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 MarcH
    September 6, 2011

    Steve Mc, has a post on this with a nice take at the end, applying the lag from Dessler 2011 to show negative feedback in data from Dessler 2010. What a hoot! Somehow I don’t think this will be the last word. Based on recent precedence, should the editor of GRL now be preparing his resignation letter?

  2. #2 Bernard J.
    September 6, 2011


    McIntyre has quite a representative cross-section of the head-honcho Denialati egging him along on that thread. We should not be surprised – the denialist zombie is one that never knows when it is dead, and it requires repeated mutilation before it will lay down and accept the truth… if it ever does.

    Oo, and I think that you’re more than a little off-base with your impression of the GRL editor, but that’s alright – after all, you are obviously scientifically illiterate. There’s a cure though: it called education (ed-yew-ka-shun), although at your age it probably won’t stick…

  3. #3 rhwombat
    September 7, 2011

    MarcH…endrixx ?

  4. #4 Mulga Mumblebrain
    September 7, 2011


  5. #5 Russell
    September 7, 2011
  6. #6 Jeffrey Davis
    September 7, 2011

    re: #1

    Mounting a rhetorically overwhelming case is made difficult by the fact that year-to-year the differences between one side and the other is going to be small. A year’s worth of global warming is tiny. Ten years still requires calipers. So, if you’re of a mind to do it — and there are obviously those who are — you can poach data from anywhere you like. For instance, a single satellite. As e.e.cummings said in different circumstances, apparently it is going to take a

    bit of
    the old sixth

    el;in the top of his head:to tell


  7. #7 Bernard J.
    September 7, 2011

    There are now many excellent blog summaries of Spencer’s folly.

    I just wish that one of the authors had subtitled theirs:

    “Some Mothers Do Keep ‘aving ’em”.

  8. #8 Mack
    September 8, 2011

    Burnard J,
    Your comments are just ad-hom rants.

  9. #9 Jeff Harvey
    September 8, 2011

    Mack, IMO you are an idiot who has nothing to add. Go away.

  10. #10 Bernard J.
    September 8, 2011

    Oo, someone called Mack has dropped by.

    Look on his works, ye Mighty, and despair.

  11. #11 Jonas N
    September 8, 2011

    Jeff – although you have absolutely nothing to add, you proven that beyond any doubt recently. But still I think you should stay. But maybe, just maybe, think a little before you post, please?

  12. #12 Jeff Harvey
    September 8, 2011

    *But maybe, just maybe, think a little before you post, please?*

    Pot. Kettle. Black.

  13. #13 chek
    September 8, 2011

    Bear in mind everybody that Jonas N is the troll on [another thread]( who would have us believe that Deep Climate and John Mashey’s forensic investigation and discrediting of the Wegman Report was all about Wegman’s punctuation shortcomings. Yes, really.

    I believe that folk rarely do laugh out loud at internet posts, but …. lol.

  14. #14 Jonas N
    September 8, 2011

    Jeff …

    I do think before I post, and I don’t need to call people ‘idiot’ and worse, just because they see things differently. Mack is quite correct about Bernars J:s many postings.

  15. #15 Lotharsson
    September 8, 2011

    > Your comments are just ad-hom rants.

    If I only had a dollar for every time a troll abused the term “ad hom” I could retire…

  16. #16 Jeff Harvey
    September 8, 2011


    The only reason Mack is correct in your jaded view is because he shares the same anti-scientific idealogical biases as you do. Mack is just a hit-and-run troll. If you wanna debate me on the effects of climate change on natural and managed ecosystems, go right ahead. I’ll demolish you, of course (same with Shubbie who uses the tried and trusted contrarian trick of saying that there are no proven effects of climate warming on food webs and ecosystems – until someone shoves an article right in front of his face. Of course the ecological literature is replete with such studies, but of course Shubbie doesn’t do any WoS searches so until he reads any, the problem does not exist). You seem to be doing that too – saying its OUR job to put actual studies in front of you with respect to evidence for the human fingerprint on the current warming, and until we on Deltoid do that, then as far as you are concerned such studies don’t exist. Why don’t you pick out some of the studies from AR4 that you don’t like and tell us exactly what is wrong with them. Or tell us exactly what the scientists you claim to have written to have said in response to your queries. The onus is on you, Jonas, to prove that the IPCC has it wrong and not the other way around. The scientific community by-and-large has accepted the view that humans are forcing climate. Its therefore up to you and your acolytes to prove us wrong, and not *vice-versa*.

    I suppose you want someone to read you the peer-reviewed papers as a bedtime story, because you seem singularly incapable of going to the primary literature yourself and telling us exactly what is missing/incorrect in it. Its like someone complaining that he/she thinks there is no proven relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, and when asked to provide evidence showing this is so, failing to critique the primary literature but just making the point repeatedly on the basis if his/her own views and on their own perceptions of the conclusions of the Millenium Ecosystem Assessment (2006). So my advice to you is to go to the primary literature and come back here when you have read an eeensy beeensy bit of it.

  17. #17 Jonas N
    September 8, 2011

    Jeff – Just cut it out. Your have been blathering in the comments here for days without having any point at all. In the one issue of relevance you addressed (the certatinty and attribution) you proved beyond doubt that you had no idea, no clue. But still you pretended (even believed?) that your point somehow had any merit!?

    You talk about anti-science, but have never seen the science you so much believe in, have no clue what the ‘primary literature’ is supposed to be, or where to be found? Demand that I rebutt non-existing science!? What an utter farce ..

    And the same is of course true for many other commnenters. No connection to the science which is discussed, no understanding of physics or any other hard sciences, no experience of the empircal world, of experimtal investigations, of modelling af physical systems, even unaware of the scientific method.

    Just shouting support when one of the ‘home team’ claims he’s right and/or the other guy is wrong, and cussing about them not blindly following the script.

    Even more stupid is that alternative universe you seem to be inventing in every other post, when you declare how things ‘really’ are, things which you have even less grasp or knowledge of.

    As I said, no one who considers himself a scientist in real world I live in, makes such illogical and nonsens claims ans statements as you (and many others here). And still you present yourself as a grown up, even call yourself a ‘senior scientist’!? No way! Senior BS-guesser maybe.

  18. #18 Michael
    September 8, 2011


    Anonymous keyboard warrior, who has waffled on at length about absolutely nothing, critises an extensively published scientist for knowing nothing about science.

    And he has a bridge for sale.

  19. #19 elspi
    September 8, 2011

    Lying troll Jonas engages in projection… news at 11.

    “Your have been blathering in the comments here for days without having any point at all.”

    Really Tim, it is time to give Jonas his own padded thread, just to keep him from covering the entire place with his feces.

  20. #20 Former Skeptic
    September 8, 2011

    Actually, just confine Jonas to the Rick Perry/NAS room – there’s no need to reward him with a titular thread.

    It’s utterly hilarious to see what illogical brainfart (s)he comes up with in every new post. He’s rapidly approaching Girma levels of ineptitude.

    Now, back on topic, is there any chance that the three reviewers of SB11 will out themselves?

  21. #21 Jeff Harvey
    September 8, 2011


    You do realize that every time I or another commenter hammers you, your oily wriggling and slithering do not work.

    The AR4 of IPCC drew conclusions based on the empirical or theoretical literature at the time (2007). Since then, even more data has accrued showing beyond a reasonable doubt that Homo sapiens, through the unreprent burning of fossil fuels, is clatering climate across the biosphere. This is the broad consensus position. Against that, you claim that this science is ‘non-science’. And, more ridiculously, you lash out at any one who disagrees with you. Well, for starters, except for a few contrarians, some of who are on the corporate payroll, >90% of the scientific community stands behind AR4 and the IPCC. So its up to you to prove its wrong in its conclusions, not up to me or anyone else to prove to you that its correct. If you weren’t IMO such an idiot you’d realize this. The scientific community are in broad agreement. Now you have to prove us wrong. But so far you haven’t done that in any way, shape or form. All you do is attack me and others here who agree with the mainstream scientific view on the matter, with a few mis-spelled and grammatically incorrect phrases thrown in.

    The only illusory and deluded universe occupied here is the one you have created all by yourself. I think you’ve made this on the basis of spending too much of your time in denialist web sites and the like, which has given you the impression that you are some kind of expert who has an intellectual edge on those who disagree with you. The fact is that you are a buffoon. If you want to discuss the ecological effects of anthropogenic warming, I’d be glad to educate you (heaven knows you need it).

    And you still haven’t answered the questions I laid out for you. A few years ago Stuart Pimm and I wrote a commentary in the journal Oikos in which we laid out our vision of what one should ‘follow’ in order to find the truth in environmental discussions and debates. The third point on our list was *Follow the credentials*, meaning those who challenge a position agreed upon by the broad scientific community are often people with no relevant expertise whatsoever. I am happy to report that you, Jonas, fit into this classifaction like a glove. Well done!

    Your evasion of the facts also shows how deep the hole is that you are digging for yourself. You certainly don’t fool the vast readership of Deltoid, who are either fed up to the teeth with you or find your increasingly hysterical rants to be a bit amusing. I find them a bit of both. But I definitely agree with elspi’s last comment. I think Tim that it’s time to send this mega-troll packing to his own thread, where he can join spotty and Brent and their ilk in numbskull land.

  22. #22 GWB's nemesis
    September 8, 2011

    elspi (#21), that would be a shame. Jonas N is clearly making a really strong attempt to win the “Sunspot” trophy for climate loopiness. It would be a great pity to cut him off in his prime.

    Of course he gains additional points for displaying the most impressive case of misplaced self-importance since Tim Curtin was relegated to his own thread.

  23. #23 Lotharsson
    September 8, 2011

    > …it is time to give Jonas his own padded thread…

    No, there are better options.

    Like a thread for a cage match between sunspot, Curtin and Jonas. It’s 90% likely that the majority 😉 would vociferously agree with each other despite massively mutually exclusive positions, but you never know – there’s a slim chance that some of them would actually engage 😉

    Deltoid history suggests that there are other combinations of worthy competitors that might prove interesting as well.

  24. #24 chek
    September 8, 2011

    Ah but Lotharsson, you’re forgetting that the first rule of denialism is to never, ever argue against a fellow-travelling denier even when their case and yours are mutually exclusive.

  25. #25 TrueSceptic
    September 8, 2011

    Wow, we have a new contender for the Dunning-Kruger World Championship!

    Has anyone seen such a display of combined ignorance, arrogance, and sheer delusion as displayed by Jonas@19?

    He doesn’t even seem to realise that his continued presence here is as an exhibit.

  26. #26 MFS
    September 8, 2011

    Hey guys,

    Are you really going to let this guy totally derail another thread into his discussion of choice? Because it sure seems to be heading this way, he’s getting everyone dancing to his tune in the first few posts.

    It’s just easier to ignore him.

  27. #27 TrueSceptic
    September 8, 2011

    26 MFS,

    You are correct. I had no idea how much garbage he’s spewed, and how much time he’s wasted, e.g., in the Mashey Thread.

    A very effective deniatroll, I’d say. It absolutely must be ignored.

  28. #28 SteveC
    September 8, 2011

    MFS & TS – agreed. If people have the time and willpower and want to debunk the JonasTroll by all means do so, but please take it to the open thread and leave at least some threads uninfested.

    Thank you.

  29. #29 Lotharsson
    September 8, 2011

    > Ah but Lotharsson, you’re forgetting that the first rule of denialism is to never, ever argue against a fellow-travelling denier even when their case and yours are mutually exclusive.

    Not at all – I was hoping to have them *illustrate* it 😉 in a nice private and **on-topic** arena.

  30. #30 MikeH
    September 9, 2011

    [Skeptical Science]( takes up the Watts/McIntyre/Pielke claim that the Dessler paper has been “fast tracked”.

  31. #31 John Mason
    September 9, 2011

    Apart from the seriousness of the subject of the thread, Jonas’ antics have given me a good chuckle this morning! Thankfully I had just swallowed my coffee prior to starting on post #19, or I would have been wanting to know to whom I should address my claim for a new keyboard!!

    Cheers – John

  32. #32 Anders Emretsson
    September 9, 2011

    Trolls. Don’t feed them.

  33. #33 Shub
    September 9, 2011

    Jeff Harvey

    I saw how you ‘demolished’ my arguments, by shoving references etc. What is it called? The Banshee scream and the Headless chicken technique?

    I’ve long seen your Oikos article with Pimm. It shows the utter contempt you try to hold those who chose to debate your precious ecologic constructs. The defensive attitude is such a pity because, put off by the eco-exaggeration tendencies, the arrogance and the misanthropy, you’ve anyway successfully managed to chase away almost everyone else except these people who engage in the first place.

    Putting your ‘ecology unraveling due to climate’ argument is easy – it can be done in a few sentences: By your own admission, “both” climate and human influence are causing dramatic ecologic effects. It is difficult to separate out the results of these two influences on ecosystems and therefore, you cannot infer anthropogenic climatic change by solely studying ecosystems. You need to study the climate system separately and this is done by the hockey stick and the models. The hockey stick is toast. Your point is finished.

  34. #34 Jeff Harvey
    September 9, 2011


    My point is finished? Says who? YOU? With your kindergarten level understanding of ecological complexity? Grow up and face the facts: the planet is warming and warming rapidly, and humans are the primary forcing agent. And stop mangling science like you and other lay-denialists do: its certainly possible in many trophic chains to tease out the effects of warming because of concomitant changes in the phenology of the life-cycles of species in that chain. And this has been well-studied the past 10-15 years, with plenty of examples. Once trophic interactions break down, the effects trickle up to affect communities and ecosystems. Ecology is the study of scales, are interconnected.

    Trouble is, you preach anti-science in your screeds. More importantly, as I have explained, your strategy, if one is to call it that, is to argue that without 100% proof of a process, the problem does not exist. This warped strategy has been used by those on the political right (e.g. ‘Wise Use’, climate change denialists and other wings of the anti-environmental lobby) to downplay or ignore a wide range of anthropogenic assaults across the biosphere. That you use it, Shubbie, is hardly surprising. I am well aware of denial tactics as I have been dealing with you clowns now for the past 15 years (e.g. since I was a post-doc at the University of Wisconsin-Madison).

    If truth be told, YOUR point never really got off the ground, now or in years past.

  35. #35 Andrew Strang
    September 9, 2011

    Re steveC@30 Thanks, where is the open thread? Can we add this? – There might be more to JonasN than meets the eye. One possibility is it’s actually a petty dorm team with sly, obfuscating intentions to ignorantly provoke – unwittingly junior to adult integrity and the feeling of scientific adventure. Otherwise JonasN could be another Betula about whom I’ve remarked there’s ‘… a metaphysical eggdom to Betula whereby the possibility of hatching out of constraining mental shells like political fear (corrected) into a more fundamental realm like world standard humanness is an inconceivable nonsense – in the way a monkey doesn’t know the gamut of intelligence. So I suggest see the monkey but don’t feed it, just love the science of our 6 billion (corrected), trillion tonne planet.’ And maybe ‘Shub’ could be included as a monkey.

  36. #36 chek
    September 9, 2011

    “The hockey stick is toast”.

    Only in that twilight world inhabited by political bloggers, their moronic followers and pulp-fiction dog-astrolger novellists, Shub.

  37. #37 lord_sidcup
    September 9, 2011

    you cannot infer anthropogenic climatic change by solely studying ecosystems.

    You are right, because only you could infer that. Always a good idea to learn the difference between infer and imply.

  38. #38 Jonas N
    September 9, 2011

    Jeff H #23

    You are getting more and more delusional. What on earth do you think you are ‘hammering’!? Are you possibly confusing the ignorant cheering and name calling from the no-nothing loudmouths here, with having a valid point? A hammering point!?

    I see that you’d now rather talk about what has been claimed after the 2007 AR4. And rather talk about what 90% of the scientists think. But firstly, their opinion is something different, and secondly are you not their elected representative. And that 90% agree is once more pure guessing from you (as so much obviously is) and thus quite boring.

    And once again your making the same logical fallacy: It is the IPCC AR4 who made that claim, and that it is based on science. Well, if it were, anybody with a computer and acess to a range of academic databases should be capable of identifying that science. To prove a negative is not possible. However, it is the easiest thing to falsify, if it were wrong.

    The rest is just the same irrelevant repetition of what’s going on inside your head. And you idea of establishing truths by examining (rather amaking up) credentials of others(!) is hilarious.

    Maybe it wasn’t meant as utterly hare-brained as it came out. But I never though I’d hear a professional claim that:

    The truth in my proposition is confirmed by others, who don’t have the credentials, disagreeing!

    And you presented yourself as a scientist? Even a senior one!? Wow, just wow! And ‘no wonder …’ I might add!


  39. #39 daedalus2u
    September 9, 2011

    The reason that the fossil fuel industry is pushing AGW denialism is because of the bubble in fossil fuel pricing. Fossil fuel companies are valued on the basis of their reserves of fossil fuels, which are valued assuming that they will be burned as fuel at current prices adjusted for inflation, discount rate and extraction difficulty. Those prices are not adjusted for AGW effects.

    There is much more carbon in those reserves than can be released without unacceptable climate change. The pricing of fossil fuel reserves is a classic unsustainable economic bubble. All of that fossil fuel can’t have the price that it is valued at because all of it can’t be burned because the effects would be unacceptable.

    It is maintaining the illusion of the fossil fuel bubble that is driving AGW denialism. If the value of the fossil fuel companies dropped to the value of their reserves that could actually be burned, there would lose something like 80% of their value.

    They will lose that much value at some point in the future, when investors realize that lots of the carbon they have in the ground cannot be burned as fuel. The bursting of that bubble will be a gigantic shock to the world economy.

    The problem is not the realistic future valuation, the problem is the unrealistic present valuation. The sooner the real value of those fossil fuels in the ground is appreciated, the sooner the real costs can be addressed, not the fake smoke-and-mirrors “cost” of revaluing the reserves of fossil fuels that are still in the ground that cannot be burned.

    Investors got scammed into thinking that fossil fuels in the ground can be burned until they are all gone. They can’t. It isn’t running out of fossil fuels that will stop their use, it is the realization that they are causing unacceptable climate change.

  40. #40 John Mason
    September 9, 2011

    Unfortunately, Jonas, after a hard day’s work your latest post failed to make me guffaw, coffee or no coffee. This time I just kinda glazed over and had to pinch myself back awake. Amazing the difference lots of hours makes, eh??

    Mind you, I was nodding off whilst looking at Shub’s offering above. You guys are a strong intellectual anaesthetic – credit where credit’s due 🙂

    Cheers – John

  41. #41 GSW
    September 9, 2011

    There is a post over at [Roy Spencers]( blog claiming that he and Dessler are in contact to resolve ‘remaining differences’ in their calculations. Dessler makes it clear that the conclusions of his paper are unlikely to change.

    Both gentlemen are to be applauded. This is how it is supposed to work!

  42. #42 John Mason
    September 9, 2011


    Interesting way of looking at it and you make some good points.

    If AGW is allowed to continue to spread its slow, cancerous influence around the world, the oil companies that attempt to stay on a BAU track will be worthless in any case – the market for these fuels will in time collapse for several reasons…. I suspect they know this in reality.

    Cheers – John

  43. #43 John Mason
    September 9, 2011

    GSW – Jaw-Jaw is ALWAYS better than War-War, whatever the depth of the dispute 🙂

    Cheers – John

  44. #44 Stu
    September 9, 2011

    Ah yes, Jonas, who thinks Exxon paying denialists is “conspiracy nonsense”.

    I think it would be wise to ignore him.

  45. #45 bill
    September 9, 2011

    no-nothing loudmouths

    This is a Poe, surely? ‘No-nothing’ is one of the most elegantly self-defeating phrases I’ve encountered online!…

    Anyway, other than that I’d also submit that the buffoon is best ignored.

  46. #46 Rattus Norvegicus
    September 9, 2011


    Small fonts and old eyes don’t mix too well and when I first read your comment I thought you said “self-defecating”. Fairly apt for a man who covers himself in shit.

  47. #47 Chris O'Neill
    September 9, 2011


    he and Dessler are in contact to resolve ‘remaining differences’ in their calculations. Dessler makes it clear that the conclusions of his paper are unlikely to change.

    How, pray tell, do you resolve differences but the conclusions don’t change?

  48. #48 Chris O'Neill
    September 9, 2011

    no-nothing loudmouths

    This is a Poe, surely?

    Or just staggering hypocrisy.

  49. #49 Bernard J.
    September 9, 2011

    >This is how it is supposed to work!

    Actually, it’s not.

    Spencer’s errors should have been filtered out during review, if not earlier in discussions with scientific colleagues. His mistakes should certainly not be addressed after he has already gone public with fresh claims that “AGW is a scay-um, a scay-um, I tellz ya!”

    If Spencer was a truly objective scientist all of this talk would have happened in staff rooms and by emails, and possibly over dinners or down at the local, long before a manuscript was sent to a journal. But then, he would never have been able to sneak a paper out that essentially purports to refute more than 150 years of physics, and that achieved scads of denialist propaganda for his cause…

    Spencer is having his arse wiped by competent scientists, when he should be able to wipe away his own shit by now. If you think that this constitutes “how it is supposed to work”, you are advocating what Freud would classify as an [anal expulsive]( approach to scientific discourse.

  50. #50 Mikem
    September 10, 2011


    You are getting more and more delusional.

    Well it’s true that someone is, at least.

    I just don’t see why it’s so hard to understand that if you add greenhouse gases (as can be measured and observed), the earth will warm up (as can be measured and observed). Nor is it particularly hard to understand that this will have consequences to humankind’s nice cosy adaptation to living at current temperatures.

    It’s just really not conceptually difficult at all. Why the stubborn resistance? It’s like a chronic smoker coughing and wheezing on their supplemental oxygen from a hospital bed saying “I’ll believe it’s bad for me when someone actually shows me the evidence!” Just bizarre. :0

  51. #51 Jonas N
    September 10, 2011


    You’re describing the hypothesis, that for some odd ~23 years (between 1975-1998) seemed to agree reasonably well with observed temperatures. The problem with it is just that it is not, neither before nor after. And that the more it has been studied, the poorer it agreed, and the more ‘explanations’ for why it doesn’t needed to be padded on. Now, (grown up) people even are hoping that the existence of oil companies explians what’s missing …

  52. #52 GSW
    September 10, 2011


    It isn’t obvious that you have any understanding of how science should, or should not, be conducted. In fact your previous posts would indicate the contrary, but yet you still feel the need to pontifacate about it, Bizarre.

    All of the National Academies/Societys have called for more openness and transparency in scientific research. This, on the face of it, would appear to be the very thing.

    I am not optimistic that Spencer and Dessler will agree on the conclusions to be drawn from the work, but this self correcting exchange of information cannot be viewed as anything other than constructive.

  53. #53 Mikem
    September 10, 2011

    OK, well if it only agrees with the data from 1975-1998, then why do the [following four surface temperature datasets]( – the GISS, Hadley Centre, NOAA, and Japanese Met Agency – all completely agree with each other, and all show a consistent temperature warming trend over a period of more than a century?

    Are my eyes deceiving me? Does the ever-upward trending line not actually trend upwards? Or are they all part of the global conspiracy and so well organised that they can get their data analyses to completely agree?

    I mean, my vision is 20/20 and it’s pretty hard for me to deny that these multiple dataset plots all show a century of pretty clear warming trend……..and still keep a straight face.

  54. #54 Bernard J.
    September 10, 2011

    >It isn’t obvious that you have any understanding of how science should, or should not, be conducted.

    If it’s not obvious to you, GSW, that may be a reflection of the fact that you don’t work as a scientist. I’ve worked as a scientist for three decades – what’s your day job?

    And more specifically, what’s your problem with my decription of how science is “conducted”?

  55. #55 GSW
    September 10, 2011


    My background is High Energy and Device Physics. What’s yours?

  56. #56 chris
    September 10, 2011

    GSW, I’d say Bernard is exactly correct. Any scientist acting in good faith puts considerable effort in ensuring that when it comes to publishing stuff, they’ve done their damnest to ensure it’s as correct and free of flaws as possible. So they do exactly what Bernard suggests (not to mention presenting the work pre-submission at group, departmental, and conference talks/poster sessions etc where it can be critiqued). A fundamental element of peer review done in good faith is “self peer review”.

    The idea that one sneaks rubbish into the lower elements of the scientific literature in order to pursue non-science agendas, and then makes a “butter-wouldn’t-melt-in-my-mouth” pretence of sorting out the mess afterwards is pretty sickening and pathetic. That’s hardly the sort of “openness and transparency” the scientific societies are promoting! I don’t think one needs to be a publishing scientist to recognise that.

    Happily of the hundreds of scientists that publish in climate science-related fields there are only 3 or 4 individuals that play this dreary game…

  57. #57 Chris O'Neill
    September 10, 2011

    You’re describing the hypothesis, that for some odd ~23 years (between 1975-1998) seemed to agree reasonably well with observed temperatures

    Not even half right. In the 47.5 years since January 1964, the global average temperature trend has risen 0.73 deg C.

  58. #58 GSW
    September 10, 2011


    I don’t know if you have been following the story Chris, but in this case it is the Dessler paper that is alleged to have been “fast tracked” thru peer review.

    The acceptance for publication at GRL was mere six weeks after the Spencer paper and two weeks after submission.

    It is unlikely that the paper underwent the “pre-submission at group, departmental, and conference talks/poster sessions etc where it can be critiqued” prior to publication as you suggest it requires.

    You said “sorting out the mess afterwards is pretty sickening and pathetic”, I do have some sympathy with this view and would prefer a more considered approach in review. But we are where we are.

    Isn’t Dessler’s Dad a former editor at GRL?

  59. #59 chris
    September 10, 2011

    Another part of the anti-science rubbish GSW is conspiracy theorizing. Please let’s not go there.

    GRL is a rapid review letter journal. Rapid review of very short letters addressing significant elements of scince is the point of the journal. Dessler’s rapid review is not atypical.

    The rapid preparation and review of Dessler’s paper is certainly a result of the fact that the fundamental flaws of Spencer’s paper are clear and obvious, and thus easy to highlight (and no experiments were required) and also likely of the fact that Spencer/Lindzen have been playing their game of publishing substandard work on this subject accompanied by massive blogosphere over-hype for some time, and Dessler and the scientific community in general, are now pretty “primed” to address this stuff.

  60. #60 Cedric Katesby
    September 10, 2011

    Bear in mind everybody that Jonas N is the troll on another thread who would have us believe that Deep Climate and John Mashey’s forensic investigation and discrediting of the Wegman Report was all about Wegman’s punctuation shortcomings. Yes, really

    That was funny. Thanks for pointing it out.

    Climate deniers are not skeptics, they are suckers.

    NASA didn’t lie to you about the moon landings.
    NASA is not lying to you now about climate change.
    Embrace reality, you kooks.
    There is no global conspiracy of scientists out to getcha!

  61. #61 GSW
    September 10, 2011


    Appreciate the feedback Chris. The fact that GRL is a “rapid review letter journal” certainly supports the view that some of Desslers analysis may be in need of further “fine tuning”.

    As I said before, a dialogue between the two authors is to be welcomed, although I admit that it is unlikely they will come to full agreement on this.

  62. #62 John
    September 10, 2011

    Of course they won’t come to agreement immediately, GSW. Spencer traditionally takes many years to admit he was wrong.

  63. #63 John
    September 10, 2011

    Reading down the thread I noticed something interesting – a denier ignoring the science and shrieking “conspiracy” in support of a paper he will forget about in a week when the next (and 43rd) “final nail in the coffin” comes to light.

    This is the least surprising thing ever.

    Skeptical Science deal with the tin foilers here:

    >It turns out Dessler ties Peter Martin Grindrod and Stephen Fawcett at 18 days for their breathlessly awaited paper, “Possible climate-related signals in high-resolution topography of lobate debris aprons in Tempe Terra, Mars”

    Maybe you guys will win the next one.

  64. #64 Jonas N
    September 10, 2011

    Mikem, Chris O’Neill

    Either you talk about the temperature record, or you talk about fitted trendlines. The latter you can fit from 17:th century, to six millenia, or any other interval if you please. That’s not the topic.

    chris #58 (the other one)

    I must agree with GSW here. Bernard vehemently defends the idea that (in some cases) scientists hide their main results so well that nobody can find them again. And no, Bernard does not behave like someone who is familiar with scientific conduct, who “in good faith puts considerable effort in ensuring that .. they’ve done their damnest to ensure it’s as correct and free of flaws as possible”.

    Read his many posts here (esp adressing them with who have a different point of view), and you’ll see that he is merely an angry activist shouting, who can’t handle dissent. He rarely ever addresses any of the core issues or the content of a point. Here, for instance, he claims to already know who is right and whos is wrong, on a detailed level, discussed by Spencer and Dessler. In a field in its infancy, of which he has no knowledge or understanding. ITs quite typical ..

    And can you please explain what you meant by the last sentence in #58? Are you also one of those who already know the ansers (and the motives)?

  65. #65 Richard Simons
    September 10, 2011

    Either you talk about the temperature record, or you talk about fitted trendlines.

    I don’t understand what you mean here. What is wrong about talking of trendlines fitted to the temperature record?

    I agree with Bernard and Chris. I would find it very odd that a scientist has not discussed his/her findings and thoughts with colleagues well before publication. The more usual problem is getting a scientist to shut up about their work.

  66. #66 Bernard J.
    September 10, 2011


    My -ologies are: a decade and a half in onc, immun, and pharmac, and the same period in eco. By that pattern, perhaps it’s time to pick up another couple of degrees and turn to climatology…

    And however you spin it, Spencer’s is still not the way to do science. As Chris explained, there are far more appropriate ways than the guerilla printing of fundamentally flawed material, and then wildly and loudly overhyping it in the lay media.

    And as [John points out](, [there is no publishing conspiracy]( with Dessler.

    [Jonas N](

    As usual, you’re completely off-topic. I’ve taking my response [here]( And if you can’t actually present some actual substance for once in your trolling, I’m done with you, even on the open thread..

  67. #67 Chris O'Neill
    September 10, 2011

    That’s not the topic.

    Jonah’s mistakes are never the topic.

  68. #68 Jeff Harvey
    September 10, 2011

    Climate science is not in its ‘infancy’. The only thing in its infancy is Jonas N’s kindergarten-level understanding of how science works.

    Luminous beauty explained quite lucidly earlier that chapter AR4 of the latest IPCC report came to its conclusions on the basis of data contained in hundreds of peer-reviewed articles. Sadly, our resident idiot cannot fathom this. In effect, the IPCC document is only an overview of the empirical data, and combines the work of may researchers.

    GSW says, “My background is High Energy and Device Physics”. We are getting somewhere. Now, Jonas N, pleased tell us what your background is. But of course you won’t. I have asked a dozen times but your resounding silence says a lot.

    A final point, foul troll: I’ve spoken at conferences and workshops exploring global change including climate change: in fact I was one of two keynote speakers at a workshop on climate change at Copenhagen University in 2002. I have met a heckuva lot more scientists from all fields than you have. Besides, just about every poll shows that >95% of the scientific community are in agreement over climate change and its causes.

  69. #69 Jonas N
    September 10, 2011

    Richard S

    There is nothing wrong with fitting straight lines to noisy and/or varying data, but those should not be confused with the actual data. And fitted lines carry no predictive or explainatory value. The discussion above was about where the hypothesis and real data agreed well, and where not. (trendlines are irrelevant for that purpose)

    And I totally agree with you: Usually scientists can’t stop talking about and being proud about their accomplishments. But quite a lot here (even some self proclaimed ‘scientists’) tell me the exact opposite wrt the IPCC AR4 most promiment claim.

    Jeff H

    Scientists do not ‘reason’, display as poor logic or make up stuff about what they are criticizing like you (and Bernard) constantly need to do.

    And yes, climate science is in its infacy. Both wrt to the GCM, the feedbacks, the sensitivity, and the attribution.

    And now you too want to attribute that AR4 claim not to some specific readable science, but a ‘general conclusion’ reached by the ‘experts’ when weighing all opinons together, summarizing the report!?

    Well, that at least is quite some closer to my understanding. Too bad you don’t read/try to understand what I actually say. You might have learnt something about the real world too ..

    Bernard J – You’re done? Not very much substance though, a link to Appendix 9.

  70. #70 John Mason
    September 10, 2011

    Jonas grandly opines: “And yes, climate science is in its infacy. Both wrt to the GCM, the feedbacks, the sensitivity, and the attribution.”

    That’s like saying Plate Tectonics (a much younger science by a long chalk) is in its infancy (then adding: Both wrt its modelling, its feedbacks in the late Neoproterozoic, its rate of progress in the average 18 month period in the Devonian and whether it is driven my mantle plumes or the whims of God)…. in other words you are, once again, waffling for the sake of waffling.

    There will always be uncertainties in all branches of scientific investigation – that’s why the latter exists. Uncertainty into minutiae does not obliviate the basic principles, however.

    I’ll leave it at that for this one – John

  71. #71 Jonas N
    September 10, 2011

    John Mason ..

    Mincing words? Wordplay? Those GCM:s are not getting many a prediction right yet. And contrary what so many here hope, there are quite som relevant objections coming from Spencer. I’d rather say that Dessler is waffling, and wanting to remain at his understanding of clouds (which I don’t would pin my hope on)

  72. #72 chek
    September 10, 2011

    Jonas said:“Those GCM:s (sic) are not getting many a prediction right yet”.

    And as usual, you have nothing to substantiate that statement. And FYI even [Hansen’s scenario B is still holding up remarkably well](

    Has it ever occurred to you that perhaps you just ain’t as smart as you like to kid yourself, Jonas?

  73. #73 Clippo UK
    September 10, 2011

    Re: Jonas N @ 71

    There is nothing wrong with fitting straight lines to noisy and/or varying data, but those should not be confused with the actual data. And fitted lines carry no predictive or explainatory value. The discussion above was about where the hypothesis and real data agreed well, and where not. (trendlines are irrelevant for that purpose)

    Damn ! that’s my life as a PhD Chemist wasted. Spent nigh on 40 years doing experiments and collecting data to see what makes chemical reactions tick, especially to isolate the factors that, say, improve chemical yield or product quality.

    So, I shouldn’t have bothered learning advanced Statistics, to fit graphs / trend lines to noisy and/or varying data in order to ‘predict’ process improvements – and to earn my keep.

  74. #74 Robert Murphy
    September 10, 2011

    “And contrary what so many here hope, there are quite som relevant objections coming from Spencer. I’d rather say that Dessler is waffling, and wanting to remain at his understanding of clouds (which I don’t would pin my hope on)”

    Looks like you’re starting to hit the bottle a little too hard.

  75. #75 Jonas N
    September 10, 2011


    Advanced statistics to fit lines? As I said, there is nothing wrong with fitting sich lines. But don’t confuse them for the actual data (especially when you have them, and it is not random noise that makes them uncertain)

    And no, the fit doesn’t carry any information with it. You need a mechanism to explain things in the physical world. I expect that suche were the ones you were looking for.

  76. #76 chris
    September 10, 2011

    Jonas (@66), I find it difficult to comprehend that you (and GSW) can quibble with Bernard’s description of the way that the vast majority of science is done. He’s simply correct; like Bernard I’ve been doing science (and publishing and reviewing papers) for some time. It’s a no-brainer that the vast majority of scientists are trying to find stuff out about the world (as opposed to pursuing dreary agendas) and make efforts to ensure their work is solid and correct as far as they are able. Good faith research goes through extensive “self peer review” pre-submission – the vast majority of scientists want to get it right!

    You seem to be attempting to defend the indefensible here. Perhaps you lack experience of doing science? Otherwise I don’t see what point you’re trying to make. On your advice I’ve looked at a couple of Bernard’s posts including the one you linked to and he seems to me to be faithfully addressing the points he’s responding to (somewhat waspishly, but dealing with trollish misrepresentation can get pretty tedious!).

    As for Spencer/Dessler, we do know who’s right (a clue: it’s Dessler). Spencer’s work fails on method and logic; his conclusions and especially the blog and media interpretations he’s promoted are simply unsupported by the wider evidence; if he’d (Spencer) submitted in good faith he would have assessed his hypothesis via the sorts of “self peer review” that Bernard and I discuss.

    You question the last sentence of my post #58. There are two ways of addressing this. I’ve looked at many hundreds of papers in climate science. There is a tiny cohort of individuals that publish work that is clearly and objectively wrong to the extent that one can conclude bad faith (i.e. the authors have decided that scientific “self-peer-review” doesn’t suit their non-science agendas); it is often straightforward to recognize wilfully deficient analyses and one can follow these objectively from the rebuttals that occasionally appear in the literature – the paper of RW Spencer we’re discussing here is an example as is J Christy’s attempt to insinuate incompatibility beween modeled and empirical tropical tropospheric temperatures using embarrassingly flawed statistics; we can give Spencer and Christy’s long history of incompetence in analyzing MSU temperature data the benefit of the doubt with respect to “good faith”, but it’s worth highlighting the particularly nasty lack of humility in their subsequent attacks on the science. We could include Soon and Baliunas travesty in Climate Research, but perhaps remove Dr. Baliunas from our list since she doesn’t seem to engage in this nonsense anymore (at least with respect to using subterfuge to get deficient analyses into the scientific literature). It’s difficult to accept that Lindzen’s rather astonishing cherrypicking of time periods (RSL and Choi GRL 2009) to insinuate low climate sensitivity from ERBE data wasn’t a wilfull attempt to contrive a pre-conceived “answer”. I wouldn’t include Dr. Schwartz’s effort at inferring low climate sensitivity from his simple heat capacity model since he subsequently corrected this himself; likewise I’d give Petr Chylek the benefit of the doubt on his oddly similar (to Lindzen’s) cherrypicking of data points to infer low climate sensitivity from aerosol radiative forcing from ice core data (PC and Lohmann GRL 2008). I’d certainly include some of the truly rubbish efforts of Dr. C. Loehle in my list of “bad faith” publications. I’d also give Dr. N. Scafetta’s work on solar contributions the benefit of the doubt with respect to “good faith”, since if one reads his papers at face value one can recognise that they are really “what if” type “phenomenological” efforts that explore the consequences arising from false premises (e.g. what might we infer about solar contributions if we adopt the false premise that all pre 20th century temperature variation had a solar origin – that sort of thing). Dr. E. Wegman, though not a climate scientist is clearly comfortable publishing bad-faith efforts in pursuit of a non-science agenda involving false attacks on scientists. Having his work retracted following identification of fraud leaves little doubt about that.

    The other way of addressing this is simply to notice the astonishing behaviour of some of these scientists in non-science arenas (e.g. on blogs, in lectures posted on the web, in press releases, or in media and other “alternative” publications or books or presentations to government committees) where a very small number seem to be quite comfortable pursuing objectively flawed analyses and promoting false interpretations and misrepresentations of the science. One could go through examples as I did above, but it would be tedious in the extreme to do so, and there are very good arguments for basing one’s interpretations on the published science. However the “alternative-forum” behaviour of some of these scientists certainly helps us to recognise “bad faith” activity (and perhaps understand motives)!

    (apols for the dense 4th paragraph)

  77. #77 Jeff Harvey
    September 10, 2011

    S, Jonas, here’s the crunch. You claim that the conclusions in AR4/IPCC and based on ‘bad science’. As I have said, the conclusions of said chapter were drawn by a large number of scientists contributing top the final draft based on the results/conclusions in 200-300 studies cited in the chapter. You are the one saying the scientists who drafted the summary got it wrong. So I want you to tell me why the studies from which the conclusions were derived are wrong. So all you have to do is:

    (1) tell us all her which of the peer-reviewed/published studies you think are flawed;
    (2) tell us here exactly why you think they are flawed, focusing on specific parts of the results and discussion;
    (3) tell us what empirical and theoretical gaps exist in specific studies.

    Given that you have now proven to everyone here that you are a world renowned expert in various aspects of climate science, and that you possess the necessary qualifications to dismiss the work of many climate scientists, this should be an easy task for you. I think that your rants at the IPCC summary are past their sell-by date; therefore I would like to see you point out explicit flows in the scientific papers themselves. I do not want to see you try and bluff your way out of it. You’ve made tons of noise about scientific flaws and knowledge gaps and the like; I want specifics relating to the actual studies.

    Ultimately I am egging you on to write your much-vaunted rebuttal to the IPCC and to see it published in a major journal. You claim to have so much knowledge of the scientific process and of good scientific practice, and you also apparently know, due to your immense knowledge of science and eminent standing in the field, that climate science is ‘in its infancy’. Prove it. Critique the published papers, instead of unsubstantiated profoundly ambiguous rants. I dare you.

    You see, Jonas, nobody in the scientific world has ever heard of you. You are a nothing, a nobody, at least until you write up and publish that ‘seminal’ paper, the rebuttal to end all rebuttals. You may think you make a big splash in the blogosphere, but until you crack the peer-reviewed scientific literature, you will remain a laughingstock. An aberration. Do you want that? Are you happy with that? No? Then let’s see what you are made of! Ranting here without the specifics I outlined above will get you nowhere. In two years, five, ten, JonasN will still be an invisible schmuck. You know what you have to do!

  78. #78 Jonas N
    September 10, 2011

    Jeff – Endless repetition of the same old memes. But no:

    Here is the crunch:

    IPCC AR4 made the claim that at least 50% of the tmeperature increase during the last ~50 years is due to manmade emissions of GHGs, and that this attribution is 90% certain!

    That is one very specific and (if true) sensational claim, as I’ve already pointed out weeks ago (here)!

    It was phrased to be received even stronger “Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations”

    And, if this is based on anything resembling science, those calcuations are to be found, as they would in any well referenced review of proper carried out science. And no, it does not suffice that they were many who thought those were nifty numbers. Either they based on proper science, which can be found, read and checked, which present calculations, and have author’s names/affiliations who stand behind those statements. Or they have not!

    Now, several here have already made som feeble attempts to identify that particular science, pointing at various figures, error bars in those, at appendices, at links with references, at supplementary information (even one real reference) .. and in all those instances, the original claim was not even addressed. Instead, simulation runs were described there, and how well the fitted to the data they were supposed to fit. (Actually, it was a bit worse, but I already pointed that out repeatedly)

    So no, so far there has been no reference that even came close to making that claim. So it’s not necessary to refute what is in them. (Refuting peoples opinions is also futile, because you’d need to prove that they lied about them)

    So in resonse to your three points:

    Show me the science making that specific claim, and I’ll read it. Thereafter, and only then, can I judge if it is ‘bad science’. So far that science is a ‘no show’

    The rest of you post is just the usual diversion tactics of trying to evade the fact that none of you has even seen that science you hold so holy and dearly. And you fill it up with your delusional clairvoyance again. And top it of with proclamations of the future …


    Yeah yeah, I know, that’s what counts as science where you come from. But not as real science ..

  79. #79 Zibethicus
    September 10, 2011

    79: “that’s what counts as science where you come from. But not as real science ..”

    (end quotes)

    And /this/ message has been brought to you by the troll – sorry, ‘towering genius’ – who claims that “57 + 57 = 104″…

    Put a chimp in a lab coat, and it’s still a chimp. Demonstrating this is probably Jonas N’s greatest service to “real science”, however inadvertently given…

    Now it’s time to give the chimp its own thread to soil, I think.

  80. #80 Rattus Norvegicus
    September 10, 2011

    Jonas, I know you won’t do this, but there goes anyway…

    You can start here:

    Which neatly summarizes the science. Then you can read the contained references (they are listed throughout the chapter) and let us know why they are all wrong. I won’t hold my breath…

  81. #81 Rattus Norvegicus
    September 10, 2011

    I forgot that markdown eats links. Here is the link to the IPCC chapter dealing with DA of the recent temperature trends.

  82. #82 Michael
    September 10, 2011

    I see that Jonas continues to avoid having anything to say about Dessler de-bunking Spencer, just as he avoided having anything to say about the exposure of Wegmans’s plagiarism.

    Though he does say enough to display his ongoing fundamental misundestanding of statistics – ie “90% certainty”. Idjit.

    Meanwhile, in the real world, scientists continue to improve our understading of anthropogenic effects on climate.

  83. #83 Bernard J.
    September 11, 2011


    [You say that your background is “high energy and device physics”]( (what’s with the upper case, by the way?), so I spoke to the partner of one of my sisters. He’s looking to do a PhD in radio astronomy, and coincidentally he designs and maintains the database for his institution’s publication statistics. This means that he is intimately familiar with how the publication process works, from start to finish, and not just between author and journal, but including academic institution and government involvements as well.

    He doesn’t think that your model of manuscript preparation for publication is one that has legs. And that’s the polite way of saying it. We are both wondering whether, by “background”, you mean that you work in the gatehouse in front of the physics building?

    I’ve not read the post on Spencer’s site where [he apparently said]( that:

    >he and Dessler are in contact to resolve ‘remaining differences’ in their calculations.

    so I don’t know how close to the truth of the nature of the exchanges your relaying is. However if, as you say, “Dessler makes it clear that the conclusions of his paper are unlikely to change” then it is more likely that Dessler is not engaging in more usual professional collaboration, but is actually trying to rectify the mess that Spencer made by circumventing the process in the first place.

    This isn’t “how it’s supposed to work”; it’s Dessler trying to fix an egregious spreading of a false meme. If Spencer had done it correctly in the first place his paper and Braswell’s wouldn’t have seen the light of day.

    To paraphrase you, Dessler is to be applauded. Spencer – not so much.

  84. #84 GSW
    September 11, 2011

    Apologies Jonas,

    I understand the point you are making, as I’m sure others do, but I’ll have a go at stating it in a slightly different way if I may.

    There is a difference between ‘subjective’ and ‘objective’ (empirical) analysis. ‘Science’ is based solely on ‘objective’ analysis.

    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.

    We can be 90% certain that…etc

    The words unlikely (<10%), likely (>66%), very likely (>90%) etc can be attributed and used to express the likelihood based on these ‘objective’ assessments.

    I’ve tried to come up with a suitable example of ‘subjective’ analyis. It’s not perfect, but we could take Saddams WMD’s, just bare with me a minute. We’ll set aside Rumsfelds, things we know we know etc for now.

    Donald reads an intelligence report with a lot of largely anecdotal information; obstruction of weapons inspectors, invoices for yellow uranium ore, unaccounted for precursors for chemical weapons, metal cylinders that could be used for centrifuges, and concludes that it is “highly likely’ that the WMD’s exist.

    This is a subjective assessment. No empirical test was performed and, if asked, a completely different group of people could easily conclude, there was actually ‘No Evidence’ at all, or that it was only ‘possible’ the WMD’s exist.

    Converting these ‘subjective’ likelihood statements into the ‘objective’ 90% or more ‘confidence levels’ as the IPCC does in the AR4 is almost certainly just bogus science.

    Empirical analysis -> Confidence Level -> likelihood statement -> (Science)

    Subjective analysis (based on body of evidence) -> Confidence Level -> (Not science)

    This I think is what Jonas is getting at. Asking him to debunk the referenced papers or even just one paper is missing the point.

    AR4, particularly when it comes to the attribution claims, plucks ‘confidence levels’ out of thin air.

    For example,

    “It is extremely unlikely (<5%) that the global pattern of
    warming during the past half century can be explained without external forcing"

    Really?, can I just check the math you used to come up with this number? or is this just your 'subjective' (non scientific) opinion based on the body of evidence.

    Now I'm not saying the statement is untrue, but without the empirical analysis to back it up, it's of little value. [If the claim relates to the findings of a specific paper it should be clearly referenced at this point so we can go and check.]

    Jump in Jonas if I have misrepresented you. Apologies to all, a bit longer than I had originally intended.

  85. #85 clippo UK
    September 11, 2011

    Re: Jonas N @ 77

    Advanced statistics to fit lines? As I said, there is nothing wrong with fitting sich lines. But don’t confuse them for the actual data (especially when you have them, and it is not random noise that makes them uncertain)

    YES ! – Why do you think scientists measure things and/or collect data ? Surely not just to say what a lovely bunch of numbers I have.

    The whole point of analysing data is to ‘extract’ patterns from it – so that one can create an equation to ‘predict’ a result of a situation where no numbers exist.

    Of course, this is commonly called a ‘model’ – and it is interesting that AGW deniers consistently attack things like IPCC models generated by thousands of scientists by advanced statistics – (ever heard of Analysis of variance, fitting equations to data etc etc. – ) – yet when some yahboos like Spencer et al. come up with the equivalent of a “back-of-a-fag-packet” calculation of course it’s a fantastic model.

    I’m afraid, as others have implied, you don’t live in the real scientific world Jonas N.

  86. #86 GSW
    September 11, 2011


    I didn’t propose a model a manuscript preparation, I was responding to one of the Chris’s I think. He was suggesting that papers should not be submitted until ‘reviewed’ and discussed by almost everybody. I merely pointed out Dessler’s six weeks start to acceptance by GRL was somewhat out of step with what he said was required.

    “We are both wondering whether, by “background”, you mean that you work in the gatehouse in front of the physics building?”

    No, I have the requisite qualifications to do a little more than that. 😉

    “Dessler makes it clear that the conclusions of his paper are unlikely to change”

    Sorry, you are right. On re-reading the post it is probably more correct to say that Dessler intends to make only minor changes to the document, which is not the same thing I admit.

    “but is actually trying to rectify the mess that Spencer made”

    The statement you make is pejorative. Spencer did some analysis, submitted a paper and it was accepted. The mess you speak of is the fact that this interrupts the AGW narrative, which unfortunatley is tough.

    In Spencer’s defence, which I don’t think is needed by the way, he is happy to ‘show his working’/ expose himself to the full critique of the climate science community – Openness and Transparency.

    I’m sure you are aware of the criticism from the other side, such requests are met with;

    “Why should I share my data with you, when your only reason for asking for it, is to find something wrong with it”

    So good for Spencer. Dessler appears to take on board, or address criticism where valid, and make changes accordingly. It’s early days yet and it may not pan out that way.

  87. #87 Jonas N
    September 11, 2011


    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).

    Then you go on about deniers, yabhoos, back-of-fag-packets, thousands of scientists, Spencer and fantasies about where I live etc. And there is not much information or substance in all that ..

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

  88. #88 bill
    September 11, 2011

    For those tired of the Eternal Non-Stop Jonas N Show – and isn’t that everyone? – here’s Dessler himself in a just-released longish conversation on Texas TV – No weather event unrelated to Climate Change

  89. #89 jakerman
    September 11, 2011

    GSW writes:

    >AR4, particularly when it comes to the attribution claims, plucks ‘confidence levels’ out of thin air.

    That not an accurate claim. At worst the confidence assessments are are communication of the summation judgement of the collective experts on key questions; informing policy makers how complete and how strong the preponderance of evidence is.


  90. #90 Jonas N
    September 11, 2011


    In one way, that is a good analogy, but there is somewhat more to it than just the subjective assessment of ‘how certain do I/we feel about a particular something?’ (*)

    Here is another analogy:
    It is true that much of the debate, even among the ‘experts’, more resembles commenters, and supporters at the pub, heatedly discussing the ‘probabilities’ of who is going to win an upcoming fooball game. How this sounds when amongst themselves, reaffirming how good their team really is, and the almost certain victory to come. It is quite easy to imagine how the fans would like to characterize the supporters (and players) for the other team. And the ‘consensus’ and absolute agreement they’d conjure up (esp after a number of beers) about such ‘truths’ ..

    One could also imagine the commotion if there actually turned up someone supporting the other side, even if he only just pointed out som factual errors ..


    (But lets not take the analogy too far .. as such, it is only illustration, not explaination)

    But yes, subjective likelihoods are what expert football commentors discuss (and present) before the game. Many of the IPPC’s how-likely-numbers are of the variaty (self appointed) ‘expert’ opinion. And that was the point you were trying to make, right? And the linked table does not really claim the opposite. (There are other problems with that table, but more of the ‘subjective’ kind, as its contents).

    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 does so through a number of layers: footnotes, text passages, figures, figure captions, appendices, FAQs, supplementary information, and real references too. Each layer pointing to the next, each of which treating something slightly different, not quite what was purported in the previous (referring) layer. And these referrals fan out, and intertwine (superficially giving the impression that there is lots of support, but all and always avoiding the core issue). And at some of the endpoints, there actually is a number of 90% wrt something, but much more restricted/limited and often wrt something else, than the original AR4 claim.

    You could say that the AR4-report is quite cleverly crafted in that respect, to give the impression of ‘well referenced’ and ‘supported by solid (amounts of) science’. But, as you know I´m sure, the AR4-SPM (where that prominent centerpiece claim first appeared) was written and released months before the actual reports were made public. And the latter had to be rewritten(!) to concur with the already released SPM.

    I don’t know what exactly had to be changed in the more ‘sciencey’ Assessment Reports to agree with the already released, and more political SPM short version. But that claim is one strong candidate. And would explain both its (sensational) existence, its awkward phrasing, the tangled re-referrals through the AR4 and what can be found at the bottom of it (if you actually find the bottom). (As I said, every one I followed was a dead end, a no-show)

    But there is one more thing you bring up wrt affirming a hypothesis, which is relevant and interesting. It is on a somewhat more detailed level, and I address it in another post.

    (*) I am sure that grown-up people, familiar with hard sciences understand what I’m saying. Amazingly (well, maybe not), others seem to be more keen on exrapolating ‘truths’ about completely unrelated things (they know nothing about) from introspection into their own prejudices. Maybe, that’s the ‘subjective’ kind of ‘certainty’ you refer to? 😉

  91. #91 GSW
    September 11, 2011


    “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.”


    “Many of the IPCC’s how-likely-numbers are of the variaty (self appointed) ‘expert’ opinion”

    Also, when you consider, for example, that one of the experts was the late Steve Schneider, who at various points of his life was running around claiming we were on the precipice of an Ice Age and later that the Earth was approaching a “tipping point” Global Warming meltdown. As far as I am aware, he only ever considered a future of extremes, one or the other.

    He was always quite open about the uncertainties in the science, the only thing he was ever 100% certain about was whetever happened, it would be really bad.


  92. #92 chris
    September 11, 2011

    He [Chris] was suggesting that papers should not be submitted until “reviewed” and discussed by almost everybody. I merely pointed out Dessler’s six weeks start to acceptance by GRL was somewhat out of step with what he said was required.

    No, I said that pukka scientists that submit papers make every effort to ensure that their work is correct and this involves elements of “self peer review” of the sort that I and Bernard discussed. Spencer had plenty of opportunity to do this with a paper that was quite a while in concept and preparation. He chose not to do the sort of “self peer review” that is second nature to pukka scientists (Spencer has a history of this) and sneaked a paper that is fundamentally flawed and incorrect in its interpretations. The paper is so bad that the editor of the journal that was duped resigned.

    Dessler’s paper is a very short response much of which is involved in highlighting very obvious and non-controversial methodological and interpretational flaws. This is something that can be done rather quickly as is obvious from inspection of his paper. One can see from the acknowledgements that Dessler has discussed his work with a number of experts in the field before submitting his paper (“self peer review”). Dessler has a 20 year history of important and influential work on the measurement and associated physics of atmospheric composition especially concerning water vapour, and this in itself is an indication that (like the vast majority of scientists) he takes “self peer review” seriously.

    We could discuss this further; the bottom line is that the onus is on Spencer to engage in “self peer review” in order to produce a paper with appropriate methodologies, and interpretations that are consistent with the broad evidence base. He’s the one making some extraordinary claims.

    “The mess you speak of is the fact that this interrupts the AGW narrative, which unfortunatley is tough.”

    Not really GSW. The paper is a flawed effort sneaked into a low grade journal to provide a little support for misinterpretations of important science. It’s unfortunate that misrepresentations of science can have negative consequences (witness the misinformation campaigns against the dangers of smoking or the problems with aspirin taking in children with respect to Reyes syndrome and etc. ad nauseum). You consider misrepresentation to be acceptable (to you it’s just “tough”), but one day you might be one of the unfortunate individuals that suffer from the misrepresentation of science that you support.

    Of course this particular effort is a storm in a teacup. Spencer tried (one again) to provide some pseudoscientific support for efforts to misrepresent the science. It has essentially zero effect on the science (since scientists are able generally to recognise what are valuable contributions and what is rubbish). Professors Wagner and Dessler have taken on some of the tedious job of highlighting misrepresentation that is perhaps of more valuable to the wider public and that’s admirable, wouldn’t you agree?

  93. #93 GSW
    September 11, 2011


    Sorry Chris, that’s just noise.


  94. #94 Michael
    September 11, 2011

    “Also, when you consider, for example, that one of the experts was the late Steve Schneider, who at various points of his life was running around claiming we were on the precipice of an Ice Age and later that the Earth was approaching a “tipping point” Global Warming meltdown” – GSW

    Their refusal to honestly recount the arguments they want to re-but is almost a clincally diagnostic feature of the denialist. Eveeything is exaggerated and distorted to fit more neatly with their politically-motivated imperatives.

  95. #95 chek
    September 11, 2011

    Pathological liars and obscurers would be another way to describe them, Michael.

  96. #96 GSW
    September 11, 2011

    @Michael, chek

    From memory, I suggest you check out a 1970’s BBC documentary called “the weather machine”. Steve’s in it, complete with perm, and guess what? we’re all doomed!


  97. #97 Michael
    September 11, 2011

    And guess what – Steve said nothing of the sort.

    How surprising that GSW lies to make his case.

    His take was at the time – we can’t be sure, but it might be cooling. And this was based on a continuation of increasing aerosols.

    But, crucially, this is where Schneider is different to the lame-brained denailists – he continued to look at the evidence and when the weight of evidence bore out a warming scenario, he then accepted that this was the net affect of anthropogenic emissions.

    You should try that sometime – having your opinion follow the evidence, rather than the other way around.

  98. #98 GSW
    September 11, 2011


    How dumb are you! The “we’re all doomed” is a paraphrase! To my knowledge at no time did Steve ever think everything was ok. From day one, Steve’s expressed opinion was “we are destroying the planet” another paraphrase (100% consistent). The only things that changed were his reasons for thinking so (between extremes), don’t you get it?


  99. #99 chek
    September 11, 2011

    GSW your sub-Cliff note style fables might work on the gullible over at Montford’s fiction site, but not elsewhere.

    In fact, Schneider was right in both cases.

    At no time has ‘everything’ been ‘ok’ environmentally on planet Earth from the mid 20th century onwards. Unchecked aerosol pollution may well have had a cooling effect, although Schneider himself corrected his findings within 3 years when he discovered he’d miscalculated. He explicitly criticised [the years later ‘imminent ice age’ scare]( that you’re not-so-innocently conflating.

    And let’s not conveniently forget either that the same industrial scale human output that gave rise to Schneider’s aerosol concerns were responsible for the ecological and property devastation caused by acid rain, and that government regulation to control that fallout was also opposed by the same familiar factions you’re currently cheerleading for.

    In that respect, you’re right – nothing changes.

  100. #100 chris
    September 11, 2011

    No worries GSW (@95). It’s worth reiterating standard practice relating to “self peer review”; most people might think this self-evident (that one doesn’t attempt to publish knowing misrepresentations of science by subterfuge as Spencer has done), ‘though it’s not obvious that you (and Jonas) agree.

    Still, perhaps we can at least all agree that Drs Wagner and Dessler have done a good job in highlighting a misrepresentation of science and helped in limiting the spread of a “false meme” (as Bernard describes it quite well). You (and Jonas) seem to want to talk about other (non-Spencer!) stuff now, so perhaps we really have come to a consensus over this! :-}

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