Climate Audit follies

In the discussion on
this post, per posted an abusive comment, violating my comment policy.
I've had to ban him twice before (see here and
here), so I simply banned him again, deleting the offending comment and the few that he posted after that.

That should have been the end of it, but the folks at Climate Audit decided to branch out from their unending attempts to find fault with the hockey stick paper into an investigation of my comment policy: In this posting John A falsely claimed that I had deleted all of per's comments because I disagreed with them.

This prompted a flood of abusive comments directed at me and calls for some sort of investigation of the allegedly nefarious treatment of comments on blog. Ironically, Steve McIntyre ended up deleting some of the worst ones and threatening to ban folks for flamage. Mind you, comments repeating John A's canard that I don't know what entropy is were allowed to stand, while this email that I posted from Robert Parson to explain their error was quickly deleted:

It so happens that I assigned a slightly more complicated version of the problem that Anonymous is making such a hash about to my Physical Chemistry class a couple of years ago - and I never got around to taking down the course Web Pages (just delinked them) - so feel free to throw it into the fray if you like. The problem is number three from Problem set three: calculated the final temperature and entropy change when ice melts in liquid water.

The solution (unfortunately, a scan of a handwritten page, that was a busy year).

It's somewhat more complicated because there's a phase change so you need to account for the heat of fusion, but if you set delta-Hfus equal to zero you get back to a weighted average of the two temperatures.

McIntyre then closed comments and added this to the post:

As an encore, Lambert, emulating Mann's prior blocking of me from his FTP site, has blocked John A. from access to his site.

I don't know whether or not Mann has blocked McIntyre from his FTP site, but I certainly haven't blocked John A from access to my site. Earlier today I couldn't access my site either---I wonder if McIntyre thinks that was because I blocked myself from access.

The icing on the cake is this additional comment from John A:

I have discovered that I am not the only blocked from even reading Lambert's weblog. Clearly Lambert has decided that intelligent, scientifically literate critics are too scary for Lambert to cope with. I can still read the site through one of the Internet's numerous anonymous proxies, so Lambert's petulence counts for nought.

A normal person who discovered that other people also had trouble accessing my site might have concluded that there was a problem with the server or something, but not John A, who concludes that I must be specifically blocking them as well.

Update: McIntyre has added a rather graceless correction:

Lambert says that John A. was not blocked. He says that there were server problems at his end which prevented access to everyone. We will of course take Lambert at his word, although I will note that I did not experience any access difficulties in the period in question.

Actually, I didn't say that nobody could access my site, just that I had had problems as well. Others may have got through at the same time. Such are the vagaries of the Internet.

Update 23 Aug I worked out why John A couldn't access my site. McIntyre's response:

Lambert first said that other people had the same problem as John A and later said: "Anyway, I figured out what happened — a spambot has been spamming my blog using the same IP as you [John A], so Bad Behavior blocked access from your IP. I've removed the block, but if the spambot does it again, it will be automatically blocked again. If you are the only person using that IP address than your computer is infected."

Of course it was John A who said that other people had the same problem as him. McIntyre's modus operandi seems to be to attack with baseless charges and when proved wrong to attack with more of the same instead of retracting.


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I think you have some fair (although very overstated can get a lot more done by coming across as a cool customer rather than a spun-up silly) comments. However, to gig you, I note that rather than simply answering/describing the situation, you pointlessly made a comment (#3) that was at cross-purposes. This smacks much more of 8th grade gifted kid rhetoric than of thoughtful response.

Wow. Go away for a few days and miss some fun.

1. I must say to the Stevie Mac fans that I am newly motivated to find new art work for my signature. Let no one assert that the flame was a complete time-waster!

2. I have not e-mailed Tim about per's 'Draino' comment. Personally, I prefer it to remain; it can be used as a clue. Take this as public lobbying to let per back in - his debating tactics and talking points are at the forefront of the FUD campaign and we would all be better served by seeing them served up while still fresh.

All right, if you really want him back....

I've unbanned him, but I'm sick of his sockpuppetry so he has to post under his real name (David Bell).

I don't understand the purpose of this post. Does it do anything to further reasonable debate. I was going to say rational, but that's an unachievable target ...

The purpose of this post is to repudiate a false claim made by Climate Audit: their claim that I blocked James A from my site. If I had ignored their claim, they would have taken it as an admission of guilt.

Perhaps you could ask them what the purpose of thier post was...


I also found your site hard to access just recently. And the comment by Steve was graceless. Feelings are a bit ruffled--I urge you both to take the high road, so that discussion can be continued.

Thanks for keeping per in the conversation. Despite his decending into spats, he is doing a good job of pursuing the substantive points and attempting to pin DanO to engaging on specifics (rather than avoiding by changing to different subjects).

Jeez, the whole internet has been difficult the last week (is it those well publicized worms which apparently affected so few sites?) Anyway, for instance, everybody with a yahoo group is complaining they can't get to it, but nobody seems to be complaining that yahoo or the group owner has banned them personally and specifically from the site.

A normal person who discovered that other people also had trouble accessing my site might have concluded that there was a problem with the server or something, but not John A, who concludes that I must be specifically blocking them as well.

I had no problem communicating with your server - it was prompt and swift in its reply. The problem was that the access rules on the server had been changed to block certain addresses. That was what the message told me. So you or somebody close to you deliberately changed the settings on the server (probably Apache) which disallowed certain IP addresses. I could access it through a proxy no problem. The problem wasn't "the Internet", it was somewhere fairly close to your office.

Oh and by the way, your student exercise on entropy is not equivalent to the stupidity you committed on sourcewatch and repeated endless times on this blog. Why? Because in the student problem the total energy of the system between the initial and final conditions changes whereas your thought experiment supposes that the total energy of the system does not change (ie dE = 0 ). Although the student problem states that the system is thermally isolated the system still receives energy from outside.

I leave it as an exercise for the student to work out where and how...bye bye Tim.

Keep watching climate audit. You may learn something.

>the access rules on the server had been changed to block certain addresses.

Including mine, presumably.

Here I thought the recent access problems were technical in nature, now I realise they were part of an incredibly inept conspiracy to SILENCE THE TRUTH.

John, clearly you need to find other ways of getting your message out. I suggest standing on street corners and passing out flyers to passersby?

By Ian Gould (not verified) on 22 Aug 2005 #permalink

JohnA, I'm not a thermo jock. Yet. I think you are getting confused when you talk about entropy and free energy and the like. A system can have a change in free energy without having energy move in/out of the system. This is because "free energy" or Gibbs free energy (there is another one, can't remember name, maybe Helmholtz: one constant volume, one constant pressure) are MATHEMATICAL CONSTRUCTS to show spontaneous reactions. Actual energy is either heat or work. You compress a gas or a spring or heat something up.

Here is an example of a truly isolated system that changes it's free energy (and total entropy) without any energy moving in/out of the system: rigid container, thermally insulated, divided into two halves by a removable partition. One side has 100 ml of H2 at 1 atmosphere. Other side has 100 ml of O2 at 1 atmosphere. I remove the barrier. The gases mix. No energy has moved in/out of the system since no heat or work has been transferred. However total entropy has increased and gibbs free energy has also decreased (if I have the sign right).

While I don't really have my thermo down nat's ass, I know enough to realize that there can be some tricky mind problems and that I'm not sanguine about your knowledge of the subject, JohnA. If I were you, I would admit it. (Either that...or if you really do know this stuff nat's ass, you can school me and easily show me your command of the subject while vindicating yourself.) BTW, I don't think Lambert knows the stuff nat's ass either, which is why neither of you really backed your points up with "schooling explanations" but instead resorted to face-off, face-saving bluster.

P.s. I don't know where Tim's example is that you refer to, but it is very common to have examples requiring thermally isolated systems. That is NOT the same thing as an isothermal system (which transfers heat in/out as required to keep temp constant).

P.s.s. I'm spending too much time on these sites. I enjoy y'all's company and the stimulation of the thinking. But will now be shifting to once weekly comments on the weekend. C ya.

Oh well, would anyone care to show me where the total energy of the system changes. While the volume of the system changes (slightly), there is no work done on the surroundings (at least arguably).

Given the level of the problem and the fact that the external pressure, various thermal expansion coefficients/densities, are not given I think from the statement one is justified in neglecting volume changes.

Picky, picky.

By Eli Rabett (not verified) on 22 Aug 2005 #permalink

John A says:

>The problem wasn't "the Internet", it was somewhere fairly close to your office.

I would have thought that someone with your leet computer skills could have figured out that my site is hosted in California, which is nowhere near my office. You knew that Jeff Norman had reported getting the same error message---how was I supposed to even know what his IP address is, let alone have a reason to block access?

Anyway, I figured out what happened -- a spambot has been spamming my blog using the same IP as you, so Bad Behavior blocked access from your IP. I've removed the block, but if the spambot does it again, it will be automatically blocked again. If you are the only person using that IP address than your computer is infected.

So it's a thermally isolated system, but the energy somehow increases? Where did this new energy come from? Have you heard of the First Law?

John A., you are just plain wrong. It is entirely analogous to Tim's problem, just more complicated. The only differences are that the problem is formulated for a constant pressure environment rather than constant volume, so that the conserved quantity is enthalpy rather than internal energy, and a phase change takes place so you need to account for the heat of fusion. For condensed phases, the difference between energy and enthalpy is very small. You can recast the entire problem in terms of fixed volume rather than fixed pressure and the analysis goes through in exactly the same way, with E replacing H.

Tim Lambert has, in fact, made one or two nontrivial errors in his thermodynamical discussions on this blog. It's not his specialty, and thermodynamics is an extraordinarily subtle subject - I've been wrestling with it for more than 20 years, and I still get blindsided now and then. Your error, however, was at a far more elementary level - you completely screwed up the basic concepts of heat, work, internal energy, and entropy.

By Robert P. (not verified) on 22 Aug 2005 #permalink

Now that it an interesting tidbit, Tim. Nigel Persuad was a regular poster to sci.environment at the time many of us there were poring over original M&M effort and attempting to reconcile what they did with the real state of the data according to MBH98. It's too bad that he never claim clean with who he really was, as it would have made the efforts there a lot more interesting.

By David Ball (not verified) on 23 Aug 2005 #permalink

I've posted up a more detailed commentary on the MBH98 Figure 3 and wold welcome any discussion.

I can't believe that it took you so long to figure this out. My writing style tends to be pretty technical and I made no effort to modify my writing style and made very technical points. If you go back and re-read all of Nigel's posts, you'll see some pretty detailed observations.

By Steve McIntyre (not verified) on 23 Aug 2005 #permalink

Nigel is almost certainly real and cast in concrete in Canada. Google him.

By Eli Rabett (not verified) on 23 Aug 2005 #permalink

Oooh! Good find, Bob!