sceptics have much exaggerated the paper’s conclusions in public statements, e.g., in a press release of The University of Alabama in Huntsville from 27 July 2011, the main author’s personal homepage, the story “New NASA data blow gaping hole in global warming alarmism” published by Forbes, and the story “Does NASA data show global warming lost in space?” published by Fox News, to name just a few.
  • Aside from ignoring all the other observational data sets (such as the rapidly shrinking sea ice extent and changes in the flora and fauna) and contrasting theoretical studies, such a simple conclusion simply cannot be drawn considering the complexity of the involved models and satellite measurements.
  • The editorial team unintentionally selected three reviewers who probably share some climate sceptic notions of the authors
  • The problem is that comparable studies published by other authors have already been refuted in open discussions and to some extend also in the literature, a fact which was ignored by Spencer and Braswell in their paper and, unfortunately, not picked up by the reviewers.

Details of Wagner's resignation have been added to the "Roy Spencer finds negative feedback" rebuttal which has the short URL

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Comments 1 to 48:

  1. Roger Pielke Sr. has an interesting take on Wagner's reisnation:

    Roger Pielke Sr take
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  2. "Interesting" Camburn? Predictable-yes, boring-yes....but not "Interesting".
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  3. Pielke: "As it is, Wagner has further politicized climate science."

    Oh, how quickly he forgets. Spencer is the one who has proclaimed he is not a scientist, but a 'legislator.'
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  4. What does Pielke mean by "politicized"? All science is politicized from the get-go because funding must be provided--in all sectors. Decisions about the worth of a study must be made. Those decisions are essentially political. I can only assume that Pielke means that Wagner only further brings climate science into the maw of mass media and public opinion, which is where it should be. People should be thinking about it. What the science indicates is serious trouble, and an informed public is never a bad thing. Pielke, then, laments the possibility of more people engaging the situation, for surely he couldn't be lamenting the idea that more idiots get a crack at the situation, not when he's let garbage slide right by him without correction or comment on various blogs and in association with the NIPCC. And he implicitly defends Spencer's work (surely he's read it and the criticisms).

    I suspect Wagner got an early look at Dessler's upcoming destruction of Spencer and realized that Spencer wasn't going to admit to the errors, much less work through them.
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  5. Pielke's diagnosis of politicization appears to source here:

    Wagner is not an expert on the subject of the Spencer and Braswell paper, so he must have relied on input from individuals who were critical of their paper. He cites one reference (in addition to weblogs)

    Trenberth, K.E., Fasullo, J.T., O’Dell, C., Wong, T. Relationships between tropical sea surface temperature and top-of-atmosphere radiation. Geophys. Res. Lett. 2010, 37, L03702

    Is Pielke suggesting that simply by citing Trenberth, Wagner must be playing politics? By Pielke's standards, Trenberth et al 2010 is properly peer-reviewed and 'robust' (apparently one of his favorite words). How can citing such a robust source be evidence of bias? Who is being political here?
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    [DB] Pielke apparently takes issue with someone resigning a position in order to call attention to a crappy Box did with the FKM paper earlier this year (prior to yet another record melt in the Arctic, yadayadayada).

    Apparently skeptics consider it rather "poor form" to hold up their inadequacies to the light of day for all the world to see.

  6. So I have this straight, Wagner's (only) stated scientific reason for resigning is "The problem is that comparable studies published by other authors have already been refuted in open discussions and to some extend also in the literature (cf. [7]), a fact which was ignored by Spencer and Braswell in their paper and, unfortunately, not picked up by the reviewers."

    Ref 7 is Trenberth et al "Relationships between tropical sea surface temperature and top‐of‐atmosphere radiation" and it relies on Forster and Gregory "The Climate Sensitivity and Its Components Diagnosed from Earth Radiation Budget Data" for lambda (or Y). The main difference between SB11 and FG06 is that SB used lagged linear regression and FG used linear regression with no lag.

    My view is neither can be correct, the variables are not linear nor are they independent.
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  7. This should be about the science, but sadly Spencer and his fellow 'skeptics' (e.g., Michaels, Lindzen, Christy) have been actively politicizing the science in any sympathetic media outlet or right-wing think tank that will give them space. Remember how Spencer held a press conference in Cancun the very hour that Dessler's paper was no longer embargoed? Also don't forget Spencer's recent ramblings about the economy and his self-styled role to protect the free market. And last but not least the fact that Spencer exaggerated his own findings in the press release.

    Regarding the science. The problems with Spencer's work have been shown here at SkS and elsewhere, the problems with his methodology and his model are valid, yet he ignores them, just as he initially ignored scientists when they noted that something odd was going on with the UAH satellite data. It has now come to light that a further refutation of his dubious Remote Sensing paper will be coming out in a reputable, peer-reviewed journal next week. How much more evidence do people uncritically supporting Spencer require before they conceded that this is a) no longer about science for Spencer and that b) he is driven not by a genuine curiosity to understand the climate system but rather any opportunity to attack the IPCC and imaginary enemies and is as a consequence producing very questionable science?

    After his latest rants on his blog and at WUWT, I'm surprised anyone can take Spencer seriously anymore. Hopefully "skeptics" who post here note that Spencer is now censoring people who have the temerity to challenge him (ironically at the same time that he is accusing others of censorship).
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  8. I highly recommend that readers consult this excellent (and easy to read) summary of this sad situation that has been published by Dr. Michael Ashley.
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  9. I've already seen comments around the blogs that are citing this as 'evidence' that the Great Global Conspiracy of Climate Scientists have 'gotten to' the editor, forcing him to resign.

    Mind you, the same commenters are claiming that it's obvious & readily apparent that Spencer is completely correct, the other 98% of climate scientists are completely wrong, and furthermore that recent CERN paper 'proves' that CO2 doesn't cause warming! All this and more is apparently quite obvious if only you 'read between the lines' to see what those scientific papers really mean...
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  10. The Jasper Kirkby CERN paper was published by Nature which I assume would have rejected the Spencer paper.
    So anti-AGW principles seem to be flexible. If Nature rejects a paper, there is a conspiracy, if a paper is excepted, the conspiracy is forgotten.
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  11. Has anybody heard the names of the three peer-reviewers for Spencer and Braswell's paper? Wagner said all three were probably "skeptics." It would be helpful to know who they were.
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  12. Good article by Ashley linked in Albatross' comment #8, by the way. I particularly like the link to Skeptical Science :-) But it's a very good overview and easy to follow.
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  13. “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence because they usually contradict claims that are backed by extraordinary evidence. The evidence for the extraordinary claim must support the new claim as well as explain why the old claims that are now being abandoned, previously appeared to be correct.

    The only argument I have seen is that Professor Wagner was pressured by the scientific community to make this statement and resignation. Nevertheless bad science is vigorously supported in the right wing media.
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  14. Spencer in press releases makes unsupported claims (see Albatross's link above). Other blogs pick up on those same claims, essentially that short term feedback to radiative forcings is small or negative and that somehow implies climate sensitivity is low.

    But SB11 actually says: "We conclude that the fundamental obstacle to feedback diagnosis remains the same, no matter what time lag is addressed: without knowledge of time-varying radiative forcing components in the satellite radiative flux measurements, feedback cannot be diagnosed from the co-variations between radiative flux and temperature."

    Forster and Gregory (2006) also hint at one such component: "Another possibility is that internal variability in the climate system produces fluctuations in cloud cover, causing cloud forcings, especially in the shortwave, that will be seen in N and produce a lagged response in (delta)Ts and cloud feedbacks."

    But FG06 also makes a stronger claim: "The years 1995 and 1985 span the range of global (delta)Ts anomalies seen in the time series. Figure 7 shows that the change in surface temperature between these two years has a pattern that is a little like that of both the observed long-term surface temperature trends (e.g., Houghton et al. 2001, their Fig. 2.9d). Furthermore, Fig. 1 shows that the 1985–97 temperature changes are occurring throughout the troposphere, in a similar man- ner to that expected from long-term climate change. Therefore, we argue that the Y values we derive from the regression are likely to be representative of those due to longer-term climate change."

    I don't think Trenberth et al (2010) addresses these broader claims, rather it points out the errors in LC09. So I don't think Wagner is correct that the scientific basis for rejecting SB11 is supported by Trenberth's refutation of LC09. But instead Wagner points to the improper interpretations by blogs, press releases by Spencer, etc. along with the evidence of warming like sea ice. In short the "comparable" (Wagner's words) "refuted" studies like LC09 are in fact not comparable and were refuted for different reasons.

    For more see
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  15. Following comments on other sites on this topic, will Fox News, Lou Dobs, and others retract their coverage of a blantantly false paper. Will any apologies be heard from the right wing media?

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  16. Interesting comments by Robert Grumbine on how the peer review system is supposed to work, and what can make it fail.
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  17. Eric @14,

    "So I don't think Wagner is correct that the scientific basis for rejecting SB11 is supported by Trenberth's refutation of LC09."

    I am in broad agreement with you. But Spencer and Braswell (2011) [S&B11] do in fact speak to the impact of ENSO on global temperatures, that is where Trenberth et al. (2010) comes into play. How did you miss that? Regardless, you seem to forget the pretty thorough refutation of S&B11 by Trenberth and Fasullo over at RC-- they have identified many problems with S&B11, as have Barry Bickmore and Arthur Smith.

    Did you read the article by Dr. Ashely? And this is all before what will probably be a thorough debunking OF S&B11 by Dessler next week.

    I'm not sure what you are trying to say here-- can you be clear do you think S&B are correct? Do you think that they used the correct methodology? Do you think that they adequately quantified the uncertainty in their analysis and data? Is Spencer's continued use of his clearly flawed simple model acceptable/appropriate for this study? Is his model physically realistic and plausible?

    I agree with S&B11 that disentangling and identifying the cloud feedback is tricky-- Dessler and Trenberth and FG06 seem to agree. But do you not see the obvious logical fallacy here Eric? S&B state that one cannot (with the current observations and observation system) disentangle the two (i.e., conduct a feedback diagnosis), but then go on to repeatedly and very confidently claim that clouds are a forcing mechanism (without providing a sound physical mechanism), that the cloud feedback is negative and that as a result that climate sensitivity is low. That is playing games Eric, that is clearly not science, certainly not good science.

    Spencer sees himself as some omniscient maverick who knows the truth while everyone else you disagrees with him is an idiot and/or part of some grand conspiracy led by Al Gore and the IPCC to suppress his genius. Well, the problem is that he does not have a sound track record, previously he has made brazen assertions that have turned out to be incorrect. Worse yet, the physics and data do not support a strongly negative cloud feedback or low climate sensitivity-- at least when analyzed correctly.

    Now feel free to hitch your horse to the Spencer et al. drama bandwagon (I hope that you do not) but should you choose to do so, please do not expect others to respect anyone who does so, especially when they are aware of the real facts.

    Clearly, Wagner had many very sound reasons for rejecting S&B11, and what he did was the difficult, selfless and honourable thing to do. By doing so he has called 'skeptics' on their game of sneaking seriously flawed papers though the peer-review process, something they have been doing since the early days at ClimateResearch with soon and Baliunas' bogus paper. Ironically, to this day, 'skeptics' cite that incident as a example of alleged "gate keeping", when in fact it was the 'skeptics' who were behaving badly and undermining the peer-review process. Same tricks by 'skeptics', just a different decade and a different journal.
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  18. Tom @16,

    Thanks. that is a very thoughtful article by Grumbine. I particularly like the quote he provides from Feynman:

    "Richard Feynman's comment about fooling yourself is commonly quoted:

    We've learned from experience that the truth will come out. Other experimenters will repeat your experiment and find out whether you were wrong or right. Nature's phenomena will agree or they'll disagree with your theory. And, although you may gain some temporary fame and excitement, you will not gain a good reputation as a scientist if you haven't tried to be very careful in this kind of work. And it's this type of integrity, this kind of care not to fool yourself, that is missing to a large extent in much of the research in cargo cult science. "Cargo Cult Science", adapted from a commencement address given at Caltech (1974):

    Sadly, Spencer is not only fooling himself, but fooling and misguiding many many others.
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  19. Albatross, you say that S&B "then go on to repeatedly and very confidently claim that clouds are a forcing mechanism (without providing a sound physical mechanism), that the cloud feedback is negative and that as a result that climate sensitivity is low".

    True about the forcing claim (and mot describing a mechanism) but I don't think they claim cloud feedback to be negative. S&B state: "We hypothesize that changes in the coupled ocean-atmosphere circulation during the El Niño and La Niña phases of ENSO cause differing changes in cloud cover, which then modulate the radiative balance of the climate system. As seen in Fig. 3b for the ocean-only data, the signature of radiative forcing is stronger over the oceans than in the global average, suggesting a primarily oceanic origin."

    Sounds like strictly ENSO-driven forcing, not feedback. It's hard to directly answer your question about correctness. Spencer's main empirical claim (explained here is that he measures a higher rate of energy gain (or loss) of energy in the time leading up to a temp max (or min) than the models. Following the temp max (or min) he measures a higher rate of energy loss (or gain) than the models. That is "correct" but it is not very meaningful It is telling that about 19 months after the temperature max (or min) the loss (or gain) goes negative. It's pretty clear he is measuring the start of the next El Nino or La Nina at that point, not a feedback response of any sort.

    But then he then says "Now, if we assume that the radiative changes AFTER the temperature maximum (or minimum) are mostly a feedback response, then one might argue that the satellite data shows more negative feedback (lower climate sensitivity) than the models do." That is pretty clearly a wrong antecedent, the gains and losses must be mostly forcings to change sign the way he shows. Therefore the conclusion that the models show higher climate sensitivity than satellite is not supported. In that claim he is incorrect.

    OTOH, I don't think FG06 can support their claim that I quoted above. Their model is linear, contains no lag and ignores cloud forcings (assumes they are all feedback). With such gross oversimplifications on both sides I can't help but think Spencer is arguing about nothing. I have not looked at Dessler lately, but I will give it another look now.
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  20. Eric @19,

    Re my comment that "S&B state that one cannot (with the current observations and observation system) disentangle the two (i.e., conduct a feedback diagnosis), but then go on to repeatedly and very confidently claim that ...."

    You are, of course correct, what I mean to say is that ".....Spencer repeatedly and confidently claims that clouds are a negative feedback".

    One does not have to look very far to find confirmation of this. From his latest blog post:
    "As I have challenged Dessler to do, if he really believes that is happening, then he should do LAGGED regression to estimate feedback…that is, adjust for the time lag in his regression analysis. And when he does that, his weak positive cloud feedback diagnosis will suddenly turn into a negative feedback diagnosis. I’ve done it, and it is what Lindzen and Choi did in their recently published paper, which resulted in a diagnosis of strongly negative feedback."

    That is but one of several examples of Spencer arguing that the cloud feedback is low, and he is at least consistent in that sense, since one cannot argue for a climate sensitivity for doubling 1.5 C without the cloud feedback being zero or negative. And it is very troubling that he is citing Lindzen and Choi at truth, when it has been thoroughly debunked, and that paper does deal only with the tropics.

    The reality remains that multiple, independent studies have found evidence for a positive cloud feedback, as discussed here at SkS. Another example of a weak positive cloud feedback is the warming over the Arctic (and a strong positive WV feedback) leading to increased cloud cover which at those high latitudes leads to further warming (see Screen and Simmonds, 2010):

    "Changes in cloud cover, in contrast, have not contributed strongly to recent warming. Increases in atmospheric water vapour content, partly in response to reduced sea ice cover, may have enhanced warming in the lower part of the atmosphere during summer and early autumn."

    Spencer is now clearly using science as a political tool in his ideological and political vendetta against the IPCC and climate scientists who are rightly concerned about the impacts of us doubling (or even quadrupling CO2). I find that incredibly disturbing.
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  21. Congratulations to Professor Wolfgang Wagner for taking a principled position based on personal responsibility.

    So many preach personal responsibility, but fail to practice it.

    Nice to see someone in the public eye make a stand. I am sorry this will probably harm his career when he is actually doing the right thing.
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  22. I am wondering if the professors decision was influced by a need to defend not just his journal, but open access publishing as a whole?
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  23. Has Remote Sensing withdrawn the article? If not, why not?
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  24. 23, geraldwilhite,

    Looking around at when this has been done in the past, retracting a paper is not something you want to do lightly or without serious evidence. Remote Sensing can only make themselves look even worse by retracting the paper without serious, indisputable cause. Retracting this paper would just raise the hew and cry that the peer review system is corrupted by an old boy network that it trying to marginalize the skeptical position.

    Normal methods of doing science are fine in this case. Lots of invalid papers get published and then refuted by later work. They can let this happen with this one.

    It would be another thing if Spencer retracted it, but that obviously will never happen.
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  25. Here is an interesting take on the article and his resignation.
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    [DB] You have an interesting definition of the word "interesting". Perhaps in the sense of watching a career's worth of scientific integrity go *poof* (a la Curry on RC).  One need read no further than the first sentence in your linked blog column to ascertain the patently transparent agenda of the writer.  Indeed, I stopped there.

    "Sad" is a better descriptive term of that rant.

  26. 25, Jonathon,

    I found nothing interesting there. It sounded like an angry denier who's been embarrassed by one of his own, and so angrily and defiantly wants to ignore the facts. He starts out by saying that the review process was fine and attacking the man who resigned (implying that maybe his term was up soon anyway, so it was an easy thing to do for show). He goes on to declare that the paper itself is both robust, and too minor to care about (despite the great brouhaha created on the Intertubes over it in denial camps).

    All in all, it's the same kind of fabricated, angry denial (this time denying that Spencer's paper is bad or that the resignation is in any way meaningful) that is demonstrated over the science or anything else.

    More of the same, clearly demonstrating what motivates those hypnotized by that particular belief system.
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  27. Sphaerica @26,

    I concur-- I would not say "interesting" as Jonathon alleges, but a "predictable rant" from someone who is completely uncritical and unskeptical of Spencer and his real motives, despite a mountain of evidence that doesn't support his rhetoric and persecution complex. I wonder what Jonathon @25 honestly thinks about William's rant?

    I think that am now beginning to understand exactly how cult leaders manage to do what they do and why some people gravity towards them.
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  28. Wow. I was not expecting this kind of response. The only embarassment and ranting I found was from Wagner. While I do not claim to know his motives in resigning, it does give the appearance of "grandstanding."

    I admit to not having read the paper, but it does not sound like the validity of the paper is in question, but the idea that it contradicts Wagner's beliefs. I have seen several other papers that seemingly contradict another, sometimes in the same journal issue. This is nothing new.

    From what I have read, Wagner is not upset about the original paper, but the responses that it has drawn from others. Frankly, I am surprised that this paper has garnered such a notable response, from both those who support his conclusions and those who do not.

    I fail to see how this can be compared to cult leaders. Wagner does not seem to have made that much of an impact.
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  29. Jonathon,

    Actually, the validity of the paper is in question. The peer-review process was not adequate in this case to note that the approach taken by S&B 2011 has already been called into question, and that those questions should have been dealt with before publication was allowed.

    The exagerration of the findings in the skeptic media poses a real problem for the journals appearance of credibility - which is critical to it's standing. Certainly, such a provacative topic should have received an extra thorough balanced review. That did not happen. That calls into question the mechanisms and vision of the editors at that journal.

    I think Wagner's statement may have saved the Journals standing, frankly.
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  30. Stephen Baines@29:
    S&P is just as valid as the last paper by Dessler. Both have problems, yet both were published.

    Hopefully, the process will work itself out, as it should.

    This is becoming pure politics, kill the editor type thing. Uncalled for and very very unprofessional.
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  31. Camburn#31: "S&P is just as valid as the last paper by Dessler. "

    Really? You're back to making unsubstantiated claims which are easily debunked.

    The only significant criticisms of Dessler were by Spencer (go figure!), Pielke and the latest Lindzen/Choi do-over; Lindzen didn't hold up that well. Pielke was taken down by the normally lukewarm John Nielsen-Gammon. On the other hand, S&B were criticized by Trenberth and a host of others.

    Spencer's track record makes his criticism questionable at best. His self-declared posture as a 'legislator' is what politicized this 'debate'. Blaming the Remote Sensing editor is akin to shouting 'We wuz robbed!' after losing a ball game. Yeah, it was the ref's fault. Or the wind was against us. Or the court wasn't level. Or something, just as long as it wasn't us.
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  32. Jonathan, Camburn,

    Your confirmation bias in this situation is absolutely astounding. It speaks volumes that you (and Pielke and Spencer) can twist, reframe and exaggerate a situation like this to your liking.

    Just amazing.
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  33. Camburn

    The problem is that Spencer did not even acknowledge that there were preexisting criticisms that had to be addressed. They knew those criticisms existed, and did nothing to address them. That is in fact bad scholarship, and bad faith. If we act as if prior criticisms do not exist, there is no way forward in science. We will all be caught in infinite loops of self-evidence.

    The fact that the reviewers did not represent a balanced cross section is another problem. Even as an associate editor I take pains to make sure to get a such a cross section for papers that are far less controversial. How did that not happen in this case? Who knows, but it is a real problem.

    I would argue that the way that Spencer and others then exagerrated the findings in the non-peer reviewed press put the journal in a bad position. Spencer et al could care less about the implications of these distortions for the Journal, but the journal for certain cares. I'm pretty sure Wagner felt he'd been hood-winked and decided that the only effective action to undo the damage was the one he took.
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  34. Jonathon does not have "confirmation bias" since he did not read the paper (never mind the critiques), just ignorance. Camburn, have you read the paper and Dessler's? I believe S&B11 is "correct" as far as the data goes, but the data cannot be used to draw any conclusions about long term (or short term) sensitivity. I critiqued Dessler 2010 for somewhat similar reasons on a thread last December although I started with the wrong model and a few other mistakes.

    I though that "Chief Hydrologist" summed the situation up pretty well on Judy Curry's site:"Dessler 2010 assumed that cloud changes were a feedback to ENSO related temperature changes – and calculated a global warming cloud feedback . Spencer and Braswell found using lagged relationships that the ENSO cloud radiative forcing came before the temperature change – and therefore there was little scope to calculate cloud feedback as it was not possible to distinguish AGW cloud feedback from natural ‘unforced’ variability. Changes in cloud are an ENSO feedback involving changes in ocean/atmosphere coupling and likely to respond, as well, to changes in dimethyl sulphide emissions from phytoplankton."

    However, what Spencer says on his blog is quite different from that or the paper. He makes the claim I quoted above starting with "Now, if we assume...". That claim is unsupportable.
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  35. Eric@34:
    Yes, I read Dessler's 2010 paper. I found numerous questions concerning his conclusions. It has been awhile since I read it, but I just remember that nothing conclusive at all could be derived from it.
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  36. Thanks Camburn. My view hasn't changed much from that old thread and I'll comment on that there.
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  37. Eric@34:
    I caught up reading the comments. S&B was not a good paper either. The only good to come out of S&B is the seeming acceptance of satillite measurements as being accurate as I have not read a criticism of them anywhere.

    I just got done listening to a video of a presentation at Rice University. I am going to post the link, I don't know if it is applicable to this thread, part of it is. It deals with a host of climate issues.

    Presentation by Dr. Lindzen and Dr. North @ Rice

    I hope the link will stand as it is a very candid, gentlemanly presentation by two climate scientists.
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  38. Jonathan@26:
    Wagner was upset enough that he sent an appology to Dr. Trenbeth. Something just doesn't add up in all of this.

    I hope it blows over quickly.
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  39. Eric#34: "Jonathon does not have "confirmation bias" since he did not read the paper (never mind the critiques),

    That's about the best example of bias imaginable - to have confirmed a pre-conceived opinion without even reading the paper!

    "just ignorance." Watch the ad homs!

    "I believe S&B11 is "correct" as far as the data goes, but the data cannot be used to draw any conclusions"

    How can an author be 'correct' if they use data in a manner for which it is not intended? Isn't that a bit like trying to measure your height with a thermometer?

    "what Spencer says on his blog is quite different from that or the paper."

    This practice is destructive to good science. Write a questionable paper, then say whatever you want about it in a forum that you regulate. The echo chamber picks it up and repeats it; soon it is accepted as 'true.' A prime example of garbage in, garbage out.
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  40. 37, Camburn,

    I'm sorry, but I think the presentations are nonsense (although they were too long and boring to watch all the way through). As you say they are in a very calm and gentlemanly way distorting the facts and trying to focus entirely on every ounce of doubt they can generate. That is not presenting the science, as you imply, that is an unbalanced effort that ignores the vast majority information we have available to instead focus on every trivial complication they can think of to exaggerate the level of doubt.

    If you listen to such nonsense instead of reading everything you can then you are getting a fragment of the picture and you are going to make incorrect judgments.

    I could put together very similar and gentlemanly presentations arguing that man should never have developed airplanes or tried to cure diseases or improve agriculture. Such presentations would deserve the same amount of attention as the one to which you have linked.
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  41. Sphaerica:
    From the awards, the tenure of both Dr. Lindzen and Dr. North, to say they are saying nonsense rather than being factual is quit a statement.

    Both are emminent if the climate science field. Dr. Lindzen thinks the senseativity is low, while Dr. North thinks it is higher.

    Think what you like, but these are two experts in the field, who present some of what is known and some of what is not known.
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  42. And remember, I am always harping about the error bars and that they must be taken into account when stateing anything relevent.

    When I read a paper, I want to see those error bars, digest the ramifications of those error bars and go from there in my decission as to the validty of the conclusion.
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  43. 41, Camburn,

    I do not consider Lindzen to be eminent in climate science. When you do so you are attempting an appeal to authority, but in this case competence does not equate to trustworthy. Actual eminence would require that he publish something that contributes in a notable way to the science. He has a long publication record, primarily focused on either minor details, or else magic bullet papers that attempt to overturn the field in one fell swoop, and then are roundly and embarrassingly refuted by his peers.

    That does not, to me, qualify as eminent.

    When he stands up and uses his "authority" to spout drivel, he does not actually talk in a balanced and informative way about the science but instead acts like a debater being very careful to offer only those details that would lead you to a particular desired and incorrect conclusion. He has shot himself in the foot with his credibility with his op-ed pieces and flat out lies. I've seen them for myself, to the point that I do not trust a word that the man says.

    That you find him credible speaks to your lack of skepticism.
    • Politically oriented commentaries that do nothing to advance science, and in many cases actively work to undermine it:
      • Lindzen, R.S. (2008) An Exchange on Climate Science and Alarm. In Global Warming: Looking Beyond Kyoto
      • Lindzen, R.S. (2006) Climate of Fear, Wall Street Journal, April 12, 2006.
      • Lindzen, R.S. (2006) There is no ‘consensus’ on global warming, Wall Street Journal, June 26, 2006
      • Lindzen, R.S. (2006) Debunking the Myth. Business Today, 43, 66-67.
      • Robert M. Carter, C. R. de Freitas, Indur M. Goklany, David Holland & Richard S. Lindzen (2006) The Stern Review: A Dual Critique, Part I: The Science, World Economics, 7, 167-198.
      • Lindzen, R.S. (2007) Taking Greenhouse Warming Seriously, Energy & Environment, 18, 937-950.
      • Lindzen, R.S. (2008) Climate science: is it designed to answer questions. arXiv:0809.3762, available as pdf file on, Physics and Society.
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  44. Indeed Camburn, just as you watch what you put in your body for your own health, it is important to watch what you put in your own mind for your mental health.

    I spend a fair portion of my day listening to right wing talk radio. As an educated and thoughtful person, I thought myself immune to their tactics. I can usually debunk a statement made by Hannity, El Rushbo or Mark Levin literally before they are done uttering it.

    However, I had no hard data on time spent on vacations, and the recent talk has been about Obama's excessive vacations, and time on the golf course, etc. So I assumed Obama must be roughly equal to Bush (who got an earful for not working enough). Well, I had an opportunity to check the facts and it turns out that Bush had taken THREE times as many vacation days in the same period of time! 3 TIMES!

    So when you choose to let people known to twist the facts (like Spencer at this point (see Sphaerica@43)) into your mental diet - it is incumbent upon you to be extra, excessively vigilant, or else end up spouting half truths (see Camburn@37).

    Now that those who actively reject science own the main stream media (Fox news is the most watched, therefore the most main stream media we have in the US (and Murdoch is big in at least Australia and Great Britain as well) - we all must be very, very careful, as the mental diet being forced down our "throat" is indeed not healthy.
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  45. Sphaerica@43:
    Didn't you listen to Dr. North's presentation as well?

    actually thoughtful:
    I commend you if you were able to listen to Hannity, or Rush, or Levin. I have tried, but I find no entertainment value in those folks. I have made it through 10 mins, and just couldn't stand it any longer. They whine and whine, yet present no alternative solution.
    If I want to hear whining, I can listen to a two year old to get my fill of that.

    Dr. North is almost a polar opposite of Dr. Lindzen. Apparantly most folks didn't listen/observe his presentation, nor the discussion period at the end.

    As far as vacations....I don't care how many President Obama takes. In fact, his current economic policy is so flawed that I wish he would take a longer one. All I can say about President Bush, is that he didn't take enough of them either. Not good for the USA to have two somewhat dim presidents in a row who never saw someone elses dollar that they didn't want to spend.
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    [DB] American politics are now OT on this thread.  Please, no more.

  46. 45, Camburn,

    I did not watch Dr. North's presentation because the streaming method used did not make it easy to fast forward past Dr. Lindzen, and I really didn't have the time.

    Honestly, one can absorb 1000 times as much in 1/10th the time through reading. I see little point for such kindergarten level show-piece presentations.

    I'll take your word for it on what it contains. Suffice it to say that (a) it's a waste of my time in general and (b) if Dr. Lindzen was in any way involved then it's a waste of everyone's time, and a just a chance for people to get even more confused.

    As much as the denial crowd wants to frame it as such, this is not a "debate." It's not about opinions and beliefs, and Dr. Lindzen's position is laughable. If he or Spencer or anyone else really had a way to prove their case, they'd have done a substantially better job by now.

    They haven't. The fact that Lindzen takes so readily to the talk show circuit and high-visibility op-ed pieces instead of real science all by itself speaks volumes.
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  47. Sphaerica:
    Sorry you couln't watch Dr. North's presentation. It was quit good. The question period was excellent, with both Dr. Lindzen and Dr. North commenting.

    I seldom do watch video's, as I agree with you. Reading is a lottttt faster, and you can easily go back to re-digest what you have read.

    I just re-read Dr. Trenbeth's and other two fellows op ed piece. The very tone raised red flags to me, so I feel I must go back and re-read S&B. There may be more value to S&B than my original readings brought to me.

    Now it will be to find the time.
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  48. @Camburn #47:

    When you re-read S&B be sure to take into account the humongous error bars associated with it.
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