The only thing we can be sure of about the future is that it will be absolutely fantastic. So if what I say now seems to you to be very reasonable, then I have failed completely. Only if what I tell you appears absolutely unbelievable, have we any chance of visualizing the future as it really will happen.

- Arthur C. Clarke (h/t Brin)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Lemonade, Or The Responsibilities of Blogging

Lemonade, as in when life gives you lemons, make it.

OK, I was sloppy recently. Not my first mistake in blogging. And I was insensitive too. And it somewhat blew up in my face. So what can I learn from this?

Mostly, don't do both in the same posting!

Let me consider the insensitivity part. Apparently my lack of regard for parenthood itself (a very good thing when done right, but a bad thing, sometimes a very bad thing, otherwise), never mind large families (an anachronism in my opinion) is not just moderately off topic. It is insensitive. I suppose lots of people are parents or children of large families and would be likely to take offense.

I don't like how Mrs Simac wielded her motherhood, but I didn't handle it well.

Both the topic of family size and its semiotics seem to me a legitimate topic of conversation on a sustainability blog, but it's too emotionally laden for a snarky side reference. I am thick, but I guess I see that. Apologies to anyone whose feelings I hurt. I will avoid this topic in future and recommend that anyone else taking it on take note of how it might affect certain people. A legitimate issue, but not one that should be treated lightly.

On the other hand, it got me some attention. And then I blew it with an offhand comment.
And as for "If my career had been based on investigating something and I was so certain of my data, why would I not want to defend it?", this is obviously trickery. Science is not data. We are not collecting fingerprints. We are describing what is actually happening. The data are of course a consistency check, but this isn't a question of data at all.
"Science is not data". OK. I stand by that. Data is part of science, but science is more than data. "It's not a question of data at all" is wrong and silly, though. What I should have said is that "it is a fundamental mistake about the whole issue to believe that observational data are decisive in the absence of scientific understanding". Of course, data are crucial. What I meant to say was they aren't enough.

And here is where the real point I was trying to bring up comes in. The whole core of denialism is "my graphs vs your graphs" as if the graphs themselves were the science. But they just aren't.

Which graph is important, and why, what it means, where it fits in, these are matters for expert judgment. The legitimate question is the expertise of the whole field, but that can only be addressed by people who are experts in other, related fields. Yet we see a claim on Lucia's site (#31847) claiming that the skill set of climate science is "not difficult to acquire" and less than that of "a good chef". Now, of course, that is a slippery claim, since we are comparing art and science, and possibly as insulting to the chef as to the scientist in that regard, but if we are comparing the technical skills of a chef with those of a climate scientist, the comparison is so far out of line as to be mind-boggling.

Where does this foolishness come from? It comes from some very elementary ideas of what science is. "I can read a graph of a quantity vs. time," they say, and since that is all they see, that is all they think there is to it. And our PR and journalist advisers warn us never to present an equation, never mind a theoretical deduction. What would you expect them to think if they never see anything else?

Anyway, there's much to think about in the peculiar and revealing responses to this article, which aside from its flaws made an important point, a point which we see is met with fierce and somewhat clueless resistance.

But there were some immediate and obvious lessons as well:

So the first lesson is, you never know when Morano will pounce. You have to watch everything you say, because you never know when somebody will take note of something you say violating the norms of some audience you don't understand, leap to call their attentions to it, and use it to discredit you.

The second lesson is, you never know when Morano will pounce, and you can't understand everybody on earth in advance. So just say what you say and take your lumps. There's always a side benefit of an expanded audience.

The third lesson is, don't screw up your text. Edit. Don't hit "publish" at 2:40 AM (which I did in this case). Because you may have casually said something stupid. You can correct it in the morning if the posting doesn't get more than the usual attention. But if it hits the limelight, and there's a factually stupid statement as well as a bit of inadvertent Morano bait, you don't get to edit it.

The most daunting part of all of this is that writing for the web as a hobby has consequences. You think you're chatting but actually you're doing politics. You can't just say what you think, because somebody may think ill of something else you say. You never know what chain of decisions may hinge on it. Politics is the sort of thing that turns people into politicians.

Sorry, y'all. Like most of us, I'm imperfect.

(Therefore, Not the IPCC, right? :- )

Update: Calling this article a sort-of-apology, Morano sort-of-graciously links here.

Here's my actual apology, on Kim Simac's blog, an apology which she entirely graciously accepted; don't miss that.

For a tea party lady, Kim Simac is a real charmer. Understand I'm not a supporter by any means, but this isn't the time for me to criticize. In truth, some corner of me finds her all-in-it-together team spirit endearing. I'll definitely take her over Mrs. Palin! Mrs. Simac actually seems to be the genuine article, an honest, down-to-earth goodhearted populist patriot.


AMac said...

> You never know when Morano will pounce...

Who's Morano? Like most of Lucia's audience (I suppose), I formed my impression of your positions from what you said in the comments at Lucia's. And the way you said it.

Except for a couple of word choices--everybody makes mistakes like the ones you recount--I take it that you stand by what you wrote.

guthrie said...

Mr Simac???
Not Mrs?

Michael Tobis said...


fixed. thanks.

Hank Roberts said...

Sheesh, you must've gotten concern-trolled by the trollmaster. I never saw any sign of it, but the world under the bridge is its own universe.

> The whole core of denialism is
> "my graphs vs your graphs"

And that's why Google Image Search, when searching on any climate question, is so revealing. You'll find dozens of images at denial and PR sites for each question, and maybe one image from a science site.

Mayge it's how they tag their images (I suspect that's some of it -- if so, someone at Google Image ought to be able to comment on why they're so overloaded with bogus PR imagery on climate questions).

guthrie said...

I've seen far stupider and more insulting positions held by newspaper writers, who somehow keep their jobs for years on end.
But when some obscure blogger whose position on climate change opposes your own, then he's clearly a nasty piece of work who needs to be told off. We seem to have seen loads of new people in the last week, and it is Morano's fault.

lucia said...

This is better: Data is part of science, but science is more than data.

But I have a quibble with this:
"it is a fundamental mistake about the whole issue to believe that observational data are decisive in the absence of scientific understanding".

If you think you understand, and but your notions are not supported by reliable data, the data is decisive. Something about what you call your understanding is wrong. The error may be a small thing-- and we look for small things before we through out long established principles, but something is wrong.

Of course data and science are not the same thing.

On to other points in your post. You are mischaracterizing arguments to the point of creating a strawman when you suggest the claims at other blogs are, "I can read a graph of a quantity vs. time," they say, and since that is all they see, that is all they think there is to it."

You aren't required to engage or even read the blogs you criticize. But presenting rebuttals to your mischaracterizations is pointless. Those who you think you rebut know your response did not engage anything they ever claimed. Naturally, they continue on unconcerned that you vanquished an argument no one advances.

"Mayge it's how they tag their images ".

I don't tag my images -- though the Wordpress default might create 'alt' tags. I don't actually know. But the trick to coming up high in multi-word searches is generally to use lots of words in your post and vary terminology. I've read all sorts of rumors about what Google values, but I'm not sure they are all true. Getting people to link you is supposed to be the primary way to make google think highly of your site. Other than that, I've read both that Google diagnoses your topic based on outlinks but also that outlinks decrease your google rank. So, who knows?

Michael Tobis said...

Obscure? Moi?

Not as much as before Morano knew my name, that's for sure.

That's the thing. You don't control when the obscurity lifts. Your opponent does.

Dion said...

Generating good science and understanding science are extremely disparate skill sets. I understand Special Relativity (sort of), but I could not ever approach developing such a theory, or one to refute it.

My moniker notwithstanding, I am a hobby cook, but I wouldn't last 5 minutes as a chef in a good restaurant. To be really good in either profession, among other things, requires creativity that I don’t possess.

Tom said...

Warned ya. Move on now.

David B. Benson said...

Oh go ahead.

Hurt her feelings as much and as often as you like.

After all, does she care about yours?

Sorry, but I don't think "turn the other cheek" is suitable for dealing with denialists. Of course, I don't think anything is suitable in these cases...

birdbrainscan said...

To answer the question from AMac "Who's Morano?", he is Marc Morano. Up to last year he was a staffer for U.S. Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), perhaps best known for publishing on the Senate website a list of names he claimed were questioning or rejecting human-driven climate change.
Last year he left Sen. Inhofe's staff and went out on his own, starting up the ClimateDepot website and a regular email blast trumpeting any story he finds that appears to him to question the conformist warmist alarmist religion, shattering the consensus and presaging the imminent implosion of the IPCC.
His address list reportedly reaches many opinion-makers, and themes he picks up frequently air shortly afterward on Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck and indeed any part of Fox News.
In earlier times he was credited with having conceived and executed the "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" attack ad campaign against John Kerry's 2004 presidential bid.

birdbrainscan said...

Also, for Michael: we all know what to do when life gives you lemons. But what about when life gives you limes instead? Then what? I say you need a blender for times like these, for the only thing to do in those times is to make daiquiris.

Michael Tobis said...

There are a lot things you can do with limes. Of course, a limeade, or its wiser sibling, a proper margarita come to mind.

Around these parts, where limes are ten for a dollar in season, we put lime on everthang. You can even put lime on your breakfast.

Lazar said...

"you vanquished an argument no one advances"

No one apart from quite a lot of people.

lucia said...

Nice try. But the argument Tobis engaged what not "there is global cooling".

He claimed "they" advance the argument "I can read a graph of a quantity vs. time," they say, and since that is all they see, that is all they think there is to it."

I don't know anyone who says that.

Michael Tobis said...

Lazar, I'm afraid that isn't responsive to Lucia's point.

Most of the people who are in the state-which-cannot-be-called-denial are obsessed with short term trends in global mean surface temperature. Since Lucia enjoys picking at my words, I may have stated this with somewhat less than adequate precision for her high standards. The point is that the whole of global atmospheric science does not rest on the recent temperature trend.

Two can play at the nitpicking game, of course.

Lazar said...


Agreed with...

"sloppy" [...] "off topic" [...] "insensitive"

But even more with...

"So just say what you say and take your lumps."

Direct and unflattering is more trustworthy than greasy and PR. Telling people their opinions are worth a dime when they're not is bad for science, bad education, bad psychologically, bad for the people involved.

Lucia suggests we fight PR on PR terms... a battle we can't win where we lose trust overall just by trying. We don't need to save every soul and we can't. And the effort suggested is what... 50 man-hours going to some tp debate and swaying maybe two people? So, don't sweat it man, let the PR guys have their little victories.

Steve Bloom said...

"Last year he left Sen. Inhofe's staff and went out on his own(.)"

He's not on his own even slightly. Some rather specific people and institutions pay to keep that sort of crap flying through the media.

Steve Bloom said...

Lucia pretends she's never visited WUWT, and denies that what she does is simply a more sophisticated version.

EliRabett said...

Eli believes the accurate and precise answer to Lucia is "You are full of crap"

duffandnonsense said...

All good things have their bad side, thus, Michael, the fact that, from time to time, you are prepared to admit an error or a lapse (a good thing) is the reason I stick around your blog (a bad thing). As they say, no good deed goes unpunished in this wicked world!
David Duff

guthrie said...

I disagree with Lucia regarding data and scientific understanding. Having data is of minimal use without an overarching theory to explain and manipulate the data. Even if it's wrong, its still a scientific theory (See the age ofthe earth and sun, Newtons mechanics etc detc) you still have the theory which determines your interaction with the data, and its that theory data interaction which is what science is all about. It doesn't work without one or the other. What Michael was saying was doing was drawing attention to the sorts of complaints which I see all the time, regarding "Its been cooling since 1998" and other more rational comments. The way Lucia has put it is actually not so relevant to the point Michael was trying to make, because her point is about the robustness or not of theory when comparing the data to it, whereas in actual science there is a discourse between the data and theory until they match.

Lucia-how do you know the data is reliable?

lucia said...

"The point is that the whole of global atmospheric science does not rest on the recent temperature trend."

Rewording doesn't turn your strawman into anything real. No one claims "the whole of global atmospheric science" "rests on recent temperature trends."

I don't pretend I don't visit WUWT.

ourchangingclimate said...


Regarding mt’s claim that “observational data are [not] decisive in the absence of scientific understanding”. An important part here is “in the absence of”: Data just by itself, without proper understanding of what it means, the context, etc, is just a bunch of numbers without much meaning. It’s hard to argue with that.

You say “If you think you understand, and but your notions are not supported by reliable data, the data is decisive. Something about what you call your understanding is wrong. The error may be a small thing-- and we look for small things before we through out long established principles, but something is wrong.”

You automatically assume that the mistake is in the scientific understanding, yet it is also possible that the mistake is in the data, or (perhaps most likely) in the interpretation of the data: Perhaps they aren’t as inconsistent with the theory as it seems at first sight. That possibility is easily forgotten. My favorite example is that observing a bird in the sky doesn’t disprove gravity. An analogous reasoning is often heard to disprove AGW (see

You’re very right though that long established principles shouldn’t be thrown out because of a small inconsistency between (ones interpretation of the) data and theory. Perhaps you could emphasize that more often, to avoid being misunderstood?


AMac said...


Thanks for the background on Morano. I dropped by his site. It doesn't seem very useful.

The comments left by Steve Bloom and EliRabett (among others) will leave an impression on the reader who isn't committed to the AGW Consensus. These writers are so prolific and so consistent that I assume that this is intentional. That, of course, is relevant to Lucia's post, which Michael Tobis links to in his text.

Steve Bloom said...


'(Michael) claimed "they" advance the argument "I can read a graph of a quantity vs. time," they say, and since that is all they see, that is all they think there is to it."

'I don't know anyone who says that.'

The clever Lucia points out that nobody literally says such a thing. True! But very misleading, since WUWT among other sites is premised on that concept.

I will repeat that Lucia's own site is a more sophisticated version of the same thing. The clues are the pretension that one can have expertise in analysis without having a good understanding of the thing being analyzed and a persistent lack of interest in the larger scientific picture.

Kenneth P. Green said...

Michael -

Having had myself "lifted from (relative) obscurity" by my opponents in a far rougher way than you're getting, you have my sympathies, but only at a very modest level.

Still, you misdiagnose what you did wrong. Morano is not the problem here. As I mentioned in another post, the problem is that you've adopted a highly elitist, sneering, uncivil tone toward anyone who disagrees with you. That tone permeates your writing. Even when you are claiming to attempt to politely engage your opponents (as you have me), the comments you make in response to others who join in on a thread suggest your effort is insincere. Such behavior might please your sycophants, but you've given skeptics (far more extreme than I am) yet another stick to use in beating all of climate science over the head, as you're acting out the caricature of a disconnected, elitist, and zealous extremist.

Why would you expect your opponents NOT to seize on such words? And why create a blog if you didn't want your words out there?

The two points you did get right are, never post when you're tired, and always expect that your words might wind up on the front page of the New York Times.

Welcome to a world where there are real consequences for poor choices of language, Michael.

David B. Benson said...

I suppose I am stating this in an overly technical fashion, but most are not so good at extracting an actual signal from data with lots of pink noise.

Michael Tobis said...

Mrs. Simac,

I do apologize for how I handled the matter of your family size. It was off my main point and I should have let it slide. I handled it in a way that was sure to be disturbing to you if it were called to your attention. I didn't expect that, and now I am embarrassed by it.

I am sure you are a great asset to your family and your community.

I appreciate that you are doing God's will as you understand it. I think I have to say that I am doing the same. My job as I understand it is to try to explain to people that what is good for themselves and their families is not the same as what is good for the world.

Now that humans have covered the earth, we must stop multiplying. The multiplying part is done. I am deeply certain of this.

This is not to say that successfully raising a large family is anything but a great accomplishment. I congratulate you for all the good you have done in your family and your community, but caution you against being too overconfident when operating at a grander scale.

I am not interested in a debate about climate science with Willie Soon or anybody. I don't believe the debate format is useful, and for pretty much the reason you found outrageous. I don't know what to do about that outrage. The fact is that this is basically correct. A debate is not the best way for people to learn about a body of knowledge.

I would be willing to talk about sustainability issues to any group you care to propose in a non-debate format, next time I am in Wisconsin. I am usually up there around Thanksgiving time. You could also probably attract various faculty at UW and U Minn to talk to you.

No scientist wants to do this in a hostile environment. We have learned our lesson. While we have been studying the earth, others have been studying debating strategies. It's not doing anybody any good for science experts to lose debates to people who are mostly debating experts.

Neven said...

"No one claims "the whole of global atmospheric science" "rests on recent temperature trends." "


I like Lucia. I think she's a very nice person, I really do. In my mind's eye I see her knitting socks for her dad or husband, giggling to herself when thinking of those silly climate scientists the way a less intelligent woman, like Mrs Simac perhaps, will giggle when she thinks of an episode of her favourite sitcom.

Lucia is a bit of an insider and knows scientists, she knows how they think, and likes it when their geeky hubris blows up in her face. There's a tad of gossipy mischief in her that I quite like. People like Lucia can play an interesting role on several levels of the AGW issue, and she sometimes does.

My problem with Lucia is that she believes she is a lukewarmer and thus presents herself that way. A bit like Roger Pielke Jr sees himself as the rational, unbiased voice of reason in the center. However, her sympathy lies very clearly on the denialist side of the AGW debate. I've read her blog and its comments long enough to be sure of this (thus Eli's "she's full of cr*p" is very rude but very understandable).

Just to be clear: A 'lukewarmer' to me is someone who believes the atmosphere is warming, but not catastrophically so, now or in the future. Fine with me. But I think that when you believe this, you will be equally critical of warmers and denialists alike, because there's fault to be found on both sides of the line.

Why be critical of denialists? Well, because they want to smother any action to mitigate warming (because they have ideological, narcissistic and/or financial motives to do so). But a real lukewarmer is not against action, as long as it is done the right and proportionate way, based on proper risk management etc. One other reason is that denialist tactics to confuse and muddle is dodgy in the ethical sense. There is much to criticise.

Lucia however, hardly ever criticises the denialist side of the debate, whether it be their tactics, their misrepresentations of the science (she criticised Monckton once, which initially aroused my interest) or their ideological/financial ties. When I called her out on this she said something along the line of WUWT and RealClimate being on the same level scientifically speaking, which absolutely flabbergasted me.

So Lucia might be a lukewarmer when it comes to the science, but somehow that doesn't prevent her from being in the denialist camp when it comes to all other aspects of AGW. And there's a bit of an illogical disconnect there, in my opinion. It could be that she unwittingly is a denialist in disguise. Maybe the Heartland Institute will send her some knitting needles for all the free work she's doing for them! ;-)

I've been wanting to write this for a long time. Sorry I did it here where it's so off-topic.

Tom said...

Nice apology. Now put it up as a separate post and email it to the woman. And then you're done!

David B. Benson said...

MT --- I shall be most surprised if your apology makes the slightest difference to anybody but you (and I guess Tom).

But it was well done.

Anna Haynes said...

Nice lemonade, with 1 exception -

Always avoid the phrasing "Apologies to anyone whose feelings I hurt" because (IMO) it comes across as inherently insincere.

and the nonmarital admonition "never go to bed after posting when you're angry" is a good one. The only times you're obscure on the web are when you don't want to be...

Anna Haynes said...

p.s. Scientific blog etiquette, for certain readers:

Your mom(!) may give you unconditional love, but from the rest of us, respect is not a constant; you might not start with much, but you can earn more, or you can lose it all, depending on how you act.

If you don't feel respected, try modeling respectful, intellectually honest behavior. That means sticking around to answer questions of substance, and acknowledging your errors when others (correctly) point out that you've made them. (Even if it sounds like they're snickering (""sheesh) when they point the finger; to zoom off in your Huff without addressing/acknowledging the substance of their criticism, is a far greater sin. )

Lazar said...

From Kimberly Jo Simac, to those who have criticized Michael's 'elitism' to stuff in their pipes and smoke;

"After having the honor of spending a bit of time with such brilliant minds as Dr. Soon and Dr. Legates, it is clear that theirs is a gift that comes with much responsibility. Their level of intelligence that is so clearly above the masses is the reason why mankind advances."


Michael Tobis said...


Thanks for the link. I have left my apology on her site. I wonder if she will run it.

SDSali said...

I found your site through (oops) MOrano. Here's my complaint. You are condescending. The term "denialist" is condescending and fails to engage the real argument made by those who are skeptical of the alleged science that underlies the UN IPCC report. When I read that, just as a small example, the data set of surface temperature stations used to measure the surface temperatures in the last 50 years keeps getting smaller because the scientists compiling the data have chosen to ignore a lot of still functioning stations, I think that I want to know which stations they left out and why. I am told, for example, by some reporters that in California, where I have lived most of my life, that temperature readings from higher elevations have been left out of newer data sets but that the comparison is made to the average of both data sets, ( i. E. For 1950's temperature i use the average of the temperature at Mammoth Mountain and the Port of Los Angeles, but for 1990's temperature I use only the temperature from the Port of Los Angeles) I want to see the underlying data that Hansen, Mann and Jones are using. The reason is, attorney that I am, (and not a scientist), even I know that the the comparison of the first to the second is invalid. For those of you not from California, Mammoth Mountain is at 11,000 feet. On a recent January day, the low at Mammoth MOuntain was 5. The low in Los Angeles was 49. If you throw out the Mammoth MOuntain readings from the latter data set you are certain to get a higher average temperature. That isn't "denial", that's common sense.

The second thing I know is that Mann, Jones and Hansen all refuse to disclose the adjustments they made to the raw temperature data and the reasons why. In a court of law, that would mean that their testimony would be thrown out. I'm quite serious About that statement. In court, an expert is required to disclose the factual basis for his opinion so that a juror or the judge can judge which opinion is better founded. Does "Science" have a lower standard of evidentiary integrity than the courts?

Of course, as a person who litigates, I am used to the fact that every assertion I make will be challenged. That's what the search for truth is like in the courts and sometimes we do better than other times. I thought scientists did better than courts when it came to be open to challenge, but apparently, on your blog, when people ask to see the underlying data they are "denialists" and if they get suspicious when people refuse to disclose the underlying data it reveals their inability to engage in grown up conversation.

YOur problem isn't that you were insensitive, it is that you used ad hominen attacks instead of addressing the challenges that have been made to the evidence. And they are real.

Michael Tobis said...

SDSali, I do not know much about that stuff, but from what I read a lot of it is overblown. There are plenty of other places that are concerned about the surface record.

I am planning a series of postings that explain why it isn't that important. Meanwhile you can look at

Marion Delgado said...

That's hardly adequate. The rote formula is as follows:

Climate scientist Michael Tobis is admittedly, according to impeccable 4th-hand internet sources, a __bed-wetting, till-pilfering, cross-dressing extremist in the pay of the CFB industry, who buys his data from Russian terrorists on the black market then alters it in Photoshop__, and all decent people rightly avert their eyes from him. I'm certainly not going to circle the wagons and defend his ___inability_to_express_his_point__
and obviously any papers presented when he was present should be annulled, as well as the work of anyone who's ever sent or received an email from him. This reasonable attitude on my part does not detract from the fact that whatever climate science remains is not about the people, it's about the evidence!

That's better. You should put your back into these denunciations, I always say.

Oh, and I like "Who's Morano?" too.

By the way, my sticking point with one of my favorite writers, Bob Ellis, the Australian who wrote "First, Abolish the Customer," is precisely what he writes about overpopulation. I sense in him, in Monbiot, and in the Lennons, a fear that accepting overpopulation means you accept it as an excuse to do nothing.

But science is not precisely normative - the first stage is always ascertaining where you are - accurately.

Michael Tobis said...

Sorry Marion. I sympathize but your second comment was over the top.

Marion Delgado said...

Surely, I'll hit the "sweet spot" one day. Still, Michael, irony abounds. But it abounds to your credit. :)

giovanni da procida said...


In general, analysis of temperature trends doesn't take the mean of stations. Instead, generally one uses the trend (over x years, the average station has gained 0.1 degrees), or the anomaly, which is specific for every station. So the possibility of errors from the loss of stations is removed by these methods.

I'll give you an example of the usefullness of anomoly measurements. Let us say that we want to look at the surface temperature of the water in Bellingham Bay over a given time period. If we simply take an average temperature, then we need to account for the fact that in summer, the water is significantly warmer than in the winter. If we use the temperature anomaly, we can avoid this problem (for a small description of sea surface temperature anomalies, see

As for the stations which are in use, NASA's GISS data is freely available on the web, and the stations in use are available at:

Play around with the data, its kind of interesting!

I don't know which reporters told you that the stations were being removed and the mean temperatures compared (and without a citation that seems like hearsay evidence, although I am not a lawyer!), but I suspect this is not correct.


Pangolin said...

Blogging is not submission of papers for peer review. It is discussion. Requiring science writers to be letter perfect when the denialist camp clearly and repeatedly posts outright falsehoods is foul play and should be ignored. We discuss the papers that have been peer reviewed with a different degree of respect than random news reports because they deserve it. News or blog reports are frequently riddled with error when they are not outright and deliberate falsehoods. They should be assessed less weight for a valid reason.

Overpopulation is always a relevant topic on an island and the Earth is an island in a vast amount of vacuum. We have known this for an absolute fact for at least the last fifty years. How this "mother of nine" missed this information is beyond me.

I agree with earlier posters that encourage you to rapidly dismiss the false claims of the deniers. "What's melting the ice then?" is my favorite riposte. If there is a loss of ice mass then it is probably warming even if surface temperature trends are flat due to the loss of buffering capacity. Of course, they deny the verified data and papers that show global ice loss. Also, as a California resident I would point out that we are losing our snowpack in both wet years and dry and it's a huge problem. Climate change is a problem now, today.

Climate "skeptics" belong on the short bus of adult conversation with Flat Earthers and Illuminatii. They should by gently, and rapidly, dismissed.

Zeke said...


Your remark that

"The second thing I know is that Mann, Jones and Hansen all refuse to disclose the adjustments they made to the raw temperature data and the reasons why. In a court of law, that would mean that their testimony would be thrown out. I'm quite serious About that statement. In court, an expert is required to disclose the factual basis for his opinion so that a juror or the judge can judge which opinion is better founded. Does "Science" have a lower standard of evidentiary integrity than the courts?"

is based on incorrect information. All three have publications that describe their methods in detail, and they can (and have) been replicated based on those descriptions. Furthermore, Hansen and Mann have both released source code used in their respective studies (see The Hadley Center/East Anglia University (e.g. Jones et al) used to be the laggerds on releasing source code, but "climategate" changed that rather quickly.

I'd suggest you identify what exactly you would like GISS, for example, to release. I'm rather certain I can find exactly that already publicly available on their website or in various publications by the group in question.

While some folks have been reluctant to release intermediate data and source code in the past (e.g. Mann and Jones at various points), you certainly can't accuse Hansen of that, and the former are now much more open as well.

Zeke said...

Oh, and the "shrinking number of stations" arguement is based on a misunderstanding of how GHCN works. Stations missing data are only missing data if the countries in question failed to report it to the WMO. That is completely out of the hands of NCDC/NASA/Hadley.

See for more discussion on the subject.

David B. Benson said...

SDSali --- Agreeing with the instrumental record are numerous other temperature indicators, such as
phenological data,
borehole data,
glaciological data,
etcetera ad nauseum.

Quit picking a nits (which obviously you do not understand) just to make a cheap debating point. The jury here is not impressed and you have thus lost your case.

Michael Tobis said...

David, not necessarily. The nature of the audience has just changed. It may eventually change back, but meanwhile it would be better to respond in more detail.

SDSali needs citations, but so do you, David.

As a result of a marathon thread at Lucia's, some of the smarter and more honest elements of the naysayer squad may be visiting here more often. I think, in the end, that's a good thing. But it requires high standards of argumentation.

Here is what I just said at Lucia's:

As for “Can I add to your list a further pertinent question? What can we do about people who make statements, but refuse to make available the evidence that provides proof for their statements?”

I think a reference to the literature (or sometimes another website) suffices as evidence.

This is very different than an assignment from some Tom, Dick or Harry that I go read two sites he likes and report back to him. This is saying “if you want the backup of my position, I would refer you to X” or “the answer to your question is found at Y”. I think (and perhaps Lucia disagrees) that this is perfectly appropriate. It’s hard to imagine how science could proceed without this strategy being considered appropriate. It is then up to the questioner to either
1) trust the other party 2) withhold judgment or 3) investigate further. Rejecting the other party’s position when they do provide a reference is simply unfair.

If someone just makes a broad assertion without evidence, either that person is lazy, sloppy, incompetent, or uninterested in engaging with you. In any of those cases it is best to just move on to someone who is willing to play fair.

Giovanni, Zeke and I all [p;otely gave SDS some links to ponder. I think that is the right approach. In any case that is the approach I intend to promote in these parts.

David B. Benson said...

MT --- I presume, maybe wrongly, that the other party can search the web at least as well as I can.

The problem is that they don't bother, thinking of all this as being akin to Soap Opera News or some such, where any gossip point is to be repeated elsehere.

When I can't even cause people to read an introductory climatology text (Ruddiman, Archer, Schmidt, ...) I don't see how providing links to the somewhat more esotetic parts are going to be much help, since those don't seem to be followed either.

I suppose if someone doesn't know what phenology is, for example, and maybe doesn't know how to use web searching to find out, and asks polietly, then I (or another) might be able to provide some assistance. But those types don't even know enough to ask their nearby librarian for ressearch assistance (and the librarian is trained in how to provide it.)

In the case in question, it appears to be a drive-by and I doubt he'll be back to ask questions.

John F. Pittman said...

MT: Hope you don't mind a few critical comments. Graphs are representation of ideas, neither good nor bad, in and of themselves. Your claim of "these are matters for expert judgment" can be contested on the grounds of communications. You state "The legitimate question is the expertise of the whole field, but that can only be addressed by people who are experts in other, related fields." Consider our discussion on Lucia's blog. You made a statement, I responded. As the discussion progressed, I gave definitions, until brid realized what I was trying to communicate. brid thought of it as an interesting intellectual consideration, and missed the point that it was in essence a claim of the IPCC. By your own defintions of expertise as indicated in this blog, and on Lucia's, where do you stand, since I responded to a statement you made with what was later determined to be expertise? And rather than insulting the fact that you may have no chldren, I engaged you.

By the way, I have four successful children, and take care of more, my wife and I come from large sucessful families, and maintain the same standards. FYI, you know.

You did invite me, I beleive from Lucia's. I hope that my wish to communicate directly is not percieved as something negative. As evidence. I would maintain that I tried to answer your and brid's comments and questions.

Besides a blog where Mosher makes comments or is willing to make comments is probably worth engagement.

Pangolin said...

M.T._ I noted that above you point out the need for AGW advocates to be able to refer to the literature as needed to make our points in evidence. I have done this multiple times using the simple expedient of Google-whacking whatever topic, example: ice loss, in the scholar function and throwing out a few abstracts.

I went looking for a web page that keeps a running bibliography of Climate Change scholarship grouped by topic. This might assist in using the multiple-threads-of-confirmation argument. Somebody picking at temperature data could be directed to ice cores and/or spring flowering date papers for confirmation.

This page at RealClimate is close but the topics aren't grouped in terms a layman could easily understand. Here is a page of Climate Data Links Here's Global Warming Science: An Annotated Bibliography for those who can't manage Wiki, the IPCC or the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

I have seen multiple "debates" where posters haver referred to multiple independent papers confirming AGW only to have the evidence further denied. I have to fall back on basic dishonesty and denial of reality on the nay-sayers side. Ultimately the denial side has crap for legitimate arguments.

Mal Adapted said...

Lazar quoted Mrs. Simac's regard for Soon's and Legate's "level of intelligence that is so clearly above the masses". In the same paragraph, she goes on to say (regarding scientists who support the consensus):

"Shameful is the fact that such a large segment of gifted people have sold out on their potential success for grant dollars and job security."

Should someone tell her about Soon's Exxon funding? Perhaps Eli?!