Andrew Dessler’s new paper (preprint here) makes it clear just how bad Spencer and Braswell (2011) is. Spencer and Braswell assumed that changes in clouds were a stronger influence on temperature changes than changes in ocean heat content. Dessler used observations to show that the ocean heat content is vastly more important. He summarizes his paper in the video below.

See also: Gavin Schmidt and Skeptical Science.


  1. #1 GSW
    September 11, 2011


    Thanks Chris. I do agree you shouldn’t publish things you know to be wrong. Spencer probably does genuinely have faith in it though. The Wagner incident I think is bizarre (not really fussed about that though).

    I’m very supportive of the process; Spencer puts up an Idea, Dessler does his damndest to tear it down, works for me!

    Good old pugilistic physics!


  2. #2 chris
    September 11, 2011

    Jonas @92

    “No, the problem is rather that this IPCC AR4 centerpiece claim (‘mosts of the warming .. >90% certainty’) is not only believed (by the supporters, even professional ones) to be based on proper science, but it also pretends to present some ‘science’ arriving at that number.

    It’s not about “belief” Jonas, but about evidence. The IPCC doesn’t “pretend” to present “science” (why the quotation marks?). Why not swallow your pride and admit that what you mean to say is that “The IPCC presents science…”; otherwise GSW might accuse you of being “pejorative” πŸ™‚

    There is a massive body of evidence that bears on our level of certainity over attribution of mid 20th century to contemporary warming. We can include:

    1. high certainty over our understanding of the basic physics of the greenhouse effect

    2. high likelihood that the equilibrium response to warming is no smaller that 2 oC per doubling of [CO2]

    3. absolute certainty that the accumulated [CO2] has an anthropogenic origin.

    4. absolute certainty about the proportion of emitted greenhouse gases retained in atmosphere.

    5. virtual certainty that any solar contributions to warming have been near zero in the mid-late 20th century period (in fact trending slightly in the cooling direction since the mid-1980s (this includes assessment of the international sunspot number, the open solar flux, the total solar irradiance and the solar contribution to cosmic ray flux).

    6. high certainty that (recovery from) negative volcanic forcing has made a negligible contribution to total warming over this period.

    7. high certainty that ENSO has made negligible net contribution to secular temperature trends over the 20th century.

    8. absolute certainty that the surface warming has been accompanied by a large increase in total ocean heat.

    9. absolute certainty that the patterns of stratospheric temperature trends, atmospheric water vapour concentrations, diurnal temperature variations, changes in earth precipitition distribution, polar amplification of temperature with a lagged Antarctic response etc. are as expected from enhanced greenhouse warming.

    10. high certainty that any Milankovitch contributions to secular temeperature trends are negligible (tending ever so slightly in the cooling direction in fact) over this period.

    …and so on and on…(each of these items could be expanded by many dozens of scientific papers that inform us on these issues.

    Clearly we have a very high certainty that mid to late 20th century warming is dominated by enhanced greenhouse effect from anthropogenic emissions. Now you may not like encapsulating this massive evidence base with a number. But that’s not a problem Jonas. Why don’t we just re-equate “>90% certainty” with “very likely” and then we should all be happy again; yes?

    In fact, in my opinion, the evidence supports the conclusion that this underestimates the likelihood that mid-late 20th century warming has been dominated by anthropogenic augmentation of the greenhouse effect. After all that accumulated heat (energy) in the climate system can’t just “magic” into existence. I’d say that “extremely likely” or “virtual certainty” would be acceptable statements of likelihood. Of course we have to recognise that these are qualitative assessments and that we need to familiarise ourselves with the evidence base in order to appreciate their provenance.

    But Jonas, if you take issue with the evidence, then what else do you suggest might have caused the earth to accumulate so much energy with properties that match expectation from enhanced greenhouse warming? Don’t think Dr. Spencer can help you out there even ‘though he would very likely (90% certainty?) be happy to conjure up some misrepresentations of the science to help you retain a state of delusion over the subject πŸ˜‰

    In fact (GSW will accuse me of being “noisy” again but this is a Dr. W. Roy Spencer thread) I can’t help noticing the contrast between the astonishing comprehensiveness of evidence that the IPCC uses to support summary statements, and the complete disregard of evidence in Spencer’s efforts to support scientifically-puerile misrepresentations….interesting yes?

  3. #3 GSW
    September 11, 2011

    CC: Jonas

    “In fact, in my opinion, the evidence supports the conclusion that this underestimates the likelihood that mid-late 20th century warming has been dominated by anthropogenic augmentation of the greenhouse effect.”

    Opinion, by it’s very nature, is subjective. This is the point Jonas was making. Science is about ‘Objective’, quantitative analysis. Who cares what you think? what can you actually empirically prove? Others may make different subjective judegements based on the evidence. It’s meaning less scientifically.


  4. #4 clippo UK
    September 11, 2011

    Re: – Jonas N @ 89

    The ‘extracted pattern’ is not the explanation (and it should not be used for ‘predictions’). Rather it may be the consequence of an underlying (hypothesized) mechanism.
    And a curve fit, or a fitted equation, is hardly a model (and it isn’t advanced statistics either).

    Brilliantly demonstrates you know NOTHING about data analysis, even using basic statistics, let alone advanced Statistics.

    Tell me clearly why you think so many scientists in Global Warming related disciplines collect all this data. Why?
    (or in fact in any science discipline or even Economics – the list goes on).

    Otherwise, I will conclude, like everybody else here it would seem, you are just an argumentative troll

    ….. and fantasies about where I live etc……

    Where did I mention where you live ? – can’t read properly either.

    (Or do you want me to fit a ‘trend’ to that ‘data’ and tell you whereto it points, and ‘predict’ where you’re going? πŸ˜‰

    The only one who is clear where they are going is you – down into the ever deepening hole you keep digging with your absurd and unreal logic.

  5. #5 Jonas N
    September 11, 2011


    I know plenty about data analysis, and statistics. And fitting curves to experimental data. Collecting data is paramount for trying to understand, or just learn to know about what you are observing.

    What I was saying, and am repeating now is: Fitting a curve, an equation to a data set is not an explanation. And that curve/equation should not be used for predictions. You might use it to guide a guess. But thats something completely different.

    Take the stockmarket for instance, and you observe that one commodity has been trending uppwards for some time … of course you can fit a line to it, call it a trend, base a decision on it. But you cannot predict the future with that fit.

    In the realm of physics (of which the atmosphere and the climate are parts of), there are laws of nature which rule what happens. If you understand your object of study very well, you might try to explain its behaviour using simplified descriptions which broadly capture the most dominant mechanisms governing its physical states and variations, ie a model.

    Usually such models are not built (entirely) on 1st principles and quite a lot of assumptions go into them too, assumptions you a priori dont know to be correct, or the magnitude of.

    What you then do is to propose a hypothesis, and use observational data to 1) tune your hypothesis, and thereafter 2) try to explain more observations with that model/hypothesis you just fitted to some data, preferably outside that data. If you are a good scientist, you even attempt to fault your hypothesis, by testing it where that hypothesis predicts unexpected/extreme results. (Mostly that is not done by the one presenting the hypothesis)

    Re: Where I live?

    Maybe you want to revisit the last sentence in you #87 once more, before you start accusing people of all kind of things, eg not being able to read. Anyway, you even provide some more ‘data points’ regarding your ‘function’ … soon my ‘predictions’ are going to be quite ‘robust’ …


  6. #6 GSW
    September 11, 2011


    Jonas vs Clippo. I’d call that at least part way to a drubbing Jonas.


  7. #7 chris
    September 11, 2011

    That’s a little silly GSW (@ 105). Yes I’m stating my opinion which of course is subjective. But my opinion is based on consideration of a large amount of evidence, all of which is “objective” and can be “quantitat”ed to various extents. Clearly in the light of an evidence base an apparently subjective opinion may take on increasing characteristics of objectivity.

    So how do we deal with this? I’ve sketched (my @ 104) a very tiny amount of the broad areas of evidence that supports the IPCC’s (and my) statements of likelihoods concerning mid 20th century to contemporary warming. I could go further and dump a truly massive amount of additional evidence in the form of 100’s of scientific papers and so on…

    ..but is that really how you think these subjects should be addressed? You ask a question concerning evidence and I’m supposed to write a book-length response? We’ve already seen that Jonas simply rejects out of hand the massive body of science (he calls it “science” oddly!) that supports the IPCC assessments and he even goes so far as to suggest that the IPCC only “pretends” to present this! ;-). Aren’t you and poor old Jonas expected to do some work? Wouldn’t it be better for Jonas to investigate the IPCC evidence base that several posters have kindly pointed him towards and then reconsider whether the evidence in support of likelihoods might not be rather well sourced?

    It’s very interesting to me, and as I indicated in my post above there is a fascinating contrast between the approach of Spencer and the approach of science as summarized in the comprehensive IPCC assessments. You and Jonas seem to be quite happy for Spencer to gloriously misrepresent the science ad libitum while (in Jonas’s case) becoming all pursed-lipped over the IPCC science. But it really is all about the evidence, whether or not one is addressing curmudgeonly old Spencer with his cute frauds or the IPCC with its voluminous assessments.

    GSW, we either address the evidence or not…

  8. #8 chris
    September 11, 2011

    GSW @108, I think you’re being a little unfair on Jonas. Admittedly his account of curve-fitting and addressing hypotheses has a sub-undergraduate style clunkiness, but he’s able to manage some somewhat prosaic verities.

    ..but I wouldn’t go as far as to say that he’s been “drubbed”. I thought, in fact, that you disliked “perjoratives” and I’m surprised to see you use them against Jonas who clearly has some heartfelt opinions on these subjects.

  9. #9 GSW
    September 11, 2011

    @Chris #110

    Thanks Chris, understand where you are coming from, vgood.


  10. #10 Jonas N
    September 11, 2011

    GSW (& chris, but I’ll respond seperatyly to you)

    I wanted to make one more comment on your #86 post, where you said:

    “It is common practice to test a particular hypothesis (whether something is true) against the null hypothesis (not true). This empirical analysis (there’s a bit of math behind it) yields a ‘confidence level’ usually presented as a percentage likelihood. … “

    Because that is the proper practice when designing experiments: You vary one particular variable, and see what the tests give you, compared to a set where you keep it constant. And you compare those test results to the corresponding null-hypotheses, ie that the studied variable has no effect at all on the outcome.

    But even in a controlled experiment (where you know all other variables) you have to be careful when chosing the proper null-hypothesis, so you don’t fool yourself.

    If we for a moment disregard Kevin Trenberth’s recent hysterical one-over-null version of that hypothesis, and only consider the AR4 arguments for why the attribution of the last half century should be so certain to manmade GHGs.

    Because they too want to put forward a hypothesis, ie that CO2 controls the climate in a substantial (and quantifiable) way, and they want to make a case for that hypothesis.

    We all have heard the meme: ‘We have racked our brains to find any natural explanaition, and found none, therefore it must be due to CO2 .. ‘ (*)

    That is, in a colloquial and awkward way, a reference to
    ‘some’ null hypothesis: Only with CO2 forcing have they found that the models can reasonably ‘explain’ what has been observed. And the explainations and attempts (I found) at establishing some kind of 90% confidence (in something) have all been of this variety.

    They have compared with the ‘null-hypothsis’ about the models. Ie they tested if the models (as they were designed) could possibly also give the observed temp-record, even without CO2-forcing. And concluded: ‘No, they can’t … not even half .. with 90% certainty’

    And that is something very very different.

    Now, if one wants to be generous (and ‘climate science’ needs the slack it can get), one could say that the models actually included other factors, like volcanos, TSI (solar output) and aerosols. (And some more factors adding noise to the simulations, such as oceans, clouds and weather were at least rudimentarily included, although not as driving factors)

    Some of these were very ad hoc, some probably very reasonable (TSI is measured, volcanos usually are noticed) but still, the underlying assumtption using models for the purpose of ‘attribution’ is that nothing of relevance is missing, that they got the climate right, and all effects that may cause it to vary at levels one order of magnitude smaller than what they are aimed at explaining/detecting.

    And that is quite one hefty dish to serve, and to expect people to swallow. If taken litterately, the proposition is that the null hypothesis (used for ‘attribution’ comparison and establishing confidence levels) is:

    1) The models contain the truth (within some uncertainties in input, BCs, parameters)

    2) Those models containg everything that might have any measurable impact on temperatures, and got the magnitudes correct for every single one of them.

    3) Nothing not included may have any (measurable) influence, at least

    3b) Not under the short time span observed and modelled

    4) All fluctuations of observations which are not, cannot be picked up in the models, must by short term noise, with zero mean value.

    5) Everything that still may have an impact but not properly modelled or included therein, has kept perfectly still during the time period for ‘attribution’

    Under these circumstances, it is indeed possible to ascribe high confidence levels to what the simulations show. But only if each and every one of them is fullfilled. For the entire time span, meaning ~a century or so.

    Now, the AR4 doesn’t state it like this (because that would be ludicrous), but the if there is an implied null-hypothesis in what is argued, it certainly assumes that the models got it spot on, that eg water vapor behaves like instructed, that the CO2 forcing is exactly known, and that nothing has happened during one century that possibly can disturb anything.

    As I said, thats a very tall order for necessary preconditions to an analysis.

    And it is one of the reasons I don’t take those prophecies that seriously, and don’t believe in the stated certainties.

    (*) such arguing should make every real scientist cringe with discomfort and even embarrassment.

  11. #11 Michael
    September 11, 2011

    GSW @100

    A nice demonstration of the denialist aversion to truth – when caught out telling lies, tell more lies.

    GSW @ 98 – “we’re all doomed!”

    GSW @ 100 – “How dumb are you! The “we’re all doomed” is a paraphrase!”

    Followed up by the phrase that has wonderful utility to crude sophists – “to my knowledge at no time did Steve…”

    And having made no effort to find out what Schneider did actually think, GSW can then attribute to Schneider whatever self-serving positions GSW finds himself in need of Schneider having.

  12. #12 Michael
    September 11, 2011

    Jonas @ 112.

    Probabilty/ confidence levels = “certainty”.

    Anyone with a clue would be embarrassed.

    Jonas is immune.

  13. #13 Mikem
    September 11, 2011

    Jonas N, you confuse me.

    A little earlier, you seemed to imply that there is no steady upwards march of temperature for more than a short time. I referred you to analyses from four separate agencies which shows a very clear century-long upwards trend. Even without the statistical analysis (which conforms the upwards trend), it seems pretty clear that there is one, and it continues to this day.

    In fact the only way I can see anything other than an increasing temperature trend for around 100 years, is to turn the charts all upside down, however I’m not certain whether that is a valid way of looking at them. So: do you, or do you not believe that there is, as the multiple analyses show, clear warming trends over the last century? If not, how do you believe these analyses were doctored or screwed up?

    Secondly, you also seem to argue that the whole hypothesis that this is due to CO2 is in error. Could you show exactly why it cannot possibly be CO2, or why it is so unlikely? I’m particularly interested whether you have an alternate hypothesis which better explains the data, as I know many alternate hypotheses have been looked at and discarded because they simply can’t explain it as well as greenhouse gases do.

    Could you show, or link, or just give the written references to any of your work disproving or overturning the consensus opinion? I’m not saying such a feat is impossible. On the contrary it is truly Nobel Prize territory to do so (eg Marshall/Warren, etc etc). However most of the sceptics I have studied so far seem an awful long way from being Nobel Laureates.

  14. #14 Jonas N
    September 11, 2011


    Before I respond to your long post #104, I would like to make one thing very clear. Where I think you were way out of line (if you want to be taken seriously. I don’t take everybody seriously, but this being an online forum, I feel I should give commenters the benifit of the doubt, until they prove that they are not capable or interested in serious debate)

    What i object to is your last paragraph in #58, what you claim there, and which you imply and repeat many times thereafter:

    ‘That some scientists knowlingly propose, submit and proffer falsehoods to the scientific literature and community, and that they do so with for with premeditated and malicious motives’

    I find that accusation appalling, frankly just outrageous. And if you cannot offer very, and I mean very substantial support for such conduct, I’d tell you to go an shove it .. and then f*ck yourself!

    You have now written several posts, where you prentend to be in a position above both Dessler and Spencer, capable of determining who is right on which accounts, and even the reasons for why one of them was wrong. As I said, that is a very tall order. And absolutely nothing you’ve written here indicates that you are even remotely close to being capable of making such calls. Nothing! Mostly, you aren’t even addressing the topics, and instead offer various appeals to some authority.

    I would assume that both Dessler and (definitely) Spencer do the best they can to present their side of the argument. From what I have seen, Spencer presents empirical data of outgpoing radiation after warming events. That is what he actually does. And he notes that the models, well all of them, predict much less.

    If you are going to argue with that, you have to do much better than just proclaiming ‘falsehoods’.

    Dessler, on the other hand, wants to stick with his understanding af the forcings, and that clouds are internal variabls, only responding to specific xternal drivers.

    I cannot (at present) view the various aspects sufficiently clear to have an opinion about who is right and who isn’t. But it seems to me that Spencer is proposing a perspective on how clouds vary and influence the earths energy balance which is not contained in the customary models used by the so called ‘consensus’ on climate. And he thinks he has empirical data to prove it.

    Publishing this is the obvious way to proceed, just as GSW says.

    He might be right, or wrong, or in need of improvments. But at this stage claiming it is not only nonsense, but malicious fraud, for the purpose of later skewing the debate .. that’s preopsterous. That’s at the face of it an affront! And nothing less!

    Take that back, or I’ll consider you from now on as best as an incompetent stupid activist, or someone who know he can’t argue his case in an honest way! And please, don’t claim that you have access, and can see into other peoples minds from far distances. (Such people are in 100% deluded loonies, who have nothing to contribute in debates about the real world)

  15. #15 Jonas N
    September 11, 2011

    chris (a comment to you was held up in moderation)


    You seem to say that it is warmer today. Warmer than it was in the 70s, warmer than it was around 1900, and warmer than it was in the 17th century. I do not disagree!

    And as i explaind to clippo, I do not take an observed, fitted, trend as an explanation.

    There has been warming since the 17the century. Some of the warmin observed since the mid 20th century might be due to human CO2 emissions. I find that a reasonable assumption.

    But it does not contain a climate armageddon. I would most certanly argue that only what we can observer from ~1940s can (at best) be attributed to human CO2 emissions.

    I never said it cannot be CO2, but I would like to point out that if it is CO2, as the IPCC AR4 assumes, it requires additionally that the very same mechanisms that made us recover from the little ice age from the mid 1600, stopped precisely at around ~1945, flat levelled from then on, and was replaced by CO2. And not only that, but also that the burning of fossil fuels cooled the earth through sulphur areosols thereafter.

    And I find this to be a tall order, for a ‘science’ in its infancy, which cannot even explain the MWP or the LIA properly ..

  16. #16 Mikem
    September 11, 2011

    Well OK, if you concede that even “some” of the warming trend might be due to CO2 emissions (though once again, we find ourselves having exhausted most other hypotheses explaining “the rest” of the warming trend), do you not find it a little troubling that anthropogenic CO2 emissions are continuing to rise pretty much unchecked and show no signs of abating in the forseeable future? Just how long do you reckon the climate system will “cope” with this?

    I mean, if I wanted to be the ultimate selfish prat, I could say “I don’t really give a stuff about CO2 because although we may well see significant trends, it probably won’t have any traumatic consequences that we can’t engineer our way out of for the remaining several decades of my life”. But if it continues to rise in such a fashion, and some, most, or worst case, perhaps the great majority of the warming, is attributable to CO2, then the possible consequences next century may be an entirely different matter.

    And again, if you are as well versed in science as you seem to imply, and you have a clear, robust, demonstrable argument as to why most climate scientists, many physicists, and a whole lot of otherwise intelligent people who have studied this matter are terribly mistaken, you could always do the groundwork and research and submit it.

    You can actually overturn a consensus scientific view, as history has shown numerous times. I mean, the scientific consensus is pretty clear and consistent: It’s warming. It’s mostly due to CO2. It’s mostly CO2 we’re responsible for. There will be significant consequences in the future.

    The sceptical side is a hotch-potch of conspiracy theories, clinging to discredited arguments (it’s just the sunspots, stupid), and not even being able to decide among themselves whether or not it’s actually warming (some sceptics say it is, some say it isn’t), whether or not it’s CO2 (some say yes, some say no), whether or not the observed CO2 increases are natural (some say they are, some concede they’re not), and so on. This doesn’t throw doubt on the science. This just means that contrary to the vast majority of scientists who are acknowledged experts in the relevant fields of study, most sceptics can’t seem to make up their minds among themselves what the science actually says, and the remainder think it’s a greenie plot to impose a communist world government.

    Do you see why they have an apparent credibility problem?

  17. #17 Scribe
    September 11, 2011


    The Murdoch Cartel’s War on Science continues:
    Wall Street Journal β–Ί Cosmic rays the cause of global warming


  18. #18 chek
    September 11, 2011

    [Scholars & Rogues]( put where the WSJ is coming from rather well, I thought.

    “Another example. Say your planet is getting hotter and experiencing greater degrees of climate disruption, and further, that human society has pumped ever-increasing levels of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Meanwhile, nearly all of the world’s credible scientists are in agreement that human activity is the major cause of the problem. Occam’s Razor would suggest to the average person in the street that perhaps these greenhouse gases, which are known to behave in particular ways, have something to do with the changes in your climate.

    Fuckem’s Razor, on the other hand, takes into account zillions of other, less evidenced possibilities, and concludes that the real problem is space rays.

  19. #19 John
    September 11, 2011

    This thread is weird. Neither Jonas nor GSW believe deep down that Spencer is right. He’s been wrong and forced to revise so many times before that it would be the height of stupidity to back that particular losing horse.

    What could be driving this particular meltdown?

    Could it be a reluctance to admit that one of the denialist poster boys was so tragically, pathetically wrong? GSW admits it’s okay for bad reports to be published as long as the author believes they are right, and the resignation? Well, that’s just trivial, isn’t it? Proves nothing!

    Look over there, conspiracy!

    Keep digging that hole, boys


  20. #20 Glen Raphael
    September 11, 2011

    Chris@104 wrote:

    There is a massive body of evidence that bears on our level of certainity over attribution of mid 20th century to contemporary warming. We can include:

    1. high certainty over our understanding of the basic physics of the greenhouse effect
    2. high likelihood that the equilibrium response to warming is no smaller that 2 oC per doubling of [CO2]
    [8 more items]

    Jonas is right that the specific IPCC claim of “>90% certainty” is silly; your comment actually goes a good way to illustrating why.

    Let us postulate that all ten of the items you listed are critical to getting the attribution story right – that if the science was wrong on any of those items it would significantly undercut the overall conclusion. Let us further stipulate that our wisest scientific minds have convincingly determined that our understanding of *every one of those ten factors* is almost certainly correct. How do we define “almost certainly correct”? Let’s say we have a (subjectively determined) 98% certainty level for each of those ten factors.

    Problem: there are TEN of them.

    That means that even though all ten are “almost certainly correct”, the chance of ALL of them simultaneously being actually correct is: 98% ^ 10 = 81.7%. Which isn’t 90%.

    Now consider that (a) there are quite a lot *more* than ten factors to consider in explaining climate – those were just the first ten you happened to think of – and (b) many of these factors aren’t *quite* 98% certain.

    So now let us consider the possibility that there are 50 factors that could conceivably explain warming and we’re only 95% certain that our understanding of each one is substantially correct. That’s still pretty darned certain, and good enough to publish! In that case, the chance of them ALL being simultaneously correct is only 7.7%, meaning there is more than a 90% chance that one of the factors we’re pretty sure is right is in fact blatantly wrong.

    Climate is complicated. The more complicated it is, the less certainty we can assign to the notion that we’ve accurately accounted for everything correctly. That’s just how the math works.

    It’s still possible for “humans did it” to be our best working hypothesis. But it’s not sensible to say that hypothesis is 90% certain because look at all these factors we’ve considered – the fact that you had to consider so many factors is what makes the absolute certainty level low.

  21. #21 elspi
    September 12, 2011

    It is clear that Glen is just a sock puppet of chek.

    chek directs us to Fuckem’s Razor and then he pull up the sock puppet to give us a textbook application of Fuckem’s.

    “We can include: 1. high certainty over our understanding of the basic physics of the greenhouse effect …

    Let’s say we have a (subjectively determined) 98% certainty level for each of those ten factors.”


    You should be declared legally brained dead and your organs harvested and fed to the raccoons. What you meant to say was there is a 99.99999999999999% chance that CO2 is really a greenhouse gas. Which when you raise it to the 10th power gives you 1 (no really the calculator rounds it up, which of course makes the dumb sock puppet Glen think that his calculator is in on β€œthe global warming swindle”) No, there is not a 98% of obvious things being true. There is effectively a 100% chance.

    On the other hand both chek and Glen maybe sock puppets of a certain medium lobster or maybe Richard Posner,

  22. #22 Martin Vermeer
    September 12, 2011

    Glen Raphael insists on illustrating the ‘house-of-cards fallacy’.

    Like, amusingly, Jonas before him: thinking that the example I gave him was the only one I could think of, when it was just the one I liked most πŸ™‚

    When I told him not to bother refuting it in detail — because, like, I had read the paper, knew what was in it, and had no patience left for the ramblings of a nincompoop — he was suddenly very quick with his opinion… ah, the joys of tobacco science, having conclusions ready before even starting on your homework…

    BTW the 90% likelihood only refers to the currently observed warming — just a foretaste of things to come — being mainly due to the anthropogenic causes outlined in the textbooks. It will push 100% in the fullness of time.

  23. #23 GSW
    September 12, 2011


    Sorry you’ve misunderstood chek’s #129 post, it lack’s some context unfortunately, but he is definitley on what I would consider to be your side of the argument.

  24. #24 Jonas N
    September 12, 2011

    Martin V,

    That paper does not save your (or the IPCC’s) day, and ten more similar ones won’t do it either. “[H]aving [your] conclusions ready before even starting on your homework…” is very popular on this and similar sites. As is the idea that ‘tobacco’ somehow strengthens the case.

    And you are making a mistake, asigning levels of confidence is, well maybe not litterately a house of cards, but definitely vulnerable to its weekest link.

  25. #25 Jonas N
    September 12, 2011


    No, I don’t find it troubling that CO2 is rising. It is what I would expect from burning coal and oil. There are quite a few things, about the environment and others, I do worry more about. Real problems, caused by man and that can be addressed in the real world (stopping energy usage abruptly simply will not happen)

    You ask me why I don’t take on the entire catholic church and topple it over!? (Meaning the silliness and the stupid politics of the climate scare)

    Well, I think that particular silliness will eventually stop, and be replaced by something else, hopfully of less damaging. Both tho the environment and to the economy.

    And in the end you talk about ‘credibilty’ and I see your point, but I think it is moot. You should rather ask those questions to decisionmakers. Politicians, in my view, have no credibility at all when it comes to accomplishing real world results: The idea of controlling the climate is even far more futile than that real jobs can be ordered by law to appear ..

  26. #26 Glen Raphael
    September 12, 2011

    “@elspi writes: “You should be declared legally brained dead and your organs harvested and fed to the raccoons. ”

    Wow, you really are an unpleasant person. Do you think statements like that make your arguments seem more convincing?

    Do you think that it’s possible to be *really really sure* something is true yet still have a small-but-measurable chance of being wrong? (If not, we probably can’t sensibly discuss probability.)

    Many of the items in the full list of ten I was responding to do seem to be of the right type that the math works the way I suggested. Consider in particular 5,6,7, and 10 (solar, volcanic, ENSO, Milankovich). All those items boil down to “We think the contribution of X to the trend is small”. Given all the stuff we’re not measuring or not measuring well or don’t have much history on, all the different ways we could be measuring it (eg, different wavelengths for solar), all the ways our measuring tools could be misbehaving and all the ways we could be analyzing the data differently, there has to be *some* chance that we’ve underestimated the contribution of one of those factors. I’m not saying it’s even a *large* chance. Maybe it’s 2%. Maybe it’s 1%. But it’s not 16-nines close to 0%. Is it?

    > “house-of-cards fallacy”

    Nope. If it does turns out we’re a little wrong on various factors, that doesn’t disprove all of climate science. And I’m not saying it does. All it does do is weaken one specific conclusion: that more than half the warming over range T is anthropogenic. Maybe it turns into less than half instead. Everything on the page you linked would still be true. Heck, human-based CO2 would still be considered “the main driver of climate” even if it were only responsible for, say, 40% of recent warming – so long as there was no other single factor that accounted for more.

    Noticing that a bunch of small probabilities when combined together add up to a somewhat larger probability shouldn’t be so controversial. What gives?

  27. #27 Jonas N
    September 12, 2011

    chris ..

    (unfortuantely, one earlier comment was held up in moderation, but re: #104)

    So do you know what took us out of the little ice age? How do you know, and how do you know it stopped around the ~1940s?

  28. #28 Jonas N
    September 12, 2011

    Glen R

    There are quite a few ‘characters’ in here that you can completely ignore, who don’t have the slightest clue, who cannot formulate an coherent argument, much less recognize one or just answer a simple question. And as you just did, they are quickly identified ..

    Take them at face value …

  29. #29 Martin Vermeer
    September 12, 2011


    Given all the stuff we’re not measuring or not measuring well or don’t have much history on, all the different ways we could be measuring it (eg, different wavelengths for solar), all the ways our measuring tools could be misbehaving and all the ways we could be analyzing the data differently, there has to be some chance that we’ve underestimated the contribution of one of those factors.

    You’re playing the “we don’t know anything, really” card masterly in a rhetorical sense, but it doesn’t apply here. The 90% is a probabilistic result. It already includes consideration of all the uncertainties you have thought of, and then some you haven’t — by folks whose judgement on this I would take over yours any day.

    You’re not allowed to pile these same uncertainties on a second time. You may provide your own estimate of them, but again, please don’t feel hurt if I show little interest.

  30. #30 GSW
    September 12, 2011


    We have covered this. “The 90% is a probabilistic result.” No it is not it, is a ‘confidence level’ they are not the same thing.

    Likewise, the rest of what you write is gibberish also.

  31. #31 Chris O'Neill
    September 12, 2011

    Glen Raphael:

    How do we define “almost certainly correct”? Let’s say we have a (subjectively determined) 98% certainty level for EACH of those ten factors.

    There’s a problem alright. The problem is Glen Raphael doesn’t understand what the words “absolute certainty” mean. It’s Glen Raphael that’s the problem.

  32. #32 Jeff Harvey
    September 12, 2011


    Like Jonas, you do not appear to understand the problems of linking science with public policy. Science is not and never will be based on consensus, but public policy *must be based on it* (kudos to the late Stephen Schneider for that critically astute observation). What the denialists appear to be saying is that we need 100% unequivocal evidence that warming is due to human actions before we decide to act on it. By then the horse will have bolted from the barn and it will be far too late. In fact, there is rarely if ever 100% evidence of any cause-and-effect relationship in the Earth and biological sciences. As a working scientist (Jonas and his lay acolytes take note) we have to go on with what we know and the potential risks of inaction. What hgas struck me writing in here is the remarkable arrogance exhibited by Jonas, who writes as if he was a sage of wisdom in the field of climate science. He refuses to tell us what his actual line of work is, which, given his anonymity should ring alarm bells amongst those trying to defend his wilful ignorance of science and policy. The only thing he has to lose by telling us what he does – if anything – is the tiny shards of credibility he thinbs that he has accrued here. Once he tells us that he is chronically unemployed or works in a cardboard box factory, then his illusory expertise will all but disappear. He’s waded into this blog as if he, and he alone, has wisdom that has eluded thousands of scientists who have spent their careers in the field and who contributed the the latest IPCC report. And when he is called on this he bitterly denounces his critics as arm-waving ‘characters who are clueless’.

    Of course the 90% certainty argument is ambiguous. But let me digress into my own field of research. Most experts in population and systems ecology believe that the extinction rate is between 100 and 1000 times the natural ‘background’ rate. We base thios on models of exponential decay originally formulated by McCarthur and Wilson (and later refined by Soule, Terborgh and others) using species-area relationships and island biogeography. The models have proven to be fairly robust in linking the loss of species number ‘x’ to the loso fo habitat area ‘y’, but of course there are all kinds of mitigating biotic and abiotic factors which make it impossible to know hos specific the models are to a given perturbance. Factors such as local climatic conditions, competition, habitat and plant structure and identity and the number of pathways connecting trophic levels will all influence the local extinction rate, as will the presence and structure of connecting corridors to adjacent habitats. Many other factors are involved. However, in spite of uncertainty generated by this complexity, most scientists agree that (1) humans are simplifying communities, ecosystems and biomes across wide swathes of the biopshere, and (2) that this simplification is driving the largest extinction rate in 65 million years.

    Against this background we have our own set of denialists, mostly on the political right (meaning they are bolstering an agenda that has little to do with ‘sound science’) who want explicit details on the status of every species, sub-species and genetically distinct population before they think action should be taken to protect biodiversity. A good analogy is that a library is on fire, and before we attempt to put out the fire we must know every book, volume, monograph etc. in the library. Until we know that, we let the flames do their thing. Similarly, its like someone saying that every grain of sand on a beach must be accounted for before we agree that the incoming and outcoming tides take them away. We will never havbe that kind of detailed information; however, the denial lobby more-or-less argues that without this information, we should not do anything about the loss of biodiversity that is agreed upon by the scientific community.

    Jonas, for his part, shows time and time again that he simply does not understand the threshold between knowledge and action. For him and a sea of other politically-driven anti-environmentalists who try and hide their true colors, the only level of certainty regarding the link between human activity and climate change is 100%, and this must be based on a million studies or more. Until then, we sit back and do nothing, whilst the human experiment – for that is what we are doing to systems across the biosphere – continues. Bear in mind that ecology is as complex as climate science. That is because of a profoundly non-linear relationship between cause-and-effect in ecology (see work by Polis, Strong etc.) and because an infinite number of scales that link different levels of organization. As Simon Levin says in his groundbreaking book, “Fragile Dominion” (which I reviewed for Nature in 2000 and Robert May reviewed for Science the same year), biomes constitute ‘complex adaptive systems’ that are characterized by flows of energy, matter, nutrients water etc. They function on the basis of a stupendous array of biotic interactions involving trillions of organisms, billion of populations, and milliosn of species. If any science is in its infancy, its ecology, and that is certainly acknolwedged by me and my peers in the field. However, we also agree that humans are driving very high rates of extinction in spite of the many uncertainties. In this context, there is a consensus that policy measures should be taken to protect biodiversity.

    Note also that Jonas does not submit his ideas to scientific journals where they would be seriously scrutinized. He also doesn’t attend any conferences where he discuss this with the scientists doing the research. In my opinion, this where he should be arguing his case, instead of his constant baiting and switching tactics demonstrated here and on other blogs. If he has so much time to rant and rave and belittle others here who, like I, think he’s mangling science and policy, why doesn’t he get off his ass and invest a bit of that effort in writing a rebuttal and going to the relevant conferences? The fact that he ignores these valid points constantly should tell everyone here that he is a hollow vessel that makes a lot of noise but when push comes to shove he’s an immense coward. Why? Because when he comes up against the big boys he knows his arguments will be torn up and spat out and consigned to the rubbish bin.

    I am fed up to the teeth with his antics and self-righteous preaching on Deltoid, hence why I have stayed away the last few days. Now he’s trying to take over the whole shebang. I am arguing in principle that we don’t need 98% or 90% or even 80% certainty to act on a process that has the potential of invoking considerable damage on complex adaptive systems upon which our civilization (and thus human welfare) depends. The numbers that Jonas obsesses over are put out for public awareness, as far as I am concerned and anre ostensibly meaningless; the link between the human combusiton of fossil fuels and climate warming has been recognized for more than half a century and its beyond time that we did something about it.

  33. #33 Jonas N
    September 12, 2011

    Martin V

    Maybe you shouldn’t rely on John Cook for your talkback soundbites. The troubles with the AGW-hypothesis and use of statistics are more profound than that they can be dismissed by a simple ‘Ah the clouds, but we have them in the models .. ‘ (or any other factor the models claim to represent properly)

    And I might add, these problems are neither dependent on the exact wording of a blog comment, as so many seem to hope.

  34. #34 Martin Vermeer
    September 12, 2011

    > Likewise, the rest of what you write is gibberish also

    To you.

  35. #35 Jonas N
    September 12, 2011

    Jeff H

    As so many times before, you are making things up and attacking your strawmen instead. And if you really(?) are completely unaware of this almost compulsive need, I feel genuinly sorry for you. Because it makes you incapable of conducting an intelligible discussion with almost anybody. I’d even say it seriously impairs interaction with people in general.

    But (possibly unvoluntarily) you confirm several of the points I am actually making. And just to address you final indignant puff of smoke:

    If you seriously mean that “its beyond time that we did something about it”, you need to come up with a versatile source of energy that can replace coal and oil, and be as cheap. Because without that, everything else will at best be extremely marginal, without any measurable effects, and most likely just empty posturing!

    More windmills and recycling your household garbage won’t do a dent, not even if you’re driving a Prius …

  36. #36 Michael
    September 12, 2011

    Jonas contines to, at great length, ignore Spencers’ crash-and-burn that was so, prematurely, celebrated in the denial-o-sphere.

  37. #37 Jeff Harvey
    September 12, 2011


    For heaven’s take can’t you take a hint, you big moron?

    Let me spell it out for you: GO AWAY! Everyone here is sick to death of your ignorance! You didn’t read my last post; in fact, its clear that you don’t read much here except to repeat the same gibberish over and over agin. I discussed the precautionary principle and the link between the knowns and unknowns in science with respect to levels of certainy/uncertainty required to invoke policy decisions. Clearly, this went straight over your little head. I also discussed uncertainty in other fields of science (my own) that do not prevent a general consensus in this field and have lead to policy-related recommendations. Instead of scoring own goals time and again I was trying to draw you out on policy-related aspects and the precautionary principle, instead of you spewing *ad nauseum* the same stuff about AR4 in IPCC 2007.

    Get this through your head, will you: If we intenralized the environmental costs of fossil fuel use, we’d already be on more eco-friendly alternatives. But the environmental costs are externalized, meaning that they are passed off onto society whether we want them or not. As long as our economic programs subsidize these mounting environmental costs, then there will never be the impetus to switch to alternative sources of sustainabale energy. They already exist but the prices are kept high because of these perverse subsidies.

    Of course this is way, way over your head. You probably know less about economic policy than science, and that’s saying a lot. My advice to everyone here is to avoid any thread that JonasN has taken over in his ‘mission’, whatever that may be. He is the classic example of a skunk who is stinking up this thread and others with the same argument, whilst refusing (or being unable) to say what relevance this has on public policy decisions, especially as this relates to other fields of similar complexity.

    And note how every time I ask why he isn’t writing up a peer-reviewed article or going to the relevant conferences and workshops (as I do in my field of research) his reponse is silence. TOTAL SILENCE. Same with my repeated enquiries about his professional qualifications. TOTAL SILENCE.

    Prat. And he claims that I am ‘making things up’. Where in my last post did I make anything up, Jonas? Elaborate please. Where are the strawmen? Elaborate please. If anyone here is pitied, its Jonas, who cannot address the many points I raised. I would seriously say that Jonas has well exceeded even old sunspot for insidious stupidity and implre Tim to banish him to his own thread or at least to the open thread.

  38. #38 chris
    September 12, 2011

    Glen @121, your post is interesting since it illustrates the manner in which semantics can be used to create illogical interpretations from the application of apparent “logic”! Incidentally, I don’t have a problem with your (and Jonas’s) quibbling over the assignment of numerical likelihoods, but don’t really see the problem since as I said in post 104, we can just re-equate these with their qualitative descriptors (“likely”, “very likely” etc). We don’t really need to get all hot-n-bothered about that!

    But let’s look at your fallacy re multiplication of probabilities:

    We know (zero uncertainty) that CO2 is a greenhouse gas and that its contribution to earth temperature must be a warming one should [CO2] increase. So all else being equal, we expect the earth to warm, especially since the 1960’s with the very marked increase in rate of CO2 emissions post-war.

    Note that this isn’t a null hypothesis since it’s a certainty, and a null hypothesis must encompass the uncertainty relevant to the subject of interest. It’s not obvious anyway that consideration of a null hypothesis is really appropriate outside of a traditional experimental environment, but if we were to propose a relevant null hypothesis it might be “the warming of mid-late 20th century is dominated by the [CO2] contribution”.

    So we expect the earth to warm but we might have uncertainty that other contributions might dominate…yes? A true (as opposed to a pseudo-skeptic) might say:

    – “but we know the sun must have a major effect on earth temperature – perhaps it’s changes in solar output”. A large bunch of scientists say: “we’ve studied the sun in great detail especially since the 1950’s and know that the solar outputs (TSI, sunspots, open solar flux, cosmic ray component etc.) have extremely small secular trend and in fact if anything for the last 25 years have trended in a cooling direction.”

    I’m sure the vast majority of individuals would agree that that particular set of evidence increases our confidence that the warming contribution of enhanced CO2 has been a dominant contributor to observed warming.

    The skeptic might then say:

    – “O.K. good. However in a world warmed by enhanced greenhouse forcing we expect the troposphere to cool and the height of the tropopause to rise. If warming is occurring as expected then we should see specific changes in diurnal temperature range, polar amplification with delayed Antarctic response and a progression of precipitation trends with expanding central latitude drought and increased higher latitude precipitation…”

    Another even larger bunch of scientists say: “we’ve measured all of those things and the changes are as expected from in a world warming under the influence of enhanced greenhouse forcing”.

    Again, it’s a no brainer that this additional set of knowledge increases our confidence that warming is dominated by enhanced CO2-forced greenhouse.

    And so on. It’s astonishing that you are trying to sell the notion that our confidence about a subject decreases as our knowledge of it increases! There’s clearly a logical flaw in your approach. We could actually formulate this mathematically, but a qualitative clue to the problem with your analysis is in its implicit assumption that the uncertainty around each of the bodies of observation/measurement always works in the direction that opposes (what we are loosely calling) our “null hypothesis”.

  39. #39 marco
    September 12, 2011

    This blog is becoming an adventure in tourettes, more and more it is dominated by seemingly uncontrollable spasms.

    It was evident from Jonas’ first couple of comments that he had nothing of any value to add to the topic at hand but true to form when a troll comes on board topic discipline goes out the window and it becomes open season. The predictability of the response is mind numbingly boring.

    Oh yes there is the old argument that if you don’t correct the content of the troll then the poor unsuspecting lurker may take away the wrong impression, so we have a situation in which a speculative benefit is allowed to trump a concrete disadvantage.

    We’ve moved from Spencer to probability via a tortuous route of trying to get Jonas to read a scientific paper. And the result is? A denialist has again set the agenda and the more gifted and informed commenters here have allowed themselvs to be led by the nose in the service of that agenda.

    I wish Tim would moderate more aggressively as this constant derailment of topic and pandering to trolls is suffocating a genuinely decent blog.

  40. #40 chris
    September 12, 2011

    hmmm; introducing a paragraph with a “-” introduces a negative indent and a cute little orange arrow that doesn’t appear in “preview”. πŸ™‚

  41. #41 Andy S
    September 12, 2011

    Jeff Harvey,

    It won’t go away if you keep feeding it.

    As an ecologist you should understrand that.

  42. #42 GSW
    September 12, 2011

    @Andy S

    At last, a sense of humour! made me laugh anyway.


  43. #43 Jonas N
    September 12, 2011

    Marco – I agree that Tourettes syndrom might afflict more than only a few here, same things with the compulsive spasms. But don’t blame that on me.

    And please don’t try the stupid Jeff Harvey meme: ‘Jonas has never read a scientific paper’ (I simply cannot believe that grown-ups need to actively delude themselves)

    Further Marco (and Andy S)

    You had initially some relevant but superficial remarks to me about the statistics. Which I explained, and you didn’t reply to. From what I’ve seen you have not seriously challanged specifics, or participated in whats been discussed thereafter.

    Instead you are now whining about ‘trolls’ and that other things than you’d prefer are not being discussed.

    And I would most definitely say that if inappropriate comments here should med ‘moderated’ then there is an abundance of those from anumber of signatures which are far worse than my poorest.

  44. #44 Jonas N
    September 12, 2011


    Instead you are now whining .. that other things than you’d prefer, are now being discussed

  45. #45 Marco
    September 12, 2011

    Jonas N would do wise to consider the possibility more than one person uses the screen name “marco/Marco”.

  46. #46 Michael
    September 12, 2011

    More lengthy waffle, avoiding considering the intersting question of why the denial-o-sphere, consisting of so many purported ‘skeptics’, cheers Spencer et al with such alacrity, failing to notice it’s many problem.


    Oh, look over there, IPCC!

  47. #47 Glen Raphael
    September 12, 2011

    Jeff@134: that comment is really well written and I agree with most of it. I hear you saying that the claim of “90% certainty” is rhetorical, not mathematical; it translates into “we’re sure enough to know that we need to act now.” Which is fine, but accurate numbers do matter for making accurate decisions.

    (Side note: Some of those who disagree with the claim that we should “act now” in the ways we can currently think of acting do so out of the knowledge/intuition that the economy is also a “fragile dominion” containing ‘complex adaptive systems’ in which we can get a loose sense of the direction of damage but can’t really know the exact harm done by expensive policies.)

  48. #48 Jonas N
    September 12, 2011

    Marco (whichever one your are)

    Consider it considered ..

  49. #49 John
    September 12, 2011


    Glen, GSW and Jonas all know there is a problem with Spencer, but why face facts when you can heap sarcasm, ridicule and non-scientific waffle all over the comment section and pretend you know what you are talking about?

    Jonas gives every indication that he knows the warming is anthropogenic, however, like GSW (who never could prove ice ages actually existed, poor dear) the basis for his denial is political and not scientific.


  50. #50 Jeff Harvey
    September 12, 2011

    Andy S,

    Many thanks for the advice. You are correct; Jonas thrives on attention. His posts are an abomination. Most Deltoid posters gave up on him quite some time ago, or consigned his comments (quite rightfully) to [killfile]

    Glen, thanks for your post. I would agree with you that the material economy is a ‘fragile dominion’ only insofar as it depends utterly on the health and vitality of the natural economy (see Costanza et al., 1997; Daily et al, 1997 and Baskin, 1999). More and more economists – Herman Daly, Brian Czech, Geoff Heal, John Gowdy, Stephen Viedermann and others – have come around to the realization that humans exist and persist because natural systems permit it (coining another phrase from Simon Levin) through a huge range of supporting ecological services. Ecological economics is certainly challenging dinosaurian tenets of neoclassical economics which considers the environment a small subset of the material economy. In truth it is the reverse – and anthropogenic threats such as climate change will certainly have consequences on natural systems that will rebound on the material economy. In fact, it already is. The prognosis is not good.

  51. #51 elspi
    September 12, 2011


    “Sorry you’ve misunderstood chek’s #129 post, it lack’s some context unfortunately, but he is definitley on what I would consider to be your side of the argument.”


    How did you pass grade school with that level of reading comprehension?

    Is your mother typing for you?

    Tim needs a picture of someone with Down’s syndrome with the caption “You must be at least this smart to ride this ride”.

    (Apologies to all Down’s syndrome sufferers, who have done nothing to deserve being compared to GSW)

  52. #52 Jonas N
    September 12, 2011

    Jeff H #139 – What is your problem?

    Don’t you even know when you are making wild guesses in the dark?

    Let’s examine #134 where the following sentences are untrue statements stemming from your (or somebody’s) fantasy:

    – Like Jonas, you do not appear to understand the problems of linking science with public policy (*)

    – .. the remarkable arrogance exhibited by Jonas, who writes as if he was a sage of wisdom in the field of climate science

    – his wilful ignorance of science and policy

    – he alone, has wisdom that has eluded thousands of scientists who have spent their careers in the field

    – Jonas, for his part, shows time and time again that he simply does not understand the threshold between knowledge and action.

    – For him and a sea of other politically-driven anti-environmentalists who try and hide their true colors, the only level of certainty regarding the link between human activity and climate change is 100%, and this must be based on a million studies or more.

    – Until then, we sit back and do nothing, whilst the human experiment – for that is what we are doing to systems across the biosphere – continues.

    and in #139 it gets even worse:

    – You didn’t read my last post; in fact, its clear that you don’t read much here.

    – Clearly, this went straight over your little head

    – Of course this is way, way over your head.

    – You probably know less about economic policy than science (*)

    – He is the classic example of a skunk who is stinking up this thread

    – refusing (or being unable) to say what relevance this has on public policy decisions

    OK Jeff, the above statments are sprung out of your fantasies. Things you just want to be true. And are only from your two last posts. Previous post have been equally riddled with similar stuff.

    You are correct in that I have discussed other details than you are interested in. But I actually commented shortly on your ‘policy’ theme. However, I fear that you will have a hard time conducting a measured conversation about anything where people (me for instance) do not agree with every comma … That is at least the impression you have given so far. And the ‘trend’ has not been improving.

    The funniest thing though, is that you now seem to agree on my main and very specific, not very far reaching, point (since the other thread), something you there vehemently disputed. And wrote at least a dozen posts about (of similar angry non-quality).

    Another funny thing is that you say you have a problem with non-climate scientists discussing issues on a blog which discusses issues pertaining to climate and policy. Since that is what you’ve been doing all the time, and everybody else here.

    (*) Strictly speacking these actually contain a caveat, ie represents your understanding. The implication made, however, is wrong and still only your fantasy

  53. #53 GSW
    September 12, 2011


    When it comes to being ‘special’ elspi, I think you are way out in a class of your own.

  54. #54 chek
    September 12, 2011

    Elspi, my post at what is now comment [#120]( was an apt follow-on to Scribe’s post at what is now comment [#119]( Particularly if the links in each are read.

    FYI, apart from responses to a post by Tim several months ago specifically about sock puppets, and using several relevant if ludicrous anagrams, I do not employ sock puppets on this forum.

    The rest is in your fevered imagination.

  55. #55 Stu
    September 12, 2011

    Jonas, sweetheart? Why are you still wasting your brilliance on us poor, misguided plebes? As you helpfully collaborated in another thread, there are millions of Exxon dollars to be had if only you publish your laser-like arguments, your thorough and scientific trouncing of all the nincompoops at the IPCC.

    Why, Jonas? I’m only looking out for you. I want what’s best for the you, and the world. Your insights should be immortalized, stat! The world cannot wait any longer!

    Run, Jonas, run!

  56. #56 Michael
    September 12, 2011

    Had a quick look through Jonas’ contributions on the CHE thread.

    Should have known – he exhibits classic signs of Libertarianism (nasty affliction that one).

    He’s probably a devotee of Anyn Rand as well.

    Just feel sorry for him.

  57. #57 Michael
    September 12, 2011

    Oops, sorry Tim.

  58. #58 elspi
    September 13, 2011


    When you read a modest proposal, where you SHOCKED that he was advocating eating babies,
    or did you somehow believe that he was really advocating something else.

    I think you need to go back and read my post one more time.

    PS click the link.

  59. #59 Just Visiting
    September 15, 2011

    This is my first visit to this blog. Having looked through the quite staggeringly chaotic, ill-mannered, half-witted squabbling in the comments section here I don’t think I will be visiting again. Seriously, don’t any of you have anything better to do?

  60. #60 jakerman
    September 15, 2011

    Just visiting, either the irony is cleaver or your comment is not.

  61. #61 chek
    September 15, 2011

    I suspect we haven’t seen the last incursion from Montford’s fanboys quite yet.

  62. #62 Bernard J.
    September 16, 2011

    When Spencer and Braswell published their hokum there was much said by the Denialati in defence of BS11, on the basis that nothing was published in the peer-reviewed literature to counter it. When Dessler published his rebuttal very soon after there was a lot of caterwauling about the “rapidity” of the publication, and the fact that it was published in GRL and not in Remote Sensing.

    Well, the denialists can quit their harping. [Remote Sensing has published Trenberth’s, Fasullo’s, and Abraham’s response](, and it says the same thing that Dessler’s did.

    It seems that BS11 was presciently abbreviated…

  63. #63 Bernard J.
    September 16, 2011

    …if one is of an anagrammatical bent!

  64. #64 Bernard J.
    September 16, 2011

    (Frankly, if Spencer had any self-respect he would have pushed Braswell to be first author, and then claimed that Braswell ‘made’ him co-publish. Sadly for Ol’ Roy, he left no plausible-deniability back door, so as the real first author of that tosh he now has to wear yet another drubbing in the professional literature.

    I guess that it’ll be hissy-fits at 50 paces, in a displacement effort to conceal his embarrassment…)

  65. #65 chris
    September 17, 2011

    Bernard, the fundamental problem with Spencer’s recent efforts is that he chooses not to conform to the basic standards of scientific good faith. He publishes knowingly and logically flawed interpretations, and supports the gross misinterpretation of their significance via dishonest press releases and appallingly non-scientific blog noise. We can make objective statments about his lack of scientific good faith, but not sure we can presume too much about his “self respect”!

    Braswell’s role is interesting. His publication record indicates that he’s the “junior” “partner” in the UAH research – he’s published a smattering of papers with Christy and Spencer during the period when highly flawed analyses were being made by the group and was a coauthor on a flawed attempt at a rebuttal to Hurrell and Trenberth’s description of spurious trends in MSU data analysis [*]. In all of these papers Spencer (or Christy) was the senior, corresponding/reprint author.

    So whatever Braswell’s role, his role as a competent and honest scientist should have been to ask the sorts of questions that any scientist with a truly skeptical interest in addressing the truth would ask; e.g.:

    “If the aim of our paper is to suggest fundamantal flaws in climate models, shouldn’t we do some sort of analysis of robustness?”


    “If the aim of our paper is to suggest fundamental flaws in climate models, shouldn’t we be considering and presenting the models that do quite well in matching our particular set of empirical data?”


    “The press release is horribly dishonest, since we know that the analysis of very short term feedbacks to surface temperature variation has no necessary relationship to the climate sensitivity of interest to the climate response to enhanced greenhouse forcing. We’ve just published a paper that states that, for goodness sakes. Surely we can’t promote such a gross misrepresentation of our work in the wider media?….can we Roy??”


    [*] Christy, Spencer and WD Braswell (1997) β€œHow accurate are satellite β€œthermometers”? Nature 389, 342.

    answer: not accurate at all, until Spencer and Christy’s reluctance to address cumulative errors was addressed by competent scientists.

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