Organized defamation and anti-science


John Mashey explains how organized defamation of science has been structured and funded. Good (and long) reading, though bad for your blood pressure. Some excerpts:

Anti-science manufactures public ignorance or doubt regarding science that produces “inconvenient” results. Many anti-science PR tactics were created for the tobacco companies in1954, and employed since for other areas, sometimes by the same people.

Science. Real science starts with research, followed by peer-reviewed publication in credible places, and most crucially via repeated evaluation by field researchers. Like the Great Wall built over time, brick by brick, it does not fall down because one brick jiggles. Science accumulates over time, with large collections of research, rarely dependent on any one paper.

Pseudoscience. When ideas are repeatedly examined, often explicitly refuted, but originators persist in the face of a strong imbalance of evidence, at some point it becomes pseudoscience, an attempt to convince scientists to adopt an idea for which the balance of evidence is strongly adverse.

Science-noise. In communicating new results to the public, the end-to-end process easily over-interprets results, loses caveats, or creates outright errors, as often happens in space-constrained newspaper headlines. Signal is often obscured by noise, purposeful or accidental, which can either increase or lessen the perceived importance of some scientific result.

Anti-science. The deliberate production of ignorance and doubt (…) employed especially when research results threaten strong economic or ideological interests. It is rarely intended to convince field professionals, but to confuse the public and especially decision-makers in government and business. Many modern anti-science tactics were invented by Hill & Knowlton in 1954 for tobacco companies and used thereafter, often by the same people and organizations, especially in fighting environmental regulations. However, the rise of the Internet has offered new opportunities for anti-science amplification. Anti-science sometimes employs its own science-noise and even pseudoscience. Suppose someone writes a peer-reviewed paper showing some well-caveated, modest effect, but then drastically and repeatedly over-interprets it for non-field audiences via OpEds, lectures, blogs, websites, claiming it has demolished decades of careful research. That is usually deliberate anti-science, not just science-noise. Organized anti-science seeks to bypass science.

Classic Science Bypass Methods. A few prestigious physicists have long campaigned to nullify the results of climate research, especially policies deriving from it, or more generally to obscure any science that might lead to government environmental regulation of almost any sort. They have been joined by many others. This has been done, not by publishing peer-reviewed research, but via PR techniques for creating doubt in the general population. The general approach was created by Hill and Knowlton in 1954 for the tobacco companies to fend off unwanted regulation, in the booklet “A Scientific Perspective on the Cigarette Controversy”:

This approach was classic science bypass – get quotes from authoritative-sounding sources, distribute to a large public audience, to create doubt and delay. This approach has long been employed since to fight most environmental regulation, whether warranted or not. The themes were:

  • The evidence is still inconclusive. [This can be repeated ad nauseam, as absolute proof is unattainable – BV]
  • Something other than smoking may be responsible.
  • Statistical evidence can‘t be trusted.
  • It‘s all a scare campaign.
  • The issue is too complicated, even for scientists.
  • Nit-picking at irrelevant details. [McIntyre, anyone? – BV]
  • More research is necessary.

The similarities with the tactics used by climate “skeptics” is obvious.

See also:

Book “Climate cover up” detailing the trail and tactics of the climate disinformation campaign

Book “Doubt is their product” about the successful tobacco strategies being copied in the climate debate.

Michael Tobis on how science should and should not be used in society

Spencer Weart provides historical context to the manipulation of public opinion.

Great talk by Naomi Oreskes on the American denial of global warming on youtube.

Why denial of a difficult problem is psychologically favored

Chris Mooney on pseudo-skeptical tactics being used

Jules investigating similarities in the climate change and tobacco strategies.

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202 Responses to “Organized defamation and anti-science”

  1. Tom Fuller Says:

    Hi Bart,

    Well it makes a nice story–a tidy little narrative. But does it describe anything real? I don’t see any evidence of this. Who are the most famous skeptics? Are they funded from outside sources with a political agenda?

    I mean, I am not sure who would be on the top 5 list of skeptics–would it be Monckton, Christy, Lindzen, Spencer, and Pat Michaels? Of those, I think only Michaels would have his funding under scrutiny (I think Monckton self-funds–correct me if wrong.)

    But look at that list–they are not driving this debate at all. Monckton is an opportunist that blows into town for his moments in front of a camera and then off he goes. The others are certainly not making news every day.

    All of the CEI’s the Heartland Institutes, etc., I’m sure they get some funding from sources you don’t like, and I’m sure some of it goes to pay people to write skeptical articles. But do you really think they’re driving the agenda? I sure don’t.

    Who is in the news? Steve McIntyre and Anthony Watts. They fund themselves. Who tells them what to write? Nobody.

    Meanwhile, the energy companies are funding environmental organisations and CRU–does that not bother you? Exxon gave $100 million to Stanford–is that okay?

    There is a well-funded media machine with an agenda that supercedes science. It is on your side.

  2. Bart Says:

    Hi Tom,

    In your reaction you seem hung up on the money trail, which admittedly is not unimportant, but this post is mostly about the strategies used in undermining inconvenient science. I wrote about potential reasons for pseudo-skepticism here (ideology) and here (professional deformation). Of course, there are more reasons, but they don’t all involve money.

    Anthony Watts is very representative of pseudo-science. Anti-science is more purposeful, and Fred Singer is perhaps the most representative of that strategy. The bullet-points that sum up the tobacco strategies –science bypass- are like an exact echo of what climate pseudo-skeptics say. Where McIntyre is the nitpicking-king.

    The media has usually tried to seek a balance between competing viewpoints, irrespective of the evidence supporting each viewpoint. In the face of a striking imbalance in evidence, pretending that there is is irresponsible. More recently some media have actually become mouthpieces for pseudo- and anti-scientific voices.

  3. Scott Mandia Says:

    Bart, I also detail some reasons for the misinformation here:

  4. Nescio Says:

    Some more on the war on science can be found here:

  5. Tom Fuller Says:

    Hi Bart,

    Anthony Watts performed a huge public service with his audit of climate measuring stations here in the U.S. He has since gotten carried away in different directions on his weblog, precisely, as you say, because he is not a scientist. But what are people going to remember about Anthony Watts? I guarantee you they will remember that the United States government pulled information out of the public domain rather than let Anthony have access to it for his assessment of measurement stations. And I believe it was Tom Karl who made that decision. Is that the way you want to fight skeptics?

    You’ve been reading too much Oreskes, Bart. There is no centralized agenda setting for skeptics regardless of their level of scientific expertise. It just isn’t there. There are a few organisations (Heartland, CEI) that are opportunistic snipers at global warming, but you guys have an army–well fed, well funded, well briefed.

  6. Bart Says:

    Hi Tom,

    Anthony Watts has been providing a huge disservice to the public with his misleading claims about global warming and his smearing of scientists. I first heard of him via Tamino’s blog, where some egregious mistakes on his part were shown (see here just one example). He didn’t even acknowledge or correct what was clearly wrong with his analysis. Much to my surprise, Watts’ became the most popular climate blog.

    He doesn’t understand that removing stations (whatever their location) doesn’t create a spurious trend (as long as the minimum geographical coverage is not compromised). The trend in what he considered “good” stations is not distinguishable from the trend using all stations. Adjustments to CRU’s data have not led to spurious warming.

    If he were interested in constructively adding to the science, he would have gone about it much differently than he has. Read also this post about recent events and this episode where Watts requested censorship (pot-kettle?)

    Perhaps you haven’t read enough Oreskes. This book chapter gives an excellent overview of the scientific methods, and how climate science stacks up against it. Slideshow is here (second half deals with the philosophy of science).

    It’s not about “centralized agenda setting”, it’s about understanding the anti-scientific tactics used. They happen to be similar for several anti-scientific endeavours, and that probably isn’t coincidental. (fanatic creationism, anti-vax, tobacco-wars, climate “skepticism”, etc). They are proven to be effective PR strategies in making the public doubtful about the science.

  7. Tom Fuller Says:

    Hi Bart,

    I’ve read more Oreskes than I really care to. Her effect on this debate has been pernicious. She has done a lot of harm.

    Anthony Watts is not a scientist and posts contributions from many different people. There are a lot of errors in his posts. I don’t care–I don’t go to him for science, I go to him to see what’s happening in the world. I would wager that most of his visitors do the same.

    My main point is that there is no central source funding or directing skeptical efforts. Your careful linking to theoretical discussions is fine (and might actually be applicable more to your side than the skeptics).

    But looking at the news today, the face of skeptics is the independent and unfunded Steve McIntyre and Anthony Watts. The face of climate science is Rajendra Pachauri directing Phil Jones and Michael Mann, defended by the centrally funded and directed Joe Romm from the Center for American Progress.

    You should get your own house in order before criticizing others.

  8. Scott A. Mandia Says:


    You need to separate science from “science reporting” which has been seriously lacking in the past year. Journalists are not interested in the truth right now – just shocking people.

    I agree that as scientists we are not doing a good job at communicating to the general public but we are getting better now. The anti-science (and now anti-scientist) forces have been doing this for a long time so they have a head start.

    We are battling back and we will always previal in the long run because we have truth on our side and as we head toward the yeat 2100, it will become increasingly obvious to all that GHG emissions are the root cause of much of the world’s problems.

  9. Tom Fuller Says:

    You scientists are doing a poor job of policing the non-scientists working on your behalf, Scott. Has any one of you ever told Joe Romm that what he is doing is harmful to your cause? Has anyone called for Phil Jones to resign? Michael Mann? Rajendra Pachauri?

    Please remember that I speak as someone who agrees with the basic tenets of climate change, although I find the skeptic community much more congenial than the folks on your side, as is plainly obvious.

    Who is Joe Romm communicating with? What is his message? How is it perceived? What are the effects of what he writes? You are scientists. Have none of you looked at this scientifically? I mean I do that for a living for companies every day–Romm is killing you. Are you too pure to care?

    When do you think your community will have put current events behind you?

    Scott, it’s not that ‘as scientists we are not doing a good job at communicating to the general public’ and you are certainly not getting better now. You are not communicating at all. You’re commenting on a blog–where is your letter to the editor of the NY Times or Washington Post?

    Labeling critics of Mann and Jones (like myself) as anti-science or anti-scientist is just playing Joe Romm’s game.

    Put your house in order. You are in a hole. Quit digging.

  10. Bart Says:


    I know that there is no central source funding of most skeptical efforts (there are exceptions though); ideology or psychology are strong enough drivers for many, apparently. This post is primarily about the strategies used.

    For someone who claims to not go to Watts for science, you take his claims (of a corrupted surface record and corrupted scientists) quite seriously.

    I don’t agree with your calls for scapegoating specific people. The harm they did to (the communication of) the science (if at all) is negigible compared to that of the likes of McIntyre and Watts who you seem to adore. That Romm uses strong and sometimes plainly rude language is a minor flaw compared to the obstructionist efforts of “skeptics”, no matter how polite their language (well, polite… “try not to puke” is not the summum of politeness).

  11. Tom Fuller Says:

    Hi Bart,

    Well, the central premise of your post is the organised nature of pseudo-anti-non-science responses. I don’t see ideology driving this–I get many comments from Democrats or Labour party members agreeing with the contrarian position.

    I take seriously things I have looked into and there is no question in my mind that Jones, for example, acted incorrectly to protect his 1990 Nature paper on UHI. I didn’t get that from Watts or McIntyre.

    If you honestly think that anything Watts or McIntyre wrote has a tenth the effect of scientific misconduct, you’re making a really huge mistake.

    I don’t like scapegoating either, but think this through. Do you want your next paper on aerosols to be classed alongside IPCC statements about Himalayan glaciers? Especially if you’re writing about soot effects on ice?

    There’s a difference between scapegoating and making people responsible for their actions.

  12. Bart Says:

    I think that ideology can be a strong driver of how people view the science. Also psychology: To some it feels good to be the underdog and get celebrated by anonymous fans and phoned up routinely by newspapers, TV and other media. And some are just confused.
    My take home message here was about the tactics used in creating confusion about scientific matters.

    I’m surprised that you view Oreskes so negatively: She wrote abut science philisophy and how it applies to climate science (very good stuff) and about contrarianism (also relating the tobacco tactics to those used by climate contrarians). Her attention has mostly been on the old big guys, Singer and Seitz for example. What is it in her writing that you take offense to? I think it should be required reading for anyone interested in climate change and its public discussion.

  13. Scott Mandia Says:


    You seem to suggest that because there are a few mistakes in the volumes of information in the IPCC documents, the entire body is not credible?

    Errors in the Encyclopedia Brittannica

    So do you wish to discount the EB because of a relatively few errors?

    You recently wrote in one of your columns:

    Someone like Anthony Watts, currently fighting to verify records of recent temperatures and to account for urban heat island effects, has a background in meteorology that helps him understand where the bodies are buried in what is essentially a political fight.


    This is important. It’s beginning to look like Watts will be the eventual victor in his struggle to get U.S. land temperatures (and the adjustments for urban heat island effect) recalculated. And I will salute him for his victory–he has worked hard for this and faced a lot of institutional opposition.


    Watts does not have ANY science degree and certainly does not have meteorology background. Meteorologists are atmospheric physicists with calculus, physics, and chemistry coursework.

    Watts is NOT fighting for truth regarding UHI nor verifying station records. He has been shown over and over again to be wrong on both counts and yet he refuses to acknowledge his obvious mistakes. Most of his mistakes are made because he has no understanding of proper analysis.

    UHI is accounted for in the record and every decent analysis of rural vs urban TRENDS has shown that the TRENDS are not influenced by UHI nor microclimate to any significance. How much UHI or microclimate influence is there over the oceans? How many stations are dropped over the ocean? NONE, of course. Yet, the TRENDS are the same.

    Finally, the satellite derived temperature trend since 1979 is very closely matched to the surface temperature trend since 1979.

    Why do you keep repeating this thoroughly debunked nonsense?

    You have made some mistakes so, according to your own critique of the IPCC and Jones, you are also not to be believed.

  14. Tom Fuller Says:

    I think you’re wrong about Watts, basically. He does make mistakes. So do I. I admit mine in print. I don’t hide them for a decade. I have written time and time again that the IPCC reports are bound to have mistakes and I don’t blame them for it. But to lie about it to world leaders after calling a glaciologist a practitioner of voodoo science is vile.

    Watts hasn’t done that McIntyre hasn’t done that. I haven’t done that. The fact that you are not willing to condemn it and instead chase a blogger for not being perfect is equally vile.

  15. Marco Says:

    Tom, the “voodoo science” gaffe was NOT in response to criticism of the 2035 number. It was in response to a report on glacier retreat which essentially claimed there was hardly any, and that it was not linked to global warming.

    Equally bad, plenty of attacks on the IPCC not using primary sources from the scientific literature, but no one noticing that the Indian report missed just about all publications on Indian glaciers and their retreat. Oh, there were some, but a 50+ page piece containing 20-or-so references, several of them not even scientific publications….

  16. Tom Fuller Says:

    “I want a personal apology from the IPCC chairperson R.K. Pachauri who had described my research as voodoo science,” Mr. Raina told The Hindu over phone from Panchkula. “Forget IPCC, Dr. Pachauri has not even expressed regret over what he said after my report — Himalayan Glaciers: a state-of-art review of glacial studies, glacial retreat and climate change — was released in November last year.”

  17. Tom Fuller Says:

    Scott, you really seem like a Rommulan. Have you ever spoken to Watts? Corresponded with him? You’re really quick to ascribe motives to him. I have done both and I think you’re basically defaming him. I’m happy to correspond with Bart–unlike you, he’s a gentleman. But stay out of my way, Mandia. You’re just a hysteric.

  18. Bart Says:


    Aren’t you going a little overboard here, calling Scott Mandia “hysteric”? I re-read his last comment, and don’t see any defaming there. No ascribing of motives either. He is stating quite strongly that he believes Watts has hardly anything useful to say about the climate discussion, and I (and most scientists I’d wager) agree.

    We view the situation very differently: I think that climate science in general and IPCC in particular are being raken through the mud for being imperfect (though still of a very high standard), whereas most of what Watts claims is plain untrue, and most of what McIntyre claims is irrelvant for the big picture.

    Both Watts and McIntyre intersperse their commentary with truckloads of innuendo and thinly veiled accusations. Why is rudeness (e.g. Romm; not Mandia at all) to be condemned if it comes from one direction, and not if comes from another (“try not to puke” McI)? Aren’t you using a double standard here?

    As to your earlier question: If there is an error (due to sloppy referencing) in the same report as where I may have a contribution, that wouldn’t keep me awake at night. If however I would be smeared in public because people try to paint the whole wider scientific picture as mere fraud and manipulation based on those one or two sloppy references, now that I have a problem with.

    I think that our difference in opinion about how to communicate about these issues is a consequence of our difference in opinion about the science and esp about the role “skeptics” play in the public debate. So let’s try to get that difference out of the way by means of a thought-experiment:

    Imagine the hypothetical situation that a brand of science is being strongly criticized / attacked, but that the criticism by and large doesn’t make a lot of sense. And in those instances where the critics do have a point, they blow it up out of proportion, but in reality it doesn’t impact the bigger scientific picture: It stands rocksolid. Again, I ask you to imagine the hypothetical. Think of e.g. evolutionary biology being criticized by creationists; epidemiology being criticized by tobacco apologists; vaccine researchers being criticized by antivax-ers, etc. The arguments of the critics are complete bogus, but packaged such that it’s difficult for the layperson to discern who is talking real science and who is merely setting up a plausible sounding bogus story. How would you advise the scientists to communicate?

  19. Scott Mandia Says:


    Yes, I have corresponded with Watts during the Yamal indicdent and CRU hack.

    During the Yamal episode. Watts was crucifying Briffa while Briffa was in the hospital with serious kidney issues. I was trying to defend the science and used a medical analogy to drive my point home. Watts immediately posted a reply admonishing me for being so insensitive to Briffa by using this analogy. He told me that I would have to publicly apologize if I wished to keep posting there.

    I apologized even though I thought it ridiculous.

    Then I went to RC and posted what had happened. Watts got wind of it and emailed that I was being unfair to him because he was not allowed to post at RC and therefore he could not defend himself. I emailed Gavin and asked if Watts could be allowed to post and Gavin said “no problem”. I then emailed Watts to tell him to go and post.

    He never did. Sound familiar?

    Anyway, after that and then the CRU b.s., I gave up trying to be the Loyal Opposition over there.

    He has no shame, does not care about truth, and will not apologize for his mistakes. He is a sham and is doing a huge disservice to science education.

    Here is what always bothered me about Watts and McIntyre. Both of these guys begin any post with the belief that climate scientists are either:

    1) Incompetent
    2) Engaging in group-think or
    3) Conspiratorial

    Romm may be a bulldog to some, but at least he conveys the truth about the science. Would you not listen to Einstein if he were rude?

  20. Scott A Mandia Says:


    I am fond of analogies because they appear to be very effective when using them in my classroom. Here is one for you:

    Which ends up having a worse consequence?

    1) A teacher who communicates well but who is providing false and misleading information (Watts)

    2) A teacher with poor communication skills but who is providing factual information (some climate scientists)

  21. Marco Says:

    Thomas Edison, Isaac Newton, Nicola Tesla, and Robert Hooke, all brilliant scientists, who Tom Fuller most likely would have loathed. They were major colonic endparts.

  22. Tom Fuller Says:

    Okay, I’ll try and address each of your comments in order.

    Bart, is this about science or communication? If it’s about science, I say that MBH98 and MBH 99, Jones 1990 and Peterson are shown to be ‘corrupted’ (in the scientific, not legal sense) by methodological flaws. This has implications for all subsequent work referencing them and political and economic policy decisions that depended on them.

    If we are talking about communications, the problem with AR4 is not the presence of errors. It is the policy of defaming those who point them out or pretending the errors don’t exist. If responsible scientists do not condemn this practice, then they do not deserve public support. Bart Verheggen, you have a duty to the public in this case. As do your colleagues.

    And speaking of defaming critics, let’s talk about Watts and McIntyre (We’ll get to Fuller later, Marco). They have been vilified in Real Climate, Climate Progress, here in your comments and elsewhere on issues that I either know to be false (regarding their motivation) or on subjects they have later been shown to be correct on (bad siting practices for Watts, incorrect use of PCA techniques for McIntyre).

    Now this extends to an Indian scientist who Marco is willing to misinterpret, Pachauri is willing to libel, just to defend AR4. You jerks never stop.

    Scott, I have seen Anthony Watts apologise for mistakes, honor the opposition (just yesterday, for example), and try to learn on the fly. He was right on a key issue, got famous too early, and is trying to shepherd a busy site that would have anybody in over their head. I think he’s doing the very best that he can. I know that your comments about his motives are wrong. And I know that he (and McIntyre) explode Bart’s post about motivation, ideology ad absurdium.

    I think you sound very sure of your opinions about UHI. I think science has a lot more to say about it. How will you amend your comments if you are shown to be wrong? What manner of apology will you make to Mr. Watts if he is shown to have understood that UHI in U.S. land-based temperatures has been seriously underestimated? And on what is your criticism based? Jones 1990? Peterson?

    If I were on the side of the skeptics I would shut up about Romm. The old dictum about never interrupting your enemy while he’s making a mistake would apply. Romm is the worst enemy you have. Worse than Watts, worse than McIntyre. Until you learn this, you understand nothing about communicating scientific issues to the public and you should just not write about it.

    And you leave out option C for your classroom. The worst is a teacher who is sometimes right and sometimes wrong, but discourages independent thinking in the students. That describes the climate establishment today.

    Marco, do you use the same rigour in evaluating scientific propositions as you do in your Ouija board psychoanalysis?

  23. Bart Says:


    You write: “The worst is a teacher who is sometimes right and sometimes wrong, but discourages independent thinking in the students.” That would indeed be bad, but it’s not what climate scientists are doing. Of course they’re only trying to approach the truth, and sometimes coming nearer, sometimes going farther away from it. Two steps forwards, one step back.

    But independent, critical thinking is the core of science. I think you’re mistaking the current criticism on the science as being constructive; I don’t think it is. If as a scientist you’re confronted with the same nonsense for the umptieth time, then why woudl they be required to continue taking it seriously as if it has any merit?

    I repeat my question from above: How would you advise scientists to communicate in the “hypothetical” situation that the criticism is baseless?

    It is our different view of the “skeptical” criticism that is at the core of why we differ in opinion on how to communicate, I think.

  24. Scott Mandia Says:


    You need to start reading before you make comments such as those above.

    I suggest beginning here:

    Every skeptic argument ever used

    Do you understand that if every US surface station were removed from the record that there would be essentially no change in the global warming trend?

    Don’t you understand that Watts, D’Aleo, and others use the siting issue to prop up their false argument that global warming has been inflated by UHI or microclimates? Do you really believe that these folks are just concerned about siting issues?

    Don’t you understand that Watts and D’Aleo routinely flat-out state or strongly imply that scientists are engaging in fraud? Watts and D’Aleo’s recent “publication” in SPPI is a case study of their motives.

    Why do you still refer to MBH98/99 when Mann et al. (2008) and Kaufmann et al. (2009) and just about every other reconstruction shows the same result?

    Now do you see why scientists such as Jones get so frustrated? You are playing the same old broken record over and over again and it does get frustrating to keep taking so much time to set the record straight for the nth time. The problem is that your record is playing a tune that is going to get us all in big trouble down the road. It is going to be awfully difficult for you to whistle this tune while being underwater.

    You are not the honest broker you pretend to be. Please.

    I am done here.

  25. Marco Says:


    Start with Menne et al 2010 to find out that Watts’ claims are OPPOSITE to what the actual data shows:

    Click to access menne-etal2010.pdf

    Has Watts already apologised for his outrageous claim that high latitude and high altitude surface stations were removed, ON PURPOSE, to introduce a WARMING TREND? Apart from the LIE that stations were removed “on purpose” (they weren’t, and the loss of data stations was discussed already in 1997 in the scientific literature), removing those stations actually introduces a COOLING BIAS.

    Watts is shown to be wrong time after time after time after time. He also gives a platform to Steve Goddard (you know where to find tamino’s place, check for “cherry snow”), also known for his CO2 snow on Antarctica. He also gives a platform to Willis Eschenbach, who self-admitted doesn’t understand why certain corrections were made and thus(!!) claims fraud! Fraud. And then you complain about Scott and me…

    Regarding McIntyre and the hockeystick: time after time his criticisms are either shown to be valid but minor issues (ask Hans von Storch), or downright false. His attack on Briffa contains MANY flaws. Even if he ultimately admits his mistakes (I doubt he will, though), his continuous stream of prior invective language about Briffa cannot be taken back. It’s gone all over the blogosphere and all over various media. And don’t expect *them* to take it back. We’ve already seen too many such examples (and not just in climate science).

    It’s quite obvious that the language used doesn’t matter. Watts can use any vile infectives he wants, McIntyre can do the same (but more hidden, he leaves the real battle cries to his cheering crowd), but oh dear when Joe Romm uses strong language…Tom Fuller all upset!

    Watts (or any of his co-bloggers) can throw the fraud-word around all they want, Tom Fuller prefers to attack Joe Romm. If only Joe Romm would be nicer, right? Well, despite all the kindness Bart treated you with, you haven’t changed one bit. Please stop your hypocritical complaints about people’s language. The hypocrisy is screaming way too loud for anyone to miss.

  26. Tom Fuller Says:


    Yes, I understand that and have written that in articles. You need to start reading, and if you’re going to criticize me you might read what I write.

    If you think the story stops with the U.S. land surface record then you haven’t read Jones 1990 and reports of problems with Russian and Chinese measurement stations. Even if those issues are as grave as they seem, it will not eliminate all warming. It will bend the slope down, however, and eliminate one of your favorite arguments about the unprecedented quality of current warming trends.

    Most reconstructions of MBH are not independent and suffer from many of the same methodological flaws. The ones that do not show that recent warming exists and is at about twice the rate of previous warming. But Mann’s issues are with the shaft of the Hockey Stick, not the blade. It is Jones’ mistakes that affect the blade.

    Jones is frustrated not because of claims made by Watts and D’Aleo. He is frustrated because his incompetent data archiving procedures were exposed by recent events, because his failure to inform the scientific community of Wang’s incredible use of flawed Chinese weather stations has impeached his integrity, and because his emails advising colleagues to delete emails regarding FOIA requests will end his career. As it should.

    You are absolutely raving hysterical if you think we are going to be underwater. There is no science that predicts it–only Joe Romm and his junkies.

  27. Tom Fuller Says:

    Marco, well… Polo. You don’t make sense, you put words in my mouth, and you’re apparently incapable of making an argument.

    Oh, and Scott–I don’t claim to be an honest broker. I am advocating my side of a political argument. The Lukewarmer side. I am not a skeptic. I am not a warmist. I am a Lukewarmer. I am proud of it, I have reached that position independently and I think it accurately incorporates our best understanding of the science and of our policy options.

  28. Tom Fuller Says:

    Bart, criticism needs to be evaluated not by the motive of the critic, but the validity of the criticism. Wang told Jones his stations had a good record. In many cases they had no record at all. In others, the record existed but was horrible. Jones sat on this information for many years and did not inform the community. He refused to give Warwick Hughes and later Steve McIntyre the information that would have allowed them to find this out.

    Michael Mann chose not to use standard statistical analysis techniques in the construction of his temperature record. He invented a technique that was later shown to produce a hockey stick shape from random data.

    If I have to criticize this every day for the rest of my life, I will. And I don’t particularly care how it makes scientists feel.

    If you want me to support expensive and intrusive policies to mitigate and prevent further climate change, you will have to convince me that you are doing better science than that.

    One way to convince me is to condemn practices such as those I cite, others like them, and at times, the practitioners.

  29. Tom Fuller Says:

    FWIW, this is from the New York Times today: “It’s clear that the climate science community was just not prepared for the scale and ferocity of the attacks and they simply have not responded swiftly and appropriately,” said Peter C. Frumhoff, an ecologist and chief scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “We need to acknowledge the errors and help turn attention from what’s happening in the blogosphere to what’s happening in the atmosphere.”

  30. Marco Says:

    Tom, what is their NOT to understand about Watts being proven wrong; wrong as in scientific analysis showing his claims to be directly opposite to the facts?

    You claimed him to be *right* on the UHI. If you mean “right” that there is UHI…duh…no one claimed otherwise. If you mean “right” that it has an impact on the warming trend…duh…no one claimed otherwise, just that it was really small. However, that he was right that it *increases* the warming trend is outright false. But that did not stop him from making these false claims.

    I also don’t see you get all upset about his other false claims. Those were, notably, sent out into this world using words suggesting deliberate manipulation of data. Once again the facts showed him wrong.

    And what does Tom Fuller claim? “Watts was right”. No condemnation at all, actual support.

    You also claim “One way to convince me is to condemn practices such as those I cite, others like them, and at times, the practitioners.”
    Well, how believable is that when you, in the face of the outright lies of Watts, still claim he is right? When we don’t see you go on e.g. WUWT and demand they get Morano to shut up? When we don’t see you get all upset when Steve McIntyre sends in a completely wrong commentary to a public inquiry of parliament?

  31. Tom Fuller Says:

    Bart, I’m not trying to drum up traffic, but I’m wondering if you would care to comment here on a couple of articles I wrote recently. The first is a summary of what I consider the state of play and is here:

    The second is my challenge to the scientific community and is found here:



  32. Dan Olner Says:

    Tom: “If you think the story stops with the U.S. land surface record then you haven’t read Jones 1990 and reports of problems with Russian and Chinese measurement stations. Even if those issues are as grave as they seem…”

    Nope, makes almost no difference:

    So: Tom – apologies if you’ve written it elsewhere, but I’m not spending the next hour reading all your stuff. Would you mind saying here: do you except these findings –

    – and those of the paper cited there, and do you except that – as the CRU press release shows – the temperature results are hardly affected for the Chinese weather stations?

    On Mann: aren’t we past that yet? Didn’t several science bodies vindicate his findings, and didn’t the science itself move on, as Mann and others improved their techniques? These seem like things we should be able to come to agreement on fairly easily.

  33. sod Says:

    I’ve read more Oreskes than I really care to. Her effect on this debate has been pernicious. She has done a lot of harm.

    this statement is simply false. this post by Tom (“Global warming–undefeated, untied and unscored upon “), posted about a month ago, clearly demonstrates a massive lack of understanding of the Oreskes works.

    Tom basically has not read anything on Oreskes. neither had he read Peiser, when he made the false claims that he wrote in that post.

    i have given up on Tom Fuller. he does not correct the errors he makes. (another really dubious statement by him above. i only witnessed a single correction, among hundreds of errors)
    neither is he anywhere near the middle of the topic, as he continues to claim.

    Tom is just another person, trying to make money by spreading false claims about climate change.

  34. Sou Says:

    Who is Tom Fuller and why is this ratbag given so much attention in this thread?

    Having read the blog above and then his posts here, the blog fits him to a T. He says himself that he has a political stance that is in conflict with the body of science but that he’s blatantly pretending is ‘accurate’, saying: “I don’t claim to be an honest broker. I am advocating my side of a political argument. The Lukewarmer side. I am not a skeptic. I am not a warmist. I am a Lukewarmer. I am proud of it, I have reached that position independently and I think it accurately incorporates our best understanding of the science and of our policy options.”

    He also says that he engages with Watts (quite a bit from the look of things). That says it all, really.

    He’s just another ratbag denier. I’ve noticed that more deniers these days are saying human emissions of CO2 are making a difference – they’ve finally realised this can’t be denied. But they take a position that it won’t matter or that in any case we can’t do anything or even if we could do anything we don’t want socialism. Big leap to get from climate to politics, but there you go!

    They are deniers just the same – lukewarm deniers or not.

    I wouldn’t bother arguing, he’ll just keep spouting his nonsense. Trolls and those who set out to deliberately mislead are intransigent but adore the attention. Ignore them and focus on the facts and what is being done and what more can be and has to be done so we avert the worst of climate change.

    Any thinking person would quickly wake up to the fact that Fuller is spouting a lot of nonsense. He’s not changing any minds, just preaching to his faithful. Engaging with him won’t change any minds either. There are better ways to let people know what’s really happening.

    BTW I’m looking forward to reading Naomi Oreskes’ book.

  35. Former Skeptic Says:


    Been a long time lurker here and have been intrigued by your attempts at “constructive” dialogue with Fuller.

    What Fuller deems “constructive” is, IMO, something that gives him a faux credibility which he uses to frame his arguments (“Look at ME!! I’ve got a warmist scientist who actually believes I’m a gen-you-whine ‘lukewarmer’! People can now take more more seriously as a ‘reasoned’ voice in the ‘debate’!”). However, is he really what he says he is, given the looooooong list of past bizarre behavior from him documented by other climate science bloggers (as seen in RC and Deltoid and <a href=""Rabett Run and Mickey Tobis and Chris Colose and Deep Climate and Joe Romm.

    I think Tobis has described Fuller down to a tee:

    “Tom Fuller is among the people lacking much clue about science, but who is happy to write about it and to try to attract an audience. This is irresponsible, especially because he does not appear to be learning anything, and has not offered to explain how he chooses whom to trust.

    Tom Fuller is part of the problem.

    I have advised him to write about stuff he is better equipped to write about. He thinks this is insulting but it’s intended as honest and thoughtful and even kind advice. Perhaps with reading skills like he displays he ought not to be writing at all.”

    In general, these folks find Fuller’s sophistry rather disingenuous and distasteful to say the least. Yet, you wrote this about Tom all those months ago – has it really worked? To me, at least, it’s been a considerable flop, despite the immense patience and time you’ve invested in this project.

  36. Hans Erren Says:

    Who is this anonymous Sou and why is he do impolite?
    When do scientists distance themselves from this corruption of science?

  37. Marco Says:

    LOL! Hans Erren talking about being impolite…and then referring to Willis Eschenbach, who’s been caught several times claiming fraud, while being wrong on his data analysis.

    Willis Eschenbach, and WUWT in general, are prime examples of a corruption of science. Rather that calling them out, Hans Erren actually refers to them as credible critics.

  38. Bart Says:

    No namecalling please; there’s no need to call anyone a ‘ratbag’ or other such names no matter how much you disagree.

  39. Hans Erren Says:

    Who is this anonymous Marco and why is he so impolite? :-D
    When will scientists distance themselves from this corruption of science?

  40. Bart Says:

    Hans Erren,

    When will honest skeptics distance themselves from pseudo-skeptics such as Watts?

  41. Marco Says:

    Bart, forget Hans distancing himself from pseudo-skeptics. He’s already defended Monckton on Klimazwiebel. Should tell you something about the integrity of Hans Erren.

  42. JvdLaan Says:

    Indeed, Hans Erren has made so many false accusations on his blog and never comes back for an answer when cornered!

    And what about Watts, Hans, tell us please. Or do you not understand?
    Who is Hans Erren anyway?

  43. Bart Says:

    Former Skeptic,

    Your comment was caught in the spam filter for some reason; just now recoverd it.

    I’m aware of most of the other threads featuring Fuller, and I read a great deal of his posts at the Examiner. I don’t think you and I disagree much about his position. Him claiming to represent the middle ground is merely a tactic; I don’t see him as being in the middle at all. I do see him however as someone who is being lured into the “skeptical” side but who is still open to reason. An argument against that is that my persisted efforts didn’t seem to have any effect on his thinking about the science at all (at least judged from the surface). He seems very confused about what the science actually sais, but is unable to see his own confusion for what it is. In his case, it stems in large part from a strong distrust in scientists, and perhaps even more so, a strong distrust of the most vocal supporters of science in the popular debate. I.e. he takes his clues on who to trust very much on the perceived behaviour of the person.

    Silly as such a criterion may be in assessing the scientific merits of an argument, we can learn from it. Be nice, and you stand a better chance of being trusted. Look at Morano.

    I stand by what I wrote in my comment at Deltoid: I think it’s important to distinguish between different shades of grey. Fuller is no Inhofe. Calling him such is just pushing him further towards the dark side.

  44. Tom Fuller Says:

    Bart, I’ve seen you write similar things about me on other weblogs, so let’s clear a few things up.

    1. I’m not a scientist.
    2. I believe I understand what scientists write.
    3. I am not a skeptic. Greenhouse gases exist and cause warming, CO2 is a greenhouse gas, we are emitting large volumes of it, and the temperature is increasing as a result.
    4. I don’t believe you or anybody else knows what the sensitivity of our atmosphere is to a doubling of the concentration of CO2. Current evidence suggests the sensitivity is not as high as people like James Hansen claimed ten and twenty years ago.
    5. I trust individual scientists based on the same criteria that I use for trusting individuals that follow other professions, ranging from doctors to politicians. It most certainly includes perceived behaviour, but I submit it is not limited to that.
    6. I was trained by the U.S. Navy in electronics, physics and cryptography, which allows me to follow much of the scientific argument presented both on the internet and in many scientific papers. I certainly may be wrong about any or all things, just as you might. I don’t feel confused, and my readers think I’m pretty clear about how I express my opinions.
    7. You’re really dismissive of Anthony Watts and Steve McIntyre. I feel even more strongly about Tim Lambert and Joe Romm. In the same way that you feel they are pseudo-skeptics with a pre-determined agenda (and I don’t agree at all with that), I feel you are permitting school yard bullies and wannabe thugs step in front of you–and that you are the loser because of it. They (and others like them) are not defending the scientific merits of an argument–they are too busy insulting others and emitting hysterical claims that are not supported by science. But because they are, broadly speaking, on your side of the politics of the issue, you mistakenly think they are helping your cause. Time will tell who’s right, but the current state of affairs cannot be encouraging for you.
    8. I don’t think I occupy a ‘middle ground’ between skeptics and warmists. I think I am defending a third way–lukewarmer. I think the data and the science supports my position far more strongly than either James Hansen or Marc Morano. Moderate climate change due to anthropogenic global warming and other human actions is a real issue that needs to be addressed–not ignored and not blown out of all proportion.

  45. Heiko Gerhauser Says:

    Hi Tom,

    I agree with much of what you write, but your point 4 means you aren’t where the consensus of climate science is on climate sensitivity. The vast majority of climate scientists think that climate sensitivity is between 1.5 and 4.5C and that the balance of evidence indicates 3C is most likely. You deviate from that and accept the minority view that it’s likely to be much less than that. I think very few scientifically trained people claim it’s likely that climate sensitivity is 0 or that CO2 is virtually certain to have no warming effect.

    That’s where Michael Tobis or Bart are right to call you a skeptic. The problem is the packaging of the accusation, because it is much broader and includes much else of what you think about the politics of climate change, where I am broadly speaking in line with you.

  46. Tom Fuller Says:

    Hi Heiko,

    It depends on what drives the consensus, doesn’t it? I don’t see data or calculations that say 3 is most likely. I don’t see any evidence at all, let alone a balance of evidence. What evidence does anybody cite in support of any figure for sensitivity?

  47. Bart Says:


    1. I know you’re not a scientist, nor did I claim you are.

    2. You chose to discard a lot of mainstream science and trust a lot of fringe science (and accusations of the former).

    3. What’s in the word? I didn’t call you a skeptic, though your thoughts of the science are clearly very different from the mainstream scientific view. You may want to ask Watts to change your weblink from the “skeptical” links to the “lukewarmer” links if you’re so inclined.

    4. As Heiko said. You claim that sensitivity is near 1 degree per doubling (correct me if I’m wrong). That is outside the lower edge of what the most probable value is deemed to be. See eg here for evidence that it is not likely to be very different from 3. With a sensitivity of only 1, you’d have terribly difficult time explaining how the great climate shifts in the past could have happened.

    5. I think the criteria you use are not suited to distinguish scientific merit. (I’ve heard that Morano is a really nice guy)

    6. Any blogger attracts mostly people that agree with his or her position. Joe Romm could say the exact same thing.

    7. Indeed. They had a strong influence in confusing the public understanding of the science. That some people who do understand the science use harsher words than I chose to (and than I may agree with at times, see eg here and here and here) is a minor flaw in comparison to the spreading of misinformation.

    8. My recollection is that you do claim to occupy such middle ground; it’s in your definition of being a lukewarmer.

  48. Dan Olner Says:

    “It depends on what drives the consensus, doesn’t it? I don’t see data or calculations that say 3 is most likely. I don’t see any evidence at all, let alone a balance of evidence. What evidence does anybody cite in support of any figure for sensitivity?”

    Hi Tom. On that last sentence – I’m confused, could you clarify what you mean? You must be able to get hold of evidence that people cite for support of a particular conclusion on sensitivity – e.g. citations used in the IPCC. Bart has just linked to some more. Let’s see what I can find in 30 seconds…

    Oh, well, via wikipedia, here’s a pretty exhaustive historical breakdown:

    Would have like to see standard deviation or summat in that table – but a full historical list of papers up to 2006 was a google away. So, yes, could you clarify what you mean by “What evidence does anybody cite in support of any figure for sensitivity?” and why you’re asking it? If I can find the information this easily, why are you asking others to provide it? Maybe there was another question you were getting at? It’s unclear to me.

  49. Heiko Gerhauser Says:

    James Annan for example has done more formal probability calculations on what is the most likely climate sensitivity.

    Much the strongest piece of evidence against a high likelihood for a very small climate sensitivity are the ice ages, because temperature demonstrably went down by 6C, and forcings (ice sheets and greenhouse gases) can be estimated within reasonable bounds to be equivalent to about two doublings from pre-industrial. I’d rather ask, what’s the strong evidence that 3C or higher is unlikely?

  50. Dan Olner Says:

    What I’d like to know more about: is co2 forcing relatively straigtforward to model as a global aggregate? That is, can we subsume most dynamics under a simple(ish) model to get the average expected temperature change? (In the same way seasons are pretty straightforward – I know the likely average temperature six months from now, but I don’t know what the weather will be above my head in two weeks. Cf. Monckton’s ‘chaos’ ravings.)

    Is it, in fact, easier to model / predict average global co2 forcing than, say, seasonal radiative forcing? Seasons, it seems to me, are actually fiddly: they’re different for different hemispheres, and somehow result from each hemisphere getting a particular pulse of sunlight every 24 hours.

    Any nice pointers for a beginner like me would be very much appreciated!

  51. Bart Says:


    Very good point.

    Dan Olner,

    Try this post:

    The global average temp over a long enough time span is determinded by the energy balance, and eny change therein (eg from GHG, but also other factors, aerosols, solar, etc). For CO2 the forcing is RF = 5.35 ln(CO2/CO2_orig), which you can multiply by the sensitivity (temp change per unit forcing) to get the equilibrium temp change that will eventually result (with a lag time of several decades)

  52. Tom Fuller Says:

    Dan Olner,

    I have seen the link you provided to estimates of sensitivity. I asked for evidence. I note that the very first citation in the table is incorrect. They list Arrhenius as estimating 5.5, conveniently ignoring his later recalculations that are much lower. Estimates (especially incorrectly cited estimates) are not the same as evidence.

  53. Tom Fuller Says:

    Bart, you claim I trust fringe science. What fringe science do you refer to?

  54. Tom Fuller Says:

    Bart, did you actually read the link you referred me to on sensitivity? It most certainly does not offer evidence and in fact goes on at great length about the uncertainties involved in current estimates.

  55. Dan Olner Says:

    OK, Tom. You seem to keep on asking people to provide you with information, but – for my part at least – I’m having trouble working out what it is you want. The first table entry isn’t wrong, it refers to Arrhenius’ paper listed below the table. A lot of the estimates are indeed a lot lower than the first.

    But that’s entirely beside the point. It doesn’t really matter – my point was, I suspect you will find what climate scientists consider “evidence” in the papers they have produced on climate sensitivity. It was easy to find a list of such papers.

    So: it seems to me it’s easy to find what climate scientists consider evidence; I’m wondering what sort of evidence you’re asking for?

    You specifically asked “What evidence does anybody cite in support of any figure for sensitivity?” What I’m not getting is why you ask that, when you can find “what evidence anybody cites” by looking at e.g. any of the papers I linked to.

    I haven’t gone through the papers myself to pull out what the authors consider evidence and spoon-fed it to you, because I want to try and work out why you’re not attempting this yourself, and asking others to do it for you?

  56. Tom Fuller Says:

    Dan, perfectly legitimate point on your part. I ask for help because I work 80 hours a week at a job and if someone knows where something is, it helps me a lot. If you don’t know where it is, that’s my problem, not yours.

    By evidence I do not refer to calculations of supposed sensitivity. I’m looking for observed changes in the concentrations of water vapour and other GHGs over the same period that we are seeing elevated concentrations of CO2 and temperature rises.

  57. Marco Says:

    @Dan and Tom:
    I think we’re running into a semantic discussion here. The ‘estimate’ by Arrhenius (whichever) was based purely on physical calculations without having knowledge on most aspects. Others have taken it further and used observations combined with the physical understanding to determine the effect of various forcings. For example, big volcano eruptions can be used to determine the forcing of volcano eruptions. Measurements of TSI and its changes have been used to determine its forcing. Etc. Etc. Etc. They’ve been cross-checked on many occasions. The uncertainty in the estimates often comes from the uncertainty in the temperature increases/decreases that were observed (along with the chaotic nature of the system).

    This would be considered evidence to most scientists. Many people, however, don’t see this as evidence, but merely gobbledegook math. Or magic. Evidence is putting a load of CO2 in the air, and temperature going up. Unfortunately, that’s not how real life on earth works…

  58. Dan Olner Says:

    Hmm… well, water vapour: the data’s out there –

    I can only find a visualisation for 2005 –

    But that does include: “With new observations, the scientists confirmed experimentally what existing climate models had anticipated theoretically. The research team used novel data from the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite to measure precisely the humidity throughout the lowest 10 miles of the atmosphere. That information was combined with global observations of shifts in temperature, allowing researchers to build a comprehensive picture of the interplay between water vapor, carbon dioxide, and other atmosphere-warming gases.”

    Which seems to be just the sort of combination of theory and measurement we’d want. Great article, actually: I didn’t know about the new water vapour measurement methods. Well… they’re no longer new, but still.

  59. Heiko Gerhauser Says:

    Hi Tom,

    well, it would be nice to have a good record of past relative moisture across the atmosphere, but unfortunately we do not have that.

    Now suppose for the moment that relative moisture does vary a little, rather than being flat line constant in the global average. A little downward wiggle then hardly constitutes good proof that for a much larger, sustained forcing relative moisture will go down sufficiently to keep absolute humidity constant. I think that it’s possible, but that’s not the same as overwhelmingly likely.

    Wouldn’t you at least acknowledge that there is a majority climate science position on climate sensitivity and that on climate sensitivity you clearly tend to the low end of scientific thought on the issue?

    I myself think that the current marginal damage costs of CO2 emissions are close to 0, and that warming of 2C is likely to be a net positive for humanity. And I am quite aware that this is towards the more optimistic end of the estimates in the literature.

  60. Tom Fuller Says:

    First, thanks for the references–I do appreciate them. Second, Heiko, of course I agree there is a consensus among climate scientists regarding sensitivity, and I do recognise that ‘my’ estimate is at the low end. (I put my in quotation marks because I did not perform any calculations to arrive at that, taking Stephen Schneider’s prediction that if we were lucky, that would be the case and Richard Lindzen’s thinking that it would be the maximum possible–that’s how non-scientists do these kind of things.)

    I am aware of observations following Pinatubo and I corresponded with Andrew Dressler (and Roger Pielke Sr.) regarding AIRS. But I didn’t come away with any knowledge that atmospheric sensitivity to changes in CO2 concentrations had been demonstrated. I got the impression that people were looking at it closely but that more work was needed. I will go back and look.

    Thanks again for the links.

    One final note–I often see people trying to claim Arrhenius as an early predictor for (melo) dramatic global warming, referring to his 1895 paper. (Most recently John Rennie in Scientific American) I find it unconscionable that they blithely ignore his recalculations of 1906. Al Gore did it in An Inconvenient Truth as well. This is the kind of political tactic that costs you large amounts of credibility in discussions. Every time I call someone on it, they then immediately say well, his calculations were not complete, it doesn’t matter, etc. To which my question is why did you bring Arrhenius up in the first place?

  61. Bart Verheggen Says:


    I commented the following on your blog a while ago:

    “To estimate the equilibrium (Charney) sensitivity, the climate forcing needs to be known as well as the climate response after it’s had time to settle into a new equilibrium. For a slowly changing forcing such as we’re experiencing now, the equilibration time is long but not accurately known, and neither is the aerosol forcing, so 20th century data are not particularly useful. Collecting better or more temperature data is not going to help.

    Climate sensitivity is primarily constrained by paleo-climate data, while the climate response following a volcanic eruption is also a useful indicator from what I’ve understood. These constraints leave some more wiggle room at the upper end than at the lower end. Combining multiple constraints together leads to a most likely value of 3 deg for a doubling of CO2 (See eg James’ empty blog). Climate models also converge on this value (+/- 1). This has been a remarkable stable estimate over the course of decades, while the uncertainty hasn’t decreased significantly. Perhaps it won’t anytime soon. And perhaps that doesn’t matter too much as far as policy goes, because even with a realistic low estimate we’re still way behind in our policy response.”

    It’s worth noting that estimates based on different periods in the earth’s past converge to a value not too far away from 3 deg per doubling. Estimates from physical principles (as parametrized in models) agree. Yes there is uncertainty, of course.

    As for Dessler’s comment: A scientist will always say that more research is necessary; they are curious by nature and by profession; they’ll never be satisfied as in “ok, now we know enough, we can all go swimming”. But don’t confuse that with knowing nothing, or that all estimates are equally likely or equally consistent with the evidence. They are not.

    Some of Dessler’spaper on the water vapor feedback:

    Click to access Dessler2008b.pdf

    Click to access dessler09.pdf

    Generic discussion of sensitivity:

    Based on a very good paper combining several constraints to arrive at a stronger constraint:

  62. Tom Fuller Says:

    Well, I wrote an article about atmospheric sensitivity for you all to throw tomatoes at, if you’re of a mind to.

  63. Heiko Gerhauser Says:

    Hi Bart,

    it seems to me that Tom has moved significantly on climate sensitivity, away from 3C is near nigh impossible to quite credible. And I do understand the problem for non scientists. James Annan can say that it’s 90%+ probable that sensitivity is above 2C, but for the non scientist who sees other credible opinions, and has limited ability to judge whether Lindzen or Annan is right, it’s necessary to make an assessment of the probability that James Annan might be wrong. And I also understand that this doesn’t get done formally with an actual probability distribution as the outcome.

    Tom’s article is interesting. This whole insurance issue heavily hangs on whether there is any cost to waiting and what the cost of action is. If there isn’t any cost involved in waiting, but well in action, even a 5% probability is low enough to wait.

    Recently, there was a debate on Dutch television, and a left leaning politician said something like: “Even if climate change is a complete hoax, should you not support carbon free and clean energy anyway?”

    Clearly, to get support for negative cost action doesn’t require much.

    On the other hand, if you believe action is going to get people killed and there are no real regrets involved in waiting, you’ll want certainty. Hey you may not even be convinced by certainty if you think the action being demanded is immoral and disproportionate compared to the danger.


    Climate change scientists can sometimes come across like used car salesmen trying to close the deal. How do you do that? Impose an artificial deadline that isn’t real, so that people are made to feel the cost of waiting is high.

  64. Tom Fuller Says:

    If y’all had read more of what I had written you would have known I was advocating that stuff from day one.

  65. Heiko Gerhauser Says:

    Hi Tom,

    who to trust is a tough one, what I would say is that Lindzen or Christie appear much more like stealth advocates than James Annan. Or in other words, I think they’d prefer the public to move in a certain direction and are therefore tempted to present the uncertainties in a way that does move the public in that direction.

    I do not think James Annan has a bias either up or down. In so far as I think him biased, it’s that he’s got his pride invested in his work, and said work is about narrowing the probability distribution down by adding together several constraints. So I have some question marks about the near zero probabilities he assigns to 1C and 6C.

    I also do have some ability to judge the merits of their scientific arguments, and so my opinion is not just based on these “who should you trust” type arguments, but also on the raw science.

  66. Dan Olner Says:

    Sorry, knowing this risks a wild tangent – Tom, you end your (pretty reasonable) article with a plug for your book, and you favourably quote someone saying: “It reports actual email communications of a small group of paleoclimatologists and their roles in perhaps the biggest scientific hoax since Piltdown Man.”

    I’m at a loss to understand how you expect to be taken seriously when you post this sort of thing.

  67. Tom Fuller Says:

    Hi Dan,

    Yes, we do risk going off on a tangent here. Do you want to pursue or let it drop? Either is fine for me.

  68. Tom Fuller Says:

    Heiko, I would never advise one of my clients to commit funds or resources to resolving an issue with the level of uncertainty associated so far with sensitivity of the climate, especially at a time when real world observations are not trending with the projections on offer.

    If a client demanded that I vote up or down on radical action on an issue such as this, given the level of information available, I would say at this point not to risk the organisation on it. If asked for prescriptive advice I would say:

    Weatherise homes and offices.
    Improve gas mileage for cars and trucks (and planes and ships).
    Increase attractiveness of public transportation (including rethinking the zoning of residence/business in many urban areas).
    Invest in research and development on related issues.
    Put a price on carbon and don’t worry overly much on what the initial price is.
    Quit cutting down forests and provide real incentives so that others can choose not to do so without risking their health and families.
    Use financial and insurance incentives to reduce and/or safeguard development in threatened areas.
    Get better data on performance of climate.

    All very Bjorn Lomborg-ish, I know, but the level and quality of information to date does not justify more at this point of time.

  69. Tom Fuller Says:

    Dan, well I’ll try and engage on my book and promoting it.

    1. Climategate is a real, honest to goodness scandal involving intentional wrong-doing. Directors don’t step down and parliamentary committees don’t convene for no reason at all. The book we wrote documents much more than just snide gossip between scientists, and was read by parliamentarians and mentioned during the recent hearings. If you do believe that this is all much ado about nothing then either you haven’t read the emails (or any of several available analyses free on the internet) or there is a blind spot in your moral vision. The fact that both Steve Mosher and myself have frequently said that what we found does not attack the underpinnings of climate science has been misinterpreted by some to mean that there was nothing to see here. That is not the case.

    The final scope of the wrong-doing during Climategate has yet to be determined. It is not going to be minimal.

    2. When promoting a book it is useful to use a review. This review is more incendiary than one I would write myself. However, it is what I have available. Remember that I have a co-author whose views are not exactly the same as mine. I suppose I could have used one of the reviews from Real Climate readers trashing my character and the book that were published before the book was available for order…

  70. Tom Fuller Says:

    And Dan, the hoax referred to by the reviewer was real. Michael Mann wrote that neither he nor any scientist he had ever heard of had ever done anything as unorthodox as grafting separate data sources in a visual display of information in replacement of proxy information. However, the ‘trick’ that ‘hid the decline’ of proxy data was just that. The hoax was that this was presented to policy makers without explanation that would have placed the level of uncertainty about the data in explicit and proper perspective. They hid their scientifically unorthodox behaviour behind an asterisk in presenting this data.

    I will leave it to you to decide if there have been greater scandals since Piltdown. I would vote for Lysenkoism myself. But that was the reviewer’s impression. And I really doubt that if the reviewer had written that Climategate was the biggext hoax since Lysenkoism that you would feel much better about things.

  71. Dan Olner Says:

    Tom: just reading Matt Ridley’s review of the Hockey Stick illusion via climate audit. I would dearly love to get to a level of understanding where I can say with 100% certainty what I know to be true. For now, I’m going on what I know so far – that the quality of analysis on the ‘skeptic’ side is generally pretty awful (Tamino’s proof that a WUWT contributor unintentionally turned GISS data upside down is my current favourite. How can those people dare say *anything* about data???)

    But I wouldn’t want to make the mistake of thinking because there are fools on one side, there are none on the other. Same for the emails: from what I’ve seen, I’ve only come across frustration at FOI requests, nothing more dastardly than that.

    It would be nice to have a conversation with a reasonable ‘skeptic’; generally when I try to discuss anything at WUWT, for instance, it’s not long before I’m called a warmist troll or worse. It can’t be *that* hard to get at the facts, or at least to the nuggets that most embody our differences. E.g. anyone who reads “even if means redefining the meaning of peer review” as in any way sinister – well, I can see how you would, but its rubbish. How is anyone in a position to do that? They’re not. It’s a joke. It’s also clear to me that a professor would know it’s impossible to delete university server emails.

    Aaanyway, I’ll leave it there. If you happen to have what you consider the most damning bits of evidence, it’d be great to see them. (Sorry, I won’t be buying the book!) Slight guilt for doing it in these comments but hey, where else?

  72. Tom Fuller Says:

    Hi Dan,

    Well, I’ll give you what I’ve got. I won’t touch what I call procedural issues about freedom of information and influencing peer-review processes. The issue that touches the science is, as I mentioned above, the use of tree rings for reconstruction of a temperature record for the past 1,000 years.

    What the Team at CRU did was to mask the level of uncertainty that should be attached to their reconstruction. They did this by removing the recent period from the tree ring results and replacing it with the actual temperature record. They did this because the tree ring data had a strong and noticeable downward slope. Although the temperature record had a strong upward slope (yes, temperatures have risen since the Fifties), that wasn’t as important as removing the mistaken signal in the tree ring data.

    This was presented in the Summary for Policy Makers without adequate notification as to what they did and why they did it. The result supported rhetoric about the current warming being unprecedented without allowing reasonable people to question the range of uncertainty about the tree ring data. In fact, Keith Briffa said in one of the emails that he thought that the Medieval Warming Period was warmer than today.

    Their defence, when caught, was that this decline in the tree ring data was discussed in the literature–and it was, although it has not been adequately explained. The problem with their defence is that the discussion was not referenced for policy makers, and that the temperature record that replaced the truncated tree ring data was physically arranged to mask the truncation. They used a ‘trick’ (replacing data) to ‘hide the decline.’

    It was not accidental, and it was not coincidence. It was an attempt to cover up the defects of the temperature reconstruction to support claims that the current temperature rise is unprecedented and warrants dramatic policy measures to address it.

    The consequences are serious. If the current rise in temperatures is not unprecedented in the historical record, competing claims involving natural variability (which are convenient for environmental activists today when discussing the past 10 years) must be considered alongside anthropogenic contributions as a possible explanation for what has happened.

    Concealing the uncertainty of the record used to demonstrate current warming is as anti-scientific an action as one can imagine. And the emails detail that this was a deliberate attempt to achieve this effect.

    It’s all out there on the internet if you want to read the emails. There is no ambiguity about what they did, no possible mistakes of interpretation. And it worked like a charm, until someone leaked the emails.

  73. Tom Fuller Says:

    Dan, addressing your comments about the quality of skeptical analysis, as attempts to get more data out in the open bear fruit, there should be an improvement in the quality of analyses by some of the better skeptics. I’m sure you’ll continue to see a lot of garbage out there, but currently the data is held by institutions strongly supportive of the current explanations about climate change, and meta data and descriptions of how results are achieved have been difficult to come by.

    However, at the end of the day I think we will be left with human emissions of CO2 causing part of the observed warming (I also think land use and deforestation will be considered significant contributors). The area for intelligent debate will be future impacts before emissions begin to level off around 2100 due to population stabilization and continuing decarbonisation of technology. This, by the way, is the position of many people who are labeled as skeptics or deniers or baby killers, such as McIntyre, Lomborg, Watts and both Pielkes. It’s also my position.

  74. steven mosher Says:

    If you actually look at the publishing tactics outline in “doubt is their product” you will see that the Team practiced most of the techniques used by large medical companies to twist science.

    Its in our book, in the section about how funding impacts climate science. Its not what you think.

  75. Bart Verheggen Says:

    Steven Mosher,

    Look at the bulletpoints that describe the tactics used. Are you trying to tell me with a straight face that it’s the scientists using those tactics rather than the “skeptics”?

  76. Tom Fuller Says:

    Bart, as Steve’s co-author, let me jump in. He is, and he’s correct. What Oreskes observed and ‘Doubt is Their Product’ described was not new and not limited to big industry trying to delay legislation based on science.

    It is typical organisational behaviour in reaction to existential threat, and existed long before Big Tobacco, Naomi Oreskes and climate change.

    In this case the organisation threatened was diffuse–those individual scientists and institutions that had committed to a hard-edged view of global warming. But the threat is the same faced by Big Tobacco, the mechanisms for defence that were available were similar, so naturally the behaviour is easy to compare.

    The skeptics’ hands are not clean in this aspect. Especially in the early days of the struggle, the conservative think tanks used some of those tactics. But they were quickly marginalized by events and the birth of the blogosphere. Steven is actually correct in his description. And it is in fact described in our book.

  77. Peter Wilson Says:

    I am a follower of most of the major “sceptic” blogs, and like Tom and Steve, I can recognise absolutely none of the behaviours you accuse them of. Almost all the reputable sceptic blogs are scrupulous in their maintenance of civility, none more so than Climate Audit and WUWT.

    The “distortions” of science you imagine are totally lacking, and I challenge you to be specific in casting such accusations, lest you appear to be merely petulant. It is true that some commentators have clear political views, as they have on all alarmist blogs, but if you want to see arrogant childish name calling and shameless deception, blogs like Climate Progress and Desmog will satisfy that craving far better.

    In response to the new urban myth which you promote, of a well funded sceptical conspiracy (funded by the oil companies in most versions), I would ask what you think it is that the sceptics have done that actually costs any money. The corruption at the heart of what you call “Climate Science” (but is not really science at all) has been exposed by citizens sitting at their own computers, doing the auditing of the actual data that the “scientists” should have done years ago. All it has cost is their time, for which we all owe them a profound debt of gratitude

  78. Dan Olner Says:

    Peter Wilson:

    “Almost all the reputable sceptic blogs are scrupulous in their maintenance of civility, none more so than Climate Audit and WUWT.”

    That’s odd: I’ve been called a warmist troll and worse over at WUWT when I tried to discuss anything against the grain. I even argued for civility and got that stuff in the face. Now, they do have moderators, so they don’t need to let that stuff through, or could request civility – but that never happens. The abuse is allowed. I’ve commented when there are basic errors of fact – quite simple ones – like people mistaking absolute atmospheric levels of CO2 for the airborne fraction of CO2. What am I supposed to think about people (including the blog owner) who are one click away from knowing when they’ve made a simple error, but rather than say “oh yes, good point, I’ll stick a little update in” either ignore or abuse you?

    “The “distortions” of science you imagine are totally lacking.” What about, say:


    Where Watts doesn’t even manage to make clear the *most basic* stats 101 point about statistical signifance? Or, my personal favourite –


    So: the WUWT poster concludes that “since near the end of 2001, there has been no “net” global warming or cooling” from an analysis where (seemingly unwittingly) they take the GISS data and, through some convoluted route, just turn it upside down.

    Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt. Fine: they don’t quite know what they’re doing, and they could correct it once pointed out, as should happen in *all* science. Has this happened? Does this ever happen on WUWT?

  79. Peter Wilson Says:


    So you’ve been called a troll, oh dear. Given the degree of abuse handed out at warmist blogs, I think a somewhat thicker skin is in order. I dont recall you, but there are a number of “trolls” at WUWT – they are argued with, and sometimes baited, but Charles the moderator would never let them be abused in the way Joe Romm abuses people, for instance.

    Re distortions, is that seriously the best you can do? Phil Jones said what he said, and did what he did and no amount of spin doctoring or shut eyed denial can change that. I for one do understand statistical significance, and Jones was only forced to admit what can not be denied. To call simply reporting Jones’s embarrassment a distortion is fundamentally dishonest.

    Being unprepared to comment on your other example, I wont, but will note that your final paragraph could so well be applied to the entire “climate science” community – once the egregious errors in the hockey stick and surface data sets were established, they could have corrected them and moved on, but did they? The near universal reaction was outright, shut eyed denial, coupled with vicious attacks on those who have since been proven correct.

    The climate science community stands utterly condemned for their complicity in, and apologetics for, the shameful distortion of science committed in the name of climate change alarmism.

  80. Dan Olner Says:

    You said –

    “Almost all the reputable sceptic blogs are scrupulous in their maintenance of civility, none more so than Climate Audit and WUWT.”

    I was just pointing out that’s not true. I don’t condone any abuse or lack of civility, from anyone; I don’t want to weigh different sites’ abuse with you. If you could acknowledge that your statement I just quoted isn’t accurate, though, I’d appreciate it. Scrupulous in their maintenance of civility they are not.

    What exactly did Phil Jones say? You’ve read the original BBC story, yes? You say you understand statistical significance – so you know what it means when someone says “there’s been so statistically significant warming?” And you know that’s different to “there’s been no warming?” And you know, if you change the start year to 1994, it does then become statistically significant at the 95% level?

    Aren’t those all really important things? This is kind of a good example for you and me, perhaps – because I cannot in any way see how anyone could not condone *just* reposting that Daily Mail article without saying anything about the clear stats101-based deception it perpetrated (see Economist link). I mean – if a scientist cannot mention something involving this most basic of stats points without being misrepresented, how can they be expected to be open, as everyone claims they want them to be? Could you explain that to me?

    “Being unprepared to comment on your other example”… why not? You don’t need to understand the method they used, you can just see that they ended up turning the GISS data upside down. Are you OK with that? Are you OK with the fact that, after this was pointed out both in the comments and on Tamino’s blog, no correction of any sort seems to have followed?

    I’ve been enjoying talking to Tom here: I feel he’s made a clear statement to me on what he believes happened with the hockey stick, and I’m prepared to give the benefit of the doubt. I haven’t dug into it as much as he has. I have read the abstract of the original mann paper –

    “We focus not just on the reconstructions, but the uncertainties therein, and important caveats. Though expanded uncertainties prevent decisive conclusions for the period prior to AD 1400, our results suggest that the latter 20th century is anomalous in the context of at least the past millennium.”

    Click to access mbh99.pdf

    So, Tom Fuller’s hypothesis – we get from this very tenuous dipping-of-toes into the issue with “uncertainties preventing decisive conclusions”, couched in caveats, to a situation where there’s outright manipulation. Not impossible – I’m just trying to put together the pieces on how anyone has concluded it’s so. I don’t see it. Any useful tips gratefully received.

    On surface temperatures – could you be more specific? Last I read, for e.g. WUWT’s US analysis, if anything there was a very slight cooling bias, but at any rate nothing alarmingly different to previous analyses. I’ll provide you with a link to that paper too, if you like. But maybe you’re talking about other surface temperature reccords?

  81. Bart Verheggen Says:

    Peter Wilson,

    I made the claim that there are anti-scientific tactics being used in the attacks on science, and that they are similar to previous and other anti-scientific attacks (eg in the health arena). The point was not that skeptics are all in it for the money. A mix of ideology and psychology often explains a great deal.

    Just some examples on some “skeptic” blogs I’ve read:
    – A continuous stream of attacks on climate science in general (recycled here by you) and on individual scientists in particular. These attacks are usually unfounded and based on innuendo.
    – Two posts of McIntyre with the titles: “Is Gavin Schmidt lying?” and “Try not to puke” (featuring a picture of Mike Mann).
    – Lubos Motl calling climate scientists fascists. Can’t recall the post, but it was extreme. The spit was coming out of the screen.

    In next comments, refrain from calling a whole field of science corrupted. This is no place for baseless smears of that kind. Start reading e.g. if you’re interested in learning how the science developed. It’s a very good and informative read.

  82. Marco Says:

    @Peter Wilson:
    Allow me to add another issue that undermines your claim of civility on WUWT: claims of fraud and data manipulation are not very civil. In particular when you do not acknowledge and apologise for false claims.

    Watts has been given the opportunity to apologise for his false claim that NCDC deliberately removed high latitude and altitude stations from the GHCN, and he has been given the opportunity to apologise for his false claim that removing such stations results in a spurious warming trend.

    His failure to apologise shows he is not civil.

  83. Tom Fuller Says:

    I’m moving to your general thread, Bart. I would like to discuss how to have a weblog conversation in a civil manner while dealing with hostile interruptions. Your incredibly good thread with VS et al is a perfect example. It’s probably easier for me to see in this case, as the same people who were the ‘aggressors’ on that thread have gone after me in the past, but I’m perfectly aware that what I’ll be talking about is common to both sides. See you over there.

  84. Mike Says:

    [Edit: No personal attacks please. BV]

  85. Tom Fuller Says:

    Hi Mike,

    Thanks for the example.

  86. Peter Wilson Says:


    As far as I am aware, Anthony Watts and Joe D’Leo have not apologised for that assertion because no evidence has been offered that it is untrue. The pattern of station dropout remains highly suspicious, and more to the point unexplained by NOAA. What is to apologise for?
    “In next comments, refrain from calling a whole field of science corrupted. This is no place for baseless smears of that kind.” I agree that baseless smears, such as those you frequently make against sceptics, have no place in the debate, but I am happy to back up that particular comment. When the whole climate science establishment is willing to excuse, condone or even applaud the blatant corruption of the peer review process, deliberate distortion of data, character assassination of opponents and hiding of politically inconvenient results, of which there is damning evidence both in the leaked CRU emails and elsewhere, what other conclusion is appropriate?

    [Reply: Back up your assertions or take it elsewhere. No more of this. BV]

  87. Dan Olner Says:

    Peter, you didn’t respond to any of my points…?

  88. Peter Wilson Says:


    Sorry to have skipped addressing your post. Regardless of the fact we obviously disagree, its refreshing to debate with people who will actually try to put up an argument rather than shout one down. For that I commend you, and Bart.

    I don’t intend to continue a “he said, she said” over the civility issue – I hope we can both agree that more civility is in order from both sides.

    With regard to Phil Jones’ comments, of course you are correct that if you take it back another year the trend becomes significant – why do you think we keep saying “no significant trend for 15 years? Obviously its because that is the longest period for which one can say that. Of course going back further takes one into the period when Earth was cooled by Mt Pinatubo, so a significant trend is to be expected for that period, as we find. Recovering from a volcanic cooling can hardly be blamed on CO2 though, now can it?

    I am unprepared to comment on Tamino’s critique of the WUWT article in question because I have insufficient expertise to do so, and I don’t hold forth on any subject to which my competence does not extend. If it comes to a question of credibility though, [edit] Tamino might take the same advice, as he has been publicly taught too many humiliating lessons in basic statistics to give his analysis too much credence.

    Your comments on the hockey stick paper might have some validity if Mann et al had continued to exercise the same caution, but history shows that they did not. Instead, when their analysis was comprehensively criticised (I will refrain from using the very overworked term debunked), first by Macintyre & McKitrick, then by Wegman (which criticism was then confirmed by the NAS report, regardless of what Mann has said since – you can check it out), Mann and his many co-authors and supporters closed ranks, defended the clearly mistaken methodology used, and attacked those honest scientists who pointed out the errors.

    Not a good look for climate “science” at all

  89. Peter Wilson Says:


    You saying I have no backing for my assertions does not make it so. A very complete summary of the backing for my comment is contained in the excellent book written by your sparring partners Tom Fuller and Steve Mosher called Climategate: The CRUtape Letters. Further detailed support can be found in “The Hockey Stick Illusion” by Anthony Montford.

    These require wading through a great deal of detail, but having done so, the conclusions are inescapable.

    But hey, big ups to you guys for actually having the cojones to debate, at least you realise it ain’t over!

  90. Bart Verheggen Says:

    Peter Wilson,

    I do hope you realize that the popular debate (in the news media and blogs for example) is entirely divorced from the scientific discourse (in the scientific literature conferences).

    See also

  91. Peter Wilson Says:


    You are quite wrong about that, although it does depend on which scientific literature you refer to. For a start, to suggest that the scientific discourse, as you put it, is honest, unbiased and unequivocally supportive of CAGW is nonsense. I recommend you cast a quick eye over the following link if you believe the scientific literature is unanimous.

    No, I don’t expect you to read all 450 papers, just to stop repeating this transparently false assertion that all climate scientists agree. That is, after all, a bit like saying all the bishops of the Catholic church agree that God exists. They wouldn’t let you in otherwise.

    [Reply: Not all, but the vast majority do agree on the basic tenets of AGW. See e.g. here, here and here a list of published climate scientists inclusing their signing of either ‘activist’ or ‘skeptic’ statements and here a survey of scientists (grouped by relevance) and the public at large for comparison.

    Your list of papers is not an unbiased sample of the climate literature. Half seem to come from E&E (not considered a peer reviewed journal) and other obscure literature such as the electricity journal or Iron & Steel Technology. I don’t think those article were reviewed by climate scientists. Some others that made the list are not actually challenging the mainstream scientific view (e.g.; I’m sure there are more. Basically, the list is a not-so-random walk through the limited landscape of contrarian authors.

    There is an overwhelming scientific consensus on climate change, notwithstanding some outlier opinions that exist in most fields of societial importance (evolutionary biology, health sciences).

    Everyone who adheres to the scientific methods is welcome to do science. Don’t make silly church-like statements.

    This is the last time I’m asking you to quit blanket statements about a whole scientific field being dishonest and the like. Take such accusations elsewhere. BV]

  92. Peter Wilson Says:


    Further to my recent post, I should also point out that it also depends which parts of the popular debate you refer to. On the sceptic side there are many fine, rational scientific blogs, but also, as always, some of lesser credibility. I for one wish Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck would find some other issue to beat up liberals with, but I recognise that climate change provides them with too many easy point scoring opportunities to pass up. And I also strongly object when creationists try to piggy back on this issue to try to get their nonsense back into classrooms. Just because they are on our side doesn’t mean we are on their side!

    Of course, this is not limited to the sceptic side. Are you not embarrassed by the repeated idiocies uttered by such AGW leaders as Al Gore, Tim Flannery or David Suzuki, to name a few? They will find no support whatever for their many outlandish claims in the scientific literature (20 metre sea level rise anyone?), but I don’t hear anyone fro your side leaping to correct these falsehoods.

    For another example, the sceptic community was aware of the Himalayan glacier issue long before it was supposedly uncovered by IPCC scientists, so how could the entire world climate community have missed such an obvious “error”?

    The answer there, of course, is that despite having been warned, they put it in for political effect, as the lead author in question has admitted. In other words, it wasn’t an error at all, was it?

    [Reply: Don’t be silly. BV]

  93. Dan Olner Says:

    Peter, lots to talk about there. Let’s stick with the Himalaya claim though. A quick look at realclimate…

    From there we learn the Himalaya claim was in volume 2, that the error was picked up by another IPCC author, that the claim is “not the proper IPCC projection of future glacier decline, which is found in Volume 1 of the report,” where you can find the actual ice-related science (45 pages of it). Then –

    – where we find out that the erroneous claim never made it into the synthesis report, or the summary for policy-makers.

    So, let’s state your hypothesis: “they put it in for political effect.” OK: who did? If you mean whoever used that claim in volume 2, they weren’t very successful. It certainly can’t be the case, can it, that others in the IPCC put it there for political effect – otherwise, why leave it out of the policy-makers’ summary and the synthesis report? And why leave in the (accurate and extensive) science in volume 1?

  94. Peter Wilson Says:


    Funny, I don’t recall in any of the publicity surrounding the AR4 that they said anything to the effect that ‘only some of this is accurate”. When you state that every word has been carefully vetted by 2500 top scientists, we are entitled to believe that means all of it. And if you think that is the only “error”, or that these are confined to any particular part of the report, you haven’t been keeping up have you? Jo Nova’s blog is a good educational resource on this issue.


    The fact that some of these papers have not been reviewed by the climate clique centred on CRU should enhance their credibility rather than the opposite. Much of the problem with climate science, as exposed in the Wegman report, is that climate scientists accept little guidance or oversight from anyone outside their immediate discipline, whereas closer communication with experts in the fields of statistics, forecasting and econometric modelling in particular would greatly improve the quality of the research being carried out.

    I do not wish to offend you, but your insistence that climate scientists be treated with a respect that many (not all) clearly do not deserve, and most pointedly deny to others, is a bit rich I feel. But hey, its your blog…

    [Reply: Now here‘s an “error” that actually touches on a central issue of the IPCC and made it into the SPM. As opposed to errors (some real, some merely alleged) in illustrative examples buried deep in wg2 without bearing on the major message. See here my take on the 2035 error.


    Collaboration with and input from people from different disciplines can be very contructive to the further strenghening of our knowledge, and is occurring all the time. People originating from lots of disciplines related to climate and data analysis got involved. But this only works if they adhere to the scientific methods and common decency. Insinuating that a whole scientific field is fraudulous is not constructive, nor decent nor rational.

    OTOH, people who bend the relevant science around, engage in personal attacks of scientists, and who seem to mainly cater to their fanclubs who will grasp at any straw no matter how thin in order to erroneously claim “no there is no AGW” do not provide a constructive contribution. To the contrary. BV]

  95. Marco Says:

    Allow me to add a little additional comment on that list of 450 papers, or rather, a challenge to Peter Wilson:
    The list contains at least one peer-reviewed publication in a reputable journal of which one of the conclusions is that the 3 degrees climate sensitivity of doubling CO2 may be TOO LOW.

    Yep, very skeptical of CAGW indeed, a higher climate sensitivity…

  96. Marco Says:

    It looks like discussions with Peter Wilson are completely useless, considering his reference to Jo Nova as a credible source.

    Peter, I’m going to specify and expand my challenge:
    1. Find the paper I referred to above. Should not be too difficult, there are not that many really reputable journals on the list (especially since you can strike Energy&Environment of that list, immediately removing 20%). It will give you some starting insight on the selection criteria for that list.

    2. Find the impact factors of the journals that are on that list. This will give you an idea which journals are more likely to contain credible information.

    3. Put a line somewhere, say anything below an impact factor of 1.5 you just discard (this leaves the International Journal of Climatology in, which is being generous from my side).

    4. Remove the comments/commentaries, editorials, or other opinions (unlike what your quoted webside does), these are NOT peer-reviewed

    5. For the few papers left, check if rebuttals have appeared (Lindzen&Choi? Demolished already. McLean et al? Could not even get their response to the rebuttal published, it was so bad. Douglass et al? shown wrong, too).

    6. For the very few left after that, check what exactly they are skeptical about.

    You’ll probably end up with some papers that put climate sensitivity to about 2 degrees, some that question whether hurricanes may increase (in magnitude and/or number), or that a specific region gets wetter/drier. That kind of stuff.

    Very skeptical indeed…

  97. Dan Olner Says:

    Peter: “Funny, I don’t recall in any of the publicity surrounding the AR4 that they said anything to the effect that ‘only some of this is accurate”.

    1. That’s because the vast majority of it was accurate, save a a very small number of errors – see my next point.

    “When you state that every word has been carefully vetted by 2500 top scientists, we are entitled to believe that means all of it.”

    2. I don’t think I *did* state “every word has been carefully vetted by 2500 top scientists”. Who are you thinking of? Though, given the size of the report, they did pretty well, didn’t they?

    On this: would you agree with this statement: “in any several thousand page scientific report, with the best will in the world, and as much vetting and checking as we can manage, mistakes will happen.” Would you also agree that, when discovered, the best thing is to acknowledge them and try to make sure it doesn’t happen again? Would you also agree that, if the error was clearly superseded by a more in-depth analysis elsewhere in the report, it wouldn’t really be the end of the world?

    Could you also comment on how that contrasts with blogs like WUWT, who never, ever correct errors? Is there some secret reason why they shouldn’t be held to the same standard that I don’t know about?

    “And if you think that is the only “error”, or that these are confined to any particular part of the report, you haven’t been keeping up have you? Jo Nova’s blog is a good educational resource on this issue.”

    3. I didn’t claim it was the only error. I chose to stick with one particular example with you, so we can try to get to the nub of the issue. If you want to talk about others, could you please post what you think is the most ‘smoking gun’esque error you can find from volume 1 or elsewhere and we’ll work on that?

    You also didn’t really respond to my post, so I’ll put it in question form: you said “they put it in for political effect.” Given that the Himalaya claim was not in either the policy-makers’ summary or the synthesis report, could you explain *who* you think was putting *what* in for political effect, and where? We can take things from there.

  98. Dan Olner Says:

    Marco: “It looks like discussions with Peter Wilson are completely useless”

    For myself, disagree: finding civil opponents to argue with is how I learn the climate science. Before I started doing it, I didn’t know Michael Mann from Michael Bolton. Of course, I’m very grateful for being allowed to use other people’s comment sections for my education!

  99. Tom Fuller Says:

    What was incredibly damaging about the recent problems found in AR4 is not that there were errors, and it was not that anybody claimed perfection.

    As with Watergate, it was the attempted cover-up that led us step by step to where we are today. Pachauri calling news of the error ‘voodoo science’ and rushed attempts to explain away obvious problems regarding African agriculture, Amazonian resistance to drought and the historical record of damages due to hurricanes and floods.

    This led to the impression that there are those who will defend IPCC documents regardless of its accuracy and is almost a caricature of Oreskes’ advice of never admitting doubt. (As I’ve written before, I think reliance on Oreskes is killing you.)

    It was exacerbated by revelation of NGO documents masquerading as peer-reviewed sources for AR4, following direct quotes from Pachauri that everything in AR4 is peer-reviewed. Everything.

    Dan writes above that “Would you also agree that, when discovered, the best thing is to acknowledge them and try to make sure it doesn’t happen again?” The answer is obviously yes. But the IPCC and its defenders did not do that. They stonewalled and waved hands.

    I do think the Himalayan cite was put in there for political effect. I believe the person responsible said so, in fact (but don’t have the quote).

  100. Peter Wilson Says:


    Which thousands of scientists are you referring to? This is another frequently repeated meme, but equally without foundation. The number of scientists involved in the climate related work (as opposed to biologists, ecologists etc whose work is purely on hypothetical impacts) relied on by the IPCC for its core assessment (and as pointed out here earlier,only WG1 counts really, as the other sections are entirely dependent on the conclusions of WG1, and the number of actual scientists involved in that was only a couple of hundred, and if you mean the ones who actually ha d a meaningful influence on what appeared (ie the lead authors and those they cite as evidence) the number reduces to a few dozen. Most of whom one could name, especially if one is familiar with the CRU tapes.
    Take out all the citations by “scientists” whose work has now been tainted by their complicity in the highly unscientific activities at CRU, GISS etc, and what are you left with? Bupkis!
    Oh Dan, the statements about AR4’s accuracy were not made by you, but by the IPCC itself in all the publicity surrounding the release of the report. No qualifications in that at all!

    Its only a waste of time arguing with me if you are unprepared to consider the arguments I am actually making in your reply.


    No, I haven’t red that particular paper, but I accept what you say about its contents. Regardless of that, I have read many if the other papers cited, and frankly I don’t agree with every word in all of them, but that is just not the point. Those I have read, and the vast majority of the others I am quite confident, do report scientific findings clearly at odds with the mythical “consensus . This fact alone is quite sufficient to make my point, that the “scientific consensus” (the term is internally contradictory in itself, as science in sceptical by definition) exists solely in the imagination of believers, and is not a feature of the real world.

    [Reply: We seem to agree on one point then: That this conversation is a waste of time. You have clearly not looked at the links I provided. The existence of an overwhelming scientific consensus is entirely clear to all who care to look. You disagree; fine. Don’t keep repeating the same nonsense and science-bashing a thousand times though. You can do that elsewhere. BV]

  101. Tom Fuller Says:

    While I would agree with anyone who says a majority of climate scientists support the consensus, I would point out that those holding a minority opinion (not necessarily skeptic, but thinking the consensus position has serious flaws) is considerable and does seem to be growing. I don’t think it is growing because so many people are changing their opinions but rather because they are actually announcing their opinions publicly.

    Claiming a majority is certainly correct, IMO. Claiming an overwhelming consensus is reaching.

    More important are attempts to classify those who don’t support the consensus as either incompetent, unqualified or kooks. This has happened far too often and will have implications going forward for both science and policy making.

    I’m just a blogger, but even I will remember those who called me the equivalents of devil sucking spawn of Satan because I didn’t agree with what they call consensus. Imagine how I would feel if I were someone like Lindzen or Happer.

    The consensus position has spent the past 5 years guaranteeing that the next 5 years will be much tougher for them (you). Bart, by emphasizing the difference in the tone of your discussions (which is laudable), you are at least implicitly agreeing with this.

    As I’ve written before, your biggest enemy is not Senator Inhofe. It very truly is the ‘Joe Romm’ mindset.

  102. Marco Says:

    Tom, get your facts straight. Pachauri did NOT call the report of the error “voodoo science”. The “voodoo science” was a reference to a report, commissioned by the Indian government, that essentially claimed there was little evidence that the Himalayan glaciers were melting due to global warming. Much of Pachauri’s comments are likely to be due to the *reporting* about that report, which were woofully inaccurate, but the report itself is rather poor, too. It does not do much of an analysis (if any), doesn’t look at warming at all, yet essentially claims global warming has had no influence (evidence provided? None), and fails to refer to the most relevant literature on the Himalayas. Yes, so did the one chapter in the WG2 report.

    That it isn’t related to the 2035 issue can be seen by this piece:
    written *well* before the 2035 issue came into the press (which was January 2010).

    Second, could you please refer us to the instances where Pachauri claimed every reference in the IPCC report was from peer-reviewed science? (note that various NGO reports are actually also peer-reviewed, but I’ll not consider that for now). It must be a direct quote, journalists are by-and-large unable to describe these subtle issues correctly, easily conflating issues (see also point 1).

    Third, the 2035 was put in “for political purposes” due to the now infamous Jonathan Leake who just can’t get his facts straight. Lal noted that the Himalaya glacier information was added to the IPCC report WG2, because it was relevant information for policy makers. You can’t really argue that it isn’t, now, is it?
    Jonathan Leake’s translation, exacerbated by an even worse headline: we knew it was wrong, but put it in anyway, so as to pressure policy makers. Well, that we *can* argue. Putting something into a part of the IPCC report that is the least read, and which does not make it into the SPM, is hardly going to influence any policy makers, if any at all.

  103. Tom Fuller Says:

    Marco, dont’ tell me to get my fact straight. Just do your homework. Use Google to find the Pachauri quote. It’s all over the place, it’s a direct quote, it’ll take you milliseconds.

    The scientist involved has a different opinion than you about the voodoo science quote. So do I. Pachauri was notified before COP15 of the error and didn’t want to out it because of the political ramifications.

    Relevant? Wrong information is relevant how? And I’ve seen that quote too–go find it and inform yourself.

    And are you seriously arguing that it’s okay to have wrong information in AR4 because nobody is going to read it? Seriously?

    [Reply: I think Marco is saying the remark was made in reference to the Indian geologists’ report. See my take on the galcier issue here. BV]

  104. Marco Says:

    Tom, please provide the link. Don’t tell me to do my homework, I did. Which is the reason I asked *you* to provide evidence, as I simply can’t find a direct quote. I don’t feel like wading through a hundred references.

    Second, I don’t care that Raina has a different opinion on the voodoo science quote. Fact is, and the link I provided is just one line of evidence, that the report came out well before COP15, and it is this report that Pachauri claimed was voodoo science. It is a poor statement, but in the end not that inappropriate: it was a really bad report, contradicted by just about any and all glaciologists (see also WG1 on the Himalayas). And read the report, it doesn’t mention anything about 2035.

    Third, I see you wish to put words in my mouth I did not utter. I’m NOT arguing that it is ok to have wrong information in the IPCC reports. I’m arguing that it is a LIE that it was put in just for political pressure. It was put in because it was considered *relevant* information. If it was intended to put political pressure, it would have had to be into the SPM. You will find that the quote you so desperately want to be correct can be sourced back to Jonathan Leake. Here some examples of Jonathan Leake’s journalistic quality:
    Follow the links and you will see how several scientists report that Jonathan Leake misrepresented what they said. And this is the source of your quote. But perhaps Tom Fuller wants to argue that it is ok to misquote people in newspapers, and then let others recycle those quotes, even when they are informed they are wrong?
    I’m anxious to see whether you have the ability to distinguish credible sources from less credible sources. I’m not holding my breath, though. You’ve indicated too often that tone is more important than content…

  105. Tom Fuller Says:

    Not more, it’s just important. Find someone else to play with.

  106. Marco Says:

    Tom, I’m most definately not playing. Get your facts straight, it’s that simple.

  107. Tom Fuller Says:

    They are. It’s that simple.

  108. Tom Fuller Says:

    Well, I guess my clients can wait: “Pachauri said a laborious selection process, using only articles approved by other scientists, called peer review, and then subsequently approving these by committee had prevented distortion.

    “The entire report writing process of the IPCC is subjected to extensive and repeated review by experts as well as governments,” he added in a written statement to Reuters.

    V.K. Raina, the former Deputy Director-General of the Geological Survey of India — whose research document on the Himalayan glaciers debunked the claims of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that these glaciers would disappear by 2035 — is not satisfied by the regret expressed by the United Nations agency.


    “I want a personal apology from the IPCC chairperson R.K. Pachauri who had described my research as voodoo science,” Mr. Raina told The Hindu over phone from Panchkula. “Forget IPCC, Dr. Pachauri has not even expressed regret over what he said after my report — Himalayan Glaciers: a state-of-art review of glacial studies, glacial retreat and climate change — was released in November last year.”


    London, January 30 (ANI): Reports indicate that Rajendra Pachauri, Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was informed that claims about melting Himalayan glaciers were false before the Copenhagen summit.

    According to a report in The Times, Dr Pachauri was told that the IPCC assessment that the glaciers would disappear by 2035 was wrong, but he waited two months to correct it.

    The report says that he failed to act despite learning that several leading glaciologists had refuted the claim.

    More at : Pachauri was told of false glacier claims before Copenhagen

    I have finished with you, Marco. Good luck and happy hunting elsewhere.

  109. Peter Wilson Says:

    Thank you Tom, I love a comprehensive demolition job like that.

    Its pretty clear from the above exchange who’s facts are straight.

  110. Shub Niggurath Says:

    I am pretty sure your view on the Himalayan glaciers is contaminated by your sources.

    Glaciergate is

    1) The wrong claim in the IPCC report
    2) Pachauri’s response to it (re being informed pre-Copenhagen)
    3) The media’s steady drumbeat of glacier melting stories – 2003 onwards in warm-mongering fashion

    It is your view that is narrow. The Himalayan glaciers were one of the iconic pillars of climate impacts in the present-day world. The brainwashing w.r.t glaciers is complete and absolute. Just go out on the streets and utter the word ‘glacier’ – and see the response. It will be, one can bet – Himalayas, global warming, flash floods – instant and reflexive.

    In light of the whole thing, how can anyone claim that it was a small error in a 3000 page document which was not in the summary?

    We know the climate science consensus wastes a lot of time because there is a lot of “Oh that comes from Leake, that comes Jo Nova, that comes from Watts”. This absolutely frigid and inflexible response from the climate science community both pre- and post-Climategate blinds it to realities because valuable criticism of policy and sometimes the science itself originates in what your camp characterize as the anti-science non-science corner.

    While your camp wastes time just name-trashing and smearing and hoping the problem would go away, views and news have been disseminated far and wide. It is thus that the global warming movement disengages from the real world, hiding behind its folds of science and does its disservice to the environmental movement.

    Tom Fuller – kudos for your excellent and persistent exposition that Joe Romm and his abusive vileness that damages climate science. And Bart – for hosting excellent threads.

    [Reply: See my take opn the glacier issue here. BV]

  111. Poptech Says:

    “Your list of papers is not an unbiased sample of the climate literature. Half seem to come from E&E (not considered a peer reviewed journal) and other obscure literature such as the electricity journal or Iron & Steel Technology. I don’t think those article were reviewed by climate scientists. Some others that made the list are not actually challenging the mainstream scientific view (e.g.; I’m sure there are more. Basically, the list is a not-so-random walk through the limited landscape of contrarian authors.”


    Energy & Environment is a peer-reviewed interdisciplinary academic journal (ISSN: 0958-305X)
    – Indexed in Compendex, EBSCO, Environment Abstracts, Google Scholar, JournalSeek and Scopus
    – Found at 43 libraries worldwide, at universities and the library of congress. Including an additional 79 in electronic form.
    EBSCO; Energy & Environment: Peer-Reviewed – Yes, Academic Journal – Yes (PDF)

    E&E, by the way, is peer reviewed – Tom Wigley, Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)

    Um no half do not come from E&E – no where near, more like 16%.

    The Electricity Journal (3 papers) and Iron & Steel Technology (1 paper) are both peer-reviewed publications. There are an extensive number of journals cited,

    Journal Citation List:

    AAPG Bulletin
    Advances in Geosciences
    Advances in Global Change Research
    Advances in Space Research
    AIP Conference Proceedings
    American Scientist
    Annales Geophysicae
    Annals of Glaciology
    Annual Review of Energy and the Environment
    Annual Review of Fluid Mechanics
    Applied Energy
    Arctic and Alpine Research
    Arizona Journal of International and Comparative Law
    Astronomical Notes
    Astronomy & Geophysics
    Astrophysics and Space Science
    Astrophysics and Space Science Library
    Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics
    British Medical Journal (BMJ)
    Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (BAMS)
    Bulletin of the Russian Academy of Sciences: Physics
    Bulletin of Canadian Petroleum Geology
    Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics
    Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences
    Central European Journal of Physics
    Chemical Innovation
    Climate Dynamics
    Climate of the Past
    Climate Research
    Climatic Change
    Comptes Rendus Geosciences
    Contemporary South Asia
    Earth and Planetary Science Letters
    Ecological Complexity
    Ecological Modelling
    Ecological Monographs
    Economics Bulletin
    Emerging Infectious Diseases
    Energy & Environment
    Energy Fuels
    Energy Policy
    Energy Sources
    Energy The International Journal
    Environmental Geology
    Environmental Geosciences
    Environmental Health Perspectives
    Environmental Politics
    Environmental Research
    Environmental Science & Policy
    Environmental Science and Pollution Research
    Environmental Software
    Eos, Transactions, American Geophysical Union
    Geografiska Annaler: Series A, Physical Geography
    Geomagnetism and Aeronomy
    Geophysical Research Letters
    Geoscience Canada
    Global and Planetary Change
    Global Biogeochemical Cycles
    Global Change Biology
    Global Environmental Change
    GSA Today
    Hydrological Sciences Journal
    Il Nuovo Cimento C
    International Journal of Biometeorology
    International Journal of Climatology
    International Journal of Environmental Studies
    International Journal of Forecasting
    International Journal of Global Warming
    International Journal of Modern Physics B
    International Journal of Remote Sensing
    International Quarterly for Asian Studies
    International Social Science Journal
    Irish Astronomical Journal
    Irrigation and Drainage
    Iron & Steel Technology
    Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons
    Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology
    Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics
    Journal of Atmospheric and Terrestrial Physics
    Journal of Chemical Education
    Journal of Climate
    Journal of Coastal Research
    Journal of Environmental Sciences
    Journal of Environmental Quality
    Journal of Forestry
    Journal of Fusion Energy
    Journal of Geophysical Research
    Journal of Information Ethics
    Journal of Lake Sciences
    Journal of Non-Equilibrium Thermodynamics
    Journal of Paleolimnology
    Journal of Scientific Exploration
    Journal of the American Water Resources Association
    Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences
    Journal of the Italian Astronomical Society
    Journal of the South African Institution of Civil Engineering
    La Chimica e l’Industria
    Lancet Infectious Diseases
    Latvian Journal of Physics and Technical Sciences
    Leadership and Management in Engineering
    Malaria Journal
    Marine Geology
    Marine Pollution Bulletin
    Meteorology and Atmospheric Physics
    Meteorologische Zeitschrift
    Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change
    Natural Hazards
    Natural Hazards Review
    Nature Geoscience
    New Astronomy
    New Concepts In Global Tectonics
    New Literary History
    New Phytologist
    New Zealand Geographer
    New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research
    Nordic Hydrology
    Norwegian Polar Institute Letters
    Oceanologica Acta
    Paleontological Journal
    Physical Geography
    Physical Review E
    Physical Review Letters
    Physics and Chemistry of the Earth
    Physics Letters A
    Physics Reports
    Physics Today
    Planetary and Space Science
    PLoS Biology
    Proceedings of the Estonian Academy of Sciences: Engineering
    Proceedings of the ICE – Civil Engineering
    Proceedings of the International Astronomical Union
    Proceedings of the International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)
    Proceedings of the Royal Society A
    Progress in Physical Geography
    Public Administration Review
    Pure and Applied Geophysics
    Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics
    Quarterly Journal of the Hungarian Meteorological Service
    Quaternary Research
    Quaternary Science Reviews
    Russian Journal of Earth Sciences
    Science of the Total Environment
    Science, Technology & Human Values
    Social Studies of Science
    Solar Physics
    South African Journal of Science
    Space Science Reviews
    Spectrochimica Acta Part A: Molecular and Biomolecular Spectroscopy
    Surveys in Geophysics
    Tellus A
    The Astrophysical Journal
    The Cato Journal
    The Electricity Journal
    The Holocene
    The Independent Review
    The Open Atmospheric Science Journal
    The Quarterly Review of Biology
    The Review of Economics and Statistics
    Theoretical and Applied Climatology
    Topics in Catalysis
    Waste Management
    Weather and Forecasting
    World Economics

    Journal Count: 179

    [Reply: I guess that the Journal of Creationist Science is also peer reviewed by other creationists. That’s not what is generally meant by scientific peer review though. BV]

  112. Poptech Says:

    “Marco Says:
    March 19, 2010 at 15:54

    Allow me to add a little additional comment on that list of 450 papers, or rather, a challenge to Peter Wilson:
    The list contains at least one peer-reviewed publication in a reputable journal of which one of the conclusions is that the 3 degrees climate sensitivity of doubling CO2 may be TOO LOW.”

    Actually no, it reveals that up to 89% of the observed warming in the time period studied cannot be explained by CO2 forcing.

  113. Poptech Says:

    “Marco Says:
    March 19, 2010 at 16:37

    1. Find the paper I referred to above. Should not be too difficult, there are not that many really reputable journals on the list (especially since you can strike Energy&Environment of that list, immediately removing 20%). It will give you some starting insight on the selection criteria for that list.”

    E&E is a peer-reviewed academic journal and cannot be “struck” from the list unless you are being intellectually dishonest. Or in your case spreading propaganda.

    “2. Find the impact factors of the journals that are on that list. This will give you an idea which journals are more likely to contain credible information.”

    Impact Factor is a subjective determination of popularity not scientific validity,

    European Association of Science Editors statement on inappropriate use of impact factors (PDF)

    Why the impact factor of journals should not be used for evaluating research (PDF)
    (British Medical Journal, Volume 314, pp. 498–502, February 1997)
    – Per O. Seglen

    “3. Put a line somewhere, say anything below an impact factor of 1.5 you just discard (this leaves the International Journal of Climatology in, which is being generous from my side).”

    Aw, too bad this is opinionated elitist nonsense that has nothing to do with the science or whether a journal is peer-reviewed.

    “4. Remove the comments/commentaries, editorials, or other opinions (unlike what your quoted webside does), these are NOT peer-reviewed”


    Comments, Corrections, Erratum, Replies, Responses and Submitted papers are not included in the peer-reviewed paper count.”

    “5. For the few papers left, check if rebuttals have appeared (Lindzen&Choi? Demolished already. McLean et al? Could not even get their response to the rebuttal published, it was so bad. Douglass et al? shown wrong, too).”

    No comment has been published on McLean, Lindzen&Choi or Douglas.

    Douglas however has been defended,

    An updated comparison of model ensemble and observed temperature trends in the tropical troposphere
    (Submitted to the International Journal of Climatology, 2009)
    – Stephen McIntyre, Ross McKitrick

  114. Marco Says:

    Oh darn, poptech attracted to this website…
    Let’s first get the Zeebe paper correct: it *at best* points to a possible unknown forcing during the PETM, and in no way contradicts AGW, only if you believe that one of their alternative hypotheses, that of a much higher climate sensitivity, is skeptical of AGW.

    Second, “American Scientist” is not peer reviewed. It is a magazine, and the articles are “edited” (which is not the same as peer reviewed). Several of the journals on your list are really low level journals; for example, I myself have recently shown about 50 papers in Spectrochim Acta A to be wrong in the most basic biophysics, making mistakes that even my first year students are not allowed to make (textbook stuff!).

    Then your comments:
    1. E&E is a crank journal. Face it. It may be “peer-reviewed”, but its peer review clearly is far below standard. Its most reviewed paper (by their own admission) is the hopelessly flawed paper by Beck. Loehle’s reconstruction was so well “peer-reviewed” that they did not even notice the most blatant mistakes (BP is 1950 or before, not 2000, something *any* paleoclimatologist knows). I won’t even go into many other papers which are filled with nonsense and political statements, rather than scientific statements. E&E can thus be struck of the list of *credible* journals. Just like the Journal of the American Physicians and Surgeons, another favorite amongst the deniolati.

    2. A high impact factor does not say much about individual papers, but a (comparatively) low impact factor indicates that the journal has very, very few good papers. But if you so desperately want an alternative: check the citations to the papers on your list, and make sure to distinguish negative and positive citations.

    3. See point 2. If you can’t even get your work in a credible journal in your own field (and IJoC really is as low as you can credibly go), it gets less and less likely to be a good contribution to the field.

    4. I did not say anything about the number, I referred to the list on the website, which does not distinguish between those that are, and those that are not peer-reviewed.

    5. Comment on McLean et al:
    Comment on Lindzen&Choi:
    M&M’s paper is not even accepted yet, AND it solely *attacks* Santer’s rebuttal of Douglass et al. It does not defend the shoddy use of statistics in the latter paper.

  115. Poptech Says:

    Zeebe’s paper makes no mention of climate sensitivity to CO2 being too low, it explicitly states,

    “We conclude that in addition to direct CO2 forcing, other processes and/or feedbacks that are hitherto unknown must have caused a substantial portion of the warming during the Palaeocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum.”

    Thus if the widely used climate sensitity cannot explain the past it cannot explain the present, which supports skepticism of AGW.

    American Scientist is a peer-reviewed academic journal,

    ProQuest; Peer Reviewed = Yes
    EBSCO; Peer Reviewed = Yes

    Whether you consider a journal “low-level” or not is irrelevant to it being peer-reviewed.

    1. E&E is an interdisciplinary peer-reviewed academic journal. There is nothing “crank” about it and it’s review process is solid (Climate Scientists review climate papers ect…). E&E published a comment from Keeling on the Beck paper and Loehle published a correction for his. Clearly they accept standard criticism and publish corrections to errors like any reputable journal would. Since E&E is not a pure science journal but one that includes debate on policy you would expect papers to include political language. The content of the journal is clearly stated on it’s webpage. Sorry your imaginary “striking off the list” of peer-reviewed journals you don’t agree with doesn’t work in the real world. All the journals listed are confirmed to be peer-reviewed.

    2. Impact factor is a subjective determination of popularity. It has nothing to do with the content of the papers. Citations are the same thing.

    3. Sorry but you don’t decide where any “level” exists or should be. Your opinion on all of this is just that and has nothing to do with the facts.

    4. Comments, Corrections, Erratum, Replies, Responses are italicized and preceeded by a dash.

    5. The comment on McLean has not been published. Trenberth’s paper is not a comment on Lindzen&Choi, it is it’s own paper. A true comment would say “Comment on … Lindzen&Choi” and thus allow a rebuttal from Lindzen&Choi. Santer did not publish a comment on Douglas, he published a separate paper which has been refuted,

    The Consistency of Modeled and Observed Temperature Trends in the Tropical Troposphere: A Comment on Santer et al (PDF)
    (Submitted to the International Journal of Climatology, 2009)
    – Stephen McIntyre, Ross McKitrick

  116. Poptech Says:

    “I guess that the Journal of Creationist Science is also peer reviewed by other creationists. That’s not what is generally meant by scientific peer review though.”

    No since that journal does not show up in any journal database as one it would not be considered academically peer-reviewed. The tired Creationist/911 Truther analogies are getting old.

  117. Scott Mandia Says:

    We can all argue about whether or not E&E is a real journal or not but it is common knowlege that E&E gets little respect in the scientific community.

  118. Marco Says:

    Poptech, read the paper. The WHOLE paper. You might actually learn something. And the quality of the peer review of E&E, or rather the *absence* of quality, is well known. It is a crank journal, its contents show it to be. Yes, it published the comments from Keeling and Meijer, and then let Beck come with a nonsense rebuttal. Yes, Loehle put a correction, but NOT because the reviewers had seen the mistakes. And they were very obvious mistakes.

    Regarding American Scientist: ask them. Their website only mentions editorial support. That others have listed that incorrectly is not my fault. Perhaps you should be more skeptical.

    Citations show more than just popularity, they show usefulness. And it is YOU who started the opinion stuff, by claiming these papers are skeptical of AGW.

    Regarding your list and the dashes: I see several commentaries, letters, editorials, etc, that you did not mark as such. In addition, you have a few papers that refer to the UAH satellite data from before it was discovered that Christy and Spencer had made huge mistakes. Of course, you also point to the G&T article, which even most pseudoskeptics don’t dare touch with a ten foot pole (ask Roy Spencer what he thinks of that one).

    The comment on the McLean paper has been accepted and is in print. The Trenberth article IS a comment on Lindzen&Choi, just not marked as such and fully peer-reviewed. It completely debunks Lindzen&Choi, and even makes a case for fraud (although it does not say so).

    And M&M’s paper has not been accepted. That appears to be an important point for you for the McLean rebuttal, but here you just neglect that little fact. Double moral, I’m not surprised.

  119. Poptech Says:

    Of course alarmist scientits don’t “respect” E&E this is irrelevant to the reality of it being a peer-reviewed academic journal or the contents of the papers published in it.

    Marco, I read the whole paper, apparently you didn’t. Actually the quality of E&E’s peer review is fine. It is not a crank journal and it’s contents show it to be reputable. I understand your frustration with allowing an author to defend their paper as you prefer the shenanigans that go on at other journals that censor scientists. The mistakes were not obvious and have been corrected. You keep crying about a Journal that allowed published criticisms and posted corrections.

    The sources clearly show American Scientist to be peer-reviewed.

    Citations are subjective.

    No I said they support skepticism of AGW.

    Commentaries and Letters can be peer-reviewed depending on the journal and I am not aware of any of the papers designated as an editorial.

    Just because an older paper may have a part corrected by recent data does not make the rest of it untrue nor does it make it not exist.

    The list has two purposes,

    1. To show these papers exist.
    2. To be a reference for papers that support skepticism of AGW.

    The comment on the McLean paper is not published yet. The Trenberth paper is clearly a separate paper and published as such regardless of if it references Lindzen&Choi. I will wait to here Lindzen’s comment on the paper.

  120. Alan Wilkinson Says:

    I find this discussion of little interest. Much is a tedious succession of appeals to authority and food fights. In contrast, Anthony Watts blog comprises mostly interesting discussions of new work.

    I agree that moderation of ad hominems there is not faultless and Watts’ own judgements and comments can be poor. However at least everyone is permitted to have their say and rebut any criticism freely which on too many AGW blogs does not happen. Not uncommonly posts are discussed and refuted in the comment thread. While it has its share of blind lay followers there are plenty of sceptical (in the general sense) scientists and engineers as well who debate vigorously.

    In my experience moderation on Climate Audit is severe regarding anything personal or off topic. The topics are generally very technical and specific.

  121. adriaan Says:


    Why do I receive the universal treatment as being an ignorant once it becomes clear that I do not digest AGW without protesting? Everyone, including the host of this blog, starts treating one as a 5-year old who has just finished reading his/her weekly issue of Donald Duck?

    Let me make this clear:
    1. I am not ignorant
    2. I am not a climate scientist (whatever that may be)
    3. I am a biologist!
    4. We have our datasharing, whatever, much better organized than this bunch of global amateurs who do nothing but losing data. My machines generate 50 Gb/day (and this is by no way much, it is only a modest setup), which have to be stored as raw data (every bit of it!), and processed, using software which is open source, with contributions from a wide area of expertise, for which we are very grateful. (In stead of calling them ignoranti, we have listened to these people. As a result, we have more powerful Supercomputers than the climate guys, and put them to more practical use, bitwise and pennywise)
    5. When someone starts to show that previous versions of global temperature data are different from current day version data, I want to be able to look into a a log file why this is is so. But there is no log file, there is not even a mentioning of the fact that data have been altered with retrograde effects. Luckily there is always a Brasilian journalist who has downloaded the previous version.
    6. Can anyone explain why data have to be missing from the global temperature dataset? Is there not one single lab responsible (enough) to take care of missing data? What are we talking about? 3 measures a day, 365 days a year for 120 years for 1000 stations, with every day less stations? Calculate? This can be done manually. But make a note, and provide Metadata.
    7. Why is there an almost complete lack of metadata? Take a look at the MIAME specification for microarray data.
    8. I can buy all the scanned manual reports of the historic US temperature data on DVD, and redigitise them personally. Really? From this I understand that there is not a curated digital version of the original paper records. WHY? You can download for free the complete (curated) genomic sequence of several different strains of C. elegans in multiple-fold, done at independent laboratories with complete genome annotations. The software for analysis is on-line at several supercomputing facilities or can be downloaded free.

    In all, climate science is so G*d**** amateuristic, that I cannot comprehend it. But maybe I am just the average fool that has to be treated with strawman and other arrogant speak. Carry on Lads, Gals.

    [Reply: To answer your first question: Because you get the elementary basics wrong, all the while proclaiming that a whole scientific field is in error. BV]

  122. Shub Niggurath Says:

    I agree with you adriaan. The worm community has been the pioneer in data sharing right from the outset.

  123. adriaan Says:


    You put words into my mouth that I did not say. I said that I do not digest AGW without protesting.

    And all other points are to illustrate the mere fact that I cannot indepently confirm the findings of researchers in climate science: they do not let me. And repeating experiments, data analysis etc is the key of science. Telling me that I have my basics wrong without showing me where I am wrong is exactly that what I object to. With every answer like this you make my impression that you cannot show me the data more firm. I.e. you achieve just the opposite of what you may want to achieve.

    Open up, share things, invite other people to participate, [edit]

    [Reply: There may be more data and code available for you to play with than you think. Everyone who abides by the scientific methods and upholds common decency (that includes not comparing scientists to priests btw) is welcome to join the discussion. However, science is a profession. It doesn’t make much sense to say “allow me to participate in dentistry” if I don’t have the necessary training. BV]

  124. Shub Niggurath Says:

    Bart has been repeatedly ‘getting pissed off’ that we are all claiming the ‘whole scientific field’ is in error and therefore contending that since we (the blanket criticizers) are such morons, our singular and specific meaningful objections/questions don’t have to be contended with.

    Some of the questions are definitely meaningful.

    How is comparing scientists to priests an insult to scientists? By this holier-than-thou concept, scientists only demean themselves.

    It is like claiming an evolutionary study comparing humans and chimpanzees is insulting to humans.


    [Reply: I haven’t called blanket criticizers “morons”, and indeed, I find the comparison of scientists with priests insulting. It was used in the case where Scott set straight some pertinent falsehoods. This blog is no place to compare science or sientists with priests, religious zealots, or anything of that kind. For your claims re “appeal to authority”, read this real skeptic. BV]

  125. adriaan Says:

    Dear Bart,

    I know that there is an awful lot of data and code available. What lacks is a common description of the quality of the data, along with version control and proper logging. I can start with a dataset, work on it for weeks, and find out that I started with the wrong dataset (Tilburg?). I would like to have you, climate scientists, implement a strict archiving of data with all the neccesary metadata, update regularly, and refrain from retrograde modifications of old data. Provide the curated and certified raw data. Do not give me the value added data, I can add my own value. Make this a global effort, and you will reclaim a lot of authority which has been lost in the near past. It took us, biologists, about 5 years to realize what was going wrong and mend the process. At that time everyone was submitting data full throttle. But we managed. By listening to people from outside the community.

    And as for your dentistry comment, I do not buy that. My dentist will have to show me what she has planned and why. And if she proposes something I am not familiar with, I will ask to be allowed to come back in a week. And in this week I will try and study all relevant scientific literature I can get my hands on. And that will be much more than my dentist will have seen in the past 5 years. So when I come back to her after this week. she will learn from me whether this therapy can be succesful, in stead of the other way round. The fact that you do not have the neccesary training does not preclude you from becoming more knowledgeable on the area of the presumed expert than this expert? It is only a matter of time and effort, and you can become better than anyone in this area with years of expertise. And this happens every day. Look around!

    What was indecent with my allegorical comparison of scientists and priests? As far as I know, priests were the first keepers of the truth, as are scientist now?

    [Reply: If you think that after a week of googling you understand more than a professional about a complex topic, then you have a very different idea of science and of dentistry than I have. And indeed, I find a comparison of science with religion in the way people have used it here entirely misplaced. BV]

  126. Poptech Says:

    “McLean et al? Could not even get their response to the rebuttal published…”

    I have found out what has happened to the McLean Response in JGR,

    Response to “Comment on ‘Influence of the Southern Oscillation on tropospheric temperature'” by Foster et al. (PDF)
    (Submitted to the Journal of Geophysical Research, 2010)
    – John D. McLean, Chris de Freitas, Robert M. Carter

    Looks like a senior editor of JCR has violated AGU rules multiple times and censored the response, typical of what was revealed in climategate. Regardless Foster et al. is rebutted.

    [Reply: Some would disagree. BV]

  127. Shub Niggurath Says:

    BV, please let my previous comment through. You are picking on adrian with your inline responses. Why dont you publish my post which addresses the same question?

    Your appeal to authority about the climate is not worthy of your own defence. By the same token then, you climate scientists should not bring to the table examples of medical and practice, vaccines, evolution among others.

    I think Adrian’s contribution is constructive and positive. And you are saying “dont tell me what to do?”

    I hope you are not learning some underhanded ‘tricks of the trade’ holding up posts.

  128. Poptech Says:

    “[Reply: Some would disagree. BV]”

    Of course Annan would disagree he believes in censorship. They can disagree all they want, the point is that authors replied to the comment and were censored. That is not how an open debate about science should take place. If Annan has a point then it should not matter what the author has to say. The fact that he advocates censorship says a lot about his integrity – which I find lacking.

    [Reply: Where does he ‘advocate censorship’? BV]

  129. Poptech Says:

    “[Reply: Where does he ‘advocate censorship’? BV]”

    Is he advocating for McLean’s response to be published? Nope, he makes excuses for it “not passing peer-review” and agrees (in essence) for censorship. In reality this was done intentionally to pretend that the paper has been refuted since no rebuttal exists from the author. That is not science that is propaganda.

  130. Marco Says:

    He has offered McLean to publish the rebuttal on his weblog. McLean declined.

    And your claim that they rebut the comment by Foster et al is completely and utterly laughable. The whole issue with the rebuttaæ, and the more-than-likely reason for refusing to publish their rebuttal, is that it merely repeats their original claims, without providing *any* solid counter-argument to the comments of Foster et al. Worse even, the rebuttal can be summarised as “stop bugging us about the trend, we didn’t look at it. But our analysis leaves little room for the trend being anthropogenic”…

    You simply do NOT get to publish a repetition of your claims, lacking any evidence, that have just been shown wrong.

  131. Peter Wilson Says:


    It is hard to believe you are seriously suggesting that the reply in question was so deficient as to be unworthy of publication, and that this unworthiness outweighed the obvious bias betrayed by succumbing to pressure from Jones et al to leave a heavily biased criticism (which struggled to pass peer review itself), unanswered.

    Of course the problem with this idea is that we have all read the paper and the reply, and this is clearly not the case. You mention no specific reason why the reply was so unworthy, other than Phil Jones’ say so. At the very least the scientific community should have been afforded the opportunity to assess the validity or otherwise of the arguments. To not do so strongly implies a desire to avoid scrutiny, which is often the mark of shoddy science.

    [Reply: The problem may be that some people don’t like the assessment of the scientific community. You can also read parts of the reviews over at Rabett Run. Please take further discussion of this paper and the rebuttals back and forth up with Rabett or Annan. BV]

  132. Poptech Says:

    [edit. Take you strawman accusations elsewhere. BV]

  133. Peter Wilson Says:

    Reply: The problem may be that some people don’t like the assessment of the scientific community.

    Of course, courtesy of the climategate emails, we now know exactly who the “scientific community” consisted of in this particular case, and the pressure they exerted on the editors. The whole point of this exercise has been to prevent the scientific community (the real one) from having the opportunity to examine both sides of this issue. Not a good look at all…

  134. adriaan Says:

    Dear Bart,

    The fact that you think that you would not be able to do enough research in a week time to be able to confront your dentist is shocking.

    Mind you, I am not talking about the manual and practical skills of your or my dentist. But that holds true for a mason or a carpenter: practical skills need a long time to learn and hone them to perfection.

    Theoretical skills are more universal: once you know the scientific method, the difference between sciences is merely a matter of terminology and some (but asthonishingly few) particular theoretical skills. Many sciences are using the same basics, so it is not difficult for biologists to understand e.g. chemical problems, thermodynamics, isotopic analysis, modelling and statistics. Specific knowledge on a certain area can be learned quite fast, starting with a PhD in an exact science.

    And I still do not comprehend your problem with the allegorical comparison I made between science and religion.

  135. Johnathan Birks Says:

    Hullo and thank you for providing this forum. It was linked from where I try to follow climate issues. I’m a journalist by trade with a bit of science training and swimming upstream …

  136. Marco Says:

    @Peter Wilson:
    The reply by McLean et al was unworthy of publication because they simply repeated their claim. They only acknowledged they looked at the trend-removed series, but then again claimed that this said something about the trend. It doesn’t, that’s exactly what Foster et al showed.

    Now, for my part their reply perhaps *should* have been published, but only to show McLean et al’s dishonesty to the rest of the scientific community. Sadly, however, we also know that others would have merely spun it as a ‘rebuttal’ of the rebuttal (while it is not).

  137. Poptech Says:

    Sorry Marco, McLean’s reply was censored not unworthy of publication. People are entitled to read it for themselves, something you don’t want anyone to do. Foster et al. has been rebutted.

  138. Peter Wilson Says:


    “The reply by McLean et al was unworthy of publication because they simply repeated their claim.”

    Your statement is simply untrue. You clearly believe you are addressing someone who has not read the McLean et al reply, or the Foster et al strawman paper, which utterly misunderstood the purpose of the statistical techniques applied. Misunderstanding of fairly basic statistical techniques is a common feature of mainstream climate science.

    To anyone wishing to read it for themselves, as an alternative to all this “he said she said”, I see Poptech has provided the link above.

  139. Marco Says:

    @Peter Wilson:
    Are you seriously believing that a professional statistician (Grant Foster) has a worse understanding of statistics than a computer consultant (John McLean), a climate scientist (ooops! Want to take your claim back?), and a geologist (Bob Carter) ?

    And yes, I have read both. It is obvious to *anyone* that MdFC are just repeating their claims, fail to acknowledge that their method actually *increases* noise, and provide absolutely no counter-argument to Foster et al.

    Foster et al has not been rebutted. Anyone reading the reply of MdFC can see they do not address the observed mistakes in their original paper, and merely repeat the claim that has been shown to be wrong. Of course, everyone can also see that your claim that I do not want others to read the reply is nonsense. In the message right above you I say:
    “Now, for my part their reply perhaps *should* have been published, but only to show McLean et al’s dishonesty to the rest of the scientific community. Sadly, however, we also know that others would have merely spun it as a ‘rebuttal’ of the rebuttal (while it is not).”

    Lying is one thing. Lying with the actual facts a mere 3 cm above your lie…

  140. Poptech Says:

    Marco, I stand by what I said I would wish people to read both the Foster et al comment and the McLean et al reply. The difference between you and me is I have not defended it being censored. With the current publishing situation, it appears as if McLean et al just accepted the Foster et al. criticism which is absolutely not true.

    After climategate Foster’s co-authors which include prominent members of team science does not “foster” credibility. It is going to take some serious spin magic to convince any rational person that it was not censored, especially with the emails as the smoking gun.

  141. Dan Olner Says:

    Poptech: let’s just back off a little here. Would you mind first letting us know: you agree, don’t you, that peer review means often not publishing stuff that your peers don’t think comes up to scratch? You agree that’s not censorship, right? If we can get that out of the way, we then just need to work out whether this particular reply was censored or peer reviewed?

  142. Poptech Says:

    There is nothing to get out of the way, not with replies to criticism of published papers. Standard practice is to publish the authors rebuttal with the comment. Not doing so is censorship plain and simple. The argument for censorship is intellectually dishonest as you are essentially saying that the original authors should shut up when you criticise them and by shutting them up you win the argument. Your arguments for censorship do not hold up, sorry.

  143. Dan Olner Says:

    Poptech: OK, so you’re saying replies to criticism must always be published, and should not be peer reviewed, regardless. That seems, on the face of it, like nonsense to me. Peer review is peer review, I’m pretty sure. There aren’t any classes of academic publication that are somehow exempt from that, are there?

  144. Dan Olner Says:

    Actually, just checking, AGU policy seems pretty clear:

    Yup, you can not only peer review replies, you have to meet the criteria set out by the journal.

  145. Poptech Says:

    Peer-review on replies would be to check for standard errors in math or methods and ask for further explanation where needed or further comment on something not addressed not censor their opinion. That is not what happened, the reply was simply rejected.

  146. Dan Olner Says:

    See my last post: do you think the reply actually met the criteria stated there? Before we even get to considering peer review; I’m a little confused how you manage to be so conclusive that it was ‘simply rejected’.

  147. Peter Wilson Says:

    The suggestion being promoted here is that it is common practice to reject replies to criticism of published papers. This is ludicrous, and unworthy of those claiming to defend scientific practice. Once a comment has been accepted for publication, any journal aiming to maintain any credibility will automatically publish a reply from the original author. The concept of peer review most certainly does not extend to denying authors a right of reply. I wonder if those defending this practice can point to any other instances of this occurring?

    In this instance the ploy is made even more transparently dishonest by the revelation in the climategate emails of the plotting by team members to stack the review panels on this and other sceptical papers. Corruption of the peer review process doesn’t get much more blatant than this, and you guys (or at least your claims to any kind of scientific objectivity) stand condemned by your defence of it.

    As for your repeated assertion that the paper merely repeats the assertions of the orignal paper – I wonder if you are reading the same paper as the rest of us – as I have stated before, this is simply untrue, which fact can easily be checked by reading the papers in question (now that it has been posted on a blog, that is, no thanks to the “scientific” process.)

    And even if it were true, the authors should be at liberty to restate their original position if they see fit – it was after all accepted for publication in the first place.

  148. Peter Wilson Says:


    @Peter Wilson:
    Are you seriously believing that a professional statistician (Grant Foster) has a worse understanding of statistics than a computer consultant (John McLean), a climate scientist (ooops! Want to take your claim back?), and a geologist (Bob Carter) ?

    We are talking about Grant Foster, aka Tamino, defender of the 2 sigma result and various other statistical absurdities?

    Yes, that is what I am suggesting. Got it in one, well done! The Foster et al paper is quite sufficient evidence of that!

  149. Dan Olner Says:

    I’m looking for some common ground of agreement here, and having problems. Peter – did you read the AGU policy on comments and replies I posted above? Do you agree it’s OK for journals to have a policy like this?

    The suggestion – from me at least – is *not* that “it is common practice to reject replies to criticism of published papers.” My suggestion is that replies are not automatically exempt from normal peer review. The AGU policy makes this clear, and it gives some other guidelines submitters must adhere to. It is, then, common practice to peer review all submissions of any kind to journals, and to AGU journals in particular.

    Just hold off with the climategate email stuff – can we just try to agree that it is OK in principle to peer review replies? And that if you submit to a journal, you agree to abide by its submission rules?

  150. Marco Says:

    @Peter Wilson:
    It is not common practice to reject replies to comments. Nor is it common practice to accept comments, nor is it common to accept replies. I myself published a commentary, completely demolishing 12 papers published in one journal. The journal did not have the authors of any of those papers reply, mainly because there *was* no acceptable reply possible other than “you are right” (it was textbook stuff, loads of reviewers should be ashamed and follow a 1st year bachelor course). McLean’s stuff was similar: taking a derivative is well known to increase noise. Claiming the opposite is textbook wrong. Taking a derivative removes a trend, thus you cannot talk about a trend. Doing so anyway is first year mistakes.

  151. Marco Says:

    @Peter Wilson,

    Please try to explain to me why “2-sigma” is wrong, and “5-sigma” is right. In your own words, not “Lubos Motl says so”.

    If you are so much against 2-sigma, I’m assuming you have never ever taken a medicine in your life: the vast majority have a discernable effect that was at best 2-sigma from the placebo (at the very least at time of market approval). I’m also guessing you don’t believe most stuff published in chemistry or biology. Especially in the latter statistical tricks are required to get even close to 2-sigma (SEM rather than SD).

  152. Poptech Says:

    do you think the reply actually met the criteria stated there?


  153. Peter Wilson Says:


    I am frankly not qualified to give any definitive answer to whether the statistical techniques used in McLean etc are correct, but I am qualified to assert that the reply to Foster did NOT merely restate the original paper, as you claim. The rebuttal clearly argued that the criticism of the technique used was misguided, as the analysis in question was used solely to determine the appropriate time lag, and was not used for the later trend analysis.


    The AGU standard you refer to says replies must:
    “address significant aspects of the original paper without becoming essentially a new paper;
    the Reply responds directly to the Comment without becoming evasive; and
    the tone of each is appropriate for a scientific journal.”

    The reply VERY clearly meets the required standard, which makes no mention of the reviewers opinion as to the correctness of the reply. So I’m afraid you’ll need to do much better than that to justify this blatant censorship

  154. Peter Wilson Says:


    I would further note that the AGU standard states that:

    “If it is decided to proceed with publication, both the Comment and Reply will appear in the same issue of the journal (i.e., will be posted online on the same day). Both authors will receive copies of the final manuscripts before publication.”

    No mention is made of the possibility of publishing one but refusing to publish the other, and the standard requires a high degree of fairness and impartiality to both authors. In light of this, how can you possibly maintain that the appropriate standards have been met?

    And thanks for the link to the AGU policy, but I think it supports my case rather than yours:-)

  155. Marco Says:

    @Peter Wilson: why no answer to my question on 2-sigma versus 5-sigma?

    Regarding the reply by McLean: it is evasive.
    1. It does not acknowledge or rebut that their filtering method actually increases noise, rather than decrease noise (as they claimed)

    2. It does not acknowledge or rebut that the statistics cited in their paper solely refer to the filtered data, not to their figure 7

    3. It does not acknowledge or rebut that they provide absolutely no statistical analysis for their claim that the correlation between the short-term variation around a trend (their filtered data also shows there *is* a trend, one that is even bigger than any of the normal regression analyses shows) also implies a correlation with the long-term ‘variation’ (with which they mean the trend). Elsewhere McLean merely states that this claim “makes sense”

    To add an example of the absurdity of that claim: there is a strong correlation between the rotation of the earth and the diurnal temperature changes. McLeanian ‘logic’ then tells us that the rotation of the earth is also directly correlated to the seasonal temperature changes. Forget all about the earth moving around the sun, it’s only the rotation!

  156. Peter Wilson Says:


    I get it already, you disagree with McLeans reply.

    That is your right. It is not an opinion I share, but you are perfectly entitled to hold it.

    What you (meaning the climate science community in general) are NOT entitled to do is to pre empt the judgement of the wider scientific community, nor to imply, by refusal to publish the reply, that the authors agree with the comment, which is clearly untrue. As it happens the publication standards of the AGU, as quoted in my previous posts, unambiguously supports this position.

    Your criticisms of McLean et al would carry more weight if you were prepared to allow the wider scientific community to be the judge. Not doing so implies you lack the confidence to expose your arguments to a wider audience, possibly including people who really do understand the statistical basis of the McLean paper.

  157. Peter Wilson Says:


    The problem with accepting results at the 2 sigma level is that to do so is to guarantee that many of the results you accept will be spurious. If one is searching among many results for a small signal amongst a lot of noise, it is inevitable that many, if not most of the results one picks as significant will in fact be spurious. Requiring a higher degree of significance avoids this most serious problem.

    I understand some medical research does accept 2 sigma confidence. Which is why a lot of medicines just don’t work, and are withdrawn after short periods. Medical research is not above criticism either. Treatments which show results at the 5 sigma level do work, always.

    It ain’t rocket science….

  158. Marco Says:

    Peter Wilson,

    I am not the only one not in agreement with the reply. As I explained to you, it was evasive. And what does the AGU policy say? A reply should not be evasive. Using expensive pages, on which actual science could be published, to publish an evasive reply would be against the policy.

    And the reply by McLean *has* been evaluated by people who fully understand it. James Annan has looked at it, and found it more than wanting. It simply was a repetition of the prior claims, without any acknowledgement of error and without proper counter-argument. Publishing the reply would have been completely futile.

  159. Marco Says:

    Regarding the 2-sigma versus 5-sigma: some clinical studies are actually stopped *because* the 2-sigma confidence level is reached: continuing to give patients a placebo or another drug would be to withhold a better treatment.

    Moreover, 2-, 3-, 4-, 5-, 6-sigma, it’s all subjective. If you think a 1 in 20 chance of being wrong is too high, you can choose another significance level. However, you’d have to come with a proper argument to say 1 in 20 is too high. For certain physics experiments the differences are so small that 2-sigma indeed may be too uncertain. In many other studies it is not. Worse even, it may be impossible, from a practical point of view, to ever get that type of confidence. Motl’s approach is to then say “we don’t know anything”. Which is complete nonsense, of course.

  160. Peter Wilson Says:

    It obviously depends on how many results you are looking at. Typically in climate science one is looking at great many results trying o determine a signal above the noise. If one accepts results with a 1 in 20 chance of being wrong, it becomes highly likely that any signal detected will largely consist of spurious results.

    And no, I don’t claim we know nothing with a 2 sigma result, just that its often not nearly as much as we think we know. Scientisits who accept such results should be far more circumspect in their claims than is typical in climate science. A 2 sigma result is suggestive, but to accept it as solid evidence is premature at best. To then use the term “settled science” is just plain dishonest.

  161. Peter Wilson Says:


    You are labouring under the impression that whether you agree with McLeans reply is in any way relevant to the discussion here. The issue is blatant cencorship, whereby an author(s) is made to appear to agree with a criticism of his paper, when that is simply untrue.

    Can you point to the sectrion in the AGU’s publication policy which allows for a comment to be published, but not the relevant reply?

    Thats what I thought.

  162. Marco Says:

    @Peter Wilson:
    back to 1995: less than 95% certainty. Back to 1975, much more than 99% certainty of a rising trend.

    And it’s nice to know you consider a 5% chance “highly likely”. I guess that’s how you go into the casino, too, and throw your money away in the slot machines.

  163. Marco Says:

    Re McLean’s reply:
    The policy clearly says the reply should not be evasive. It was. The policy is clear: an evasive reply does not get published. Policy upheld, a reply not published, QED.

    No publishing the reply does not mean the comment should not be published. Or perhaps you can point to the relevant section in the AGU publication policy?

  164. Peter Wilson Says:


    “No (sic) publishing the reply does not mean the comment should not be published. Or perhaps you can point to the relevant section in the AGU publication policy.”

    I’ve already posted it, but for your edification here it is again:

    “If it is decided to proceed with publication, both the Comment and Reply will appear in the same issue of the journal (i.e., will be posted online on the same day). Both authors will receive copies of the final manuscripts before publication.”

    Clear enough for you?

  165. Marco Says:

    Yes, Peter Wilson, as an editor and frequent reviewer of scientific journals very clear to me: if one decides to proceed with publication with both comment and reply, they will be in the same issue. Implied is that one of the two (and obviously that would be the reply) can most certainly be rejected and *not* published, for example when the reply is evasive (as in the case of McLean et al, and as also clearly noted in the AGU policy). It would be complete stupidity to not publish the comment when the reply cannot be accepted, or every scientist being criticised would have a very simple method of preventing comments to his articles: just submit a reply that violates publication policy.

  166. adriaan Says:

    I know you hate this, but this is a citation of one of your colleagues:

    “Unfortunately, some of my colleagues behave like pastors, who present their results in precisely such a way that they’ll fit to their sermons,” says Storch. “It’s certainly no coincidence that all the mistakes that became public always tended in the direction of exaggeration and alarmism.”,1518,686697-8,00.html

    I am not the only one using the religious allegory.

  167. Peter Wilson Says:


    You may be a reviewer, but it is clear that your comprehension of English is as poor as your grasp of scientific ethics. The interpretation you provide is utterly ludicrous, and clearly at odds with the intention of the writers.

    I’ve finished with this topic. The relevant passage is quoted above, readers can decide which of us can read.

  168. Poptech Says:

    I agree with Peter W.

  169. Marco Says:

    @Peter Wilson:

    I understand exactly what it says. You, on the other hand, believe that a comment can only be published together with the reply, despite the fact that the policy clearly(!) states that the reply should not be evasive. And I think it is now firmly established that MdFC’s reply was evasive.

    Have you ever published anything in a scientific journal, Peter Wilson? I’m guessing you have not.

  170. Peter Wilson Says:


    “I understand exactly what it says”

    Obviously not ! I draw your attention to the phrase “If it is decided to proceed with publication, both the Comment and Reply will appear in the same issue of the journal”

    You could try to explain how this can conceivably envisage the publication of only the comment, but I wouldn’t bother if I were you, you are just looking more foolish by the post.

    My publication record is irrelevant, as is your opinion of McLeans reply. And if you take this sort of attitude in your work as a reviewer, it is little wonder the process has fallen into such disrepute recently.

  171. Marco Says:

    @Peter Wilson: you are seriously arguing that a comment will not be published if the reply is not up to the required standards. That’s stupifyingly stupid. Remember that the policy also says that the reply should not be evasive, and we’ve already established that McLean’s reply *was* evasive. That is, the reply was not up to publishable standards. The comment *was*.

    Your publication record *is* relevant, as it shows whether you are familiar with the publishing scientific papers, including comments and reply to comments.

    You will find many comments in the literature without a reply from the original authors. Reasons are varied, but the reply not being publishable is one amongst them. And *all* journals have the policy to publish comment and reply in the same issue, *if* both are publishable. If the reply is not publishable, you simply don’t *get* a second chance, and the comment is published without your reply.

  172. Peter Wilson Says:


    As I noted above, your comments on this matter are getting more and more foolish. In your lame attempt to sell blatant censorship as legitimate scientific practice you besmirch the process you are attempting to defend. You saying the reply was evasive does not make it so – I read it, as have many others, so please stop repeating that ridiculous claim it was evasive. It addressed the criticisms directly and convincingly – the fat that it did not convince you is very definitely NOT evidence that it is wrong. Of course it might be, but obviously not for the reasons you suggest, which are just pathetic!

    Even if it were a defensible position that the reply was sub standard (which it isn’t), the refusal to publish would still not be defensible. After all, what would be the harm in allowing the reply to be published, allowing the wider scientific community to be the judge of the reply’s validity. This is the only honest course of action to take, and would have avoided the very clear impression that, once again, the peer review system is being corrupted, and used as a gate keeping mechanism for politically inconvenient results.

    You really do need stop now while you’re behind.

  173. Marco Says:

    @Peter Wilson:
    Did the reply acknowledge and/or rebut that their ‘derivative’ procedure increases noise? No, it did not: evasion one.
    Did the reply acknowledge and/or rebut that their procedure removes the trend? Yes and no(!): evasion two.
    Did the reply acknowledge and/or rebut that their procedure does not allow making claims about a long term trend? No, it did not: evasion three (not surprising, considering McLean’s recent howler that if SOI explains short term variation, it makes sense it also explains long term variation; right…rotation of the earth explains diurnal variation, so the seasons are the result of the rotation of the earth-logic.
    Did the reply acknowledge and/or rebut that their statistical analysis only referred to the SOI-variability connection, and thus says nothing about the trend? Yes, and no: evasion four.
    Did the reply acknowledge and/or rebut that their disingenious cutting of a graph in 2 pieces does not allow making claims about the trend? No, it did not: evasion five.

    I’m not the only one noticing this evasion: McLean is torn apart on his attempt to rebut Lewandowsky at the ABC, Tamino caught McLean spreading further nonsense, and James Annan already pointed out how the reply does not acknowledge or rebut any of the major criticisms.

    The “harm” of a substandard reply being published is that it violates the AGU publication policy: evasive replies are not acceptable. Sadly, doing so would allow the less scientifically literate to believe that McLean et al actually rebut the comment. We have several examples here on this forum (you and poptech).

    You really should read the WHOLE policy, and not try the blatant cherry picking and one-sided interpretation.

  174. Eli Rabett Says:

    Well, the best arguments that McLean, de Freitas and Carter’s reply should not have been published are being given by McLean at the Drum

    Has there ever been a better example of someone tossing himself under the bus than McLean’s
    If the SOI accounts for short-term variation then logically it also accounts for long-term variation.

    and he didn’t even try an back away from that as something written in haste. Stick a fork in McLean.

  175. Peter Wilson Says:

    Marco, Eli

    You guys really ought to have a look at what you’ve just written.

    And you wonder why the term “peer reviewed” has lost its credibility in climate science? You guys have no idea what open scientific debate is.

    I know what I’m sticking a fork in Eli, bye for now

  176. Marco Says:

    Peer review is meant to keep the obvious bad papers out, as well as help scientists make their point better (I’ve made and received my share of comments to make papers better). In the case of MdFC it failed, and it most assuredly is not the only case where it failed. It worked, however, for the MdfC reply to the comment: you simply do not get to repeat your false claims. That McLean does not know what he’s doing is shown by the quote from McLean himself that Eli repeats (and I mentioned earlier).

    Peer review in climate science is not different from peer review in *any* scientific field.

  177. Dan Olner Says:

    Peter: “Even if it were a defensible position that the reply was sub standard (which it isn’t), the refusal to publish would still not be defensible. After all, what would be the harm in allowing the reply to be published, allowing the wider scientific community to be the judge of the reply’s validity.”

    That would be called peer review. We keep on coming back to this. The reason the policy didn’t say “and by the way, we won’t publish anything that isn’t acceptable to peer review” is the same reason it didn’t say “and also, we won’t publish stories about what you did in your summer holidays.” Everyone knows that. That’s what journals *do*. There aren’t exceptions for certain classes of writing.

    Peter, c’mon: you accept, in principle, don’t you, that it’s possible that reply could be too poor to be published, don’t you? I originally posted that policy, and it’s taught me a lesson: it doesn’t help in this sort of argument when you share no common ground with the people you’re arguing with. Is it that impossible for us to find some?

    I’ve also noticed, Peter, when we first started this discussion, and I tried to nail you down on some particulars, you said:

    “I am unprepared to comment on Tamino’s critique of the WUWT article in question because I have insufficient expertise to do so, and I don’t hold forth on any subject to which my competence does not extend.”

    Yet you seem 100% sure about the journal-worthiness of this reply. Explain.

    The WUWT issue you commented on was a method that had clearly just taken GISS data and turned it upside down: it’s hard to imagine a more obvious and clear error. You don’t need to know the method, though it’s actually not complex. Look, there’s the graph, and it’s GISS data, except upside-down. Hmm, they probably got something wrong there. But still, you say you don’t have expertise to comment.

    OK. Now let’s imagine the following: a comment and reply submitted, and the reply consists of the word “badger” repeated over and over a thousand times. You agree, presumably, that the reply isn’t suitable for publication, yes? You want to interpret the guidelines as saying that a comment cannot be published without a reply, and it’s kind of a shame they didn’t specifically say it could but – as I say – that’s because it’s obvious that if one or the other hadn’t passed peer review, it couldn’t be.

    So, all we’re left with now is deciding whether the reply is up to scratch. Now, given that (cf. your comment above) you don’t have enough faith in your own competence to pass judgement on a clearly upside-down graph, could you please let us know how you can be so sure that the reply *is* good science?

  178. Peter Wilson Says:


    “Peter, c’mon: you accept, in principle, don’t you, that it’s possible that reply could be too poor to be published, don’t you? ”

    NO. Not under any circumstances. As long as the reply is not abusive and adheres to professional language, NO!

    And that is also clearly the intention of the AGU policy segments quoted. There is simply nothing whatsoever to be gained by not doing so. The world does not need to be protected from views you regard as incorrect, and that is not he object of peer review.

    The fact that you appear to think it is speaks volumes.

  179. Dan Olner Says:

    “The world does not need to be protected from views you regard as incorrect, and that is not the object of peer review.”

    Yes, that is exactly the object of peer review. Well, nearly: it’s not to “protect the world” from what peer reviewers think is incorrect. It’s to just plain keep out what peer reviewers think is incorrect. The whole point of it, it’s reason for existing, is to keep out what peer reviewers think is incorrect.

    What do you think peer review *is*? I’m puzzled.

  180. Peter Wilson Says:


    The fact that you can think this applies to replies to comment is breathtaking. The simple fact is that to publish a comment and not a reply is to imply that the original author agrees with the comment.

    This is dishonest in any interpretation. If the author (whose original paper has, by definition, already passed peer review) was to choose to make a ridiculous reply, as with the ludicrous straw man example you invented, he would be judged appropriately by his peers. That is not the job of the reviewer.

    In accepting a paper, and the a comment on the paper, journals accept an obligation to publish any non libellous reply. This is clearly implicit in the AGU policy, but far more importantly, to depart from this practice is to lay oneself open to quite justifiable claims of bias , censorship and dishonesty.

    Which of course is exactly, and predictably,what has happened here.

  181. Dan Olner Says:

    Peter: “The fact that you can think this applies to replies to comment is breathtaking.”

    Is it? Breathtaking, eh? Gosh. OK, well, I’m just going to ask around a few colleagues and get back to you. Seems mighty odd to me that some categories of publication should be exempt from peer review, but maybe you’re right… back shortly.

  182. Peter Wilson Says:


    I am not sure why “your colleagues” opinions would be of any interest, I’d rather hear yours

  183. Dan Olner Says:

    Peter: well, I’m a PhD student, nothing published yet. I’ve learned a fair bit about the publishing process (they train us well, since publication is so vital to one’s career these days). I can’t recall anything that excluded any form of submission from peer review. Journals are journals, peer review is peer review.

    You’re saying peer review does not apply to comments/replies, I’m saying it does. Is that a fair summary? I’m pretty sure I’m right, but I’d like to just double-check with some people in my own field.

  184. Peter Wilson Says:


    So let me get this straight. You plan to ask a bunch of your (I assume) scientific colleagues, if they think that to publish a comment, and not publish a rely, is or is not dishonest and unacceptable.

    If you find many (or any!) to answer not, I will simply hang my head in shame at the moral bankruptcy of their branch of science.

    Yeah, “breathtaking” is a little floral, I’m just running out of adjectives to describe my disbelief that anyone claiming as a scientist could attempt your line of argument.

  185. Dan Olner Says:

    Hmm. OK. See, as I say, unless I’m going mad, I think all submissions to journals get peer reviewed. I just thought it might help to check with some others that I’m not going mad.

    I’m a geographic modeller, certainly not a climate scientist. Peer review is meant to work the same in all disciplines. As it is, I’ve asked a couple of friends from two different fields.

    I’m not asking them whether it’s dishonest. I’m asking them whether it’s peer review. That’s what we’re discussing, yes? We can then argue whether you think peer review is dishonest, but I’d like us to be able to agree on what peer review actually means.

    The definition of peer review won’t come down to what I think, or what a few of my friends or colleagues think. It comes down to something very basic. E.g. to me peer review means: a bunch of your peers who review what you’ve written, to see whether they think it’s up to the standard of the journal you want to submit to.

    Would you do me a favour and let me know if you think that’s a reasonable summary of what peer review is? Could you also please let me know in your own words: you think comments and replies should not be peer reviewed?

  186. Alex Heyworth Says:

    Dan Olner

    Yes, that is exactly the object of peer review. Well, nearly: it’s not to “protect the world” from what peer reviewers think is incorrect. It’s to just plain keep out what peer reviewers think is incorrect. The whole point of it, it’s reason for existing, is to keep out what peer reviewers think is incorrect.

    According to you, that is its purpose. Nature had a brief article on the purpose of peer review back in 2006. The first line: “Most people accept that peer review is enormously valuable and should be maintained and protected, but few agree on what purpose it serves. ” The last paragraph: “If we want to improve the peer-review process we need to start by agreeing its main purpose. Is it a filter, a distribution system, or a quality-control process? Unless we can answer these questions, attempts at ‘improving’ peer review risk wasting time and effort.”

  187. Marco Says:

    @Peter Wilson:

    Why do you keep on ignoring the part in the AGU publishing policy that says a reply should not be evasive? And MdFC’s reply just happens to evade ALL the relevant comments made by Foster et al, and is therefore in violation of the publishing policy.

  188. Dan Olner Says:

    @Peter: Having read around a few journals’ submission policies, I think you’re right on one aspect: I said “you’re saying peer review does not apply to comments/replies, I’m saying it does.” From a small sample, I was wrong: it’s not so black and white. Journals don’t all accept comments and replies, for starters. Those that do all have their own policies, and not all of those seem to involve submitting comments/replies through the whole formal peer review process in the same way primary articles are.

    Generally, where comments and replies are accepted, there is a requirement that they be of a publishable quality, but whether or not a number of referees are required seems to vary. So it could end up being the editor’s discretion on what counts as ‘publishable’ – not your peers.

    The AGU policy appears to be that both comments and replies *are* refereed, but that’s not the case for every organisation. So what we’ll end up doing now is arguing over what AGU policy use of the word “referee” means, and whether those referees correctly interpreted AGU policy.

    Peter, on that: I’d like to go back to a point I was making earlier. I’m wondering, ultimately, how come you consider yourself able to declare on whether AGU referees correctly assessed McLean’s reply. I’ll paraphrase myself. You said of that WUWT article:

    “I am unprepared to comment on Tamino’s critique of the WUWT article in question because I have insufficient expertise to do so, and I don’t hold forth on any subject to which my competence does not extend.”

    The WUWT took GISS data and, either through lack of understanding or deliberate manipulation, turned it upside down. It’s hard to imagine a more obvious and clear error (though actually McLean comes close). But still, you say you don’t have expertise to comment.

    Yet you seem 100% sure about the journal-worthiness of this reply. Why? How come you are unable to comment on the WUWT article, but feel so sure of your understanding of McLean’s reply that you can say whether it does or does not meet the AGU’s criteria?

  189. Poptech Says:

    Clearly those supporting the censorship of McLean’s reply to Foster et al. believe that Foster et al.’s comment cannot stand on it’s own without keeping McLean from responding. If Foster et al’s comments are so robust then they should clearly be able to deal with McLean’s response being published. The rest of this is nonsense in support of gatekeeping.

  190. Peter Wilson Says:


    Why do you keep on ignoring the part in the AGU publishing policy that says a reply should not be evasive?

    Very simple. The reply directly addresses the criticisms levelled by Foster et al. It certainly does not evade them in any sense of avoiding the issue. If you think the reply is inadequate, that is your view, and if you think your reasons for holding that view would pass peer review, by all means submit it as a comment and take your chances.

    (I would nominate Harold Wegman and Roy Spencer to review your submission. Do you think they would agree with you? Yeah right.)

    But you holding such an opinion in no way entitles you to have a comment published, with the utterly dishonest implication that the original author agrees when he does not, which is what is happened here. As I have already stated, there is simply no excuse whatever to not publish a reply (or at least any reply which would pass moderation on this blog, for instance).

    You also ignore the fact that, by definition the original article has passed peer review. If the authors were truly incompetent, that s the point at which the gate keeping should occur, not later.To then deny the authors the chance to defend their paper in the same forum is blatantly dishonest.

    It is remarkable that you do not have the same regard for the infallibility of the original reviewers as you have for the hand picked (by Phil Jones – see the climategate emails) reviewers selected to censor this politically inconvenient result.

    Actually, it’s not remarkable at all, is it? Consistency is the last thing I would expect.

  191. Peter Wilson Says:


    Yet you seem 100% sure about the journal-worthiness of this reply. Why?

    Because it is written in English, is not abusive and libels no one. No other consideration could conceivably render a reply by the original authors non “journal worthy”. I agree that my statistical skills are way too primitive to assess the relative merits of the comment or reply, although I note that numerous other commentators do not agree with you, and do not display the obvious bias you do in your comments, so I judge their contributions more plausible on the face of it. (That, and the fact that they are not the ones trying to censor the debate.)

    I am, however, fully competent to judge on matters of scientific ethics and honesty.

    This fails badly.

  192. Peter Wilson Says:

    Sorry that last one should be addressed to Dan

  193. Dan Olner Says:

    @Peter – I feel like maybe we’re getting somewhere. But I need some clarification: when replying to Marco you say:

    “The reply directly addresses the criticisms levelled by Foster et al. It certainly does not evade them in any sense of avoiding the issue.”

    So, you are arguing with Marco about whether the reply does/does not meet the AGU policy, and in that quote you say that it does. But when I ask why you’re 100% sure it’s publishable,you say:

    “Because it is written in English, is not abusive and libels no one. No other consideration could conceivably render a reply by the original authors non “journal worthy”.”

    Now, I don’t like putting words into your mouth, but these imply two very different things. In replying to me, you’re saying: the AGU policy is wrong. The criteria for replies should just be “it is written in English, is not abusive and libels no one.”

    Is that what you think – that the AGU policy is wrong? If so, fair enough. But that’s very different from arguing with Marco that is does in fact meet the AGU policy requirements. Perhaps you could clear this up for us and we can take it from there.

  194. Peter Wilson Says:


    I can see why you might be confused. Let me explain.

    In my reply to Marco, I am answering his persistent and petulant insistence that the McLean reply is evasive, or whatever, based on his say so. I noted that he has made a number of specific criticisms of the reply, and that I am not an expert in statistics, but that there are others who are who disagree with him. The point I am trying to make here is that I have no reason to accept his arguments, which have not been subject to peer review, whereas the original McLean paper was. I am however able to read English, and McLean certainly claimed to be answering the comment. Under these circumstances neither the (newly appointed, at Phil Jones’ connivance) reviewers of the reply, nor Marco, nor anyone else, have any right to deny the authors the right of reply. To do s is to TELL A LIE, namely that the authors agree with the comment, which they do not. Such is very clearly the intent of the AGU policy, Marco’s protestations about “relevance” notwithstanding.

    In replying to you, I am simply reiterating the main point of this whole thread, that it is utterly unacceptable to censor any reply by a “peer reviewed” author in this manner. This is not a matter of the correctness or otherwise of any paper, comment or reply. It is simply a matter of scientific integrity and honesty.

    I think the AGU policy is quite correct. Comments and replies should be published in the same journal. I think the editors in question have wilfully misread the policy to mean they can have another chance to censor a viewpoint they wish the previous editors had censored. This is not only wrong from a strict interpretation of the policy, it is morally and scientifically bankrupt.

  195. Marco Says:

    @Peter Wilson:
    You claim the reply was not evasive, I do. I gave you several specific examples of things McLean’s reply does not acknowledge or rebut, something you very easily can check. Just do it. You do not even need to understand the statistics to note that the reply does not even acknowledge or rebut that the mathematical procedure *increases* noise.

    And where do you get the idea that Phil Jones handpicked reviewers? As co-author of the reply he could not do anything about who the reviewers would be! They only suggested some people (and we don’t know whether they were picked) and makes it clear these people know exactly what to say without needing any prompting. In other words: they KNOW and UNDERSTAND the issues, and would be able to see MdFC was a pile of nonsense.

    What is morally bankrupt is MdFC’s attempt to claim the same as in their original article, without proving the rebuttal wrong. You simply do NOT get a chance to make false claims twice. And you dare to invoke scientific integrity and honesty!

  196. Peter Wilson Says:


    And where do you get the idea that Phil Jones handpicked reviewers?

    Thats where.

  197. Dan Olner Says:

    @Peter. Oooooooh. Did you read the whole thing? Have you looked at any journal article submission guidelines? As in that email, journals all ask for suggestions for referees, and reserve the right not to use them. It’s just as Marco said. The email even pastes the submission guidelines in there.

    What happened in that link? Potential reviewers were suggested because… the journal asked for a list of potential reviewers. Oh.

    Again, if you want to attack this element of peer review, go ahead. But to attack authors for asking around about which referees to suggest, in order to fill in a *required* article submission form…?

    It’s somewhat like attacks on ‘gatekeeping’. “Peer review keeps substandard articles out shocker.” It’s not news.

    I’m still confused about your previous argument: 1) the AGU policy is correct 2) McLean’s reply does not, in your judgement, fall foul of that policy and 3) you don’t consider yourself competent to judge the merits of either McLean’s reply or a WUWT article. I’m having difficulty reconciling 2) and 3).

    I don’t know why you’re claiming (2), but there is a great deal of climate science that falls entirely within the wit of anyone with a eggcup-full of logic. You *do* have the competence to distinguish. If Monckton says “you can’t predict the climate because it’s a complex system”, and then he beats you over the head with equations, you do NOT need to go learn dynamical systems. You just need to go: “the weather is a complex system: we can’t predict it two weeks from now. The climate is a complex system – I, personally, know roughly what the temperature will be doing in six months time without doing the slightest maths.” How can you say that? You know about seasons – a particular yearly climate forcing. Conclusion: complex systems have very well defined boundaries. Cf. weather and seasons.

    I’m really not sure what to make of the fact that e.g. Monckton can still get away with putting up slides of pretty chaotic diagrams. I think he’s playing on the fact that many people are terrified of maths. If everyone could just step back for a moment and do that basic logical bit of thinking, they’d see he was clearly talking nonsense.

    Interestingly, it would appear that McLean’s article and reply is actually entirely within the range of this sort of very, very obvious and intuitive analysis. I don’t think you’re allowed the ‘not competent’ defence – but if you want to carry on making it, you’re certainly not allowed to carry on arguing that you’re competent to judge whether some article met the AGU’s policies.

  198. Dan Olner Says:

    p.s. most amused by the ad at the top of the stolen East Anglia emails: “ – take back your privacy.”

  199. Peter Wilson Says:


    I’m still confused about your previous argument: 1) the AGU policy is correct 2) McLean’s reply does not, in your judgement, fall foul of that policy and 3) you don’t consider yourself competent to judge the merits of either McLean’s reply or a WUWT article. I’m having difficulty reconciling 2) and 3).

    Which clearly indicates you have not bothered to understand my point. The fact that you believe there is contradiction here is revealing. For the last time, it is not “in my judgement” that McLean does not fall foul of the policy, my judgement of the reply is as irrelevant as yours. It is that it is quite simply impossible that a reply to a comment should not be published, according to the policy which states – oh dammit, I’ve quoted that 3 times already, go back and READ the thing . If that fact is not clear to you from the words on the page, I would suggest a course in remedial reading comprehension.

    And if you actually read the email I linked, (and understand the “context” it has been taken out of!), you will see that Phil Jones was blatantly recommending reviewers to achieve his aim of suppressing the reply. I suppose you don’t see anything wrong with that, but anyone who understands scientific integrity will.

  200. Dan Olner Says:

    @ Peter: interesting. I often argue with people about the possibility of civil climate discussion with people who hold opposing views. Many believe it’s futile. I’m beginning to worry they may be right. I’ve tried to treat your views with respect, and despite what you say have indeed “bothered to understand your point”, or certainly to tried to.

    Now you “suggest a course in remedial reading comprehension.” Constructive, do you think? Helping to further tease out where our disagreements might lie? No.

    The policy didn’t say several things. It didn’t say “the editor has ultimate discretion” – which they do. Of couse they do, that’s what ‘editor’ means. We’re in a bizarre situation where we’re arguing over some legalistic interpretation of a policy document, and it’s a complete distraction. I mean, shall we spend another week picking apart whether –

    “If a Reply is submitted in a timely way, the Editor will have both the Comment and Reply reviewed.”

    – means that the reply gets reviewed, and thus presumably might be found wanting? (Otherwise, why review it?)

    Because ultimately that just brings us back to the point – which is the actual scientific merit of the McLean et al article and reply, and its relevance to the comment. On this matter, you proclaim yourself incompetent to judge. As I say, you are not. I would very much like it – if the thread owner doesn’t mind – if we could move on to the actual material in question. I still stand by my three points: if you believe yourself capable of comprehending the meaning of the AGU policy, you are more than able to pass judgement on the basic logic of McLean’s work.

    Without taking a position on the actual science, this conversation is going nowhere. You can take a position on the science without recourse to having to choose who to trust. I’m happy to read interpretations of the material you send if you’ll read mine.

    I do not believe its tenable to carry on pleading incompetence while claiming censorship has occurred – but let’s drop that, shall we? You believe it was ‘censored’, I believe it was peer-reviewed. Who knows – maybe I’m wrong. Maybe some secret cabal met at midnight and burned a sacrificial copy of the reply while chanting. Who knows?

    So forget that for a bit – can we talk about the meat of the science itself?

    If you discover that it was actually scientifically rubbish, will you still care about “censorship” so much, do you think?

    Also: “Phil Jones was blatantly recommending reviewers to achieve his aim of suppressing the reply.” Is that so? Could you explain to me how we distinguish this from “Phil Jones suggesting people he thinks might make good reviewers, as the AGU submission form demands.” How would the language of the two differ? Note that saying “they were other scientists who disagreed with McLean” is not an answer: you can argue that only if you think the reply had scientific worth. We need to work out whether it did. Shall we do that?

  201. Marco Says:

    @Peter Wilson.

    To add to what Dan said: Jones suggested reviewers for their comment. This does not mean any of those *were* any of the actual reviewers!

    Interestingly, the AGU policy indicates that usually only one reviewer is used. In this case there were THREE reviewers. Clearly, the Editor wanted to be certain. It is therefore also logical to assume that the Editor did not only use any of the names suggested by Foster et al., but selected some himself, too.

    And how *you* interpret the policy is completely irrelevant. It is how the editors interpret the policy. Considering the fact that they put specific requirements on the content, it is obvious that both comment and reply can be rejected. It would be outrageous to publish a reply if it violates the policy.

  202. More PR-novice scientists bring BB guns to the war over climate policy; fossil-fuel interests and "skeptics" tremble - TT's Lost in Tokyo Says:

    […] 5.  While scientists have concerns and policy preferences, clearly they are not politically powerful, even as opposition to climate change policy is very solidly grounded in efforts by sophisticated fossil fuel interests to protect investment returns. Here is a brief introduction to the mis-information campaign. […]

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