DSC_0905 Ah, there’s nothing like pouring oil on troubled waters with a carefully chosen post title, or defusing a potentially unpleasant confrontation with a cheery image.

The backstory: for quite some time now people have been making implausible predictions about the Killer Arctic Death Spiral of Death. This became prominent after 2007, which was the first notably low year, and lead to my first sea ice bet. The next few years weren’t very exciting and the frenzy died down a bit, but 2012 (which, of course, I lost) re-ignited the feeding frenzy. There’s still $10k on offer if you’re a death-spiraller, and you can see that for the $10k I already have open.

Coupled to that are the AMEG bozos featuring, or let us hope loosely associated with – in a somewhat unclear role – Peter Wadhams. Back in 2012 PW predicted Arctic sea ice collapse within 4 years and I wasn’t very impressed. He even made Nature with Arctic methane ‘time bomb’ could have huge economic costs, which I didn’t like either. David Archer at RC was similarly but more knowledgeably unimpressed.

This September, the RS hosted Arctic sea ice reduction: the evidence, models, and global impacts featuring luminaries like Stroeve, Schmidt and Wadhams; and a host of others who I’ve just insulted by not calling luminaries. Schmidt gave a talk that, amongst other things, didn’t believe the “Shakhova” stuff about Killer Methane Burps from Hell (errm, those are my words, not GS’s :-). That leads into thread one of this somewhat tangled web.

Thread one: Shakhova

incense Someone called “Nick Breeze” [who he? – Ed.] writes breathlessly (breeze – breathless – geddit?) Russian Scientists Excluded From Presenting Important Research As NASA Goddard Director Tries To Discredit Observational Scientific Research. This bears no real relation to reality but it does, excitingly, quote in full a Letter From Dr Shakhova & Dr Semiletov to Sir Paul Nurse by Natalia Shakhova and Igor Semiletov but also signed as “On behalf of >30 scientists”, who are apparently far too shy to tell us who they are. That letter, too, bears little relation to reality. I’m kinda hoping that Dr Shakhova & Dr Semiletov have been dumb enough to believe things that people tell them without actually checking, but having nailed their colours to the mast like this its hard to see how they can back down. So they’re probably doomed to believe this nonsense forever.

[Update: this post was mainly about PW, so I missed:

“Consequently, we formally request the equal opportunity to present our data before you and other participants of this Royal Society meeting on the Arctic and that you as organizers refrain from producing any official proceedings before we are allowed to speak.”

from S (thanks m). If you’re not familiar with science, or the way meetings work, you may not realise how utterly risible this demand is. Its hard to know what S+S are thinking, in saying this: are they really the pompous asses that demand makes them out to be?]

Thread 2: Twitstorm

ellen1 A combo of the death cycle and the methane, coupled with a not-understanding-social-media, leads to… Well, I’ll point you to Reply to letter & email from Prof Peter Wadhams, dated 28 September 2014, and subsequent email from Prof Wadhams, dated 30 September 2014, concerning the use of Twitter during a recent Royal Society Arctic Sea Ice meeting and also the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION Complaint to Royal Society about social media use at the discussion meeting: Arctic sea ice reduction: the evidence, models, and global impacts which you should go off and read. Back? Jolly good.

Now you’re back, I’m not really sure there’s anything to say. Apart from the problems of Wadhams being pissed off with people pointing out that his exponential extrapolations have no physical basis, and him apparently agreeing with them, there’s not much real substance, just confusion. I particularly liked this example:

Some anticipation for Peter Wadhams. Audience members already crying

by Our Gavin. I do admit that when I first read that I was rather taken aback: without context its reads as harsh and not funny. That’s my job; Gavin can do better. But the commentary makes this clear: This is a joke. There was an infant in the room who began to start to cry just as Wadhams started speaking. The mother… tweeted on the #RSArctic14 tag at 11:24 AM – 22 Sep 2014 after she had settled her child. And so it goes with all the things that Wadhams is complaining about: they’re either misunderstandings on his part, or perfectly genuine comments whose substance he disagrees with. But none of this justifies his complaint.



* VV
* Doug McNeall
* Ignoring the Arctic Methane Monster: Royal Society Goes Dark on Arctic Observational Science (woo!) and at RC Gavin’s response (h/t: H)
* Wadhams shuffles off his “ice free” predictions to 2020 and claims to be using just data, with no models. Which is bullshit.


  1. #1 Hank Roberts

    > which you should go off and read.
    Thank you for the links to the back story and observations. Much appreciated.

    Has this sort of event* any trend maybe associated with climate change?
    *Wikipedia: “Tempest in a teapot (American English), or storm in a teacup (British English)”j)

  2. #2 Hank Roberts

    p.s., Fig.2 on p.6 of the Oct 7. Reply PDF (last page) — I can see the TwitterIDs, but not the lines connecting conversations, which the caption says should appear.

  3. #3 David B. Benson

    Last pix nice. Location?

    [Thanks. I should stick to mountain blogging :-). Its the Stubai again, the Blaue Lacke above the Sulzenau Hutte; about an hour into this GPS trace

  4. #4 Eli Rabett

    The best one is NASA Goddard Director Gavin Schmidt. As Gavin will tell you he is NASA GISS Director, which is, as Eli remembers, three or four steps down from NASA Goddard Director and does not even show on the Goddard Org Chart.

    These folks need to shop at rent-a-clue

  5. #5 Eli Rabett

    More proof of Eli’s theory of the random Russian of the month on Curry.,

  6. #6 Hank Roberts
    there's always Slashdot ...

    so, in free translation, would that be
    “Twitter, Instructions For Use:
    From left to right: all wrong, wrong, nearly right, correct”

    Re the AMEG bozos, I found their recommendation and posted it in RC’s pie chart topic:
    This, buried deep on the page at Arctic News’s ‘sea ice loss by 2015’ thread

  7. #7 Eli Rabett

    Good God, the idiot Waldhams even managed to mangle Charlie Boulden’s name as in (pg 52)

    “To: Maj.-Gen. Charles F. Brandell,Jr.
    Administrator, NASA”

    That must have gone down a treat especially when Gavin puts the polite knife in pointing out the mistake.

  8. #8 mt

    Nicely snarked, but you miss the most delicious bit in part 1, Shakhova’s demand:

    “Consequently, we formally request the equal opportunity to present our data before you and other participants of this Royal Society meeting on the Arctic and that you as organizers refrain from producing any official proceedings before we are allowed to speak.”

    Interestingly, I find in some discussion lists that there’s a substantial swath of the lay public that doesn’t see this as risible. But I would expect more of the Stoat.

    [I’m sorry to disappoint; you’re right. I’ve updated the post -W]

  9. #9 richard telford

    Wadhams is very vague about what he believes to be defamatory in the tweets.

    The refrain at the first amendment proponent blog Popehat is that “vagueness in legal threats is the hallmark of meritless thuggery”.

    [Yes; it looks like bullying; possibly rather thoughtless bullying; it may be an attitude that he’s adopted and gets away with in his immeadiate working environment. Using vague terms gives him plausible deniability, even to himself -W]

  10. […] the use of social media such as twitter by scientists. Ex-climate scientist William Connolley has a blog post on this, which I largely agree […]

  11. #11 Hank Roberts

    Well, it may not be the scientists themselves who are spinning this; looking at what preceded that “formally request” language.

    Mention of “peculiarities in regulation that limit access of foreign scientists to the Russian Exclusive Economic Zone, where the ESAS is located …”
    (Details of those would be interesting — what’s peculiar about restrictions on access to that area?)

    I’d guess both the US and Russia are touchy about data collection as the Arctic loses its sea ice, e.g. this 2014 US exercise report: “… Both submarines successfully transited under the ice to the Arctic conducting environmental data collection and demonstrating under-ice submarine operations while en route to Ice Camp Nautilus…. and conducted several days of testing on the submarine tracking range at the Ice Camp.
    Large shifts in wind direction created instabilities in the wind-driven ice floes of the Arctic Ocean, causing an early termination of operations at Ice Camp Nautilus, but the submarines continued transiting to other areas of the Arctic conducting independent operations and data collection ….”

    The complaint goes on asserting that the scientific journals are being newly politicized:

    “… Russian scientific knowledge was missing, and therefore marginalized, despite a long history of outstanding Russian contributions to Arctic science. Being Russian scientists, we believe that prejudice against Russian science is currently growing due to political disagreements with the actions of the Russian government. This restricts our access to international scientific journals, which have become exceptionally demanding when it comes to publication of our work compared to the work of others on similar topics. We realize that the results of our work may interfere with the crucial interests of some powerful agencies and institutions ….”

    That reads to me like language meant to please the agencies involved with restricting access to that area and funding the research that’s allowed.

    Just guessing of course.

    [I saw that bit. It reads to me like paranoia, or as you say powers-that-be-pleasing (or, in eerie echo of PW’s problem, lack of contact with the real world) -W]

  12. #12 Hank Roberts

    PS, down in the text on that submarine exercise is mention of that exclusion zone:
    “Science Ice Exercise (SCICEX)
    “Since 1993, U.S. submarines have conducted scientific research to collect oceanographic data for the civilian science community. The original agreement slated five Arctic submarine cruises dedicated to the exploration of the Arctic Ocean and collection of scientific data. Since that time, the Submarine Force has accommodated the needs of the science community while operating within the confines of the Data Release Area (DRA) of the high latitude waters. The DRA is an area of the Arctic Region that is outside the boundaries of neighboring countries’ economic exclusion zones and serves as an area for unclassified scientific data collection.
    Both New Mexico and Hampton continued this scientific work while operating under the ice during ICEX 2014….”

  13. #13 Hank Roberts

    If the Russian navy has tools comparable to those the US has, they probably know far more about what’s going on in the Laptev Sea area than the scientists can disclose publicly. Perhaps that’s part of the problem (as it probably is for US scientists who would have access to military data they can’t provide to journals)?

    Again from that same source linked above, the US operations have included

    “… obtaining over 800 water samples and launching more than 50 Under/Ice (U/I) Submarine-launched eXpendable Conductivity, Temperature, and Depth (SSXCTD) probes while submerged beneath the pack ice. A U/I SSXCTD measures conductivity, temperature, and density as it travels downward through the water column while sending the data back to an onboard computer. Typically, the submarines would make a quick stop about every six hours to collect the water samples along with measuring the conductivity and temperature profile of the water column through the use of special U/I SSXCTDs. The samples will contribute to a database that tracks, among other things, salinity, total organic carbon, phytoplankton, dissolved oxygen, tritium, and helium concentrations throughout the Arctic Basin….”

  14. #14 Gail Zawacki
    United States

    My correspondence with Gavin – he (and a lot of other prominent scientists) have a history of downplaying, ignoring, and denying the severity of effects in the real world, so the models lack credibiity – http://witsendnj.blogspot.com/2014/10/when-every-leaf-is-flower.html

  15. #15 Marco

    Gail, can you tell us what model Wadhams used, and how well they represent the real world?

    So far, his predictions throughout the years look outright crazy:

  16. #16 Gail Zawacki
    United States

    No, I am not knowledgable enough to comment on Wadhams, his models or his observations. My reaction to Gavin’s derisive mockery is more generalized. For instance, Paul Ehrlich made several predictions that were well off the mark – however it’s very clear that in general, he was absolutely correct to warn that humanity is in overshoot and headed for a severe collapse – as is most of nature due to our activities. I have some friends who have a drinking game where every time there is another quote from a scientist who is “surprised” that events are proceeding faster than models expected they take a shot. They are drunk most of the time.

  17. #17 Hank Roberts

    Greg Laden gave Gail Z. a forum as a guest blogger.

    In comments, he dismisses David who posts from you can guess where> “Global Extinction within one Human Lifetime as a Result of a Spreading Atmospheric Arctic Methane Heat wave and Surface Firestorm”

    #14 Greg Laden February 1, 2013
    David, it is my understanding that the scenario described in the post you link to is essentially incorrect and impossible.

  18. #18 Raymond Arritt

    Dang. I was hoping “Gail Z.” was Gail Zappa. Don’t mess with me like that.

  19. #19 Marco

    Gail, what you are saying is that Paul Ehrlich may have been wrong about a lot of stuff, but he’s right anyway. Or, to transfer it to Wadhams, it is OK for him to be so wrong in his predictions, because the ‘message’ is ‘right’. I am afraid it doesn’t quite work like that in science.

    Regarding your friends’ drinking game – what do they do for everytime a scientist is surprised events go much slower than the models predicted? Not that Wadhams is showing any “surprise”, but arctic melt surely goes a lot slower than his model predicted. And regardless of any good explanations, quite a few scientists are surprised that the temperature rise over the last decade+ is significantly slower than models predicted.

  20. #20 turboblocke

    No Marco… the models didn’t “predict” anything. They make “projections”.

  21. #21 Gail Zawacki
    United States

    “…quite a few scientists are surprised that the temperature rise over the last decade+ is significantly slower than models predicted.” Mark Jacobson of Stanford says that half of the heating we would have otherwise is being masked by aerosol pollution. And of course the deep ocean is soaking up a lot, and it takes a lot of energy to melt all that ice. Imagine how hot it will get when the ice is gone and the aerosols are gone. Of course we won’t be here to notice.

  22. #22 Andrew Dodds

    This is bearing in mind, of course, that an exceptional melt year could still take us very close to ‘ice-free’. Depending, of course, on your definition of ‘Ice’ and ‘Free’. Getting perilously close to betting on the weather.

    But it would have to be exceptional, and there’s no cast iron law that says that one ice-free year has to be followed by another..

    (Personally I’d regard ice-free as <1M CT area, <2M extent, open water to sail a yacht to the pole. Others may differ)

  23. #23 Marco

    Gail, it doesn’t change the fact that the current warming trend of the atmosphere is slower than expected. As I said, “regardless of any good explanations”. The models projected (apologies for using “predicted” before) a different trajectory, and even with all the corrections for actual forcings, the trend is *still* lower than most models would predict (this is the correct word to use here) – even if it is not statistically significant. Same goes for the ice melt Wadhams projected – and where he has no explanation as to why the ice melt isn’t following his ‘model’.

  24. #24 matt

    Im gonna somewhat agree with Wadhams on one tweet (below) being inappropriate (or just not to my tastes). ONLY because it was from a co-organiser, and the RS promoted his twitter account. Otherwise I thought it was funny.

    >>>” “@na: Entertaining break with Wadhams. Back to science now.” ho ho ;)”

    For context – 1st link, bottom of p4

    They say “quotation is [not] endorsement” which I can accept but you do choose what to quote and what not to, and it has consequences. They also say “context is important here” – then add context or don’t post it on twitter.

    That being said, teacup storm. Not worthy of formal complaint.

    [I agree largely with your first point – that’s its arguably inappropriate – but definitely with your last – that it (or the rest) wasn’t worth the fuss -W]

  25. #26 Mike S
    Cambridge. Ont.

    People use to belive the earth was flat. Humans DO NOT like bad news. We are, for the most part, incapable of assessing existential risk. So. There is nothing to worry about. We will keep on the path were on. Till the party is over. Enjoy it while it lasts.

  26. #27 Fergus Brown
    United Kingdom

    Why are we wasting time arguing about just how bad the badness is? Why is W. complaining about GS? Why is GS (possibly) amused by W.?
    As I suggested elsewhere, I think the problem is that some scientists with a track record in the field sometimes go beyond science into the ‘intuitive’ in response to the degree of concern they feel. Science may bypass such emotional response, but it seems foolish to ignore people’s personal responses, if it seems they have good reasons (experience) to have these feelings.
    ‘Largely ice free’ = less than 10% of the long-term average for 5 years (NSIDC). If this is the metric, it cannot happen before 2020. Wadham’s point of reference is clearly different.

  27. #28 Steven Sullivan

    Gail, James Annan (who, like Marco, is by no means a ‘denier’) agrees that *this* particular instance of ‘short term’ variation from the projected trend, was unexpected.
    http://julesandjames.blogspot.com/2014/10/much-ado-about-sensitivity.html). It doesn’t mean scientists think global warming has stopped. And of course sampling a decade often shows a disparity with the long term trend, without invalidating that trend. But the ‘missing heat’ problem related to the *current* slowdown in surface temp rise has been recognized for years. Scientists are doing what they should do: investigating the causes. Pointing to links showing scientists doing that, does not invalidate Marco’s claim.

  28. #29 D o u g  C

    I’m not wasting time here

    [Then please don’t. I’m going to make an exception for this one of copying your comments to my spam-blog because you’re so rude -W]

  29. #30 Paul Kelly

    One would expect greater decorum at the Royal Society. Gavin was a bit boorish, more so if he was an organizer of the event

    [You’re being rather careless. I linked to the event site – https://royalsociety.org/events/2014/arctic-sea-ice/ – and it says pretty clearly “Scientific discussion meeting organised by Dr Daniel Feltham, Dr Sheldon Bacon, Dr Mark Brandon and Professor (Emeritus) Julian Hunt FRS”. So proposing easily-checked counter-factuals isn’t very helpful -W]

    – greatly more so if he was involved in inviting Wadhams.

    [If he had been an organiser, its pretty unlikely he’d have been the one to invite Wadhams. PW isn’t well known outside the UK, why would someone based in the US invite him to a meeting in the UK, when there are UK organisers? -W]

    If Wadhams is so dismissible, why was he invited in the first place? It’s like the cool kids inviting a nerd to the party so they’ll have someone to mock.

    [Why don’t you ask one of the organisers? -W]

  30. #31 Russell

    Were Mike S and Paul K to chair a cool goeophysics conference, would they invite the Hollow Earth Society to keep the flat earthers from feling bad ?

  31. #32 Paul Kelly


    I think you misinterpret my comment, but to answer your question: no, and I probably wouldn’t invite Wadhams either.

  32. #33 Vinny Burgoo

    OT: If anyone has access to high-res commercial satellite imagery, I’ve found what appears to be a credible source for the coordinates of the Yamal etc. craters/funnels:


    The coords aren’t given but it was quite easy to use the map and public low-res satpix on that page to find the first (’30 km’) funnel. It’s just SE of the pond at 69.971,68.370. (That location tallies with the aerial video.)

    Bing Maps has quite sharp imagery for bands north and south of that pond but not for the pond itself. It wouldn’t help much anyway. What’s needed is change over time – what that TBD page attempted but with better imagery and over more years. How long it’s been there, when/if it blew its top, whether, al la Daily Mail, a vast plume of methane starved passing aircraft of oxygen and sent them crashing into the Bermuda Triangle… these and other questions might be answered. Any takers?

  33. #34 Vinny Burgoo

    Whoops. The map was on a different site:


  34. #35 Vinny Burgoo

    OT (I’ll stop after this one, honest): I should have checked Terraserver first. The pingo or whatever it was still had its top on 21/7/2013:




  35. #36 Tenney Naumer
    United States

    Interesting that in comment #7 Wadhams’ name was spelled incorrectly.

    [Colonials do seem to have trouble with spelling -W]

  36. #37 ...and Then There's Physics

    If Wadhams is so dismissible, why was he invited in the first place?
    I’ve seen this kind of suggestion elsewhere. It seems a little odd that some of those who seem surprised at someone “easily dismissed” being invited to a conference, also seem want more “skeptics” at conferences. Arguing that those who are easily dismissed shouldn’t be invited, while also arguing that more “skpetics” should be invited seems inconsistent.

  37. #38 John Mashey

    Looking at the program I see:

    “Session 1: The evidence for Arctic sea ice reduction
    Dr Julienne Stroeve, University of Colorado, USA Reduction of summer sea ice extent

    Professor Mark Serreze, National Snow and Ice Center, USA Changes in Arctic sea ice and the polar atmosphere

    Professor Peter Wadhams, University of Cambridge, UK Sea ice thickness from submarines

    Professor Ronald Kwok, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, CALTECH, USA Satellite observations of sea ice thickness”

    Given the session, it’s not obvious that one would expect any discussion of methane clathrates there. I haven’t listened to the audio, but if he spent a lot of time on that, it’s reminiscent (if not as extreme) as Murry Salby’s surprise presentaiton of carbon cycle silliness in place of the Antarctic ozone talk he got accepted.

    Put another way, it is not unknown for people to be credible on some topic and not so on another.

    People might want to assess Cambridge Professor Peter Wadhams on Matters of Life and Death and Higher Consciousness, especially the long section starting:
    “Peter: Yes, I have always been interested in psychical research. I joined the SPR at a very young age and was the research officer for Cambridge University when I was a student. It seems to me that this is one of the most important fields of science, shamefully neglected and censored through the complacency and moral cowardice of establishment scientists.”

    [Wooo… good find. That knocks the Dowsing Morner into a cocked hat -W]

  38. #39 Physicist with 50 years experience

    [Spammed -W]

  39. #40 Paul Wigton

    Ah, Doug Cotton returneth, with another of his sock puppets (“Physicist with 50 years experience), refuting–or trying to–150+ years of solid science showing how it IS CO2. Doug, you never cease to amaze me in how you can continue on down the Slyer path! Fortunately, rational and fact-based (and reality-based) folks like W and John Mashey play to the crowd who really does want to get the answers. The *proper* ones.

    [Sorry: I allowed DC to slip off the moderation list -W]

  40. #41 Mal Adapted

    Physicist with 50 years experience:

    have explained what physics tells us in my book “Why It’s Not Carbon Dioxide After All.” You have not.

    Feynman said “the first principle [of science] is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.” That’s why “inter-subjective verification” is as fundamental to Science as empiricism. It’s what’s meant by “peer review” broadly defined. Your scientific peers are the ones who can tell you whether you’re fooling yourself or not. If you really are a physicist with 50 years experience you know that.

    Your position that “it’s not carbon dioxide after all” is at odds with the overwhelconsensus of your peers. That’s evidence enough that you’re fooling yourself. Your 50 years of experience don’t mean you’re right, all they mean is that there’s no fool like an old fool. Deal with it.

    [Sorry, I ended up spamming the comment you’re replying to. Follow the link for why -W]

  41. #42 John Mashey

    Mal: FYI:
    For context, see PDF @ Pseudoskepitvcs Exposed in the SalbyStorm:

    ’11{DougCotton} 2013-07-10 19:51
    Having done post graduate studies at Macquarie University in the 1970’s I am very disappointed, though not surprised by this sacking. I hope to be able to contact Murry Salby as I live close to Macquarie University, so maybe he might email me dougcotton live.com.au and perhaps read my paper “Planetary Core and Surface Temperatures” which also contains a study supporting what he found.’

    And for real amusement, Critical Mass of Cotton.

    You may also find the reviews of the “book” amusing, if only to compare with Doug Cotton, Alex Hamilton, Visiting Physicist, et al in earlier discussion here.

  42. #43 Marco

    It looks like Doug Cotton is using yet another sock puppett to promote his nonsense. Mal, we’re talking about a guy with a BSc in physics and a BA in economics who has not used his physics for decades, but worked on software development.

    [Hey, have you got something against software engineers ;-? -W]

    Hilariously, he claims on his Linkedin page he is a “researcher in atmospheric physics” at his own little software company…that advertises their software management system for dentists. Tells you all about him, I think.

  43. #44 Quiet Waters

    I guess ppl realise that “Physicist” with 50 years experience is Dougy Cotton & thus not worth paying any attention to?

  44. #45 Marco

    Software engineers are the worst kind of engineers ;-)

    There is a video, which I of course cannot find anymore, where a university professor in physics discusses the many letters and treatises they received with all kinds of crazy ideas. Somewhere at the end he notes many of those letters come from engineers.

  45. #46 Mal Adapted

    Well, I feel sheepish 8^}! I always skip DC’s comments (and usually the replies), so I didn’t recognize the style. Oh well, I meant what I said, anyway.

  46. #47 Marco

    Found it!
    One hour well wasted if this stuff interests you.

    [It was worth watching, even with rather poor sound quality -W]

  47. #48 John Mashey

    Please let us not go off into the engineer thing again.
    Also, note that the following are NOT synonomous:
    Software engineer
    Computer scientist

  48. #49 hunter
    Texas, USA

    Wadhams is a climate kook’s climate kook. He has it all: [redacted] transparently [redacted] failed predictions, all sorts of academic credentials, direct access to an echo chaber press, and a thin skin. The good Prof. is the poster boy of climate alarmism.

    [I’ve lightly redacted your comment, on the off chance that PW comes by -W]

  49. […] a threat of potential legal action, possibly, for live tweeting a scientific meeting. Some details here and here, and under the rather brilliant hashtag #BrandonBergGate […]

  50. #51 Hank Roberts

    > https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HXSgp755DSA
    > One hour well wasted if this stuff interests you.
    > [It was worth watching …

    “Engineers are disproportionately represented … among all fringe sites ….”
    That section starts at 00:31

    [Yeah, but he means ”real” engineers – mech and particularly elec – not software eng. You need real eng for real wackodom -W]

  51. #52 Ned

    [Yeah, but he means ”real” engineers – mech and particularly elec – not software eng. You need real eng for real wackodom -W]

    SF writer James P. Hogan (background in both your “mech and elec”) was a case in point. By the end of his life he apparently was promoting every fringe belief imaginable: Velikovskyism, HIV/AIDS denialism, relativity denialism, dinosaur and evolution denialism, Holocaust revisionism …. and of course dismissal of (a) depletion of stratospheric ozone by halocarbons, and (b) anthropogenic global warming. Plus probably others that I’m forgetting.

    It might be our fault. JPH was born in London but I think he moved to the USA before he fell in with all the nutters.

  52. #53 John Mashey

    Has this physicist done a well-controlled survey, that accounts for the various numbers of people? Here’s the US Bureau of Labor Statistics That show’s EEs, but you can find other categories.

    It’s actually an interesting question, and I’ve love to see properly-designed studies, and it might even be true, but anecdotal comments by physical scientists about social science problems … immediate negative credibility. Such are every bit as bad as “It’s cold day in my town, therefore AGW is not real.”

  53. #54 NikFromNYC

    You don’t care about climate. You won the world. You have a good family and love taking photographs. You are a successful cell, in the organism of Humanity, and Earth. You know Beauty, the only real religion. Going to Heaven, you are. You are not a child abuser. Just an enabler of Clockwork Orange worthy psychosis in teaching. But the kids are all right, and won’t even blame you sharks about it. They discount you already. Amazing photos. Africa can go to hell

  54. #55 John Mashey

    I wonder if the hunter here was the same as in SalbyStorm PDF attached to Pseudoskpetics Exposed:
    PDF Search: {hunter} only 1 hit (@ WUWT), but it offered insight,always useful for calibrating commenters.

    “03{hunter} says:
    July 9, 2013 at 5:18 am
    Sue, sue, sue and sue some more.
    Climate extremists are like other extremists.’

  55. #56 Hank Roberts

    Do any fields other than physics have a crackpot index? The speaker in the video were mainly talking about examples that they’ve gotten in their own mail, saying a lot of that came from retired engineers.

    As to who writes comments on blogs, that’s hearsay (besides, how could we know the people claiming to be engineers really are? They might be fooling us thinking the claim gives them credibility. Woof …).

  56. #58 Tom Fuller
    Shanghai, China

    Let us now praise famous men after noting that some percentage of engineers may be crackpots. If you want to silence the entire profession, you may be missing out on some significant contributions. But I guess the silence is what you need most, Mr. Mashey–after all, some engineers also use coloured ink…

    Alfred Hitchcock: Yes, the master of the psychological thriller had a degree in engineering. Hitchcock attended the London County Council School of Engineering and Navigation and got his first job as a draftsman and advertising designer shortly after graduating.

    Neil Armstrong: His first small steps towards a career in space exploration began with a couple degrees in engineering. Naturally the first man on the moon had a bachelors degree in aeronautical engineering from Purdue and a masters degree in aerospace engineering from USC.

    Hedy Lamarr: This sultry 1940’s actress did not have a formal degree in engineering, but she did invent an anti-jamming device for use against Nazi radar that is the basis for speedy satellite communications today. She’s also credited with the quote: “Any girl can be glamorous. All you have to do is stand still and look stupid.”

    Thomas Edison: The man filed over a thousand patents in his lifetime, including the incandescent light bulb. He also developed the phonograph and the kinetoscope. His extensive forays into various fields of invention earned him the nickname “The Wizard of Menlo Park.”

    Leonardo Da Vinci: Of course Da Vinci is best known for his art, but the man was an engineering revolutionary in his time. Many of his drawings for inventions were not actually realized until centuries later. In fact, one of his schematics was for a flying machine that worked very similarly to a modern day helicopter.

    Rowan Atkinson: That’s right, Mr. Bean attended both Manchester and Oxford University studying electrical engineering at both. While studying engineering, Atkinson participated in the Oxford University Dramatic Society, the Oxford Revue and the Experimental Theatre Club. It’s apparent which interest won out since the engineering grad has starred in numerous movies not to mention two TV programs: Black Adder and Mr. Bean.

    Alexander Graham Bell: We all know that this man invented the telephone, but did you know he also worked in medical research fields and invented several techniques for teaching the deaf to speak? He also founded a little group known as the National Geographic Society.

    Henry Ford: Yes, this is the founder of the Ford Motor Company, but his biggest achievement was creating the factory assembly approach to building cars. This changed the face of transportation in the century to come by making cars more affordable to the public.

    Bill Nye: There’s a reason he’s “The Science Guy.” Nye has a Mechanical Engineering degree from Cornell University and worked at Boeing for several years before he traded in that job for a career in show biz.

  57. #59 Hank Roberts

    > famous Engineers

    Also, as you might guess:
    bozo the clown | LinkedIn
    View bozo the clown’s professional profile on LinkedIn.
    Owner, bozondco
    Location Canada
    Industry Civil Engineering
    Join LinkedIn and access bozo the clown …
    [Search domain http://www.linkedin.com] linkedin.com

    The AMEG stuff is lively over at

  58. #60 John Mashey

    Hank @54
    “Do any fields other than physics have a crackpot index?”

    I’ve seen Baez’s list before, and it’s good, but:
    a) Very little of it is actually physics-specific. Of course physics in some sense includes everything :-)

    b) And even some that might seem specific get used elsewhere, like in climate science or astronomy … but perhaps parts that might be considered physics.
    Ned @51 mentioned James P Hogan. Back in the mid-1990s, I had lunch with JPH at an iconic (and a bit surreal) nearby restaurant, Bucks of Woodside, in part to see if I could help him get a bit better grounded on realities of computing. He was already into “interesting” topics Ned mentioned. Also, he was very keen on Halton Arp, a fine observational astronomer … but…

    c) Im not exactly sure about the disciplines covered by the folks who publish in my favorite dog astrology journal, JSE, but I’d guess there are many. Certainly, some of the complaints against orthodoxy are similar.

  59. #61 Marco

    Rowan Atkinson? U of Manchester? I don’t think so!

    And mentioning Henry Ford in a thread in which James P Hogan is mentioned also…tsk, tsk.

  60. #62 Hank Roberts
  61. […] * Wadhams and the mighty [sh|tw]it storm […]

  62. […] because it all seemed so childish that it was best ignored and partly because you could always read views, expressed, by others. However, my noted lack of self-restraint means I can only hold out for so […]

  63. #65 Hank Roberts

    Just to be fair, it’s worth noting that engineers also anticipatorily debunk crazy ideas, sometimes long before people invest in them.

    E.g.: http://dspace.mit.edu/handle/1721.1/11412
    (hat tip to sci.space.policy, where I read this debunking of the new Lockheed press release)

    Written by David Spain
    —begin quote—
    It said future reactors could use a different fuel and eliminate radioactive waste completely.

    Ah yes, the aneutronic “advanced” fusion fuels such as 3He-3He, p-11B and p-6Li. I refer Mr. McGuire to an MIT PhD Thesis by Dr. Todd Rider[1], published in 1995, who killed off his own pet project! I quote the following:

    For the record, the author would like to apologize for apparently killing some of the most attractive types of fusion reactors which have been proposed. He advises future graduate students working on their theses to avoid accidentally demolishing the area of research in which they plan to work after graduation.

    and furthermore:

    Analytical Fokker-Planck calculations are used to determine accurately the minimum recirculating power that must be extracted from undesirable regions of the plasma’s phase space and re-injected into the proper regions of the phase space in order to counteract the effects of collisional scattering events and keep the plasma out of equilibrium. In virtually all cases, this minimum recirculating power is substantially larger than the fusion power, so barring the discovery of methods for recirculating the power at exceedingly high efficiencies, reactors employing plasmas not in thermodynamic equilibrium will not be able to produce net power. Consequently, the advanced aneutronic fuels cannot generate net power in any foreseeable reactor operating in either in or out of equilibrium. Moreover, D-3He can only produce net power when burned in thermodynamic equilibrium, which means that in any possible D-3He reactor, the neutrons and tritium produced by D-D side reactions cannot be reduced below a certain level, which is calculated.

    So maybe McGuire & Co. have beat the odds by upping the efficiency ante via PowerPoint? Or maybe they have Dr. Rider on staff?

    [1] http://dspace.mit.edu/handle/1721.1/11412
    [2] http://carlwillis.wordpress.com/2008/02/17/farnsworth-fusor-carls-jr/
    —-end quote—-

    Another physicist/engineer’s commentary on that Lockheed PR:


  64. #66 Russell

    You will likely enjoy this on a Scientific American editor’s crank mail.

  65. #67 crandles

    seems Wadhams has moved to 2020


    In response to Wadhams “this is data”, I would respond

    Here are April and September average months plotted with best fit 4 parameter gompertz fits.


    by definition of the shape of curve, the lines will go horizontal but the method is free to choose what height they are at to best fit the data.

    Just to be clear I do not believe the volume will go horizontal as shown – I believe it will continue downwards.

    Clearly you can have the projection going off in any sensible direction and still have a smooth curve through the data. So it is the choice of curve type that decides which way an extrapolation goes not the data.

    Not really sure if the heights this method selects to level out at are interesting or not really. The minimum has probably had a high year and this will bias the height at which the curve levels out on the high side.

    Also of possible interest, the method thinks the point of inflection was 2005.14 for the maximum and 2005.04 for the minimum. Surprisingly similar? Is the same date for an inflection what we should expect to see? I would suggest yes but whether these dates being close is something worth noting or not I am much less sure.

    [Thanks for the link. Wadhams is still quite clueless, but at least has the intelligence to push his “predictions” into the future -W]

  66. #68 Hank Roberts

    from that Alaska Dispatch News:
    “Wadhams has access to data not only on the extent of ice covering the Arctic, but on the thickness of that ice. The latter comes from submarines …”

    I don’t know whether the original intervew is any clearer than the newspaper story — are they saying W. has unique access to otherwise unpublished data? I’ve thought that might be so but never seen anyone say what data he’s using for sure.

    [This is hearsay but: part at least of Wadhams reputation is built on access to sea ice thickness data from British military submarine cruises. And at one point (20 plus years ago) that stuff wasn’t very public. Now, I’m much less sure. But he may still be trading on it -W]

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