“Dr” Roy Spencer is sad and lonely and wrong (part II)

This spawned by reading DA, who comments that "Roy Spencer has a very unprofessional post", EPIC FAIL: 73 Climate Models vs. Observations for Tropical Tropospheric Temperature. And it is very unprofessional: its just not what you write, if you have any hope of belonging to a scientific community. Its what you write if you know you've marginalised yourself and there is no way back. And as DA points out, the UAH record itself has suffered numerous disastrous failings over the years, up to and including getting the very sign of the temperature change wrong.

“Dr” Roy Spencer is sad and lonely and wrong refers.

Update: DA thinks Judith Curry is going down the same road.


* Roy Spencer's latest deceit and deception - Hotwhopper, 2014/02.

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One issue about the infamous Spencer and Braswell (incidentally, who is Braswell? Everyone is ignoring him, is he a nonentity? ) is, of course, who were the referees? The suspicion voiced in various places is that Spencer managed to wangle skeptics in as his referees; indeed, Wagner in his…

If it ducks like a quack, it's a quack.

I'm inclined to believe we're witnessing the end-stage spasms of climate denialism. If nothing else, it would be worthwhile to treat items such as Spencer's book as examples of just that. Doing so might elicit further extreme noises from Spencer and other denialists, thereby further marginalizing themselves.

"Very professional" is also that Christy used RCP8.5: the absolute highest RCP in the 4 considered scenarios.

Spencer is 'just' the messenger, Christy made the graph.

So let me get this straight, Dr. Spencer is sad and lonely because he dares to point out the the "73" - I think it was 73 or 74 - models that "warmists" are using to justify their doom and gloom predictions about the state of the climate are dreadfully wrong. Is that it?

[No. Did you try reading what I wrote?

Spencer is sad and lonley because he's written the kind of unprofessional stuff you write if you've decided to cut yourself off -W]

Are you going to say that these models are accurate? They all predicted that the temp would be significantly higher than it is now. So is Dr. Spencer correct or not?

[For the purposes of this post, I'm not really interested in picking apart the details of what Spencer has got wrong -W]

Are all those models correct? Maybe the temp has increased over the past 16 years and all the thermometers have just been broken.

[The temperature has indeed risen over the past 16 years. Even Spencer admits that. You appear to be under the impression that it hasn't -W]

> [The temperature has indeed risen over the past 16 years. Even Spencer admits that. You appear to be under the impression that it hasn't -W]

I'm under the impression that, as Spencer Points out, this increase has been far smaller than the models predicted it would be. Can you dispute that?

[Yes. Though as I said, I'm not really interested in those details now -W]

The game was over several years ago when Spencer -- oops, Dr. Spencer -- announced himself as an advocate for creationism. If someone is willing to discard almost an entire field of science (biology) because it conflicts with their personal beliefs, it's no surprise that they'd do similar things in other fields.

By American Idiot (not verified) on 07 Jun 2013 #permalink

Spencer has been whining about no respect in meetings for quite some time now. Most people just roll their eyes and move on, but at some point this self pity has to be forcefully rejected (usual suspects take note)

By Eli Rabett (not verified) on 07 Jun 2013 #permalink

Everyone please remember to call him Dr. Spencer.

By American Idiot (not verified) on 07 Jun 2013 #permalink

On a more substantive note does anyone else find it suspicious that his circles for the radiosonde observations lie EXACTLY on top of his line for satellite data? On my monitor there's not even one pixel of deviation. It's extremely unusual for observational data sets to agree so closely, especially ones that use radically different methods.

(Some is welcome to point out if I'm misreading the plot, as the key isn't entirely clear.)

By American Idiot (not verified) on 07 Jun 2013 #permalink

They calibrate the MSU with the radiosonde data. That they agree is a feature. That the radiosonde data sucks is a bug.

By Eli Rabett (not verified) on 07 Jun 2013 #permalink

I looked at one radiosonde data set, HadAT at the Met Office


Temperature anomaly rates for various pressure levels from 1980 to today (not sure, which is/are considered middle troposphere):

850hPa 0.12°C/decade
700hPa 0.09°C/decade
500hPa 0.10°C/decade
300hPa 0.12°C/decade

For lower pressures you hit the stratosphere, which is cooling at rates up to -0.8°C /decade at 30hPa

Re Sad and Lonely, I sensed exasperation in Dr Spencer bon mot on Eschenbach's recent "I discovered calculus thread"
----- ------
I’m happy that Willis is understanding some of the math in simple one-line climate models, ...

Willis, you are a smart guy and a quick learner, and you have a talent for writing. Try to understand what has already been done, and build upon that… rather than reinventing it.

By Ron Broberg (not verified) on 07 Jun 2013 #permalink

Calling the observations from radio sondes and satellites 'observations' is misleading as they are ipso facto model outputs. And you cannot trust models now, can you?

This is even before considering that all these 'observations' sample the precise same stretch of natural variability that the GCMs don't.

By Martin Vermeer (not verified) on 08 Jun 2013 #permalink

Calling the observations from radio sondes and satellites 'observations' is misleading as they are ipso facto model outputs. And you cannot trust models now, can you?

This is even before considering that all these 'observations' sample the precise same stretch of natural variability that the GCMs don't.

By Martin Vermeer (not verified) on 08 Jun 2013 #permalink

can someone show a graph featuring more "conservative" climate model temp. predictions vs actual observed temps.it would be interesting to see if *any* model results have kept up(down!) with the actual global temp. anomaly(averaged from GISS,HADCRUT,UAH,RSS,etc...)

By Phil Wright (not verified) on 08 Jun 2013 #permalink

That is pretty cocky for a guy who's not even at the main campus of the University of Alabama --- sounds more like Oxbridge! ;-)

Huntsville is the town that NASA/Marshall is in which is why Roy is there. UAH is a probably (last time Eli gave a damn) a better physical science place than Tuscaloosa.

By Eli Rabett (not verified) on 08 Jun 2013 #permalink

Eli Rabett should drop the probably.

By David B. Benson (not verified) on 08 Jun 2013 #permalink

well the only quantitative comparison I can find is the US News & World Report college rankings, which have the main UA (Tuscaloosa) campus Earth Sciences at # 108, and Physics #113; and UAH is only listed for Physics at #113. So little difference by that standard. Of course schools #1 through #112 are part of the global warming consensus so must be discounted as "liberal" by the Faux News Republican types! ;-)


I know some physics people at UAH, and visited the campus once (some years ago). UAH was created to train engineers and scientists for MSFC, so if you are talking engineering or the space-related branches of physics, UAH is definitely better than Tuscaloosa. But the UAH physics department is specialized: worth considering if you are into astrophysics (and don't mind living in Alabama), but there are large areas of physics they don't cover. Most physics departments in the US do the same, differing primarily in the specialties they cover. I don't know what physics they do in Tuscaloosa, but I'm sure they cover some areas Huntsville doesn't.

FWIW, that specialization extends to other areas. UAH does not have an American football team; that's reserved for Tuscaloosa. I'm told that for intercollegiate sports UAH specializes in, of all things, ice hockey.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 09 Jun 2013 #permalink

I came to this site due to curiosity about why Dr Spencer's honorific was put in quotation marks...I leave feeling as if I need a bath. This place is nasty. I wont be back.

NicG. makes a point that is worth responding to.

In climatology, and to some extent the physical sciences more broadly, persistently displaying one's honorifics tends to be frowned upon. The feeling is that people should be known for their accomplishments and not for their credentials. So if Spencer refers to himself as "Dr." or "Ph.D." at every turn he has a right to so, but it does come across as a bit pompous.

This practice varies between fields. I gave a talk for another field, far outside of climatology, and they put Ph.D. after everyone's name who had a doctorate. I asked them to take it off of mine but they said they wanted a consistent format. I didn't make a big deal out of it, though I was slightly embarrassed.

By American Idiot (not verified) on 10 Jun 2013 #permalink

there was also another septic hack that was so keen on putting out his "PhD"/"Dr" credentials all the time e.g. always touting he's "the first Canadian PhD in climatology" (he went to a U London subsidiary, in a historical geography degree, hardly a "hard science" PhD such as physics etc)

The title is "“Dr” Roy Spencer is sad and lonely and wrong".
Maybe you could explain in more details what's actually wrong, i'm just a physician and not a climate scientist.

[You don't see what is unprfoessional about "Dr" Spencers post? In that case I can't help you -W]

The problem is, people like Spencer, Watts etc. deliever me detailed information why they do think there is something wrong. So I can at least just look at their claims. And that is the whole problem for me so far. If you really want people to aknowledge AGW you can't make your point with insulting certain people and writing some sentences that any algorithm could produce.

[This post isn't about why AGW is correct. It would be pretty boring if every one of my posts was about the same thing! This one is about "D"RS's unprofessionalism. It seems odd that you mistake criticism of him for insults -W]

By Matthias Mayse (not verified) on 10 Jun 2013 #permalink

He continues the unprofessionalism in the comments section.

" Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D. says:
June 4, 2013 at 1:30 PM

You mean, group-think among groups of group-thinkers?"

Why doesn't Dr. Spencer publish papers pointing out this EPIC FAIL! Surely he would get top billing at any journal he chose.

I saw a much more interesting example of scientific disagreement over at Real Climate on this thread:

Someone mentioned a Dr. Bouldin who had criticisms applicable to this paper and gave a link:

When you look around Dr. Bouldin's blog, you can see he is a forest ecologist with U.C. Davis. He has actual disagreements and tries to explain why he believes standard dendochronology methods have problems. He has some feisty words about this. But he also states in reply to a skeptic:
"I definitely trust that the authors, and all dendroclimatologists for that matter, are not purposely including/excluding certain tree data in order to produce any particular desired result. There just needs to be more attention paid to certain analytical issues that can cause some real problems if ignored or misunderstood."

Wow, looking more at the comments on that post... I wonder if Dr. Spencer is happy with the quality of commentators he has flocking to fluff him up?

Don't hold back on my account, but re. #26 I do think "sad" and "lonely" are insults.

[You're a sensible person so you can have a sensible answer:

For the "lonely", you need to refer to the original post - http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2011/03/05/dr-roy-spencer-is-sad-and-lone/ The point I was trying to make there (though admittedly in a rather compressed fashion, so it may be worth expanding) is that unless you're very very good, and perhaps not even then, science is intrinsically collaborative. Or perhaps, that its much much harder to do science on your own, without peers you can bounce ideas off and get helpful criticism from. And that I think RS has got himself into this state - he has a reputation as a "s(k)eptic", so people my avoid him, and I rather suspects that he ends up avoiding people in return. So, lonely isn't intended as an insult, though if you think it appears as one I can't disagree.

"Sad" is harder to justify, and I think I'd have to weasel quite hard not to admit its just an insult, so I won't try -W]

I cannot find a an article with a definition of "GLOBAL TEMPERATURE" in Wikipedia. Does anyone know here HOW "GLOBAL TEMPERATURE" is defined and why there is no definition of this term in IPCC reports, Wikipedia or other data sources?

[Oh, get with the programme! Global temperature doesn't exist. Everyone knows that -W]

freddy @31 --- NOAA/NCDC, NASA/GISS & UEA's Climatic Research Unit all produce global temperature products. Those organizations probably all have web pages explaining their products.

By David B. Benson (not verified) on 12 Jun 2013 #permalink

Jeebus, freddy, if you're going to troll at least try... just google “GLOBAL TEMPERATURE”.

First hit GISTEMP.
Third hit Dr. Roy Spencer "Every month, John Christy and I update global temperature datasets....

Jesus, Gator, do you don't even know what a "DEFINITION" is?

Do you really think that "GLOBAL TEMPERATURE" is defined because e.g. someone said that 2009 was the 9th warmest year on record, or any similar statements??

I wrote above - you did not read it obviously - that I could not find any definition of "GLOBAL TEMPERATURE" in wikipedia. Do you find one there?


unless you're very very good, and perhaps not even then, science is intrinsically collaborative. Or perhaps, that its much much harder to do science on your own, without peers you can bounce ideas off and get helpful criticism from.

I don't think this point can ever be emphasized enough. Intersubjective verifiability is one of the core tenets of Science, because (per Feynman) "The first principle [of science] is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool." If your scientific peers don't verify your conclusions, how do you know you're not fooling yourself?

By Mal Adapted (not verified) on 13 Jun 2013 #permalink

" I could not find any definition of “GLOBAL TEMPERATURE” in wikipedia."

Well then, I guess that settles that. If “GLOBAL TEMPERATURE” does not exist in Wikipedia, then it must not exist. Case closed.

[Wiki is seen by the septics as a source of ultimate authority, when convenient to them. When they disagree with it, of course, it becomes unreliable -W]

Gator, WC:

on the http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/data/temperature/ page you can find the following:


Why can I not produce the hemispheric and global averages for HadCRUT4 and HadSST3 that are given here?

Both these are ensemble datasets. This means that there are 100 realizations of each in order to calculate the possible assumptions involved in the structure of the various components of the error (see discussion in Morice et al., 2012). All 100 realizations are available at the above Met Office site, but we have selected here the ensemble median. For the gridded data this is the ensemble median calculated separately for each grid box for each time step from the 100 members. For the hemispheric and global averages this is again the median of the 100 realizations. The median of the gridded series will not produce the median of the hemispheric and global averages, but the differences will be small.


In other words the guys from CRU admit, that one cannot reproduce their calculation of "GLOBAL TEMPERATURE", version MetOffice/CRU.

I consider it unacceptable that you cannot reproduce some published scientific data. This means that you have just to believe what you are told by them.

Why cannot find one this in Wikipedia?

[As the people below point out, you can't even read the pages you're pointing people at. You need to address you own basic lack of understanding -W]

"All 100 realizations are available at the above Met Office site"

There, you CAN reproduce the published data. You just need to learn how to frikkin' read.


My Poe's Law klaxon is sounding but just in case you're serious:

What the passage says is that calculating hemispheric and global averages from their median gridded data is a different procedure from the one they used. If you followed their procedure - calculating 100 global or hemispheric averages first, then finding the median of those - you would reproduce their results.

[Sorry, I'm bored with you. Find something original to say -W]

[But fear not, freddy/kai/whatever fans: the "best of" is now available, in the Burrow -W]

Roy Spencer and those models can never be correct if they continue to assume that knowing radiative flux we can somehow determine surface temperatures, completely disregarding non-radiative processes [snip]

[AFAIK, no-one in the mainstream climate community (or anyone else for that matter) is suggesting disregarding non-radiative processes. I can't help feeling that you've fooled yourself by not realising that the simple models of the GHE (like http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Idealized_greenhouse_model) are just idealisations for teaching purposes -W]

Even as of today, Principia Scientific International is still publishing an article "The Anthropogenic Global Warming Controversy" which refers to an article by Claes Johnson in which Claes quite incorrectly describes how thermal energy moves downwards in an atmosphere. I have added four comments pointing out the error, and written to Claes (copy John O'Sullivan) pointing out the error. The last of my comments on the PSI thread sums it up, and it's worth repeating here ... The Second Law of Thermodynamics... [No. See comments policy. It is *not* worth repeating long comments here. Just link to there -W]

By Doug Cotton (not verified) on 20 Jun 2013 #permalink

Protip for Doug: If you want people to think you are competent, or even sane, referencing PSI is not recommended.

By American Idiot (not verified) on 20 Jun 2013 #permalink

"freddy" says,

Does anyone know here HOW “GLOBAL TEMPERATURE” is defined and why there is no definition of this term in IPCC reports

The IPCC says,

There is no single thermometer measuring the global temperature. Instead, individual thermometer measurements taken every day at several thousand stations over the land areas of the world are combined with thousands more measurements of sea surface temperature taken from ships moving over the oceans to produce an estimate of global average temperature every month.

(AR4, WG1, Ch.3)

By Craig Thomas (not verified) on 27 Jun 2013 #permalink

Because each of the groups that publishes a global temperature anomaly record (missed that last word didn' you bucky) defines what they do with rigor. Well, maybe except UAH which kept a lot of it a deep dark secret for years. Secret sauce you know.

By Eli Rabett (not verified) on 28 Jun 2013 #permalink

> [Oh, get with the programme! Global temperature doesn't exist. Everyone knows that -W]

Is there supposed to be a second link in that comment?

[Nah, just markup error. Fixed now. Sorry for the lack of excitement -W]