I’m heartened to see a broad disgust with George Will’s lies about climate science. After all it’s pretty extraordinary when a major syndicated columnist repeats a lie about science, not once, not twice but three times despite being corrected.

PZ wishes he too could just make up his own facts, and Mike too is pleased the disgust is moving beyond the scientific community. Carl Zimmer at the Loom covers the broad mistakes made in the essay, and TPM documents how it was almost all lies. Mark Kleimen has caught on to the fact that in the end, this is just another conspiracy theory on par with HIV/AIDS denialism ( would add anti-vax denialism, 9/11 trooferism, or evolution denialism and every other kind – they’re all ultimately the same).

It’s reassuring to me to see that people are catching on. When we hear pseudoscience drivel, it’s never unique. It always follows a specific method – the pseudoscientific method. We happen to call that method denialism.

Comments

  1. #1 chezjake
    February 20, 2009

    It seems the only ones not catching on are the folks at the Washington Post. Just today their ombudsman is still tryng to cover Will’s ass.
    http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2009/02/post_ombudsman_responds_unconvincingly_on_will_col.php

  2. #2 winnebago
    February 20, 2009

    I used it to teach denialism and the necessity to be critical consumers of info in my argumentation class today. I had them view files of the articles Will cites, was able to provide the link to CryospereToday’s response, and we walked through the temp data to determine the trend from the last decade (positive). Will’s op-ed was so wrong in so many ways that it set in stark relief the subject of the day. My students got it, with a vengeance! Thanks George!

  3. #3 Brian D
    February 20, 2009

    Things Break has an ongoing collection of links expressing indignation with Will’s dishonesty on the go. They’ll be submitted en masse to the WaPo shortly.

  4. #4 K
    February 20, 2009

    I like that, the pseudoscientific method. It goes like this blond/redneck/whatever joke:

    George Willis: Hey, what’s closer, the moon or Florida?
    Jenny McCarthy: I don’t know.
    GW: The moon is, you can’t see Florida, silly.
    JM: That makes sense.

    And pseudoscience is verified.

  5. #5 llewelly
    February 20, 2009

    Climate progress has written two articles about George Will’s column, and the Washington Post’s claim that it found zero mistakes in George Will’s error-filled denialist column.

  6. #6 thingsbreak
    February 20, 2009

    Sorry that I missed your posts here, Mark. I’ve added them to the list.

  7. #7 James Randerson
    February 21, 2009

    More on Will’s “mistakes” here from George Monbiot at the Guardian.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/georgemonbiot/2009/feb/18/climate-denial-george-will

  8. #8 Alan D. McIntire
    February 21, 2009

    http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/global.daily.ice.area.withtrend.jpg

    The column was written in January 2009. Obviously George Will would be relying on late 2008 figures. The anomaly shows an anomaly of roughly -.5 for late 2008. Now look at 1979 and notice that the anomaly declines throughout the year, reaching rougly -1 in late 1979. Mr Will was comparing apples with apples, late 1979 with late 2008.

  9. #9 Erasmussimo
    February 21, 2009

    Alan, Mr. Will was obviously cherry-picking his data in a deceitful manner. The graph clearly shows a broad decline starting in 2004. To isolate a single pair of dates from that graph and use it as the foundation for an argument is grossly deceitful. It’s rather like singling out one citizen whose income has increased over the last year and using that case as an argument to demonstrate that the economy is doing just great. It’s a lie.

  10. #10 thingsbreak
    February 21, 2009

    The column was written in January 2009. Obviously George Will would be relying on late 2008 figures. The anomaly shows an anomaly of roughly -.5 for late 2008. Now look at 1979 and notice that the anomaly declines throughout the year, reaching rougly -1 in late 1979.

    The column was published in February 15th. Will explicitly said the word “now”. The sea ice data are updated daily.

    FAIL.

  11. #11 Boris
    February 22, 2009

    By Alan’s logic, Will could claim George W. Bush is president and be right.

  12. #12 Global Warming Is A Scam
    February 22, 2009

    I’m heartened to see a broad disgust with George Will’s lies about climate science. After all it’s pretty extraordinary when a major syndicated columnist repeats a lie about science, not once, not twice but three times despite being corrected.

    MarkyMark’s definition of “lie”:

    Anything not contained in an officially approved IPCC press release.

    PZ wishes he too could just make up his own facts

    PZ wishes he could do something he already does on a regular basis? How does that work?

    this is just another conspiracy theory on par with HIV/AIDS denialism ( would add anti-vax denialism, 9/11 trooferism, or evolution denialism and every other kind – they’re all ultimately the same

    Yawn. Another Warmista trots out the well-worn conspiracy strawman. Yawn again.

    MarkyMark’s definition of “denialism”:

    The failure to march in lock-step with the drumbeat of my far-left Warmista agenda.

    It’s reassuring to me to see that people are catching on. When we hear pseudoscience drivel, it’s never unique. It always follows a specific method – the pseudoscientific method.

    It is indeed refreshing to see that the public is starting to catch onto the hoax that is “global warming” (or “climate change”, or whatever politically correct name is being given to it this week). The pseudo-science drivel being propagated by the likes of admitted liar “Dr.” James Hansen and failed Presidential candidate and internet inventor Albore is starting to get old.

  13. #13 minimalist
    February 22, 2009

    Always remember, kids, lies become the truth if you just chant “Albore” and “warmista” enough! Honest!

    Silly cultists.

  14. #14 Global Warming Is A Scam
    February 22, 2009

    Posted by: minimal intelligence | February 22, 2009 12:09 PM

    Always remember, kids, lies become the truth if you just chant “Albore” and “warmista” enough! Honest!

    No, that happens only when one chants “global warming” and “big oil” ad infinitum.

    Silly cultists.

    Yes, your global warming death cult religion is quite silly, isn’t it?

  15. #15 Nik
    February 22, 2009

    What I find most entertaining about Global Warming Is A Scam’s post is that he quote mined, committed Ad Hominem, identified “George Will” as “the public”, and completely failed to address the purpose of the article, the Washington Post’s failure to fact check properly, and their defense of this failure.
    Bravo sir, you truely are a giant among men.

  16. #16 Strider
    February 22, 2009

    HA! Did you see what GWIAS did there? He made a “funny” pun about Nobel Prize winner Al Gore’s name and also repeated the lie that he claimed to have invented the internet. Brilliant!

  17. #17 Global Warming Is A Scam
    February 22, 2009

    What I find most entertaining about Global Warming Is A Scam’s post is that he quote mined,

    Where?

    committed Ad Hominem,

    Where?

    identified “George Will” as “the public”,

    Where?

    and completely failed to address the purpose of the article, the Washington Post’s failure to fact check properly, and their defense of this failure.

    Nik’s definition of “fact checking”:

    Making sure every sentence is officially approved for publication by the Most Wise Goreacle or his sockpuppet Herr Hansen.

    Reading comprehension much? That’s 4 kindergarten-level mistakes in one sentence. Wow, Nik you “truely” (not to mention truly) are a giant among pre-schoolers!

  18. #18 rmp
    February 22, 2009

    I wonder if GWIAS is intentionally trying to make Global Warming denialists sound so pathetic. Maybe that’s his/her plan!

  19. #19 Erasmussimo
    February 22, 2009

    GWIAS, if you have a case to make, please present it. All you have presented so far are a bunch of accusations. For example, you seem to believe that the IPCC reports are not reliable. Could you be more specific? Is there some statement in the latest IPCC reports that you can present a decent case against? I’d love to discuss it.

  20. #20 rmp
    February 22, 2009

    Erasmussimo, don’t hold your breath.

  21. #21 minimalist
    February 22, 2009

    Don’t get off point. It doesn’t matter (for the purposes of this argument only) whether the IPCC data is accurate or not.

    George Will, and his editor, claimed that the source for one of Will’s claims was a specific report by the U. of Illinois’ Arctic Climate Research Center.

    The claims are flatly contradicted both by a subsequent statement from that research center and the data within the document itself.

    GWIAS can whine, cry, gnash his teeth and chant his magic words all he likes. It will not change this one bit unless he’s willing to man up and try to rebut this simple, self-evident fact.

    …Yeah, I’m not holding my breath, either.

  22. #22 Global Warming Is A Scam
    February 22, 2009

    Posted by: minimal intelligence | February 22, 2009 1:32 PM

    It doesn’t matter whether the IPCC data is accurate or not.

    So, the truth finally comes out: we don’t care if the IPCC is right or wrong, what counts is the advancement of our agenda! Thank-you for your candor, MI.

  23. #23 LanceR, JSG
    February 22, 2009

    See, GWIAS, that right there is called “quote mining”. Using a portion of what somebody said to support your agenda without quoting the portion that shows that they completely disagree with you. It is dishonest, unethical, and exactly what I’d expect from a denialist like yourself.

  24. #24 rmp
    February 22, 2009

    Way to distort minimalist’s point GWIAS! It certainly speaks to your character.

  25. #25 Global Warming Is A Scam
    February 22, 2009

    Posted by: Lancer of Boils, FLW | February 22, 2009 2:08 PM

    See, GWIAS, that right there is called “quote mining”.

    How DARE I use other people’s words against them! Especially when those words cast any negative light at all on the religion of global warming, or on Herr F├╝hrer Hansen. This should be a capital offense!!!

    Using a portion of what somebody said to support your agenda without quoting the portion that shows that they completely disagree with you. It is dishonest, unethical, and exactly what I’d expect from a denialist like yourself.

    Lancer’s definition of “denialist”:

    Anyone who does not goose-step down the strasse to the rhythm of my far-left warm-monger drummer at least thrice daily

  26. #26 LanceR, JSG
    February 22, 2009

    Wow. Such mature discourse. Do you even consider that someone could disagree with you without being a “far-left warm-monger”? Of course not. You and your ilk are losing as reality slowly sinks in. You know it. All you have left is flinging poo like a three year old having a tantrum.

    Good luck with that.

  27. #27 rmp
    February 22, 2009

    LanceR, GWIAS isn’t interested in mature discourse. “Flinging poo” is sport for him/her. And while we all know we shouldn’t feed the trolls, it’s very hard not to take the bait and respond lest it seem like we are conceding.

  28. #28 Global Warming Is A Scam
    February 22, 2009

    Posted by: Lancer of Boils, FLW | February 22, 2009 2:42 PM

    Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah

    Wow, Lancer, no real content in that comment, just flinging poo like a three-year-old. Such mature discourse. Oh, I get it: you’re projecting. How typical of a Warmista religious fundamentalist! Entertaining to watch, though, at least for its futility.

  29. #29 Global Warming is Nazi Love
    February 22, 2009

    How dare you call me a conspiracy theorist! It figures you would do that since you are part of the global left wing Nazi party that eats babies and goes through my garbage!

  30. #30 Fitz
    February 22, 2009

    Hi GWIAS,

    You said: “”global warming” (or “climate change”, or whatever politically correct name is being given to it this week)”.

    Just so you know, eveyone was quite happy with the term “global warming” until Frank Luntz invented the term “climate change” for use by Republicans.

    http://www.ewg.org/files/LuntzResearch_environment.pdf

  31. #31 LanceR, JSG
    February 22, 2009

    Can’t ya just *smell* the desperation rolling off GWIAS in waves? Not only does he not have a leg to stand on, now he has Godwinned himself right out of the running.

    Sorry, sparky. Thanks for playing, come back when you’ve learned something.

  32. #32 Global Warming Is A Scam
    February 22, 2009

    Can’t ya just *smell* the desperation rolling off GWIAS in waves? Not only does he not have a leg to stand on, now he has Godwinned himself right out of the running.

    Sorry, sparky. Thanks for playing, come back when you’ve learned something.

    Still projecting, eh Lancer? Oh well, religionist is as religionist does.

  33. #33 LanceR, JSG
    February 22, 2009

    Do you know the approximate forcing expected from our current levels of CO2 in the air? Do you know how that relates to the expected forcing of H2O? How about an easy one; what reflects more light, white snow and ice or dark earth?

    Poo flinger.

  34. #34 Global Warming Is A Scam
    February 22, 2009

    So, all you Warmistas out there, here are some questions.

    (1) How do you explain the Medieval warming period, when the planet was warmer than it is today?

    (2) How do you explain the recent warming on Mars?

    (3) Why should we automatically believe the conclusions of those whose livelihood is entirely dependent upon exactly which conclusions they reach?

    (4) What is the optimal temperature of the planet?

    (5) How do you know with absolute certainty that the negative effects of “global warming”, if it is even occurring, will outweigh the positives?

    (6) How does giving over 1400 media interviews constitute
    “being muzzled”?

    (7) How do you explain the recent increase in the Antarctic ice cap?

  35. #35 rmp
    February 22, 2009

    What is the optimal temperature of the planet?

    Are you really going there? I live in Minnesota, I could use a little warming. I will choose to ignore the displaced masses who live near sea level.

  36. #36 winnebago
    February 22, 2009

    (2) How do you explain the recent warming on Mars?

    LOL. How do you know there’s been warming on Mars? After all we don’t have temp stations on Mars. Oh yeah, that’s right we know because the models show that the changes in albedo would equal temp change (the same ones, BTW, used to model the Earth’s atmosphere). Idiot troll.

  37. #37 LanceR, JSG
    February 22, 2009

    Okay, GWIAS;

    1. Not true. Locally in Europe it was warmer than the rest of the globe, but overall it was a minor statistical blip. Try harder

    2. Short answer? Dust storms. Longer answer? Mars has a much more pronounced tilt than Earth. Think about that for a while.

    3. Red herring. Climate scientists will continue to study the climate whether it warms or not. Claiming otherwise is dishonest, and intended to distract. Stop lying.

    4. Irrelevant. We are used to the current climate. We have developed our cities near bodies of water. We have developed agriculture that depends on current trends.

    5. Food riots. Water rationing in wealthy countries. Mass exodus of people from the equatorial belt to the temperate zones. Mass flooding of low lying areas. What were those benefits again?

    6. WTF? This doesn’t even make sense.

    7. Lie. COme on, sparky. You’ve got to try harder than that.

    We now return you to your regularly scheduled poo flinging.

  38. #38 Erasmussimo
    February 22, 2009

    LanceR has already given excellent answers to all of GWIAS’s questions, but I’d like to offer some variations on those:

    ” Why should we automatically believe the conclusions of those whose livelihood is entirely dependent upon exactly which conclusions they reach?”
    We shouldn’t. We should read the relevant scientific material and decide for ourselves. Have you read any of the IPCC reports?

    “(4) What is the optimal temperature of the planet?”
    The current one, in the sense that climate change is bad because all of our infrastructure is built around the assumption that the climate will not change.

    “(5) How do you know with absolute certainty that the negative effects of “global warming”, if it is even occurring, will outweigh the positives?”
    We don’t know anything with absolute certainty, but that doesn’t stop us from making big decisions based on limited information. The Bush Administration invaded Iraq without absolute certainty that Iraq represented any kind of threat to the USA. [I'm guessing that you support the decision to invade Iraq.]

    “(7) How do you explain the recent increase in the Antarctic ice cap?”
    This is not correct. The most recent data clearly show a loss of ice in Antarctica. Until recently, the best estimate was that the mass balance was probably negative (losing ice), but there was a small chance that it was positive (gaining ice). However, the most recent data has resolved the question and now we know that the mass balance is negative.

  39. #39 Global Warming Is A Scam
    February 22, 2009

    6. WTF? This doesn’t even make sense.

    Herr Fuhrer Hansen claims to have been “muzzled” by the Bush Administration despite having given over 1400 media interviews. How is this possible?

  40. #40 LanceR, JSG
    February 22, 2009

    No comment on all the other answers? Just gonna latch onto the one that nobody could understand? Thought so…

    Professionally muzzled, you twit. Media interviews do not make science. His supervisor (a political appointee) edited his reports to make them fit with the administration’s agenda. They did not let him attend at least one, perhaps more, conference. That’s what he meant by “muzzled”.

    On a more personal note, do you really not understand this? If you would just ask, and drop the Nazi crap, you might actually learn something.

  41. #41 ChrisC
    February 23, 2009

    Just for the benefit of all reading these comments, GWIAS has commented on multiple science blogs in the last couple of days. It’s always the same standard denialist garbage, free of any science, facts or logical argument. Just the same bad puns about Al Gore and the same comparison of James Hansen to Nazis.

    Any attempted discourse with him/her is a waste of time.

    Que. a rabid screed about how I’m “marching in lockstep with warmists, Hitler and Al Gore” (or something) in 3… 2… 1…

  42. #42 Fred Smilek
    February 23, 2009

    Its amazing how he can repeated lie spread false facts dressed up as knowledge. Responsibility should be taken if you really care about your field.

    Fred Smilek is the acting president of the Society to Save Endangered Species. It was founded two years ago by Fred Smilek along with his two best friends Charles and Jonathan. http://www.fredjsmilek.com

  43. #43 LanceR, JSG
    February 23, 2009

    Thus we see the typical denialist: run away when challenged, and seek fresher ground and less prepared minds elsewhere.

    What’s the matter, GWIAS?

  44. #44 Jason
    February 26, 2009

    I don’t understand some of the outrage. In January, the arctic climate research group at UI published an article noting that global levels of sea ice at the end of 2008 were roughly identical to global levels of sea ice at the end of 1978. The university stands by this assessment: http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/global.sea.ice.area.pdf

    Has Will committed some terrible sin by using data from the beginning of this year in a mid-February article?

    Global warming presentations routinely leave years after 2000 or 2005 off of their graphs. Of course the earth has gotten cooler during those missing years: http://www.cafepress.com/luciablackboard.359791431#

    Are people here really upset that George Will uses month old data? Or is the problem that his data supports conclusions you don’t agree with?

    Santer et al 2008 showed that Global Climate Models are consistent with the tropospheric warming that had been observed up until 1999. That’s good to know (especially since most of the models were created after 1999). But if you take the methods in Santer et al 2008 (authored by 17 of the leading pro-consensus experts and published in peer reviewed literature) and plug in the data through 2007 or 2008 (your choice) then the IPCC global climate models are proved false with high statistical significance.

    Are people who talk about the predictions in the IPCC report but fail to mention that they have been disproved doing something wrong?

    Or is science a sufficiently fluid thing that some leeway (probably more than a month) should be provided to people who discuss it?

  45. #45 Erasmussimo
    February 26, 2009

    Jason, the primary objection to Mr. Will’s use of the U of I data is that it is misleading. It’s rather like an analysis of current economic trends zeroing in on the undeniable fact that Joe Schmoe in Kokomo got a raise today, and insinuating that the economy is doing just great. Yes, Joe Schmoe’s data point is contrary to the general average, but that doesn’t provide an argument that the economy is doing well.

    In the same way, the claims you make with respect to the U of I data are completely contrary to the overall thrust of the data. Nobody looking at all that data can honestly come to any other conclusion than that the polar regions are warming. Cherry picking one data point out of all that data is so misleading that, in my book, it constitutes an outright lie.

    Global warming presentations routinely leave years after 2000 or 2005 off of their graphs. Of course the earth has gotten cooler during those missing years
    No, it has not; your statement relies on ignorance of scientific measurements. The problem arises from the statistical nature of fluctuations in the measurements. Our measurements of the earth’s temperature are not universal; they encompass only a tiny fraction of all the points on the earth’s surface, in its atmosphere, or deep in its oceans. So what we’re measuring is really just a poorly representative sampling of the earth’s temperature.

    Here’s an example: suppose that we wanted to know if people are driving their cars more now that the price of gasoline has gone down. Unfortunately, we can’t monitor the driving habits of each and every driver, so instead we plop ourselves down at the side of a well-travelled road and count how many cars pass by every minute. If we compiled all the data for, say, the three hour period from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM, we’d probably “discover” that car usage is steadily going down — but that would be wrong because we’re seeing rush hour traffic, not the amount of driving due to gasoline prices. To see the effect of gasoline prices, we’d need a lot more than three hours’ worth of data.

    OK, so we take two days’ worth of data: Sunday and Monday. Oh no! People are driving much more with the passage of time! Wrong. We’re looking at another phenomenon here, the weekly change in driving due to commuting.

    OK, so we take months of data. Only then do we get data appropriate to the question we’re asking. That’s the key idea: the data range must be appropriate to the hypothesis you are testing.

    Climate change is not an eight-year phenomenon; it is a phenomenon stretching out over decades. So if you want to use temperature data to examine whether the earth’s climate is changing, you need to look at a lot more than just eight years’ worth of data. You need to look at decades’ worth of data. And when you do so, the results are clear: the earth is warming.

    if you take the methods in Santer et al 2008 (authored by 17 of the leading pro-consensus experts and published in peer reviewed literature) and plug in the data through 2007 or 2008 (your choice) then the IPCC global climate models are proved false with high statistical significance.

    Again, the time scale of the predictions is what matters. If I predict that it will be hot this summer, and we get a cold snap in June for a day or two, does that mean that my predictions are all garbage? Of course not. We have to take the average result over an extended period of time. How long? There’s actually a way to calculate that, but I won’t drag you through the calculation. For now, suffice it to say that eight years or ten years is nowhere near long enough. Think more like 30 years.

    Are people who talk about the predictions in the IPCC report but fail to mention that they have been disproved doing something wrong?

    Here you’re using very loose language. What do you mean by “predictions” that have been “disproved”? They have already discovered that Arctic sea ice is disappearing faster than their earlier estimates. So the IPCC reports have been disproved, right? You’ll need to be more specific here.

  46. #46 rmp
    February 27, 2009

    Great, I thought I could stop following this thread but I guess it’s ‘not dead yet’.

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