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Climate Hustle

One-Sided 'Skepticism'

Posted on 16 September 2011 by dana1981

As the banner at the top of the Skeptical Science (SkS) webpage notes, the primary purpose of our site is to "get skeptical about global warming skepticism" by examining what the peer-reviewed scientific literature has to say about the climate myths promoted by self-declared "skeptics."  We strive to examine the full body of scientific evidence, and see how the "skeptic" claims stack up.

In a recent post on his blog, Roger Pielke Sr. criticized our performance in meeting those goals.  We at SkS are always open to constructive criticism.  Unfortunately, Dr. Pielke has not actually offered any.  In fact, it appears that Pielke has not even bothered to make the effort to read the series he is criticizing.  He seems to think Christy Crocks and Spencer Slip Ups pertain to satellite temperature data analysis:

"As a result of the persistent, but incorrect (often derogatory) blog posts and media reports on the robustness of the University of Alabama MSU temperature data....The ad hominem presentations on this subject include those from the weblog Skeptical Science who have sections titled Christy Crocks and Spencer Slip Ups"

Unfortunately for this piercing critique, these two series of articles do not touch upon the topic of the satellite temperature data. Indeed, the only time SkS has mentioned this work was when we used it as an example of the self-correcting nature of the scientific process.  What the series have bored in on are the wide range of topics relevant to global warming concerning which Spencer and Christy have propogated numerous myths and copious misinformation.  This frequent myth propagation by Spencer and Christy is an unfortunate reality which it seems Pielke would like to sweep under the rug.

Pielke's One-Sided Criticisms

What we find strange is that, although Pielke often rushes to the defense of Spencer and Christy, he never criticizes them for blatant errors of logic and fact that they have made; even though he is happy to criticize more mainstream climate scientists.  His critiques seem a tad one-sided.

For example, Christy's testimony before US Congress earlier this year was riddled with myths and misinformation.  Pielke said not a word about it.  Christy later went on Australian and Canadian radio talk shows and propagated many of the same myths.  In fact, these interviews and testimony were the basis of the Christy Crocks. 

Not only does Pielke refuse to criticize his fellow "skeptics" for misinforming the public and policymakers, but he then denounces SkS for doing just that.  In the process, Pielke is effectively endorsing the myths and misinformation propagated by Spencer and Christy, documented in the very series that he criticizes.

The Scientific Basis of the Series

Let's put more effort into this question than Dr. Pielke and actually examine the content of the two series.  Spencer Slip Ups currently consists of seven posts.  Three of these are an analysis of one of Spencer's books by Dr. Barry Bickmore, in which Bickmore tested Spencer's results by replicating his simple climate model, and found that Spencer's conclusions were invalidated when physically realistic parameters were input into the model. 

In another post, we responded to Spencer's challenge to produce peer-reviewed scientific research ruling out internal variability as the cause of the current global warming by doing exactly that.  We also examined what the peer-reviewed literature has to say about Spencer's hypothesis that the PDO is causing global warming.  And finally, in two recent posts we examined Andrew Dessler's peer-reviewed response to Spencer & Braswell (2011). 

Christy Crocks are much of the same.  For example, we examined what the peer-reviewed literature has to say about Christy's claims with regards to climate sensitivity, climate model accuracy, internal variability, global warming causation, and satellite temperature data vs. models.

In keeping with the purpose and standards established for SkS by John Cook, in every Spencer Slip-Up and Christy Crock we have either evaluated how their statements stack up to the body of scientific literature, or attempted to replicate their results.  And we have found that Spencer and Christy consistently make statements which are inconsistent with the body of scientific literature, and often which are well outside their range of expertise.

Misinforming Policymakers

One of the most egregious examples of a Christy Crock was in his testimony before US Congress, when policymakers twice presented Christy with assertions that scientists were predicting impending global cooling in the 1970s, and twice Christy refused to dispel the myth, instead claiming:

"In this sense yes [1970s cooling predictions were similar to current warming predictions], our ignorance about the climate system is just enormous"

This statement, made to those who are determining what if any policies the United States will implement in response to climate change, is a crock.  We examined the peer-reviewed scientific literature in the 1970s, and found that contrary to Christy's depiction, most climate scientists at the time were predicting global warming.

We wonder if Dr. Pielke approves of Christy's testimony here.  When presented with a climate myth by a policymaker, is it appropriate to mislead the Congress with such statements, instead of reporting the situation as it was?  We would very much like to know Dr. Pielke's answer to this question, and why he continues to turn a blind eye to the repeated transgressions of Spencer and Christy.

Reality Check

In reality, Pieilke was off-base in trying to implicate SkS in criticism of the UAH satellite record; we didn't do that. Even more to the point, Spencer and Christy have both made a number of statements to the public that contradict the body of scientific literature.  These statements were the starting point of our critical series. By defending them but ignoring their errors, Pielke is providing cover for the misinformation propagated by Spencer and Christy.  That's not being skeptical, that's excusing the blatant misinformation of the American public and policymakers.  Pielke Sr. needs to decide what is more important, covering up misinformation or standing up for science and truth.

Note: this post represents the SkS contributors' consensus response to Roger Pielke Sr.'s recent criticism of our site

Update: Pielke has responded, if you can call it a response, since he didn't actually address anything we said here.  A total shifting of the goalposts, once again trying to deny Spencer and Christy's constant propagation of misinformation.  In fact, Pielke's response simply confirmed what we said in this post - he seems unwilling to read the content of our posts, and is totally unwilling to crtiicize his fellow "skeptics." 

Dr. Pielke, we once again ask that you answer the question - do you or do you not approve of John Christy's misleading testimony to US Congress, including his assertion that predictions of global cooling in the 1970s were the same as predictions of global warming today? 

As another example, do you agree with Roy Spencer when he said that as a result of addressing climate change, "Jogging will be outlawed. It is a little known fact that the extra carbon dioxide (and methane, an especially potent greenhouse gas) emitted by joggers accounts for close to 10% of the current Global Warming problem"? 

And do you agree with Spencer's assertion that "warming in recent decades is mostly due to a natural cycle in the climate system — not to an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide from fossil fuel burning"?

Please stop changing the subject, stop pretending Spencer and Christy are faultless Saints, drop the charade, and answer our questions, Dr. Pielke.

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Comments 151 to 151 out of 151:

  1. Hmmm, I recently recall that Watts & his cohorts recently laid into the head of the BEST project, & fellow skeptic, Professor Muller with a vicious ad hominem attack-after his preliminary results thoroughly debunked Watts' claims of unreliable surface station data. This after Watts had spent more than a month singing Muller's praises, & claiming he'd accept the outcome of the study, no matter what those results would be. If Pielke were in any way consistent, he'd surely launch a scathing attack on Watts for this behaviour. However, if his comments here & at his own website are anything to go by, Pielke is only interesting in maintaining solidarity amongst his fellow skeptics, not with ensuring that scientists are free from ad hominem attacks.
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  2. Marcus, could you document that please?
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  3. Given Dr. Pielke's strong views about the science of climate change, is it appropriate to classify him as a "contraian"?
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  4. Pielke #131 "I raised the issue on my weblog that I view the SkS labeling as ad hominems because I have published with John Christy and have directly interacted with Roy Spencer. They do not deserve such labeling"

    So now all disinformers know that they can get away with any kind of serious and repeated misrepresentation and blatant cherry-picking of the science in whatever context like in front of the most important political people in the world.

    They simply just need to publish a paper with Pielke or speak to him and then they do not deserve that anyone explicitly shows their mistakes by scientific arguments...

    But climate change is an extremely serious issue, feeling sorry for those caught in public with pseudo-arguments is completely irrelevant.
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  5. Link in @149 doesn't work. Fix?

    Also on Pielkes blog he admits "Al Gore is an idiot" is derogatory, and Watts says he will change it to "Al Gore". No longer derogatory, but content still maybe deGoratory.
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    [DB] Fixed link.

  6. Word is getting around about this thread to other blogs. Shub Niggurath is calling SkS - "Kafka-esque" and Bishop Hill is forwarding Shub's misrepresentations and said the SkS post is "horrible stuff" . Shub's "SS" illusions are also a nice touch to really drive home his bizarre post.

    People are more likely to get a better idea on what happened if they read this thread themselves. Dr. Pielke was merely referred to address the scientific concerns in the threads that dealt with his scientific questions. I'm unsure as to why this was not mentioned in Shub's post. Deleting off-topic comments happens on blogs from all points of view. That's just the process here and everywhere. Usually off-topic comments are deleted completely. Pielke was actually given better treatment than most of the other commenters -- those arguing off-topic against Dr. Pielke. Also, there is a process by which SkS reviews it's posts, so addressing his scientific questions isn't as easy, or quick as he'd, or we'd like. SkS attempts to answer based on it's collective knowledge of the known science, not any one particular person or point of view. There are schedules and people have other interests and responsibilities, so everyone just take a deep breath. Better?

    And let's not pretend that Dr. Pielke is beyond reproach here. He made accusations and was responded to. He was also asked to comment on specifics in regard to the Christy/Spencer comments and decided not to. So what? That just means the case is closed, as far as anyone is really interested in how Pielke is accused of one-sided skepticism. People will need to figure that out for themselves now. No one is a King in this situation.
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  7. The blogs linked by grypo in #156 clearly share Pielke's one-sided "skepticism".
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  8. Isn't 'one sided skepticism' also known as bias?

    Bias is an inclination to present or hold a partial perspective at the expense of (possibly equally valid) alternatives.
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  9. People are more likely to get a better idea on what happened if they read this thread themselves.


    Dr. Pielke was merely referred to address the scientific concerns in the threads that dealt with his scientific questions.


    Pielke Sr's main point was that, whatever you might feel about Spencer and Christy's views they were respected climate scientists. Calling people names, categorizing their views with cheap catchphrases - there are not "scientific matters" are they?

    I have seen the SkepticalScience website evolve over time. The current brand of rhetoric smacks of desperation.
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    Moderator Response: Yes, really. He didn't address the concerns that were involved in the posts in question. No one here is arguing for, or against, anyone as a respected climate scientist. Your opinion of SkS is noted.
  10. Where's the rhetoric, Shub? If you follow the links, you'll see Spencer's and Christy's misrepresentations of the science shown for what they are, with clear reference to the best available evidence, and explanations of where they went wrong. IMHO, calling Spencer and Christy's misrepresentations of the science 'slip-ups' or 'crocks' is actually being pretty kind.

    SkS has documented in detail some of the places where these respected scientists have departed from logic and reason. Skeptics concentrating on the title of the links (certainly not ad-hominem BTW) are merely trying to divert attention away from the content of the failings of Spencer and Christy. In fact, it smacks of desparation.
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  11. But Shub...what names were they called? And the "views" that were "characterized with cheap catchphrases" were demonstrable mistatements of fact, mistakes of logic, mischaracterizations of others views, etc.

    Some of those flase statements were repeated before congress! In my book, you could come up with a lot worse that cheap catchphrases to describe those actions.

    Pielke said nothing that changes the basic facts of the matter.
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  12. Shub,

    I took a look at your webblog. You might have as well titled it "random crank turnings". SkS and RealClimate are where I go, (certainly not WUWT) for scientific references and data extracts. Looked in vain for a skeptical equivalent on yours. On the other hand saw plenty of political rambling. Could you explain why anyone here (since I'm relatively new) sees you or your blog as having any standing whatsoever?
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  13. Stephen

    But Shub...what names were they called?

    Take a look at this thread:

    skepticalscience characterizes Christy's views as 'crock'. The website may well be run by climate experts who are far advanced in their views that they may see John Christy's views as a 'crock'. But, the topic reads rather like a complex disagreement, with no definitive resolution of the question it considers.

    Hardly a 'crock'.
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    Moderator Response: [Albatross] Providing a link with no supporting information is not constructive. By doing so you have demonstrated nothing. You can turn a blind eye to the games played by 'skeptics'and try and distract people from their misinformation, or you can stand up for what is right. Do you agree with Christy misleading Congress? It is a yes/no question.
  14. 163, Shub,

    Yes. And what name was Christy called? Nothing. His statements were described as crocks, because the slang definition of "a crock" is nonsense or foolish talk.

    The article that you site then goes on to itemize statements Christy made that have been proven to be false or contradictory.

    That's exactly what a "crock" is. There is nothing ad hominem about it. He and others like him are being taken to task for making false statements in public. What exactly is wrong with this?

    Sorry if you don't like the use of a slang term to create a catchy title, but that's hardly grounds for your position.

    At the same time, I'm sure you give a free pass to the venomous and unfounded assaults perpetrated by sites like WUWT and others.

    So, again... can you find evidence of name calling? Or does it merely bother you that "skeptical" scientists have been caught making clear falsehoods before the U.S. Congress, so all you can do is bluster that "that's not fair?"
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  15. IMHO - having followed thus discussion - despite what folks are won't to say; this thread proves beyond doubt that SkS accepts open discussion from people who disagree with things posted here, within the guidelines.

    Often (e.g. On FB) people don't pist here claiming their posts are deleted, they get abused etc. Clearly this demonstrates that that doesn't happen. What also often happens is that folks complain that when they post here people "refuse to answer" their questions. Clearly here you see that what infect gies on us that the questions are either red-herrings or generally off topic.

    All in all, this thread shows SkS in a ber good light compared to many sites. Well done.
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  16. The primary use of the site outside of the relatively small group of contributors and regular readers is to provide a one-stop shop for links to debunk climate myths on non-climate sites or sites with climate topics but a more general audience. Articles on volcanoes, CO2 and GHG for non-scientists, warming has not stopped, etc are very effective for those types of links. Threads on alternative energy and related topics are very informative and worth distributing to a broader audience.

    Here's the description of the well-deserved award this site received "The NSW Government Eureka Prize for Advancement of Climate Change Knowledge is awarded to an Australian individual, group or organisation for communication that motivates action to reduce the impacts of climate change."

    Can someone explain how this thread furthers that purpose? If the answer is that it doesn't, that is acceptable since it is the exception rather than the rule.
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  17. Yes, Eric. Do you agree that people might be influenced in their actions re climate based on information on the internet? Do you agree that the non-scientist public seeks expert opinion so that they might make more informed choices? If those who have been used as experts in the presentation of science to the public are demonstrably biased in the application of their analysis, then should they be considered as 'experts' where the communication of science to the public is concerned? This thread draws attention to an alleged case of bias (well, several actually).
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  18. I should have continued. This thread functions to allow people to become aware of possible bias in the expert testimony regarding climate science, testimony that is widespread across the internet. Awareness of such bias arguably leads to more informed decision-making.
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  19. Shub @163

    I don't find any merit in your criticisms. First, I don't see Christy being called anything in that thread. As for the post you cited, it made two simple points.

    1) Christy made a comparison of apples to oranges by comparing trends in UAH data with effects of ENSO volcanoes removed vs trends for models without those things removed. That's a pretty elementary error. Santer et al showed that when you compared apples to apples actually the models were only 45% higher than the UAH trend (not 300%) the model trends were not staitistically different from the UAH trend.

    2) Christy also erred in logic by assuming that the difference had to mean the model predictions of warming could not be trusted. It could be as well that UAH data has problems, and he knows it(or should). After all, analyzing satellite output requires complex models, too! It's not that straightforward. That's why his contribution is noteworthy, afterall.

    Christy is talking to congress. He needs to be measured in his appraisals of the science so congress can base legislation on reality - presuming that exists. Instead, he makes biased assessment of the state of climate models (the only tool we have for projecting forward) based on a exagerrated discrepancy that was the result of a demonstrably incorrect analysis. His statements deserve criticism in this instance.
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  20. DSL, the thread draw my attention to Dr. Pielke Sr. and examples of goal post shifting (namely his original blog post did not address Christy crocks allegations). The Christy crocks thread is a much better example of what you describe, an example of bias.
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  21. Yes - Pielke is fine with criticizing SkS, but he refuses to apply his criticism to anything floating through the sites of Watts and others. As Dana says above,
    Not only does Pielke refuse to criticize his fellow "skeptics" for misinforming the public and policymakers, but he then denounces SkS for doing just that. In the process, Pielke is effectively endorsing the myths and misinformation propagated by Spencer and Christy, documented in the very series that he criticizes.

    The post itself is what I'm talking about (and what I thought you were talking about). The comment stream circles around the post (widely at times), but thus is the nature of the community dialogue.
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  22. 166 Eiric - that is disingenuous. The blog of Pielke offers no possibility of reply as comments are disabled. "Inviting" him here, to a specific thread (so as not to mess up other threads) is a reasonable way to discuss issues around the integrity of the site. It's true it dies the science no favours any more than Pielke scurrying back to his little blog to whinge does him any favours. but at least the issues are all in one place.
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  23. Stephen Baines:

    You say:

    "[Christy's] statements deserve criticism in this instance."

    So, Christy's Congressional testimony in 2010 should be "measured", as in, take into account Santer's paper published in 2011?

    Additionally, you state:

    "After all, analyzing satellite output requires complex models, too! It's not that straightforward. That's why [Christy's] contribution is noteworthy, afterall."

    Satellites measure temperature. Models produce estimates of temperature. It is pretty straightforward. Measurements don't exist to support models.

    Christy's note is confined to the latest decade. Santer's analysis extends over a longer period. The two are not even necessarily contradictory. Christy's discrepancy figure is 3; Santer's 1.73. 1.73 is ok, but 3 is a 'crock'?

    Not much of a 'crock', is there?
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  24. les, first, this thread is not an "invitation" by any stretch of the imagination. Now the Christy crocks issues are in two places. But for dana1981's decision to pick on Christy above, Spencer slip ups would be in two places as well. Unless I am mistaken, the discussion of Pielke's topic, the satellite data, is nowhere. Specifically how is the integrity of SkS being defended?
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  25. 173, Shub,

    If you want to discuss Christy's Crocks, do so on that thread.
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  26. Eric - do you think Sks should not have responded to inaccuracies in Pielke's post? The original posts (on Spenser and Christy) seem to fufill the sites ambition as a place to go to find out what the published science has to say on topic raised by deniers and misinformers.

    Shub = "Measurements don't exist to support models." They are generally made to test models. Models are efforts to understand nature, especially so that we can predict the future.
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  27. Shub, the satellites don't measure temperature at all, they measure microwaves. Models (weighting functions, conversion factors, satellite orbit vatiations, and so on) are required to convert the microwaves into temperature estimates.
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  28. Brian Angliss

    Thanks for that red herring. The 'models' that you are referring to, are not the GCMs that simulate climatic changes, are they?
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  29. scaddenp, it is appropriate for SkS to respond, but I think it is an exception to the rule that articles should be a useful reference. This article is taking exception to one specific "ad hom" and guilt by association accusation. The original Spencer and Christy posts are imperfect IMO (personally I would use the material but not link to it), but they are a lot more useful than this posting.

    I guess responding to accusations is never a desirable situation. On the one hand, you have to respond. On the other, it fragments the topics and can lead to a reactionary mode of operation.
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  30. Shub#173: "Measurements don't exist to support models."

    You might want to qualify that a bit: measurements don't exist to support some models.

    Looks pretty clear that measurements do indeed support some of those models; the rest didn't get it right. Did you ever wonder why?
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  31. Shub, this thread is about Dr Pielke's accusations of ad-hominem and one sided skepticism. His own blog post was not about the science but about those accusations, including a ridiculous assertion that SkS tried to undermine the UAH data set through the use of ad-hom.

    He was repeatedly asked to substantiate that accusation and was unable to do so. You made accusations of ad-hom yourself. You were then asked several times to cite exactly what "name" was Spencer or Christy called and have been equally unable to substantiate. If you want to talk about anything else go do it on the appropriate thread.

    You were asked to provide an example of real ad-hom committed by SkS and you have so far failed to respond. If you can't substantiate, you should refrain from further comments.

    You are not going to distract anyone by trying to change the subject, we are part of the reality based crowd here. Don't be surprised if your further off-topic posts on this thread are deleted, Dr Pielke was given unusual latitude in this matter and it won't happen again to him or anyone else.

    Muon thank you for the graphs, but they are also off-topic. They would be welcome and more useful on the appropriate thread, where Shub's comments on the same topic should be moved.
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  32. Shub: "Satellites measure temperature. Models produce estimates of temperature. It is pretty straightforward. Measurements don't exist to support models."

    Shub, you are demonstrably wrong (see scientific scholarship -- all of it). Any theory is a model based on observed, measured phenomena. Continued measurement directly serves the confidence of models. If temperatures (ocean, surface, and atmosphere) trend away from current GCMs, theory (and the models) must change.

    Perhaps you meant to say something more nuanced.
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  33. Philippe#182:

    True enough, but Shub's taking the scattergun approach typical of one-sided (biased) 'skeptics'. If he wants to discuss modelling, there are threads for that.
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  34. Shub,

    I'm still at a loss. My point was that a measured assessment would not have proposed a significant difference existed between models and the UAH data. At the very last it would have made an effort to compare apples to apples and assess statistical significance before making a statement to congress. Christy's conclusion was biased and statistically unjustified even if it doesn't meet your own rather arbitrary threshold of significance.

    Satellites don't measure temperature directly. UAH uses microwave spectra to infer temperature. That's not straightforward. In fact, you could say it requires a model. Maybe not one as involved as a GCM, but still challenging.

    You're right that the model should match observational data to the extent possible, but potential errors/noise in the observational data, especially one as compex as satellite data, need to be considered. A model could get the prediction perfect and still disagree with the observations if there is noise or bias in the observational data set. So why not acknowledge that complex observational dataset could have problems that contribute to a discrepancy with model predictions? I still don't see the supposed ad hom in pointing out that Christy should have.
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  35. I go away to have dinner and come back to find that others have made my point for me.

    However, as I either took Shub's bait or felt that my point was more on topic than it appears to have been, I'll refrain from further model discussions unless they're somehow more clearly on topic. My apologies.
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  36. Hey Dave123. Sorry for the delay in replying to your message. The 2 posts in question are here:

    This was *before* Muller's testimony on his preliminary results.

    Now here is the follow-up *after* the testimony:

    In particular read some of the vicious attacks from Watts' followers. It seems that "skeptics" don't like having their skepticism challenged-even by one of their own!
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  37. This comment stands out most strongly:

    "With his testimony, Dr. Muller has totally destroyed any credibility he might have had with me. He might be able to rebuild it by explaining his strange numbers. But to give that kind of erroneous testimony, not in a random paper he might written quickly, but to Congress itself, marks him to me as a man driven by a very serious agenda, a man who doesn't check his work and who pays insufficient attention to facts in testimony. I had hoped we wouldn't have another temperature record hag-ridden by people with an axe to grind -- foolish me."

    I wonder if Pielke Sr thinks this is appropriate language to use against Professor Muller? After all, its much more harsh than the criticisms leveled against Christy & Co at this site!
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  38. [To Philip Chantreau moderator]

    You state:

    " this thread is about Dr Pielke's accusations of ad-hominem and one sided skepticism."


    "You were asked to provide an example of real ad-hom committed by SkS and you have so far failed to respond."

    On the 14th Sept, this website carried an article, that is still extant, that contains the statement:

    "and it's also entirely possible that the satellite temperature data is still biased on the cool side. Christy and Spencer are somewhat infamous for claiming for the better part of a decade that the UAH satellite data proved the climate wasn't warming as fast as models projected (sound familiar?), until research by a number of scientific groups [including Christy and Spencer themselves] discovered errors in their data analysis which accounted for most of the discrepancy."

    The article in question deals with the disparity between the global troposheric temperatures measured by satellite, and those estimated by models. In the backdrop of the open, transparent availability of the methods used to derive satellite temperatures, the author speculates that a cool bias may still exist in the UAH record, stemming from a alleged deficiency on Spencer and Christy's part. He terms this an "infamy".

    Pielke Sr on the other hand, characterized the same process of error-detection and correction in the satellite record as a learning exercise and one, in which Spencer and Christy participated responsively. Indeed, the ability of a scientist to quickly admit to errors and provide for corrections advances science and this example has been documented, also, at this very website.

    There is a contradiction between these two positions. Pielke Sr of course has taken stance firmly behind the latter position. Skepticalscience must decide whether Spencer and Christy are good scientists because they correct and maintain the UAH record, or they are bad scientists because there were errors in the satellite record.

    The post at the top of this thread claims that skepticalscience website never questioned the UAH satellite record, in order to bolster its labelling of scientists' activities.

    The passage quoted above, however, does exactly the same. It is listed in the Christy Crocks series of articles.

    Pielke Sr criticized derogatory blog posts and news items, resorting to labelling of scientists and their activities, which also questioned the UAH temperature recordkeeping of Spencer and Christy. The present post denies having done either. It is clear however, from examining the skepticalscience post, titled, "Santer et al. Catch Christy Exaggerating" published on the 14th Sept, that neither can be denied.

    The article did make claims based on insinuations about the UAH record, and did classify the article as a "Crock".

    This is the example you were seeking me to point out. This is the example you demanded Roger Pielke Sr point out to you.

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    Moderator Response: [Albatross] Shub, you are not recalling events correctly and are trying to twist the argument around. Pielke, for some reason, tried to implicate SkS in someone elses' harsh critique of Spencer and Chrsity's treatment of the UAH record. He was conflating different issues in his attempt to smear SkS. For the record, Dr. Pielke seems to be applying selective memory when it comes to recalling how events actually transpired surrounding the UAH MSU data. Read this article by Spencer and Christy from October 1997. In it Spencer and Christy claim: "In theory, one could argue that the computer models are accurate, and that the real measurements have some problem. However this is not the case." and "The result is that the satellite temperature measurements are accurate to within three one-hundredths of a degree Centigrade (0.03 C)". They said this even though at the time others working on the satellite knew that there were unresolved issues and would not have been nearly so brazen or confident, and it took until 2005 until most for the issues plaguing the satellite data were identified and corrected properly. And let us not forget the work of Hurrell, Trenberth, Wentz, Mears, Fu, Johanson, Warren, Seidel, Vinnikov, Grody, Zou and Prabhakara and others who made invaluable contributions to identifying and fixing problems with the satellite record.. There is a detailed discussion of the satellite product by Scott Church I recommend that you read it. SkS does not have to decide anything, rather you and Pielke need to decide what is more important, covering up misinformation or standing up for science and truth. Spencer and Christy run into trouble because of they do not practice self-skepticism and because they choose to misrepresent the science, distort the science, misinform the public, politicize the science, speak to thinks that they are not qualified to speak to (e.g., economics, DDT), and in Christy's case, mislead Congress. But defend their bad behaviour if you must and insist.
  39. Marcus,

    Thanks.... I appreciate you wading into that venue to dig this up.

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  40. Shub#189:

    So you wouldn't agree that any scientist who claimed 'for the better part of a decade' that a dataset proved something it doesn't has not earned somewhat of a bad reputation by virtue of those claims?

    The criticism is of the work, not the man. To object to 'somewhat infamous' as an ad hominem attack is just silly. However, when commenters on your blog are making nazi references about SkS, that escalates from silly to outrageous. If you would assume a position of moral outrage, clean your own house first.
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  41. What a load of unadulterated nonsense "Shub". I have friends & family whom I love dearly-but they have some really *out there* opinions about certain subjects-often based on no evidence-& I think those opinions are a *crock*-& I'll *TELL THEM SO*!!! They've never once thought that I was attacking them personally though. Of course, given the repugnant language that's been dished out-by skeptics-towards climate science, I think the skeptics are being incredibly *precious* & *thin skinned*. If you can't stand the heat, Shub.....
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    Moderator Response: [mc] Easy on the all caps, please.
  42. What's hilarious with BEST is that it was funded by the Koch Brothers & being run by a well-known skeptic (Muller), so obviously Pielke & Watts were both expecting a "Fait accomplis". Hell Hath no Fury like a "skeptic" scorned.
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  43. I suggest that to counter Shub's misconceptions that SkS produce a post detailing the history of the satellite record... what was known, when, and how long it took and what measures were taken before the issues were resolved.
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  44. Dr. Peilke, sr., I have to confess that I am more than a little confused by this idea of 'balance' in science. Balance is not and never was part of the scientific process. SkS doesn't have to provide balance - it has to provide accurate representations of what is happening in terms of global climate, and to scientifically discredit work that fails to measure up.

    'Balance' suggests that this should a political debate. It suggests that all opinions have equal validity and should therefore be heard, rather than analysis of scientific arguments based on evidence. If you want the science evaluated, then put it out there for critical appraisal. Your ideas should be judged on their merits, rather than a predetermined notions of ensuring 'balance'. It your science is good, you'll rightly receive plaudits for it - even from people here.

    As the site moderators have made clear, you are very welcome to engage in the process of evaluating the science here. After regularly visiting and reading this site for more than 18 months, I feel I can attest to the overall rigour of the site in this regard.
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  45. 174 - Eric (skeptic)
    "first, this thread is not an "invitation" by any stretch of the imagination."
    It has several links to his blog and comments on the blog entries... I really don't think it takes any stretching of the imagination to see that that is an invitation.

    "Now the Christy crocks issues are in two places. But for dana1981's decision to pick on Christy above, Spencer slip ups would be in two places as well."
    Great - two places in which to reply. Those are not, by far, the only places where there is more than one appropriate thread to discuss a single issue. If that's a problem, the "Comments" button is your friend.

    "Unless I am mistaken, the discussion of Pielke's topic, the satellite data, is nowhere."
    And, indeed, Pielke has not case for complaining about the treatment of himself by SkS - he's proxy complaining.

    "Specifically how is the integrity of SkS being defended?"
    Because, as I said before, people often complain that they get censored or abused if the post contrary opinion on SkS. As you know more than most - and now Pielke knows; and anyone who cares to actually read the comments knows - people get to post all kinds of stuff and get plenty of discussion - with in the terms of the comments policy. That is clearly a demonstration of a site with integrity.
    Hope that helps.
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  46. Shub wrote: "Indeed, the ability of a scientist to quickly admit to errors and provide for corrections advances science"

    Unfortunately for your intended point... Spencer and Christy did NOT "quickly admit" the errors in their model for estimating global temperature anomalies from microwave emission proxies. Indeed, they loudly proclaimed for years that they were right and everyone else wrong... until the evidence to the contrary became overwhelming. Indeed, there are still some disputed factors in their model. Coincidentally, these factors, like those previously corrected, result in a cooling bias.

    That said, S&C DID eventually acknowledge the most significant errors in their model and it is now in fairly close agreement with the temperature anomalies derived from surface measurements. This is thus not the primary 'complaint' against them. Rather the 'crocks' and 'slip-ups' series focus on their false statements and extremely flawed scientific analysis on other matters.
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  47. The really interesting thing about this debate is how often Drs Pielke, Spencer, Christy and Lindzen get it wrong.

    One would think that these presumably tenured academics with doctorates in their specialties would get it right occasionally.

    I have never seen it acknowledged on this site that any of these 'usual suspects' get anything right at all. This would then pose the logical question that they are seriously and serially incompetent or motivated by malign forces.

    Now questioning motivation is by definition an ad hominem attack on this site and therefore I would have thought inadmissable in the authors posts; so the only conclusion is that they are seriously and serially incompetent. One wonders then how they hold PhD's and remain in positions at respected institutions.

    Conversely, one never sees any of the scientists who write papers broadly supporting the AGW position ever being wrong about anything on this site.

    Again such omnipotence is somewhat unlikely, so it would help the credibility of this excellent site if a skeptic were actually right about something and a 'settled scientist' wrong about something - hopefully both important.
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    [dana1981] Just off the top of my head, see our post evaluating William Kellogg's 1979 global warming prediction as one example where a mainstream climate scientist was "wrong".

  48. Sphaerica, the "satellites show no tropospheric warming" rebuttal listing gives an extensive listing of the errors and associated corrections, advanced here:

    In any case I think that a follow up would be warranted. Implying that there remains the possibility of a combined satellite-analysis/model-replicating-cooling problem, v. a model only problem, is - while not outright saying there are problems in the satellite analysis methods - still a judgement based more on speculation supported by precedence, rather than evidence.

    SkS has not explicitly questioned the record's current reliability, only brought up the point that "satellite data analysis might be the source of at least some of the model-data discrepancy," and then criticized Christy for not also considering that too (when testifying to Congress, no less). While only technically not falling under the accusation Pielke made against us, I think we ought to be wary about how we come off to others, and how close we tread along certain lines.

    Regardless of that, the allegation of ad-hominem approach is still quite baseless.
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  49. critical mass Firstly, science basically operates by proposal of hypotheses, followed by experimental or observational evaluation, followed by criticism from peers. Most discussion of science is focussed on detecting errors and mistakes, as that is what has been found to be the most effective practice for promoting progress. Thus it is hardly surprising that a scientific discussion should be focussed primarily on criticism rather than praise.

    A scientist that can't handle criticism won't last long, try publishing a journal paper or submitting a grant proposal and you will sooon find out why.

    In scientific circles, the closest you get to praise is when your work is cited or people use the tools or data you provide. Thus everytime the UAH satelite dataset is used here, it is implicit acknowledgement that Spencer and Christy do get things right, at least some of the time.

    There are plenty of tenured academics that serially publish nonsense. It is just the law of averages, there are a lot of academics in the world, some of them will retain their position despite their scientific work rather than because of it. The system of tenure doesn't really help there as once you have tenure, it is very difficult to loose it (or at least that used to be the case).

    So, why do scientists in the mainstream so rarely publish things that are demonstrably wrong? Simple, it is becase they are generally publishing work that is relatively uncontraversial. Strong claims require strong evidence, thus the papers written by skeptics, that are often claiming to be "the last nail in the coffin of AGW" are making a huge claim, so it is hardly a surprise that the evidence doesn't provide sufficient support for such a huge claim. Less contraversial work on the other hand is less likely to be wrong as it rests on foundations of a vast body of existing work.

    There is also the point that for every Gallileo, there are 10,000 crackpots. While it is absolutely true that it only takes one scientist to provide the argument that produces a paradigm shift, the odds are heavily against it if you think you are a Gallileo.
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  50. critical mass (@ 197), one can inspect Dr. Lindzen's publication record and see that he has made several major contribution to our understanding of the atmosphere largely through research done and published before around 2000.

    So one could probably list more than 100 papers in which Dr Lindzen "got it right". It's only the smattering of more recent papers that directly or indirectly address questions about Earth climate response to enhanced radiative forcing that show a pattern of flaws. Some of the flaws are particularly problematic (e.g. the astonishing selection of time periods to assess relationships between changes in surface temperature and the TOA response in this paper, as highlighted by, amongst others, Trenberth et al).

    As for posts here highlighting where largely mainstream climate scientists get it wrong, how about this one which is an account of the retraction by climate scientists of a paper on sea level modeling in which the authors lost confidence in their model due to an error in some of its parameterization.
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