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One-Sided 'Skepticism'

Posted on 16 September 2011 by dana1981

As the banner at the top of the Skeptical Science (SkS) webpage notes, the primary purpose of our site is to "get skeptical about global warming skepticism" by examining what the peer-reviewed scientific literature has to say about the climate myths promoted by self-declared "skeptics."  We strive to examine the full body of scientific evidence, and see how the "skeptic" claims stack up.

In a recent post on his blog, Roger Pielke Sr. criticized our performance in meeting those goals.  We at SkS are always open to constructive criticism.  Unfortunately, Dr. Pielke has not actually offered any.  In fact, it appears that Pielke has not even bothered to make the effort to read the series he is criticizing.  He seems to think Christy Crocks and Spencer Slip Ups pertain to satellite temperature data analysis:

"As a result of the persistent, but incorrect (often derogatory) blog posts and media reports on the robustness of the University of Alabama MSU temperature data....The ad hominem presentations on this subject include those from the weblog Skeptical Science who have sections titled Christy Crocks and Spencer Slip Ups"

Unfortunately for this piercing critique, these two series of articles do not touch upon the topic of the satellite temperature data. Indeed, the only time SkS has mentioned this work was when we used it as an example of the self-correcting nature of the scientific process.  What the series have bored in on are the wide range of topics relevant to global warming concerning which Spencer and Christy have propogated numerous myths and copious misinformation.  This frequent myth propagation by Spencer and Christy is an unfortunate reality which it seems Pielke would like to sweep under the rug.

Pielke's One-Sided Criticisms

What we find strange is that, although Pielke often rushes to the defense of Spencer and Christy, he never criticizes them for blatant errors of logic and fact that they have made; even though he is happy to criticize more mainstream climate scientists.  His critiques seem a tad one-sided.

For example, Christy's testimony before US Congress earlier this year was riddled with myths and misinformation.  Pielke said not a word about it.  Christy later went on Australian and Canadian radio talk shows and propagated many of the same myths.  In fact, these interviews and testimony were the basis of the Christy Crocks. 

Not only does Pielke refuse to criticize his fellow "skeptics" for misinforming the public and policymakers, but he then denounces SkS for doing just that.  In the process, Pielke is effectively endorsing the myths and misinformation propagated by Spencer and Christy, documented in the very series that he criticizes.

The Scientific Basis of the Series

Let's put more effort into this question than Dr. Pielke and actually examine the content of the two series.  Spencer Slip Ups currently consists of seven posts.  Three of these are an analysis of one of Spencer's books by Dr. Barry Bickmore, in which Bickmore tested Spencer's results by replicating his simple climate model, and found that Spencer's conclusions were invalidated when physically realistic parameters were input into the model. 

In another post, we responded to Spencer's challenge to produce peer-reviewed scientific research ruling out internal variability as the cause of the current global warming by doing exactly that.  We also examined what the peer-reviewed literature has to say about Spencer's hypothesis that the PDO is causing global warming.  And finally, in two recent posts we examined Andrew Dessler's peer-reviewed response to Spencer & Braswell (2011). 

Christy Crocks are much of the same.  For example, we examined what the peer-reviewed literature has to say about Christy's claims with regards to climate sensitivity, climate model accuracy, internal variability, global warming causation, and satellite temperature data vs. models.

In keeping with the purpose and standards established for SkS by John Cook, in every Spencer Slip-Up and Christy Crock we have either evaluated how their statements stack up to the body of scientific literature, or attempted to replicate their results.  And we have found that Spencer and Christy consistently make statements which are inconsistent with the body of scientific literature, and often which are well outside their range of expertise.

Misinforming Policymakers

One of the most egregious examples of a Christy Crock was in his testimony before US Congress, when policymakers twice presented Christy with assertions that scientists were predicting impending global cooling in the 1970s, and twice Christy refused to dispel the myth, instead claiming:

"In this sense yes [1970s cooling predictions were similar to current warming predictions], our ignorance about the climate system is just enormous"

This statement, made to those who are determining what if any policies the United States will implement in response to climate change, is a crock.  We examined the peer-reviewed scientific literature in the 1970s, and found that contrary to Christy's depiction, most climate scientists at the time were predicting global warming.

We wonder if Dr. Pielke approves of Christy's testimony here.  When presented with a climate myth by a policymaker, is it appropriate to mislead the Congress with such statements, instead of reporting the situation as it was?  We would very much like to know Dr. Pielke's answer to this question, and why he continues to turn a blind eye to the repeated transgressions of Spencer and Christy.

Reality Check

In reality, Pieilke was off-base in trying to implicate SkS in criticism of the UAH satellite record; we didn't do that. Even more to the point, Spencer and Christy have both made a number of statements to the public that contradict the body of scientific literature.  These statements were the starting point of our critical series. By defending them but ignoring their errors, Pielke is providing cover for the misinformation propagated by Spencer and Christy.  That's not being skeptical, that's excusing the blatant misinformation of the American public and policymakers.  Pielke Sr. needs to decide what is more important, covering up misinformation or standing up for science and truth.

Note: this post represents the SkS contributors' consensus response to Roger Pielke Sr.'s recent criticism of our site

Update: Pielke has responded, if you can call it a response, since he didn't actually address anything we said here.  A total shifting of the goalposts, once again trying to deny Spencer and Christy's constant propagation of misinformation.  In fact, Pielke's response simply confirmed what we said in this post - he seems unwilling to read the content of our posts, and is totally unwilling to crtiicize his fellow "skeptics." 

Dr. Pielke, we once again ask that you answer the question - do you or do you not approve of John Christy's misleading testimony to US Congress, including his assertion that predictions of global cooling in the 1970s were the same as predictions of global warming today? 

As another example, do you agree with Roy Spencer when he said that as a result of addressing climate change, "Jogging will be outlawed. It is a little known fact that the extra carbon dioxide (and methane, an especially potent greenhouse gas) emitted by joggers accounts for close to 10% of the current Global Warming problem"? 

And do you agree with Spencer's assertion that "warming in recent decades is mostly due to a natural cycle in the climate system — not to an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide from fossil fuel burning"?

Please stop changing the subject, stop pretending Spencer and Christy are faultless Saints, drop the charade, and answer our questions, Dr. Pielke.

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Comments 51 to 100 out of 145:

  1. VeryTallGuy - #50

    I agree with your comment. The tone is becoming a bit hysterical. Let's stick to the facts. As a Lukewarmer, I don't think that all errors and exaggerations are confined to the 'skeptic' side of the debate.

    For example Dr Trenberth has written on this site of a 'stasis in surface temperatures' and the unresolved problem of the 'missing heat' in the oceans, and Dr Hansen has suggested that delayed effects from Mt Pinitubo have contributed to 'lack of warming' over the last 5-6 years.

    I don't see these facts being called 'Trenberth's Travesties' nor 'Hansen's Howlers' by this site's authors who would have to disagree with these scientist's points.
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    Response:

    [DB] Trenberth makes the case for the "missing heat" to be found in the deep ocean (paper in press).  Hansen's "Delayed Effects" point is still being discussed in the literature, as is aersol forcing quantification.

    In this regard, there is no disagreement from SkS.

  2. I'm not sure what the complaint is about the tone of the titles. The title isn't "Christy is a crock," or "That Crock Christy" or "Christy Crock-it."

    It's "Christy's crocks." The focus is on the erroneous statements. Christy makes errors in his statements about climate change. Egregious ones at times, at other times subtle but insidious ones. They are his, he owns em. He can disown them if he chooses. He chooses not to.

    I guess the concern is with the word "crock" somehow. But why would that word be of concern? The only reason I can see is because it is actully effective. It's catchy and colorful -it draws attention to itself. "Christy's mistakes" or "Christy's incorrect statements" would be kind of dry and non-distinctive. Not the kind of thing that recommends itself.

    But what else is one to do in this case? In science, we draw attention to mistakes in the hopes they will be corrected. Usually, the corrected party is grateful and it doesn't take much. If the mistaken party refuses to acknowledge evident mistakes, as Christy has not, we point the mistakes out louder and more openly, until they are acknowledged/corrected. Soft-shoeing it in this case has not done the job.
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  3. Stephen Baines asked, "I guess the concern is with the word "crock" somehow. But why would that word be of concern?"

    Maybe it depends on where you are from or even one's age. To me and perhaps others the word "crock" is a shortened form of "crock of sh**". That is why it seems offensive.
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  4. "I don't see these facts being called 'Trenberth's Travesties' nor 'Hansen's Howlers' by this site's authors who would have to disagree with these scientist's points. "

    You completely misunderstand the point of this site then.

    It is about scientific evidence, not supporting a predetermined position or message regardless of the scientific evidence. The scientific evidence in support of human effects on climate is overwhelming, but there are nuances, gaps and things we understand less. We learn from studying those - that is what science is about.

    The evidence IS the message. What Christy does with his crocks is deny the evidence. That does not apply to those statements by Hansen and Trenberth, who are actually describing patterns in data.
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  5. Christy & Spencer have been shown to have made statements, whether on blogs, in press releases, or in testimony to Congress, that are at odds with the evidence as outlined in the scientific literature.

    Given that, I do not find it at all out of line to (a) point these erroneous statements out, and (b) use a bit of poetic license in describing their ongoing mis-informing of the lay public regarding climate science.

    Christy & Spencer are getting caught out (and called out) making false statements about the current state of climate science. If they or others have a problem with that they need to come out with better evidence than that marshalled by their detractors. Then they can start asking for apologies.

    Until then:
    - Christy's egregious testimony before Congress and other glaring errors can be accurately categorized as crocks, in my opinion.
    - Pielke is just engaging in concern-trolling/tone-trolling.
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  6. Pielke has responded again.

    http://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/2011/09/16/my-further-response-to-skeptical-sciences-questions-of-september-16-2011/

    Lets keep the comments civil and everyone have patience for what the authors of SKS decide to do.
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  7. Mike, I was oddly not aware of that etymology.
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  8. critical mass #51 - the difference is that Trenberth and Hansen are trying to actually determine the reasons behind the issues you note. On the other hand, Christy for example exaggerates the discrepancy between model and observed TLT trends, and doesn't even attempt to determine the reason for the discrepancy. He makes a false statement (in testimony to Congress no less), and then assumes the problem must be with climate models and the AGW theory. That's not skepticism, that's spreading misinformation.

    On the other hand, Trenberth notes that we can't account for the full global energy imbalance, so there's "missing heat", and we need to improve our observational measurements to find it. There's no myth there, he's just pointing to a gap in our understanding and data. Ditto for Hansen and the many other scientists examining the causes behind short-term dampening of global warming.
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  9. Regarding Prof. Pielkes latest post: he asks: "3. What is your preferred diagnostic to monitor global warming? ... What is your best estimate of the observed trends in each of these metrics over the last 10 years and the last 20 years?"

    I am happy with UAH/RSS MSU products, however I wouldn't estimate a trend less than 30 years or so, because internal climate variability is such that trends estimated on a shorter timescale are unlikely to be robust.

    The flip side of statistical significance is the statistical power of the test. I am surprised that Prof. Pielke is asking for observations where any statistical test of the trend would have too little power to be useful. What point is he trying to make?

    Phil Jones clearly knows and understands this "Achieving statistical significance in scientific terms is much more likely for longer periods, and much less likely for shorter periods. ".

    BTW Prof. Pielke, rather than communicate via posts on different blogs, it would be much more sensible for you to open comments on your blog, or for you to post here. I for one would welcome such direct dialog.
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    Response:

    [DB] Dikran, we are getting pretty off-topic here.  Everyone, let's circle up & keep this thread tidy.

  10. NYJ:

    "Given the history and magnitude of the errors, I find it strange that there are many who will swear by the satellite record, all the while depicting the surface record as fraudulent, and those who manage it as frauds."

    Remember that the surface stations project was originally RPSr's idea, Watts took it up and implemented it but it wasn't his idea. Likewise RPSr's falsely tried to push the meme that the project's shown exactly what you state ...
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  11. Dave (#42),

    The point was the Spencer was not at all skeptical of what was a seriously flawed satellite data product, which he claims was both accurate and precise, and claimed with confidence that instead models were grossly inaccurate.

    For a summary of key corrections made to this record, see

    UAH satellite temperature record

    The largest of these errors was the orbital decay correction in 1998. The 2nd largest was the diurnal drift correction in 2005. Both problems were identified by others. The total of these corrections is extraordinarily significant - roughly their entire decadal warming trend. In contrast, when any error of the most minor consequence is discovered in the work of mainstream scientists or the IPCC, it is held up as an example of massive incompetence and/or fraud.

    As for wording, I'm not sure why Dr. Pielke is offended by "Christy's Crocks". As Dhogaza points out, Pielke has worked fairly closely with Anthony Watts, a person not exactly know for tempered language, yet I haven't yet seen any posts of his taking offense to any of it. In fact, didn't Dr. Pielke describe the Watts blog as "excellent"? Perhaps the wording could be modified to "questionable statements made by a distinguished scientist at UAH". Why bother naming names? It's too offensive.

    In all seriousness, like others, I would encourage Dr. Pielke to contribute here, or open up comments on his blog, which could be very constructive. He could address some of the other questions others are asking.
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  12. With regards to the request from Dikran Marsupial

    "BTW Prof. Pielke, rather than communicate via posts on different blogs, it would be much more sensible for you to open comments on your blog, or for you to post here. I for one would welcome such direct dialog."

    I do not open comments on my weblog, but will report on selected insight comments that are sent to me by e-mail. Since I have my own weblog, it is more convenient for me to post there. I also have readers that are distinct from yours so posting on both sites broadens the discussion.

    On the questions in my response post

    http://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/2011/09/16/my-further-response-to-skeptical-sciences-questions-of-september-16-2011/

    I will be glad to repost the Skeptical Science responses to the individual questions. This includes what you conclude the 30 year trend is, if you see that such a long time period is needed.
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    Response:

    [Daniel Bailey] Dr. Pielke, this thread is about your selective and one-sided skepticism and misplaced accusations of ad hominems towards SkS.  FYI.

  13. Dr. Pielke - I would strongly suggest that the conversation be on a single forum, either SkS or (if you were to turn on commenting) on yours, with a reference to in in the other location to direct that set of readers.

    Otherwise it's not a conversation - jumping back and forth between this thread and your (now several) posts removes time order, scatters the conversation, and (in my opinion) means that not all issues get discussed.

    A question for you, Dr. Pielke - You have complained that Sks contains ad hominem arguments against Spencer and Christy (it does not), yet you support forums such as WUWT. Why have you not spoken out about the frequent ad hominem attacks on WUWT or other skeptic blogs that you appear to support?
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  14. Cannot agree more with VeryTallGuy. I love this website and send others here frequently.

    I have to say, however, that when I first saw the Christy/Lindzen/Spencer & Monckton buttons at the top of the sidebar, I was dismayed by the and mocking tone directed at specific individuals. Not that they don't deserve it. But this rhetoric gives too quick an excuse for some people to ignore this site and move on.

    Imagine an 8th grade student coming here, confused about the issues and looking to learn but also trying hard to evaluate sources for bias.
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  15. Dikran Marsupial - In terms of the time period to obtain a statistically significant global annual average surface temperature trend, this is, as I am sure you are aware, a linear analysis. There is also a time lag in response to an imposed radiative imbalance. This is why there is so much debate (unneeded in my view) on the so-called climate sensitivity - see my post - http://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/2011/09/09/so-called-climate-sensitivity-a-dance-on-the-head-of-a-pin/.

    However, as I have concluded and written on

    Pielke Sr., R.A., 2003: Heat storage within the Earth system. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 84, 331-335. http://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/files/2009/10/r-247.pdf

    Pielke Sr., R.A., 2008: A broader view of the role of humans in the climate system. Physics Today, 61, Vol. 11, 54-55. http://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/files/2009/10/r-334.pdf

    we need to move beyond surface temperature and actually monitor the heating of the climate system in Joules [which as Jim Hansen and I both agree is dominated by the oceans].

    I would much more prefer we discuss what change in heating in i) the upper ocean and ii) the total ocean in Joules that you would expect from 2000 to 2011, for example? What amount of heating over what time period would have to occur before you would reject the IPCC models as having skill at predicting global warming (that is the scientific method; i.e. to seek to reject hypotheses)?

    There are the three recent informative papers on this subject:

    R. S. Knox, David H. Douglass 2010: Recent energy balance of Earth International Journal of Geosciences, 2010, vol. 1, no. 3 (November) – In press doi:10.4236/ijg2010.00000

    C. A. Katsman and G. J. van Oldenborgh, 2011: Tracing the upper ocean’s ‘missing heat’. Geophysical Research Letters (in press).

    Palmer, M. D., D. J. McNeall, and N. J. Dunstone (2011), Importance of the deep ocean for estimating decadal changes in Earth’s radiation balance, Geophys. Res. Lett., 38, L13707, doi:10.1029/2011GL047835.

    which provide insight into this discussion. The models are not yet rejected, in my view, with respect to the ocean heating but are getting close.

    On posting comments on this weblog, I will certainly do that as long as it remains cordial and constructive. The handling of the science of Roy Spencer and John Christy by Skeptical Science was inappropriately (and incorrectly in major areas) was skewed due to their policy and political views. I suggest revisting their work starting with our paper

    Christy, J.R., B. Herman, R. Pielke, Sr., P. Klotzbach, R.T. McNider, J.J. Hnilo, R.W. Spencer, T. Chase and D. Douglass, 2010: What do observational datasets say about modeled tropospheric temperature trends since 1979? Remote Sensing, 2(9), 2148-2169.http://pielkeclimatesci.files.wordpress.com/2010/09/r-358.pdf

    I look forward to further discussions with you and others on this weblog.
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    Response:

    [Daniel Bailey] You are more than welcome to comment on any thread at SkS, Dr. Pielke.  However, this thread is about your selective and one-sided skepticism and misplaced accusations of ad hominems towards SkS.  FYI.

  16. Dr. Pielke @62,

    Thank you for dropping by. I do hope that you choose to stay here and engage not only SkS authors, but other interested citizens who frequent this site

    Along those lines, I would like to second what Dikran and KR stated above about conducting future correspondence on a single forum, whether it be here or on your blog. This back and forth between blog posts is simply not constructive and is not conducive for meaningful discussion. Thank you.
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  17. KR- Regarding

    A question for you, Dr. Pielke - You have complained that Sks contains ad hominem arguments against Spencer and Christy (it does not), yet you support forums such as WUWT. Why have you not spoken out about the frequent ad hominem attacks on WUWT or other skeptic blogs that you appear to support?

    I have published with John Christy and have interatced with Roy Spencer on science issues. They are both outstanding colleagues and do not deserve the personal comments made against them. Certainly question their science but to question their sincerity and motives is inappropriate. If the WUWT or other weblog would similarly make ad hominem comments with respect to colleagues I have worked with, I would similarly defend them.

    Also, on my weblog, look at the list of guest posts http://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/category/guest-editor-weblogs/. I have a diversity of viewpoints presented, with, for example, a recent post of e-mails between Peter Gleick and I.
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  18. Dr. Pielke,

    Re my post @66, we cross posted. Welcome back :)
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  19. This probably beating on a dead horse, but I thought I would add my 2 cents. The link in #45 is really a great illustration of how to identify an ad hominem argument, and I agree, there is nothing at all ad hominem about "Christy Crocks" and "Spencer Slip Ups". If anything, it seems to me that both of those blog posts stick quite clearly to attacking Christy's and Spencer's ideas and statements. The title "Christy's Crocks", which Pielke seems to take umbrage at, is obviously referring to what Christy says, not what kind of person Christy is. I think SkS should keep them the way they are.

    If you want to see a real ad hominem argument, you can find one in about 3 seconds on WUWT.. the last 24 hours was a regular ad homimen blowout over there. See if you can count the ad hominems in this one:
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/09/15/al-gores-climate-reality-project-brings-on-miss-rhode-island-to-talk-about-sea-level-rise/
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  20. Prof. Pielke With all due respect, you have not answered the question I asked. Can you present a statistical analysis that shows reasonable statistical power over decadal trends, yes or no? Pick any climate metric you like.

    I am reasonably familiar with your views on climate metric, as I occasionally read your blog. However my point is a statistical one, if you want to discuss decadal and 20 year trends, then you need to show that such trends are sufficiently robust to be worth discussing.
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    Response:

    [Daniel Bailey] Dikran, this thread is about Dr. Pielke's selective and one-sided skepticism and misplaced accusations of ad hominems towards SkS.  Your points, while very valid, are off-topic here. From this point out moderation of this point will be exercised on all comments.

  21. Dr. Pielke, we have not made personal comments against Spencer or Christy, nor have we questioned their sincerity or motives. That is directly against the policy of this site.

    What we have done is evaluate the scientific accuracy of their claims. For example, we found that in his testimony to US Congress, Christy badly misinformed our policymakers - a fact which you have yet to acknowledge.

    Considering that you seem to agree on the importance of accurately informing policymakers so that they can determine the proper response to climate change, your criticism of our site (apparently because you don't like the term "crock" and no other reason) and your silence regarding Christy's misinformation appears to be contradictory.

    In short, you are criticizing our series title while ignoring its content, which shares your goal of accurately informing the public and policymakers. Dr. Christy did not adhere to that goal in his testimony, or various interviews, nor did Dr. Spencer in his books, and so forth. We would appreciate it if you would acknowledge this.
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  22. Dr. Pielke,

    "If the WUWT or other weblog would similarly make ad hominem comments with respect to colleagues I have worked with, I would similarly defend them."

    Could you please direct us to where you have publicly spoken out against the ridicule and ad hominem attacks and even threats that have been made against respected scientists like Hansen, Mann, Schmidt, Trenberth (and others) at WUWT, or where you have publicly defended their honor? Why add the caveat "I have worked with"? You do not have to have worked with Hansen, for example, to know that the the abuse directed at his is wrong, or the questioning of his motives is wrong. Thank you.
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  23. Dr. Pielke: "I have published with John Christy and have interatced with Roy Spencer on science issues. They are both outstanding colleagues and do not deserve the personal comments made against them. Certainly question their science but to question their sincerity and motives is inappropriate. If the WUWT or other weblog would similarly make ad hominem comments with respect to colleagues I have worked with, I would similarly defend them."

    Seems rather tribal.

    I'm still waiting for evidence for "The ad hominem presentations on this subject include those from the weblog Skeptical Science" (are you willing to retract that?) and the questions posed in #41.
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  24. Prof. Pielke wrote: "If the WUWT or other weblog would similarly make ad hominem comments with respect to colleagues I have worked with, I would similarly defend them.

    This is exactly the point, why do you not critcise the use of ad-hominems against those you haven't worked with? An ad-hominem is an ad-hominem is an ad-hominem.

    I am a moderator here and have deleted several ad-hominems against noted skeptics based on their religious views (which have no bearing whatsoever on their position on climatology). Should I only moderate ad-hominems against those on my "side" of the debate (not that I have a side other than the side of the science)?
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    Response:

    [Daniel Bailey] And I have (and will again) deleted many comments belonging to other SkS authors (apologies to all in advance).

  25. Dr. Pielke - Defending close colleagues is a reasonable prioritization. However, you have worked with Anthony Watts (on the surface stations project, and with multiple cross-postings), and I must regard WUWT as one of the worst offenders in terms of pejorative rhetoric and ad hominem attacks. Hence you seem to be criticizing SkS for something that some of your close associates do on a regular basis. That appears a bit unbalanced.

    Personally I consider anyone presenting reasoned discussion in my field to be a colleague, regardless of whether or not I agree with them on particulars.


    "What amount of heating over what time period would have to occur before you would reject the IPCC models as having skill at predicting global warming (that is the scientific method; i.e. to seek to reject hypotheses)?"

    Perhaps you could comment on Kaufmann 2011, which examines the recent apparent 'pause' in warming, particularly with regard to aerosol influences, La Nina, and low insolation? I see room for improvements in dealing with and modeling aerosols, but I do not see any reason to reject the models included in the IPCC reports outright, as you appear to suggest.
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    Response:

    [Daniel Bailey] KR, this thread is about Dr. Pielke's selective and one-sided skepticism and misplaced accusations of ad hominems towards SkS.  Let us not enable his avoidance of responsibility in dealing with that.

  26. Dr. Pielke - WRT to the three references in your most recent post:

    Knox, Douglass 2010 - This paper does not include many of the available estimates of ocean heat content, and I would consider it less authoritative for that reason. Lyman 2010 examine a more complete set of data, and find "Robust warming of the global upper ocean".

    Katsman, van Oldenborgh, 2011 - "The analysis reveals that an 8-yr period without upper ocean warming is not exceptional. ... Recently-observed changes in these two large-scale modes of climate variability point to an up-coming resumption of the upward trend in upper ocean heat content"

    Palmer et al 2011 - "All three models show substantial decadal variability in SST, which could easily mask the long-term warming associated with anthropogenic climate change over a decade. ... Our model results suggest that there is potential for substantial improvement in our ability to monitor Earth's radiation balance by more comprehensive observation of the global ocean. "

    ---

    Lyman, Katsman, and Palmer all seem to indicate that short term jogs (up or down) in warming are to be expected, and that the models work. I simply do not see any support there for your thesis that the models are failing, or that there are major misunderstandings in climate.
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  27. Re: my previous post - all of those works also support the need for more data. I don't believe any of them indicate that we are deeply incorrect about ocean heating given the data that we do have, within the limits of measurement uncertainty.
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  28. KR @75 ,

    I too find it rather odd (a double standard perhaps) that Dr. Pielke has chosen to publish with Anthony Watts, given the long history Mr. Watts has of ridiculing, belittling and defaming climate scientists.

    My questions to Dr. Pielke are:
    1) Why do you not condemn (or disapprove) of the above mentioned actions that your colleague, Anthony Watts, is routinely engaging in?
    2) Why is it OK for Watts (and Spencer) to engage in highly combative and antagonistic behaviour towards scientists, but for to you take exception to SkS critiquing the science of Christy and Spencer and Lindzen, for example?
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  29. To reiterate one of KR's points (#75), and Albatross (#78), in a recent WUWT post reproducing Pielke's criticism of Trenberth, Abraham, and Gleick, Watts makes the following statements:

    "Apparently, it is impossible for them to consider observational evidence supporting a lower climate sensitivity, and thus they’ve scuttled the scientific process of correcting and building on new knowledge in favor of a tabloid style attack."

    "Clearly, Abraham, Gleick, and Trenberth share none of the humble virtue demonstrated by Einstein."

    "Like Spencer and Braswell, Einstein too got his share of public drubbing for his work. Hitler commissioned a group of 100 top scientists in Germany write a book called “Hundert Autoren gegen Einstein” (Hundred authors against Einstein)."

    Seems pretty ad hom to me, questioning their sincerity and motives, eluding to Hitler, claiming personal arrogance, but it's standard practice at WUWT. Those who read SkepticalScience regularly will note that nothing approaches this level from the contributors, and articles here that might be perceived to drift into personal territory (there is some fair debate about that) are the clear exception to what is a site that focuses on science.

    But Dr. Pielke indicates in #67 his interest is in attacking perceived ad hominens against those he has worked with, which is a bit of the tribal stuff that I believe he has decried. I also argue that his claims of ad hominen noted in #41 are dubious.
    0 0
  30. KR @76,

    As per Knutti and Hegerl (2008), and others, there are multiple, independent lines of evidence (not including models) that point towards an equilibrium climate sensitivity of +3 C for a doubling of CO2.

    Unfortunately, under BAU, we will easily double CO2, more likely triple or treble it.
    0 0
  31. Badgersouth - The six points are

    •climate change as market failure,
    •as technological risk,
    •as global injustice,
    •as over consumption,
    •as mostly natural,
    •as planetary “tipping points”.

    Except for the 5th one from the top, they are policy issues. My expertise is in the WG1 focus (climate science).

    Mike Hulme writes that these are "broadly consistent with the scientific knowledge assessed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change" but the other 5 (and perhaps the last one although this requirements a quantitification of vulnerabilties) are not science issues, although people are using "science" claims to advocate for particular policies (e.g. see http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com/2011/09/somebody-send-paul-nurse-copy-of-honest.html).

    Let's focus on the science questions themselves in our discussions.
    0 0
    Response:

    [Daniel Bailey] Dr. Pielke, this thread is about your selective and one-sided skepticism and misplaced accusations of ad hominems towards SkS.  Now please begin to address those.

  32. Dikran Marsupial - In answer to your question

    'With all due respect, you have not answered the question I asked. Can you present a statistical analysis that shows reasonable statistical power over decadal trends, yes or no? Pick any climate metric you like.'

    look at
    http://rankexploits.com/musings/2011/gistemp-up-during-august/

    and earlier posts.
    0 0
    Response:

    [Daniel Bailey] Dr. Pielke, this thread is about your selective and one-sided skepticism and misplaced accusations of ad hominems towards SkS.  Now please begin to address those.  Sir.

    Off-topic struck out.

  33. We seem to be stuck in developing a discussion. KR in #76 has a constructive science comment. KR, however, misses that both of these papers highlight the importance of ocean heat content changes as the metric to diagnose global warming. This eliminates the need to focus on the so-called "climate sensitivity". Nonetheless, this is a good start.

    However, the other commenters are mostly missing the central science issues I have rasied. I will repeat my questions here:

    1.Of the two hypotheses below, which one do you conclude is correct?

    Hypothesis 2a: Although the natural causes of climate variations and changes are undoubtedly important, the human influences are significant and involve a diverse range of first-order climate forcings, including, but not limited to, the human input of carbon dioxide (CO2). Most, if not all, of these human influences on regional and global climate will continue to be of concern during the coming decades.

    Hypothesis 2b: Although the natural causes of climate variations and changes are undoubtedly important, the human influences are significant and are dominated by the emissions into the atmosphere of greenhouse gases, the most important of which is CO2. The adverse impact of these gases on regional and global climate constitutes the primary climate issue for the coming decades.

    2. Of the two perspectives below [from Mike Hulme], which one do you agree with?

    i) “The overwhelming scientific evidence tells us that human greenhouse gas emissions are resulting in climate changes that cannot be explained by natural causes. Climate change is real, we are causing it, and it is happening right now.”

    ii) “The overwhelming scientific evidence tells us that human greenhouse gas emissions, land use changes and aerosol pollution are all contributing to regional and global climate changes, which exacerbate the changes and variability in climates brought about by natural causes. Because humans are contributing to climate change, it is happening now and in the future for a much more complex set of reasons than in previous human history.”

    As Mike Hulme writes

    ”….these two different provocations – two different framings of climate change – open up the possibility of very different forms of public and policy engagement with the issue. They shape the response.

    The latter framing, for example, emphasises that human influences on climate are not just about greenhouse gas emissions (and hence that climate change is not just about fossil energy use), but also result from land use changes (emissions and albedo effects) and from aerosols (dust, sulphates and soot).

    It emphasises that these human effects on climate are as much regional as they are global. And it emphasises that the interplay between human and natural effects on climate are complex and that this complexity is novel.”

    What are your comments on Mike Hulme’s two perspectives with respect to climate policy?

    3. What is your preferred diagnostic to monitor global warming?

    The options include, for example, (i) the global annual average surface temperature anomaly in degrees Celsius; ii) the global annual average ocean heat anomaly in Joules; or iii) the global annual average radiative imbalance at the top-of-the atmosphere in Watts per meter squared.

    What is your best estimate of the observed trends in each of these metrics over the last 10 years and the last 20 years?

    4. What do the models’ predict should be the current value of these metrics.

    5. What are your preferred diagnostics to monitor climate change?

    6. Is global warming (and cooling) a subset of climate change or does it dominate climate change?


    If Skeptical Science is serious regarding a constructive debate, lets start with these on your weblog.
    0 0
    Response:

    [Daniel Bailey] Actually, Dr. Pielke, it is you who continues to miss the point.  This thread is about your selective and one-sided skepticism and misplaced accusations of ad hominems towards SkS.  A continuation of your policy of avoiding the tough questions casts you in a very poor light.

  34. Dr. Pielke - To return to the subject of this thread, rather than wander off into the hinterlands of temperatures vs. the value of climate sensitivity, modelling, etc.:

    Do you understand why your criticisms of perceived ad hominem statements on SkS, and your lack of criticisms of people like Watts, are perceived as a double standard?
    0 0
  35. Dr Pielke @ 83... There is a group of authors who are addressing each of these questions. It takes a little bit of time since this site is a collaborative effort from many individuals. Please indulge us with a little patience.

    Dikran seems to bringing up some very valid points that are well worth consideration in this comments section.

    And BTW we all greatly appreciate you taking time from what is certainly a busy schedule to engage SkS on these issues.
    0 0
  36. Dr Pielke... Also take note that John Cook is in Australia and will just be waking up about now to see what has transpired while he's been busy sawing logs.
    0 0
  37. I noticed a sniff from Lubos Motl about SS, calling John Cook a former physics student. I wonder if some of Dr. Pielke's pique comes from a sense of lese majesty . The section headings are a bit of cheek no doubt, even if they are not ad homenims by any definition I understand.
    0 0
  38. Dikran,

    "Rankexploits" is not run by a statistician, I'm surprised that Dr. Pielke cannot provide us with some peer-reviewed references on that subject other than a blog post.

    Santer et al. (2011) have looked into the signal-to-noise issue. They note that the signal-to-noise ratio for 10 year window is ~1, which means that drawing conclusions from data on time spans of near 10 years is pointless. That is why I am surprised that Dr. Pielke confidently cites no warming for 13 years on his blog (ignoring the curious choice of 1998 as a starting point for now) as being indicative of something important afoot, when that that is obviously too short a period to be of any statistical significance.

    Regardless, Dr. Pielke agrees with Santer et al. on one important point, he says on his blog that:

    "I agree with Santer et al that “[m]inimal warming over a single decade does not disprove the existence of a slowly-evolving anthropogenic warming signal."

    So I'm not sure why we are discussing this on a thread about "one sided skepticism". But I will look for some published citations that speak to the time frame required to extract statistically significant trends from surface-air temperature data, for example.
    0 0
    Moderator Response:

    [Dikran Marsupial] It relates to one of Prof. Pielkes questions latest post: he asks: "3. What is your preferred diagnostic to monitor global warming? ... What is your best estimate of the observed trends in each of these metrics over the last 10 years and the last 20 years?". If statistical tests on those trends have little power then it is a pretty pointless exercise.

  39. Mr Pielke is asking that we don't "wander off." The subject at hand is one-sided skepticism, and some accusations of ad-hom made by Mr Pielke against SkS.

    I still see nowhere in the SkS articles an attack on these individuals' persons or motives. Their statements, however, are certainly given scrutiny in true skeptic fashion. The adjective "egregious" about some of these statements appears entirely justified.

    It could easily be construed that Mr Pielke is diverting attention onto technical points, possibly to evade the defense of his own accusations against SkS and his own double standards.

    I am waiting for Mr Pielke to describe exactly where and how SkS attempts to attack the robustness of the UAH temperature data by using ad-hom. If this specific accusation can not be substantiated, perhaps withdrawing it would be appropriate.

    It would be helpful if Mr Pielke could link to a defense of other scientists' by him when these persons or their motives were attacked, especially on WUWT, where it happens routinely. That would certainly help to decrease the perception of a double standard.
    0 0
    Moderator Response: Phillipe please address him as Dr. Pielke.
  40. Philippe @89,

    "The subject at hand is one-sided skepticism, and some accusations of ad-hom made by Mr Pielke against SkS."

    It certainly appears that Dr. Pielke is trying to reframe the discussion. But that particular issue quoted above is central to the original post and the questions that SkS posed to Dr. Pielke. Yet, those have not been adequately addressed by Dr. Pielke, nor have subsequent questions along those lines concerning his association with Mr. Watts and why he has not condemned the repeated attacks by Watts (and those on his site) on scientists.

    So it would help if we could all please stay focused and deal with one issue at a time? And right now that issue is "one-sided skepticism".

    I would propose that once that central issue is dealt with and once Dr. Pielke has had an opportunity to answer the questions asked of him on that key issue (we understand that he is busy), then we can move the discussion onto other matters. So the ball right now is in Dr. Pielke's court in that regard, and I for one look forward to his responses to the pertinent questions put to him in this forum concerning "one-sided skepticism".
    0 0
  41. Rob Painting - A constructive comment. I suggest you convert the figure to watts per meter squared and compare with Jim Hansen's predictions of the radiative imbalance at the end of the 1990s - http://pielkeclimatesci.files.wordpress.com/2009/09/1116592hansen.pdf

    I suppose we could debate what is "significant warming" but lets focus on the global annual averaged radiative imbalance resulting diagnosed from the plot. It is much less than indicated from the GISS model as reported by Jim Hansen in the communication to John Christy and myself that I have provide the link for above.
    0 0
    Moderator Response: [Albatross] Hello Dr. Pielke. As tempting as it is to respond to people's questions and comments about your questions to SkS, could you please limit your discussion on this thread to "one-sided skepticism". There remain numerous relevant questions posed to you on that subject that you have not yet answered. We will be happy to continue discussing your set of questions when SkS posts a response on a separate thread. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation. [Rob Painting] - duly noted. I'll save my questions on OHC for another day.
  42. Dikran,

    I know that the discussion in question pertains to one of the questions that Dr. Pielke asked. But that is not the subject of this particular thread. I think that we should try and focus on dealing with the subject of the thread (one-sided skepticism) for now, and when SkS answers his questions (which I am confident they will do and thoroughly too), then we can discuss the implications of his questions at that point in time.

    Right now the thread is at risk of getting derailed and I'm simply urging everyone to focus the topic of this thread, which is not Dr. Pielke's questions.

    As I said earlier, the ball is in Dr. Pielke's court, so hopefully he will address the questions and concerns raised by posters here and by SkS about "one-sided skepticism".
    0 0
    Moderator Response:

    [Dikran Marsupial] I agree. The proper place to discuss it would probably be on Prof. Pielke's blog, where the question was posed.

  43. Except for constructive comments by Rob Painting and Albatross [I am puzzled why commenters on a science weblog do not want to use your real names), statements such as

    "Given your admonition to me in pielke #83, why should Skeptical Science respond to your second question? By your own words, it's off topic."

    and

    "I would propose that once that central issue is dealt with and once Dr. Pielke has had an opportunity to answer the questions asked of him on that key issue (we understand that he is busy), then we can move the discussion onto other matters. So the ball right now is in Dr. Pielke's court in that regard, and I for one look forward to his responses to the pertinent questions put to him in this forum concerning "one-sided skepticism".

    are not going to move the discussion forward. There is no "central issue" that need to be settled. I have presented my perpsective on Spencer and Christy, and others have presented their views. Lets move on.

    I remain waiting for answers to my questions and request this be in a weblog post with answers to each one. i cna then follow up in the comments, but also on my weblog.
    0 0
    Moderator Response:

    [Albatross] Dr. Pielke. Given the intimidation of and threats made against climate scientists, I ask that you please respect the choice by some here (and elsewhere) to not use their real names. But who I am is not relevant, what is relevant are the facts and science. As for moving the discussion forward, you answering people's questions which pertain to the subject of this thread would aid greatly in achieving that goal. Thank you in advance.

    [Daniel Bailey] Dr. Pielke, I use my real name.  Please cease in avoiding the central focus of this thread, which is about your selective and one-sided skepticism and misplaced accusations of ad hominems towards SkS.  Now can you finally please begin to address those.

    Your recalcitrance in dealing with the large pink elephant in the room becomes obvious.

  44. Prof. Pielke, perhaps a more constructive way for you to defend your colleagues is to post a specific comment on each "Christy Crock" and "Spencer Slip-up" article, in each case stating what you see as the errors in that particlar article.

    For the purpose of this thread, for me your comment earlier that you defend your colleagues against what you see as ad-hominems, rather than criticising all ad-hominems that crop up in the debate is a tacit admission of tribalism and one-sidedness. Now if you see that as a reasonable position, then just say so, if you think this does not represent your position, then we are keen to hear your explanation. I would agree that it seems inconsistent that you complain about perceived ad-hominems at SkS and yet support WUWT where ad-hominems are very common.
    0 0
  45. I'm looking forward to the 'official' response to Dr. Pielke's questions in #85 from the SkS authors as it will surely address the issues in more detail than I could alone. However, I was particularly struck by the question;

    "3. What is your preferred diagnostic to monitor global warming?"

    To me, trying to pick out any one metric seems flawed conceptually. Given the realities of measurement uncertainty, internal variability, equilibrium lag, and other factors it would seem counter productive to 'prefer' any particular method of 'measuring' global warming. Indeed, apparent disparities amongst different metrics have been and likely will continue to be a primary driver in identifying errors and additional factors for consideration. Surely, it is only by examining ALL of the available metrics and continuing to improve them that we can hope to get an accurate understanding of the ongoing changes.

    On the primary point of the thread, the (seeming) implication that you do not criticize WUWT and other such sites because they do not direct ad hominem attacks against scientists you have worked with is rather the basis of the claim that your criticisms are "one-sided" Dr. Pielke. Essentially such a position belies any claims of concern about the 'tone' of the discussion. You can't very well criticize one 'side' while consistently ignoring far more egregious behaviour by the other. Well, you can... just not with any actual 'moral authority'.
    0 0
    Moderator Response: [Albatross] Valid points, but the first one is off-topic I'm afraid. Please give Dr. Pielke an opportunity to respond to questions directed to him about "one-sided" skepticism.
  46. Dr. Pielke

    I'll remind you of the sequence of events. You initiated this particular discussion by accusing the SkS site of ad hominem attacks on Dr.s Spencer and Christy. (which I am not alone in considering an unjustified accusation). This particular thread was written in response, noting that (a) the posts you criticized actually address the science (and shortcomings) of various works, and are not ad hominem, and (b) your criticisms don't appear to apply to those you agree with, such as Watts and in fact Spencer himself.

    In my view you have neither addressed that apparent double standard, nor supported your original accusations re: SkS, and are now refusing to discuss those issues any further. I consider that unfortunate.
    0 0
  47. Dr. Pielke, since you seem unwilling to defend your unsupported assertion that SkS has engaged in "ad hominem presentations" against Drs. Spencer and Christy, perhaps you would take this opportunity to retract that accusation, and then we can move on? As others have noted, the discussion began with this assertion, which you seem unwilling to discuss now that we have demonstrated it's unfounded. It's like a hit and run, with the driver at fault fleeing the scene so as not to take responsibility for his error, then later coming back and trying to discuss a baseball game. We'd like some closure on the hit and run first.
    0 0
  48. Not to overburden you, Dr. Pielke, as I believe you have your hands full here in addressing the topics at hand, but what do you think of your colleague's work here? You are quoted in this document and I'm curious if you believe the conclusions on both the science and on the motivations of the scientists who manage this data are warranted. Do you believe this is constructive? Did your colleague send this to you for your review and what changes (if any) did you suggest?

    Surface Temperature Records: Policy-Driven Deception? by Josepth D'Aleo and Anthony Watts

    SPPI summary:

    "Authors veteran meteorologists Joe D’Aleo and Anthony Watts analyzed temperature records from all around the world for a major SPPI paper, Surface Temperature Records – Policy-driven Deception? The startling conclusion that we cannot tell whether there was any significant “global warming” at all in the 20th century is based on numerous astonishing examples of manipulation and exaggeration of the true level and rate of “global warming”.

    That is to say, leading meteorological institutions in the USA and around the world have so systematically tampered with instrumental temperature data that it cannot be safely said that there has been any significant net “global warming” in the 20th century."

    The document's Summary for Policy Makers:

    "1. Instrumental temperature data for the pre-satellite era (1850-1980) have been so widely, systematically, and uni-directionally tampered with that it cannot be credibly asserted there has been any significant “global warming” in the 20th century.

    2. All terrestrial surface-temperature databases exhibit signs of urban heat pollution and post measurement adjustments that render them unreliable for determining accurate long-term temperature trends.

    3. All of the problems have skewed the data so as greatly to overstate observed warming both regionally and globally.

    4. Global terrestrial temperature data are compromised because more than three-quarters of the 6,000 stations that once reported are no longer being used in data trend analyses."

    After the summary, the opening line begins "Recent revelations from the Climategate whistleblower emails"

    some other quotes:

    "These factors all lead to significant uncertainty and a tendency for over-estimation of century-scale temperature trends. A conclusion from all findings suggest that global data bases are seriously flawed and can no longer be trusted to assess climate trends or rankings or validate model forecasts. And, consequently, such surface data should be ignored for decision making."

    "Satellite data centers over recent years have not confirmed the persistent warmth of the surface networks in their assessments of monthly and yearly global temperature"

    "US STATE HEAT RECORDS SUGGEST RECENT DECADES ARE NOT THE WARMEST

    The 1930s were, by far, the hottest period for the timeframe."

    "NASA also constantly tampers with the data. John Goetz showed that 20% of the historical record was modified 16 times in the 2½ years ending in 2007. 1998 and 1934 ping pong regularly between first and second warmest year as the fiddling with old data continues."

    Do you find the above claims both robust and constructive?

    And as of now, you have not been able to support your contention of "ad hominen" statements by SkepticalScience on the topic of the UAH MSU temperature record. I therefore request that you retract it.
    0 0
  49. To continue #105 regarding the D'Aleo and Watts document, Dr. Pielke, what do you think of the phrases "tampered with the data" and "fiddling with the old data"? Would you support such phrases do describe the numerous adjustments and corrections UAH has made? I personally would not.
    0 0
    Response:

    [Daniel Bailey] I would request that, for the moment, all present give Dr. Pielke a chance to first retract his contentions and allegations of ad hominem towards Skeptical Science.

    Or, failing that, for Dr. Pielke to continue in those assertions and then support them with concrete examples.

  50. "As another example, do you agree with Roy Spencer when he said that as a result of addressing climate change, "Jogging will be outlawed. It is a little known fact that the extra carbon dioxide (and methane, an especially potent greenhouse gas) emitted by joggers accounts for close to 10% of the current Global Warming problem"?

    I don't have a dog in this hunt but I do think you diminish your own credibility on the subject when you try and pass off what was clearly a sarcastic, tongue-in-cheek essay as a legitimate representation of his scientific view. One hopes this is a slip up somewhere and not an indication of your journalistic integrity.
    0 0

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