Slightly confusingly, although the piece is signed by B+vS, it says I am a sociologist and Hans von Storch is a climate scientist… I attend first to the blog posting… which suggests to me that Bray wrote it. I’m going to go with the asserted attribution for the moment. Anyway… oh, before I head off, there is also First a thanks to those… who contributed favorable comments on the RealClimate blog. Yup, thats science for you: only favourable comments are thanked; those who pointed out valid flaws (but how could they? There were none…) are not thanked.
But first some background; you can find more on wiki. There are three surveys, in 1996, 2003 and 2008. As far as I can tell, the 1996 one is relatively uncontroversial, and being done on bits of paper was hard to bias. The 2003 one was strongly controversial, in part because it was done electronically with no means whatsoever of knowing who the replies came from. The 2008 one is ongoing (or is it done? The posting has some previews); the RC comments with respect to the way the questions are done applies to the 2003 survey too.
B+vS defend the 2003 sample with The link and password to the survey was distributed on a number of on line lists (CimList [sic] for example) to at least limit the responses to members of those lists and not open to the general public. This is a curious thing to say and calls their honesty into question. Failing to acknowledge that the link+passwords were distributed (not by B+vS) on a septic mailing list is not open of them (note that the loss of the passwords isn’t in dispute; Bray even discusses it). Asserting that their distribution method limited the responses is just wrong.
Even curiouser, they continue Negative, preemptive comments were almost immediately online (see Useless Online Survey of Climate Scientists). Weeeellll… you can see how B+vS may have been stung by the crit; but a response in May 2005 to a survey done in 2003 is hardly “almost immeadiately” (though its hard to track the timeline; this asks you to cite it as “2003”, but it was rejected for publication in Science in 2004).
No matter. The point we’re arguing now is the wording of the 2008 survey. Part of the problem is that the sort of questions you’re interested in as a sociologist aren’t the same as those for a climatologist. B+vS are pretty snarky about RC (they manage to say In a hurried attempt to perhaps discredit the survey…). Unfortunately B+vS don’t really address the RC post in any detail; I assume they cherry-picked the two they could find best responses to, but those are unimpressive:
B+vS sez The question quite explicitly asks how well can a current model estimate the temperature 10 years into the future – isn’t that what models are intended to do? This is very strange. No, its not what the models are intended to do (at least, not the std models into IPCC AR4; we’re not talking about Smith et al here; or are we? the question is vague). von S knows that full well, so I think this is more evidence that B is writing all this alone. Similarly, in response to Q52, B+vS have largely ducked what Gavin said.
After that they start taking on the commenters at RC, which is odd in itself; they don’t seem to have realised that the authors of blogs aren’t responsible for the comments (except in well regulated fora like this one of course!). But that does elicit a comparison of some 2003 results with the preview of 2008. These are apparently “similar”. Yes in 2003, about 30% were under halfway on cl-ch-is-anthro; in 2008, only about 10% are (this is at least in part because the 2003 question was particularly badly phrased).
Conclusion: B+vS are well p*ss*d off and they allow it to show, to the detriment of their dignity.