Not even partially correct

Since I’m up early and waiting for the rest of the family to rise, I thought I might comment on this Miranda Devine article which claims that Perth electrical engineer’s discovery will change climate change debate (H/T Ben Cubby and Ketan Joshi on Twitter). The electrical engineer is David Evans, who is married to Jo Nova. The reason that I thought I would comment is that I spent some time on Bishop Hill pointing out to him that his discovery was no such thing. I won’t link to it because I managed to make a rather embarassing – but acknowledged – blunder myself at the end of that comment thread (you can probably find it if you wish 🙂 ).

David Evans has a whole series of posts on Jo Nova’s blog where he discusses his discovery. I’ll just comment on the aspect that I was discussing with him and which he discusses in this post. He says

The basic model relies heavily on partial derivatives. A partial derivative is the ratio of the changes in two variables, when everything apart from those two variables is held constant. When applied to the climate, this means everything about the climate must be held constant while we imagine how much one variable would change if the other was altered.

As far as I’m aware, this is simply untrue. A complex GCM certainly solves a set of partial differential equations, but these are the standard Navier Stokes equations which are evolved in time and space; it doesn’t, however, require holding everything constant while we check how one variable changes if another is altered. The model simply evolves all the different variables with respect to t, x, y and z.

The most basic climate model, on the other hand, doesn’t use partial differential equations at all; it normally simply evolves the change in temperature on the basis of a forcing time series and a feedback response that is typically assumed to depend linearly on temperature. You can introduce non-linearities and make them more complex, but even basic climate models don’t solve the partial differential equations that David is claiming that they use.

What David Evans appears to be referring to is how one might determine – for example – the feedback response from a climate model. One may indeed do so by holding everything constant, bar one thing, and then determining how the system responds to a change in another variable, such as temperature. However this does not mean that a climate model is evolving this type of partial differential equation; it simply means that this type of equation is used to analyse the output from a climate model. I encountered a similar issue when I had a discussion with Monckton a while back; confusing how one might analyse the results from a climate model, with how a climate model is actually run. Could there be a link?

So, as far as I can tell, David Evans’s startling discovery is simply him being confused about how climate models actually work. Miranda Devine’s article includes that

Dr Evans is an expert in Fourier analysis and digital signal processing, with a PhD, and two Masters degrees from Stanford University in electrical engineering, a Bachelor of Engineering (for which he won the University medal), Bachelor of Science, and Masters in Applied Maths from the University of Sydney.

Not only did David Evans bring up his qualifications in our discussion on Bishop Hill, but his expertise in Fourier analysis and digital signal processing doesn’t seem to have helped him in the past. What Miranda Devine’s article mainly illustrates is that some people will promote anything as long as it appears to suggest that there are major problems with climate science, even if it is written by someone who seems to think that where they got their PhD is somehow relevant. Some might call that irresponsible.

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125 Responses to Not even partially correct

  1. izen says:

    It’s force X from outer space!

  2. That is a title you can use more often.

    This is really embarrassing for The Australian. I had never expected this to go beyond the hard core denier blogs. If the use of partial derivatives is not allowed, quite a lot of science would be wrong. It is one of the first mathematical techniques you learn at university.

  3. Victor,
    Indeed, but if you look at his post, he’s arguing that basic climate models solve equations like

    \dfrac{\partial G (T_s, W)}{\partial T_s} = \dfrac{G(T_s + h, W) - G(T_s,W)}{h},

    in the limit of h -> 0, and where G is the TOA flux. In others words, they’re solving equations in which one dependent variable (G), depends on another (T). Unless I’m mistaken this is neither done in GCMs (in which feedbacks and climate sensitivity are emergent) nor in basic models (in which the feedback response is typically either assumed, a priori, or determined by comparison with observations). So, it’s not simply partial derivatives, but a specific form of the partial derivative. But – as I said in the post – I think he’s confusing how one might determine the feedback response from a climate model, with what equations are actually solved during the evolution of the model. I may be being slightly generous by saying “confused”.

  4. pete best says:

    Appealing to authority in science is quite common for all none science people. In fact quoting someone as being heavily peer reviewed, or having a phd etc makes sense to lat people as it gives us a sense of knowing something on the subject.

    All these blogs that spouse nonsense by using such arguments wont stop.

  5. Harry Twinotter says:

    Sigh. An Appeal to Irrelevant Authority for sure.

    Still the proof of the pudding is the publication of the model and results in the peer-reviewed scientific literature. I will wait for that.

  6. 0^0 says:

    Sorry for slightly off topic question.. But has anybody taken a look on what the Smithsonian astrophysicist has been up to with some Irish friends?

    In a comment of Nick Stokes’ blog some links to apparently peer reviewed paper ( he has not commented yet..)

  7. I had gathered from twitter that also the use of differential equations in itself was seen as a problem by the Nova family.

    This is how a typical global circulation model looks like.

    Nothing like one simple equation for the Top Of Atmosphere flux. Equation in this form are used a lot, for example to compute the circulation, but not for the “TOA flux”. The Top Of Atmosphere fluxes come out of the radiative transfer parameterisations, these are nowadays mainly delta-two-stream computations, which do not contain differential equations, but solve a linear matrix.

  8. Pingback: Not even partially correct | Gaia Gazette

  9. snarkrates says:

    It appears that Herr Doktor Evans never got beyond second-year calculus and assumed that the math stopped there as well. As with most denialists with any academic credentials whatsoever, he’s just stupidity sent to college.

  10. izen says:

    Note the preemptive defense, all the scientists telling him the maths and physics don’t add up is a POLITICAL obstacle!

    “Dr Evans says his discovery “ought to change the world”.
    “But the political obstacles are massive,” he said.

  11. o^o,
    I saw that. I tried looking at it yesterday, but it’s long and I can’t really be bothered. I spent quite some time last year talking with Ronan Connolly. Nice enough, but somehow convinced that the basic greenhouse effect is wrong. Me trying to explain that the observations he was using were consistent with the basic greenhouse effect didn’t have any impact.

    Yes, that was my understanding too. Climate models do not use partial differential equations to determine the TOA fluxes; that comes from the radiative transfer.

  12. izen,
    Indeed, he’s got his excuses lined up already. That, at least, is quite clever.

  13. izen says:

    “Sorry for slightly off topic question.. But has anybody taken a look on what the Smithsonian astrophysicist has been up to with some Irish friends?”

    It is paywalled, so for those of us unable or unwilling to access it for money only the abstract and thumbnails/titles of the graphs are available.

    But at a ‘guess’ it will exhibit the following features.

    1) Cherry-picking the surface temperature record and ‘adjusting’ it for assumed UHI effects to get a record with more variation and less trend.

    2)Cherry-picking the solar insolation record, and adjusting it for maximum variation.

    3) Deriving a ‘significant’ correlation between these two manipulated data sets and claiming that is indicative of causation without any consideration of how the cumulative uncertainties from the manipulated data negate any conclusion of significance from the correlation.

    But the real root flaw, as with the David Evans nonsense, is that IF the solar input can change the climate as much has been observed given the measured TSI, it is inevitable that the much greater energy change from the radiative forcing of rising CO2 should cause MORE climate change.

    Unless you posit some magical and as yet undetectable process that negates the effect of CO2 forcing and/or massively amplifies the effect of insolation changes.

    Hence the hand-waving about cosmic rays, albedo cycles and convenient time-lags.

  14. But the real root flaw, as with the David Evans nonsense, is that IF the solar input can change the climate as much has been observed given the measured TSI, it is inevitable that the much greater energy change from the radiative forcing of rising CO2 should cause MORE climate change.

    Precisely. Illustrating that we may be more sensitive to solar variability, or some other natural influence, would indicate that our climate is probably more sensitive to changes in radiative forcing (whether natural or anthropogenic) not less.

  15. There seems to be a freely available version here. Oh, and it has this in it

    In Paper 1 (Connolly and Connolly, 2014f), we identified a previously-overlooked phase change associated with the troposphere/tropopause transition. When this phase change is taken into account, it is found that most of the atmospheric temperature profile from the ground to at least the mid-stratosphere can be explained in terms of the properties of the bulk gases (N2, O2 and Ar) and water vapour (H2O). This implies that the troposphere and stratosphere are roughly in Thermodynamic Equilibrium with each other, as opposed to being only in Local Thermodynamic Equilibrium, as implicitly assumed by the current climate models.

    which is just very confused and – I think – completely misunderstands the concept of local thermodynamic equilibrium.

  16. If you can face going through it, I discussed this with Ronan Connolly here.

  17. Willard says:

    It would be interesting to know how Dr^n uses partial derivatives to predict a rise at an average of 21% p.a. for gold:


    The blurb identifies “Dr. Evans” as the one from this site:

    David Evans has six degrees in engineering, maths, and statistics from Stanford and Sydney universities. He has been investing on the ASX since 1990.

  18. John Mashey says:

    Really, there is plenty of history for calibration.
    Force X From Outer Space has been used already at Stoat.

    For a truly amusing piece, read Who is ‘Rocket Scientist’ David Evans? from 2008, and especially read the whole comments thread there, since Evans shows up. Making appeals to authority via a Stanford EE PhD works well … except for somebody who lives near Stanford and has known a *lot* of them.

    Finally, DeSMog has a profile, although a little out of date, since people mostly stopped caring, since Evans has a *long* history of startling discoveries and total refutations of climate science … that go nowhere.

  19. John Mashey says:

    Yet anothere case of gremlins and leprechauns.
    The former supply magic mechanisms, the latter magically nullify exactly GHG effects.

  20. Harry Twinotter says:

    I am assuming it is a typical propaganda piece. You know the drill, come up with something that looks fancy and get the fact that you have done it published in friendly press (can’t think of a better word).

    It will be interesting to track it’s progression over the internet.

  21. Sam Taylor says:


    That’s hilarious, he’s a goldbug as well? It never ceases to amaze me how stupid smart people can be sometimes. I wonder if he’s noticed that the ‘debasement’ in paper money has coincided with everyone getting much, much wealthier at the same time. Not to mention he clearly doesn’t understand anything about the mechanics of how modern banks actually function. Fractional reserve banking is basically a myth, as research papers by both the BofE and FED have shown.

    Furthermore, is it just me, or do engineers in particular seem to be drawn into the denial/conspiracy sphere. A brief scan of the darker corners of the internet always seems to throw up loads of sliderule-armed American civil engineers who’re convinced that 9/11 was an inside job, and a fairly significant number of members of the deniosphere seem to be engineers of one sort or another. I believe that the term for what afflicts them is “dysrationalia” (smart people can very easily be deeply irrational), but I can’t figure out why is seems to afflict a certain segment of the population so readily.

  22. Sam,
    That reminds me of one of Kate Marvel’s recent tweets

  23. cce says:

    The Soon paper is a review where the examined papers seem to have an average age of 20 years. Its filled with things like “this correlation has broken down but let’s consider it any way.” Sunspot cycle length, cosmic rays, it’s all there. They use the ancient Hoyt & Schatten (H+S) TSI series while admitting they don’t know entirely what went into it, and what we do know is that the sunspot numbers back then were wrong, which H+S both now admit.

    The NH Temperature series is actually a composite of US, Chinese, Irish and Arctic data. The result would seemingly overweight the Arctic, and that’s exactly what the time series looks like. This small subset of global temperature is what is compared to H+S and from that, a strong correlation is declared.

    I’m interested in what Nick Stokes, tamino, or Zeke Hausfather might say about the Connolly papers linked in the Moyhu comment.

  24. verytallguy says:


    Furthermore, is it just me, or do engineers in particular seem to be drawn into the denial/conspiracy sphere

    Oi! That’s me you’re taking about!

    And who are the leading contrarians?

    Watts? Curry? Spencer? Inhofe? Lindzen? Monckton? Nary a single engineer.

    Be nice to us. You need us to save the world.

  25. John Mashey, you are a pearl beyond price! But as for bringing reason to people who think anything that looks like science is science and “they’re all the same”, I do sometimes despair, though despair is such a useless emotion.

    aTTP, we are not allowed to make mistakes or use words that are imperfect, or act like humans. That’s the prerogative of those who wish to discredit.

    Another thing: it is all too common for those who like to think more broadly to attribute their generous habits of thought to their “opponents”. Unfortunately, all too often those opponents are paid or gullible to a highly professional paid infrastructure – the best PR money can buy – that is far from trivial, being based on wealth and power and keeping that same.

  26. cce,
    Victor Venema’s views would also be worth getting. Victor commented on some of their blog posts (here) that announced some of the papers.

  27. Willard says:

    > You need us to save the world.

    That “us” includes contrarians too, They’re the ones with the most political klout and business know-how. My money’s not on their ClimateBall skills, however.

  28. Willard says:

    Very Tall,

    While reading back our Stoatness’ archives, I stumbled upon a reference to this post:

    Seems I can’t find it this morning. I asked Judy, but my comment has not appeared.

    The dungeons of the Internet work in strange ways.

    You have not kept a copy, by any chance?

  29. Sam Taylor says:


    Admittedly, it was just an idle observation backed up by precisely no empirical data. None of the leading lights are engineers, for sure, but I just seem to have picked up this impression that older white engineers seem to make up an outsize chunk of the commenters in some of these places.

    I seem to have noticed that quite a lot of the terrorist lads who’re rushing off the join ISIS seem to have gone to a technical school of some sort. I wonder if it’s something to do with the mindset. Or maybe it’s just nonsense.

  30. Willard says:

    Wayback gives me a shot of the 15th and 27th of June, Vinny. The last post on the archived page for the 27th is Deforestation in the UK from June 18. The auditing powers are somewhat asymmetric.

    The only hit I got on “McLellan” is this:

    I would prefer that she spare us that spectacle and instead allow that Tom McLellan clown to finish his trilogy.

    Don Don’s the real deal.

  31. Richard says:

    Herbert Dingle was a Professor at Imperial and a Fellow of the Astronomical Society who never ‘got’ the Special Theory of Relativity, and made a lot of noise about it. Few remember Dingle (except as a case study in how ego and bluster can inflate the most meagre of claims).

    David Evans has a Doctorate that he believes gives him special powers to rewrite well established mathematics that hasn’t ‘got’. Fewer still will remember him (except as a footnote, to a footnote, on how ego and bluster can inflate the most meagre of claims).

  32. BBD says:



    I wondered if you might pop up and administer a finger-wagging. Note that since our discussion of this long ago at Sou’s I’ve refrained entirely from engineer-bashing. My word is my bond 🙂

  33. Do not expect an opinion from me. That article is much too long. They seem not to have had the time to write a concise article.

    An important role of peer review is to give a manuscript the minimal initial credibility that it may be worth reading. But then you should not publish the article in a non-climate journal where the reviewers will likely not be the most knowledgeable and the editor may be biased. Another sign that the review was not very critical is that the article cites the “open peer reviewed journal” as if those texts were scientific articles, rather than blog posts written by the “editors” of this “journal” themselves.

    Many scientific peculiarities have been mentioned above. I can only add that there are rural stations in all countries, there is no need to limit oneself to a few regions on the Earth, which is a form of cherry picking that makes it easier to find correlations for non-physical relationships.

    P.S ATTP, I think the links of your last two comments go to the wrong place.

  34. John Mashey says:

    Susan: thanks for the kind words.

    All: really, Evans has a long track record of:
    A) Claiming breakthroughs that crush climate science
    B) Lots of mathy-stuff, publushed at eufe’s website, where commenters ohh and ahh
    C) Appeals to Stanford PhD to impress people
    D) But in real eorld, where are the peer review papers always claimed soon?

  35. lucia says:

    Must be a blue moon… ( a rare convergence involving agreement with Anders.)
    Either (a) David Evans is wrong or (b) I have no idea what he is claiming about partial derivatives. The latter is possible, so I’ll post to see whether I can find someone to translate what he means for me. But I can’t make heads or tails out of the claim that there is a problem with “partial derivatives”.
    (Sorry if this is a repost. It keeps looking like I can’t post. )

  36. Joshua says:

    Speaking of which, what ever happened to Judith’s promised post on Salby, where she’d explain why Anders’ comments were “weak tea?”

    Did I miss that? Or the off-again, on-again, off-again, on-again post as a follow-up to Gavin?

    Judith kept explaining that she was too busy to write those posts….but that was quite a while back. I know she’s been busy writing non-activist op-eds, but still you’d think she might have had a bit of down time by now!

  37. lucia,
    His claim – as I understand it – is that basic climate models solve the following partial differential equation

    \dfrac{ \partial G(T_s, W)}{\partial T_s} = \dfrac{G(T_s + h, W) - G(T_s,W)}{h},

    where G is the TOA imbalance, T_s is the surface temperature, and W represent all other variables that G depends on, but that are kept fixed. As a reference, he cites Held & Soden (2000). However, it seems that he’s confusing how one might represent the feedback response mathematically (or how one might assess it given the output from a climate model) with what is actually solved when a climate model is run.

  38. Joshua,
    I’d forgotten about that. That explains why my breath is still bated.

  39. Willard says:

    Thanks, Vinny!

    Wayback preserved this comment:

    > (1) higher temperatures lead to lower inflation, and (2) higher temperatures also lead to stronger GDP growth.

    Does it mean that inflation is inversely correlated with GDP, or is it temperature that creates this relationship?

    If we could establish that GDP growth reduces inflation or the other way around, that would be great.

    By chance deleting a thread does not constitute “making changes,” otherwise Denizens’ outrage would know no bounds.

  40. Nick Stokes says:

    People like Miranda have been quoting the first para of Evans bio
    “David Evans is an electrical engineer and mathematician, who earned six university degrees in mathematics and electrical engineering over ten years, including a PhD from Stanford University in electrical engineering (digital signal processing): PhD. (E.E), M.S. (E.E.), M.S. (Stats) from Stanford University, B.E. (Hons, University Medal), M.A. (Applied Math), B.Sc. from the University of Sydney. He is an expert in Fourier analysis and signal processing, and trained with Professor Ronald Bracewell late of Stanford University.”

    They don’t quote the next:
    “David’s main job is researching mathematics (Fourier analysis, calculus, the number system, multivariable polynomials, and related topics). This pays nothing, so David has been doing consulting jobs and investing on the stock market since 1990.”

    Basically here, he has got stuck in the definition on p1 of Math101 of partial derivative. He didn’t get to p2, where they talk about the chain rule.

    His objection would not only take out CFD and it’s use in climate science. It would invalidate Euler and Laplace in the eighteenth century, who understood this far better than Evans.

    Oddly enough, Miranda Devine is herself supposed to have a maths degree.

  41. Anders,
    Oh… there seem to be several confused claims. Tomorrow I’m going to stick to the claim about partial derivatives as that claim would affect zillions of other things like thermodynamics, fluid dynamic and so on. I need to figure what that’s all about before I move onto how it relates to feedback!

  42. 0^0 says:

    With reference to that Soon + 2 x Connolley paper in ESR.. Thanks for insight (was far far too long for me to go through).
    I was surprised to see it accepted to that journal – but it is quite difficult these days to navigate between predatory publications and genuine ones – and possible mistakes made in peer review process.
    But perhaps there is a hidden gem there we have not seen (though with e.g. reference to Scafetta already in abstract – the master of heavenly resonances — I find it highly unlikely)..
    No surprises coming from that camp.. (sorry for unjust generalization)

  43. Confused is certainly the right word. I may be giving too much credit to Evans, but I do not think his claim is that you can’t evolve models using partial derivatives. His claim – as I understand it – is that climate models try to solve partial differential equations that represent the evolution of a dependent variable with respect to another dependent variable (i.e., G wrt T). It is, however, sufficiently confused that I may be mistaken.

  44. verytallguy says:

    BBD, I had no idea I was so influential!

    Sam, I suspect you’ve hit on something there- the older and white part. Only angry needs to be added for the full set.

    Willard, my record keeping is nowhere near up to yours. I think perhaps an apposite word for Judith’s choices in spring cleaning might be “interesting”. On which note, I might check if her defence of non anthro cO2 is still there.

  45. Harry Twinotter says:

    Miranda Devine also retweets other Jo Nova articles.

    Pity she is not fact-checking her articles.

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  47. Have now seen articles about this stuff on Climate depot and the blog of “Scotisch” “Sceptic”.

    Is there no one in the mitigation sceptical community that has some sense, is still trusted somehow and is thus able to pull the emergency break?

  48. Victor,
    Actually, the general view on Bishop Hill was that it was wrong. I was, almost, pleasantly surprised.

  49. ATTP / VV: I think the problem is what you’ve alluded to: he DE really does think that the GCMs solve the PDEs he’s drawn crayon pictures of; and is totally clueless about what GCMs actually do. Which, to be fair, most other people are too. Its just that most other people don’t write long series of blog posts laying out their ignorance and calling it a brilliant new theory.

    I have attempted to clarify things somewhat:

  50. William,
    Indeed, being clueless is perfectly normal; I’m clueless about many things. Being clueless while claiming to have found some major issue with something complex is another story. It does seem quite remarkable that people who’ve been associated with this topic for many years, still don’t get that things like feedbacks and climate sensitivity are emergent properties of a climate model, not something that is inserted into the models in advance, nor something that is solved for via some kind of explicit equations.

  51. Thank you for the kind word, Very Tall. You may also like:

    To Dr. Spencer, Dr. Curry and others who are involve in climate research, I want to bring to your attention about the topic of System Identifications techniques (or SysID for short). SysID is popular in engineering design, especially by control systems engineers. I used to be one (electronic switching controller designer) in a previous career but I now write software for a living these days, although I still use some of the SysID algorithms in commercial application development that I do today (financial market feed-backs). SysID is very useful, when you don’t know anything about the system structural functional relations, ie, you don’t know how many variables in the system and how are those variables are interconnected (as a dynamical sub-systems blocks).

    I got there via William’s, Barry’s, and AP’s.

  52. Magma says:

    As a side note, The Australian puts most of its articles and opinion pieces behind a paywall, but not this one. I’ve noticed the Wall Street Journal often does the same with its climate ‘skeptic’ pieces.

    Coincidence? Maybe, but just remember that in such cases *somebody* has to make the decision about whether or not an article goes behind a paywall or not, and why.

  53. izen says:

    There is a long history of discussions of the apparent, and perhaps anecdotal, preponderance of engineers on the rejectionist side of this issue. RealClimate discussed it extensively in the last decade, in part because so many paradigmatic examples seemed to post there.

    Whilst all generalisations are wrong…
    The explanation I like most is that engineers and scientists work with very different and in fact incompatible epistemologies. Their tests for validation are contradictory.

    Engineers start with systems with a precisely constrained function or end-state. Whether it a bridge or a low emissions car. It achieves that end-state with a defined set of inputs and by a known process. Material strength of components and structural design in bridges, engine management software for cars. If the bridge collapses or the car emits too much they know that the system has gone wrong. If the end-state fails, either the inputs or the process has not matched the defined and known aspects of the system.

    Scientists, especially those working on complex natural systems are in almost the opposite position. They start with little knowledge of the possible end-states, or behaviors of the system beyond uncertain historical data. Limited knowledge of the processes involved in reaching that end-state, and measurement uncertainty at best about the inputs to the system. The research does not start with a well defined system, it evolves an improving understanding of the system by refining measurements, modeling the physical and chemical processes and trying to project the possible end-state of the system from what is known so far.

    To an engineer a system in which the inputs and process are so badly defined and understood is clearly ‘wrong’. It is bound to produce wrong answers, GIGO, because of the lack of definitive knowledge.

    An engineer deals with designed systems with defined characteristics. By virtue of that design they can be tested and understood in ways that are very different from scientists dealing with natural systems. Whether it is ecosystems in biology, climate change or astrophysics, scientists have to try and understand systems that have evolved, often with complex historical contingencies that shape the present behavior in ways that are inherently unknowable from the inputs or the processes involved. The natural systems studied are highly interactive in non-hierarchical ways that engender emergent properties that would be actively avoided in designed engineering but are often the source of the key functionality of the natural system. (hox genes might be an example)

    ‘Properly designed’ machines of course can often be specified by simple mathematical descriptions, often involving no partial differential equations! They have well defined behaviors because of well understood processes in response to specific inputs. No wonder engineers object to the failure of climate scientists to provide a simple definition of how climate can behave under specified conditions with a known process!

    And perhaps little surprise that some decide to construct their OWN, proper, engineering version of the climate system with precise equations describing a straightforward system.

  54. Tom Dayton says:

    David Evans’s prominently, frequently self-proclaimed, and fervently defended “rocket scientist” labeling reeks of desperation for validation. He reminds me of that wack job who was promoting himself as an expert on delaying aging, whose main qualification in his public bio was his Graduate Record Exam score that is one of the test scores that grad schools use to screen applicants. (He never even went to grad school.)

    Despite my 11 years working at NASA, on a wide range of projects including being lead designer of software that passed four levels of increasingly stringent scrutiny for JSC Mission Operations monitoring of crewed spacecraft, I never, ever called myself a “rocket scientist” except when I worked on an actual rocket project. I even called my mom when that project started, to tell her “For the next four months only, finally you may tell your friends that your son is a rocket scientist!”

    (By the way, if anybody is looking for a really cheap rocket GNC system using Arduinos and suchlike, email me via my web site and I’ll send you a white paper and the name of the NASA contact. The goal is to make launching your nanosatellite cheap, since it doesn’t help if your nanosat is cheap if launching it is expensive.)

  55. KR says:

    The entire series of Evans posts rely upon strawman arguments, primarily semantic in nature. He’s not talking about actual GCMs, but rather a distorted misrepresentation of simple explanatory models that describe what GCMs tell us.

    And the posts suffer from a severe lack of data or evidence, but given the starting points that’s hardly the critical failure.

  56. Richard says:

    Izen – interesting theory and possibly often not far from mark, but I would argue that often in applied science, scientists have to think like engineers and engineers have to think like scientists.

    Oppenheimer and team had some scientific uncertainties combined with clear engineering goal.

    A random recent example might be those try to create artificial analogues of the insulin-glucose regulatory system. Lots of science; lots of non-linear dynamical systems (differential equations included); and some engineering of solutions; … team work [ go to p 322 of …


    Not all engineers are lacking in scientific sensibilities.

  57. Harry Twinotter says:


    I am pretty sure the number of engineers who think they can falsify the work of climate scientists is very small.

    Didn’t someone post a video here a while back about the physicist who kept a box of crank letters and studies he got say a lot were from engineers, and in particular electric engineers?

  58. Is there such a thing as a “mathematical discovery”?

  59. If we accept a quasi-empirical account of mathematics, yes:

    Since our knowledge is of truths, or can be so construed, an account of mathematical truth, to be acceptable, must be consistent with the possibility of having mathematical knowledge: the conditions of the truth of mathematical propositions cannot make it impossible for us to know that they are satisfied. […] An acceptable semantics for mathematics must fit an acceptable epistemology. For example, if I know that Cleveland is between New York and Chicago, it is because there exists a certain relation between the truth conditions for that statement and my present “subjective” state of belief (whatever may be our accounts of truth and knowledge, they must connect with each other in this way). Similarly, in mathematics, it must be possible to link up what it is for p to be true with my belief that p. Though this is extremely vague, I think one can see how the second condition tends to rule out accounts that satisfy the first, and to admit many of those which do not.

    Click to access Benacerraf.pdf

    Perhaps we could go as far as to say that only mathematical platonism excludes discovery, but that’s just a guestimate.

  60. izen says:

    Mathematical Platonism only exists as a dynamic neurochemical configuration in a small number of human cerebral cortexes.

  61. Marco says:

    Harry, you mean this video:

  62. verytallguy says:


    I have a simpler theory. Acceptance of climate science is strong correlated to political orientation.

    Engineers are, I recall reading, more likely to be conservative, and this extends to undergraduates ie it’s not to do with the teaching of engineering (sorry, can’t find the cite).

    If you correct for politics, I predict engineers are no more likely to be contrarians than scientists.

    My personal experience is that your speculation of how engineers approach complex systems is not borne out by reality.

  63. Nick Stokes says:

    Actually, my surmise about Evans not getting to p 2 is almost literally correct. Evans says:
    “When a quantity depends on dependent variables (variables that depend on or affect one another), a partial derivative of the quantity “has no definite meaning” (from Auroux 2010, who gives a worked example), because of ambiguity over which variables are truly held constant and which change because they depend on the variable allowed to change.”

    And he goes on to say
    ” so it would be of little use in a model, let alone for determining something as vital as climate sensitivity”,

    He’s looking at a set of elementary lecture notes by Auroux. And Auroux does say, actually at the top of p2 that
    “The answer is, that there is no one right answer, because the problem was not well-stated.
    When the variables are not independent, an expression like ∂w/∂x has no definite meaning. “

    But that is no fundamental flaw. Auroux is just explaining, further down on p2, the elementary requirement to add a suffixed index to indicate which is constant:

  64. Nick,
    Yes, I looked at some of that too. I agree that he’s very confused about that. However, I also think that the equations he’s claiming are being solved are not actually solved in any climate model. i.e., we don’t determine the feedback response by solving

    \dfrac{\partial G(T,W)}{\partial T} = \dfrac{G(T + h, W) - G(T,W)}{h}.

  65. Actually, in some sense, David Evans is illustrating that things like climate sensitivity and feedbacks depend on the climate state. I get the impression that he doesn’t realise that.

  66. Richard says:

    Marco – Thanks. “Pathological Physics: Tales from the box” is a real gem.

    Too many great quotes in it …
    “poor students overestimate their abilities, good students underestimate their abilities”
    “ignorance begets confidence”
    “the cranks are beginning to organise”
    “the lone genius model of scientific progress”
    Note: the video is only half the length it appears to be – 1 hr not 2 hrs (glitch in how it was uploaded I guess). 3/4 hr talk and 1/4 Q&A.

    So, which crank ‘primary colour’ (or colours) applies to David Evans PhD ? “Crazy”, “Naive” or “Stubborn”. Looks like a Stubborn one to me.

  67. izen says:

    “If you correct for politics, I predict engineers are no more likely to be contrarians than scientists.”

    I suspect you are correct, especially as the source population for engineers seems to predominate with white males from lower-middle class backgrounds.

    “My personal experience is that your speculation of how engineers approach complex systems is not borne out by reality.”

    Mine too, but it is such a NICE theory of epistemological differences that I am tempted to defend it.
    There does seem to be some correlation between the specified precision demanded by some engineers and a willingness and ability to believe in Biblical inerrancy!

  68. John Mashey says:

    In another thread here, we actually had a real sociologist presenting real data.
    In this one, we have a lot of anecdotal speculation about engineers, which may or may not be true.

  69. John Mashey says:

    “Tales from the Box” is hysterical.
    However, one msut also learn about the TimeCube guy.
    Wikipedia entry

    See my Tweet, stirred by David Titley’s receipt of a rant that looked similar.

  70. Richard says:

    Stop it John, I’m trying to work!

    The same formatting thing. Hmmm. Maybe this is proof of Morphic Resonance 🙂

  71. Harry Twinotter says:


    Yes, Tales from “The Box”. I watched the whole thing a couple of weeks ago.

    What fascinates me is not that some come up with “crank” theories, that they can be so stubborn when they are told they are wrong.

  72. JCH says:

    Yes Harry, it’s reVolting.

  73. Michael 2 says:

    “his expertise in Fourier analysis and digital signal processing doesn’t seem to have helped him in the past.”

    Says the astronomer to an oil man.

    The math here is beyond my skill. I supposedly learned this stuff ten years ago but it didn’t make sense then. Maybe it will make sense now that I have a reason to learn it. That is one reason I read a blog where I must learn something to understand what is being written.

  74. Michael 2 says:

    VTG says “Engineers are, I recall reading, more likely to be conservative,”

    It could be the other way round: Conservatives are more likely to be engineers.

    Career path: You are an 18 year old conservative (*). You can choose (a) to feed from the government teat in a herd for the rest of your life always answering to a chairman of a committee in a blue state or you can (b) design the next flight simulator at Evans and Sutherland in a red state — someday OWN Evans and Sutherland.

    The answer is almost obvious. The entrepreneur in the red state citizen will choose (b). Build something and put his name on it. It’s risky. He likes risk. Climate change is just another risk.

    Academics are nearly all blue, democrat, liberal. Over yonder is an ivy-covered building that’s a bit hard to get into but once you do you can stay forever. You’ll be surrounded by like-minded persons, practically clones of each other. The pay isn’t great until you learn the ropes of soliciting government grants.

    How exactly were you planning on “correct for” these differences?

  75. Michael 2 says:

    Whups, I was going to (*) include some working definitions. The words used here are often extremely versatile in definitions so it is possible you meant something else entirely from what I read.

    The obvious definition is probably best: “Conserve”. Preserve. Maintain. Keep. Unchange. If where you are is good, then conserving “good” is good. Likewise, conserving bad is bad.

    A conservative will conserve (be bound by) ancient laws (such as thou shalt not steal or kill), a liberal is “liberated” and not bound by anything except perhaps what he makes for himself today.

    As it is used in political discussion in the United States, conservative seems to mean “rule bound” by the same rules that formed the United States. To my mind comes the Boy Scout Oath and Law. Such a person can be relied upon to obey rules. Such a person is great to have as your system administrator or keeper of military and government secrets.

    Liberal is everything else.

  76. Mal Adapted says:

    Tom Dayton:

    David Evans’s prominently, frequently self-proclaimed, and fervently defended “rocket scientist” labeling reeks of desperation for validation. He reminds me of that wack job who was promoting himself as an expert on delaying aging, whose main qualification in his public bio was his Graduate Record Exam score that is one of the test scores that grad schools use to screen applicants. (He never even went to grad school.)

    Hey, I resemble that remark 8^}! My score on the advanced biology part of the GRE was enough to get me into a highly-regarded PhD program. It wasn’t enough to get me the PhD, though. After two years spent screwing in a light bulb, I discovered I didn’t want to work that hard for validation, and found an easier way to make a living. It turns out that chopping wood and carrying water can be sufficiently validating, if you’re paid enough.

    Happiness lies in adjusting your ambitions to your abilities.

  77. Harry Twinotter says:

    [Mod : Possibly, but it’s okay to just ignore.]

  78. [Mod : Possibly, but it’s okay to just ignore.]

    If Harry Twinotter said something about thou shall not bear false witness, could I get the same moderation note?

  79. John Mashey says:

    On engineers and such, Brian Angliss Studies the Petition Project. This gives some insight, although with caveats.

  80. KR says:

    Michael 2 – To quote Stephen Colbert, “Reality has a well known liberal bias.”

  81. markx says:

    The most basic climate model, on the other hand, doesn’t use partial differential equations at all; it normally simply evolves the change in temperature on the basis of a forcing time series and a feedback response that is typically assumed to depend linearly on temperature.

    A bit intrigued by this, above

    If we assume the forcing is positive, and assume the feedback is positive, surely the outcome is a foregone conclusion.
    We are left with debatable adjustments to sensitivity to will tweak ‘severity’.

    What is the point point of all this elaborate modelling if the conclusion is foregone?

  82. markx,

    If we assume the forcing is positive, and assume the feedback is positive, surely the outcome is a foregone conclusion.

    The forcing time series itself comes out of other calculations. For example, if we consider CO2 alone, then the forcing is

    F = 5.35 \ln \left( \dfrac{C}{C_o} \right).

    On the other hand, if we want to consider all forcings, then that normally require using output from a more complex climate model that has actually done the calculation for what the forcing is based on known emission pathways.

    Similarly we can do calculations that tell us what the feedback response is likely to be (water vapour, lapse rate, albede, clouds).

    So, we’re not simply assuming that the forcings and feedbacks are positive; that’s what all the other calculations are indicating. The point I was making is that even a basic climate model does not solve the equations that Daved Evans claims they’re solving. Of course, he’s now changing this but then it appears that he’s complaining about the fact that such equations exist at all.

  83. > then the forcing is

    Actually that’s not quite true. People often take the log relation as though given, but its more complex in the radiation codes themselves. Or so I’m given to understand; I’ve never delved in myself.

  84. William,
    Okay, yes, I was really meaning that you could use the atmospheric CO2 concentration time series to get the forcing time series. However, if you want all the forcings then you do need to get the results from more complex radiation codes.

  85. KR says:

    The log relation of forcing to CO2 concentration ATTP mentioned is a simplified fit, a shorthand, to the more complex radiative codes and estimates, see Myhre 1998 for derivation and background on F = 5.35 ln(C/Co). The log relationship is largely due to some CO2 absorption lines saturating, and increased forcing coming from broadening of spectral peaks rather than their height.

    Simplified expressions for other gases (CH4, N2O, CFC-11 and CFC-12) are also given in Myhre 1998 Table 3, and they have quite different forms depending on overall concentrations and spectral overlap with other GHGs.

  86. afeman says:


    I made a similar argument (less comprehensively) in a different forum as an observation of the reactions to a totally different subject. It regarded the quantitatively observed and statistically vetted effect of certain bicycle frames allowing the rider to go faster independent of weight, etc. It appears to have something to do with the elasticity of the frame (modulated by tube sizes) being tuned to the rider’s weight, cadence, and other parameters. This notion gets a lot of pushback for lack of rigor, the most cogent of which has come from engineers. The proponent of this effect has a PhD in geology (dissertation in paleoclimate!) and is very careful to tease out statistical significance for his conclusions. I noted that bicycles are engineered objects with properties that are not always well defined and that, as a generalization, scientists and engineers might approach it with different mentalities.

  87. Michael 2 says:

    Having now studied somewhat the article in question and also MIT’s paper on partial derivatives to refresh my understanding, I now have a better understanding of the math than I did when i took the class so I appreciate the stimulation to do that.

    I must be missing something perhaps important since I don’t see the problem. Holding everything constant while changing one input seems essential to understanding a system. I do it all the time whether I am fixing a gasoline powered engine or solving a computer network problem.

    Complaining that the climate is filled with dependencies is stating the obvious.

  88. Rachel M says:

    I’m not even going to bother reading that article in The Australian. Miranda Devine is enough of a reason for me to avoid it. She once wrote an article in which she tried to blame the drop in vaccination rates by affluent people on climate scientists –

    Reading her articles is a waste of valuable time.

  89. Joshua says:

    ==> “Reading her articles is a waste of valuable time.”

    Well, thanks to your comment (with link), I just wasted more of my time!

  90. Willard says:

    Reclaim your time:

  91. Joshua says:

    Rachel did warn you 😉

    Indeed. One of my favorite Internet thingies is when a “skeptic” accuses me of wasting their time. How is it, exactly, that I would be responsible for the decision that someone else makes about what to do with their time?

    Just one more aspect of the whole self-victimizing thingie, IMO.

  92. Rachel M says:

    Sorry, Joshua. I nearly didn’t include the link. It just seems so far-fetched that I thought people might not believe that she really did make this claim.

  93. Joshua says:

    Rachel –

    Perhaps you didn’t realize that selfish global warming “alarmists” are also responsible for a long line of American Republican politicians lining up to reject the CDCs recommendations on policies to address the dangers of Ebola*?

    * not to mention that they’re also responsible for the heartbreak of psoriasis and halitosis!

  94. Michael 2 says:

    Joshua writes “How is it, exactly, that I would be responsible for the decision that someone else makes about what to do with their time?”

    The concept is called “strict liability”. When someone goes on a rampage shooting other people, the obvious responsible person is the shooter. But why did he do that? So the left wing, with some justification, includes other factors and spreads culpability far and wide; he didn’t get a chocolate milk when he was six years old and has been seething with resentment ever since so you sue Hershey’s. Airplanes are a common instance of strict liability. If an airplane falls out of the sky for any reason, it is the manufacturers fault. Gun controllers are trying to do the same thing and make the gun manufacturer, not the shooter, culpable of the crime. I see that you sense the absurdity of it.

    But consider the recent Oregon shooting. The shooter shot himself. So now who is going to be punished? Someone must be punished; more importantly, someone must experience the cathartic release of being the punisher. But the shooter punished himself with a death penalty he probably would not get otherwise in Oregon, and by so doing left dangling society’s desire to punish. They’ll find *someone* to punish, a scape-goat.

    It boils down to how you present yourself. If you offer to your readers something useful and interesting, and have presented this with reasonable accuracy, then it is indeed entirely on the reader’s shoulders to bear the responsibility of having taken the time to read your words.

    But if you dangle a headline to the readers that has little or nothing to do with the story you write (a common occurence at Huffington Post, a tactic also known as “clickbait”) then you are guilty of something.

  95. Michael 2 says:

    The waste-of-time website Rachel suggests concludes: “The upshot is that people have come to mistrust science, and one of the most obvious manifestations is the decline in vaccination rates, particularly in the nation’s most affluent areas.”

    It is not clear from the evidence that one is a cause of the other, but it is trivial to observe a decline in vaccination rate and a decline in trust of scientists. I believe it more likely both are consequences of something else entirely and I lean toward “the internet” where suddenly you have millions of potential sources of information of generally low quality and out of sheer necessity must learn to be skeptical of all of it.

    When I was younger we had Dan Rather and Walter Cronkite as highly regarded news anchors and reporters. Not many other choices existed. If they were wrong, as was sometimes the case, the fact of it was not easy to uncover and harder to publish. In the realm of science, the big projects were satellites and the moon shot; success or failure was immediately and indisputably apparent (for most people anyway).

    Now “man bites dog” is not only instant news world wide, there’s probably a video of it on YouTube. Which climate science claims are correct won’t be known for 100 years but the demands are right now. What’s not to be skeptical of?

  96. Arthur Smith says:

    Note DE’s reformulation of the Planck response as a “Stefan-Boltzmann law without partial derivatives” only lacks partial derivatives because he is neglecting some things that could change aside from temperature – and the thing he is taking a derivative with (radiating temperature) is very much more a “derived” quantity than the temperature distributions used in actual climate models. There’s a definite lack of mathematical and/or physical self-awareness there – see my comments here:

  97. 0^0 says:

    Starting in a nice tone that piece at Jo Nova’s
    “Here’s a big big flaw that is easy for anyone to understand, yet has lain at the core of the climate models since at least 1984. Indeed, you’ll wonder why we all haven’t been chuckling at this simplistic caricature of our atmosphere for 31 years.”
    I was not able to make read more.. Sigh..

  98. Arthur,
    Thanks. I read your comments there and on Stoat.

    I wasted a bit more of my time than you did, but it was pretty hard to work out what he was actually getting at. Seems to be a bit of a moving target, actually.

  99. Michael 2 says:

    0^0 “I was not able to make read more.. Sigh..”

    Near as I can tell the author is explaining that since you cannot actually hold all other environmental factors steady doing the math as if you could is pointless.

    Showing a sample of the code of the general circulation model he has in mind would be helpful to understand the objection.

    Since a time lag exists in the dependencies, an instantaneous change in the independent variable can still be computed (IMO) as though all other factors are held steady, which for seconds, minutes or hours will be exactly the case.

  100. Harry Twinotter says:

    Rachel M.

    I read the Miranda Devine article with interest, so thanks for providing it. It looks like Miranda Devine has been in the climate change denial game for some time. It explains her relationship with Jo Nova.

    Her lame attempt at projection makes me shudder – if some are coming to “distrust” scientists, it is because of anti-science articles such as hers.

  101. Eli Rabett says:

    Added this in the same thread as Arthur’s comment at Nova
    To continue what Arthur Smith said in # 27.6.4 when David Evans says

    ““The conventional model expresses the Stefan-Boltzmann law through the Planck feedback, which is the increase in OLR per unit of surface warming under the Planck conditions — namely that all else besides tropospheric temperature and OLR are held constant, […]

    Let us instead explore the solar response and the Stefan-Boltzmann law without partial derivatives and the Planck conditions, […] The SBS applies to the Earth under all circumstances — unlike the Planck sensitivity, which is only applicable under the hypothetical Planck conditions.”

    He makes a number of errors. The SB equation is the result of integrating the Planck Radiation Law over all wavelengths assuming uniform emissivity at all wavelengths. Given greenhouse gases, different emissivity of surface areas (snow/sea/desert) it obviously does not apply to the Earth under any circumstances. That means the emissivity is a complex function of wavelength, temperature pressure and what not. Since emission will vary as emissivity, they too will be functions of wavelength, temperature pressure and what not. GCMs do not make this error.

    Simplified models shove all the details into an “average emissivity” for the purpose of rough approximation.

    Eli should have added that at equilibrium simplified models fix total emission to total incoming solar and force the average emissivity.

  102. TB says:

    I skimmed the comments, so maybe someone else already said this, but why do people think they can uncover a flaw (real or imagined) in the modelling and debunk the whole body of evidence? CO2’s properties are verified via laboratory measurement and direct observation on the ground and via satellite measurements. The models are the easiest to pick on I suppose, because most lay people don’t understand them or their intended use, but they’re the least important in terms of the evidence behind AGW. I’m not even sure you can call them evidence. Hurricane track models have a huge spread, but the fact that some of them are wrong doesn’t suddenly disprove hurricanes. #ThrowsUpHandsInDespair #Again

  103. TB,

    I skimmed the comments, so maybe someone else already said this, but why do people think they can uncover a flaw (real or imagined) in the modelling and debunk the whole body of evidence?

    A good question. I don’t have a good answer.

  104. snarkrates says:

    TB: “I skimmed the comments, so maybe someone else already said this, but why do people think they can uncover a flaw (real or imagined) in the modelling and debunk the whole body of evidence?”

    Maybe Dunning-Kruger? The whole denialosphere sort of has the whole “Snakes on a plane,…and then I will rule the world,” thing going on. I think engineers (and maybe some physicists) are especially susceptible to this, because while they are often sophisticated mathematically, they really don’t understand how models are used. Engineers often use models (or data for that matter) “to get answers”, when in actuality, their most important use in many fields is to understand interdependencies of different components of complex systems. Until someone understands George Box’s maxim, “All models are wrong; some models are useful,” they really aren’t competent to evaluate science.

  105. Kevin O'Neill says:

    In a comment on an earlier post in the series DE writes: “Since there is obviously so much interest in the GCMs, I might do a post later on the GCMs and the architectural problems they share with the basic model. “

    So we *do* know that he’s not writing about GCMs. Trying to pin him down to an actual ‘basic climate model’ used by some one, some where, for some purpose may be more difficult 🙂

  106. metzomagic says:

    Oh good grief, the Connolly family. I’m a Yankee ex-pat from New Jersey, living in Ireland for the past 30 years. I also happen to be an EE, but only have a lowly B.S.E.E. So I suppose I can’t claim to be a rocket scientist then, huh? However, I am the co-founder of a fairly successful high tech company here, so maybe that counts for something… or not. But anyway… I’ve been programming computers since 1974 and would basically be the functional equivalent of our John Mashey, only from what I’ve seen his mathematical chops are better than mine.

    The Connollys are simply cranks. Well-meaning cranks, to be sure, but cranks nonetheless. End of story. I suppose they are something like the Irish version of the Idso family in the U.S., having built up a nice little cottage industry/echo chamber around their crank theories. When I see statements like this:

    In these papers, we show that carbon dioxide does not influence the atmospheric temperatures. This directly contradicts the greenhouse effect theory, which predicts that carbon dioxide should increase the temperature in the lower atmosphere (the “troposphere”), and decrease the temperature in the middle atmosphere (the “stratosphere”).

    ( source: )

    I just stop reading.

  107. 0^0 says:

    Thanks mezomagic! Sounds like Willie Soon is in good company with his “deliverables”.. That sounds almost like a statement a “dragon slayer” could have done.. Simply strange for them to have got their paper through peer review..

  108. Lotharsson says:

    Complaining that Miranda Devine fails to fact check her articles is fair, ditto that reading her is a waste of time, but there’s (arguably) a bigger picture. Her media role is (AFAICT, IMHO, and roughly speaking) to act as a paid propagandist/provocateur for Murdoch in the ongoing culture war. If that’s reasonably accurate, then fact checking can only render her performance of either of those functions suboptimal, so it’s unsurprising that it isn’t all that evident in much of her output.

    Since I’ve seen enough of her output to establish her role to my own satisfaction, and I have no wish to be used by her to increase Murdoch’s influence or riches, I avoid her entirely now. YMMV.

  109. Michael 2 says:

    Harry Twinotter writes “if some are coming to distrust scientists, it is because of anti-science articles such as hers.”

    You impute WAY too much influence to Miranda Divine although I appreciate your regard for the divine power of your opponents.

    I suggest you are approaching this from the other end. I do not require a reason to distrust scientists or anyone else. That’s the “default” that exists until you have earned trust, but it is not the default for everyone. Some people are naturally trusting and must be told to distrust whereas others are naturally distrusting and must discover (cannot be “told”) who or what to trust.

    I am somewhat in the middle. I easily grant provisional trust to almost anyone and it is somewhat regionally specific. I find Minnesota residents generally more trustworthy than citizens of most western states of the United States and with hardly a surprise, Washington DC metro area is nothing to be believed just because someone said so.

  110. Harry Twinotter says:

    Michael 2.

    “You impute WAY too much influence to Miranda Divine although I appreciate your regard for the divine power of your opponents.”

    I don’t say that.

    “I suggest you are approaching this from the other end.”

    Speak for yourself.

  111. Michael 2 says:

    Harry Twinotter writes “Speak for yourself.”

    What a strange thing to write! Of course I speak for myself. My comment pertains to that very thing, except it is you speaking for me, suggesting that my denial emanates from Ms. Divine. I don’t even deny John Cook; I have no doubt if I conducted the survey in exactly the same way I would get identical, or nearly so, results. If I repeated Lewandowsky’s survey of the few denialists that frequent warmist blogs I have no doubt I’d get the same or similar results he did. So what exactly did Ms. Divine inspire? Whose mind did she turn away from the Consensus? Anyone?

    And yet you assert that she has inspired some to distrust science. Got evidence?

  112. Joshua says:

    M2 –

    ==> …t it is trivial to observe a decline in vaccination rate and a decline in trust of scientists. “

    Do you have evidence? Much of what I’ve seen, for the United States shows a relatively small decline among a sub-segment of the public, Republicans (and in particular, Republicans towards the right hand side of the spectrum). Other evidence I’ve seen either shows no material decline or calls into question whether the decline shown in other polling is just more political posturing in answers to poll questions than a really meaningful decline in trust (i.e., they still value the input of scientists just the same or they’d still want their daughter to marry a scientist).

    ==> “I believe it more likely both are consequences of something else entirely and I lean toward “the internet” where suddenly you have millions of potential sources of information of generally low quality and out of sheer necessity must learn to be skeptical of all of it.”

    The evidence that shows a decline, shows a decline that started prior to when the Internet became hugely influential in where people get their information and coincides with the growth of the religious right and the growth in ideological antipathy towards scientists for being liberal, governmental scientific institutions because their government institutions (and thus thought to be “liberal”), etc.

    ==> “When I was younger we had Dan Rather and Walter Cronkite as highly regarded news anchors and reporters. Not many other choices existed. If they were wrong, as was sometimes the case, the fact of it was not easy to uncover and harder to publish. In the realm of science, the big projects were satellites and the moon shot; success or failure was immediately and indisputably apparent (for most people anyway).”

    Perhaps you should use empirical evidence rather than your anecdotes to explain large shifts in views among hundreds of millions of people.

    ==> . “Which climate science claims are correct won’t be known for 100 years but the demands are right now. What’s not to be skeptical of?”

    So you’re saying that the Internet has caused the public to not trust Curry, Spencer, Lindzen, etc?

    Speculating about whether trust in scientists has dropped is a question that can be informed by evidence. Speculation that views on vaccination (which evidence shows have not changed meaningfully when you consider how many people get their children vaccinated, although it has changed in some small groups, a change that doesn’t seem to be associated with views on climate change) are explainable by what climate scientists do or don’t say seems to be little more than motivated reasoning.

  113. Joshua says:

    Geez, was that sexist or what? “….that they’d still want their child to marry a scientist…”

  114. Joshua says:


    and “…because they’re government institutions….”

  115. KR says:

    M2 – “…I lean toward “the internet” where suddenly you have millions of potential sources of information of generally low quality and out of sheer necessity must learn to be skeptical of all of it.”

    I would opine otherwise. See The Republican War on Science, a well researched piece tracking how American conservatives have spent quite a bit of time, effort, and money trying to undermine trust in the oh-so-inconvenient science that shows many conservative policies to be unwise.

    And any amount of wishful thinking – the whole vaccination thing started with a fraudulent paper, followed by a great deal of post hoc ergo prompter hoc errors and wishful thinking by laypersons feeling a need for an _answer_, preferably one external to statistical chance.

  116. Pingback: Ukerevy: uke 41 (2015) | Mot normalt

  117. chapprg1 says:

    A simple viewpoint on the CAGC conjecture
    First let me acknowledge the (civilized comments on this web site. Thank you all (you know who you are).
    Much as I appreciate the entertainment and education that I have gleaned from these sincere discussions over the decades, I think that I have grown weary of the little progress toward resolution of the issue. Perhaps the declaration by those with too much alphabet soup following their names to be ignored should be acknowledged. Earth’s atmosphere/geology/biology dynamic energy balance is a random chaotic system and its future behavior cannot be accurately predicted. (Or as less delicately put; attempts at prediction is a ‘fools errand’) While I appreciate completely the heroic efforts of those with appropriate credentials to try to understand and resolve the issue from first principals and calculations, I cannot imagine an adequately (spatially and temporally) resolved model to serve as a foundation for resolution of the energy balance to the required accuracy.
    Unencumbered by formal credentials to participate in the discussion at the levels demonstrated by many here and the many scientific papers available (generated at no small expense to the taxpayer as well as personal sacrifice) let me pose a simple proposition for your consideration.
    To any increase in ‘forcing’ one must assume that respose of temperature and water vaporization increase to the atmosphere should be a given. Yes I understand the positive vapor feedback and warming in the microcosm of the atmosphere surface layer but this merely serves the enhance the efficiency of conversion of the surface energy to water vaporization and surface temperature increase. Convection of water vapor (carrying a large portion of the increased energy) to the upper troposphere is an observable fact. Since water vapor is the only significant source of IR radiation to space, water vapor by default, must result in a proportional increment to said radiation and thus represents a NET increase in energy loss to space resulting from any increase in surface heating.
    In all the random chaos of the atmosphere, water vapor is the only significant physical material transporting and radiating the balance of earth energy to space. (Direct IR radiation to space through the atmospheric “IR window” notwithstanding,) mother nature has no other significant tool to work with and must perforce, have solved these complex cross coupled condensation, convection, re-radiation equations to accomplish the feat. (Thank Thor and Allah since I’m unconvinced that our computing power will ever be up to the task).
    The water vapor cycle is therefore a NET NEGATIVE feedback.
    Since the conjecture of the CAGW house of cards rests fully on the assertion of positive water vapor feedback net planet warming, there is a disconnect in the logic in that assertion in the net effect of the hydrological system physics. I sincerely hope that in your invited comments that there is no effort to make the case that any additional water vapor introduced into the cycle is somehow produce a net planetary system warming when all of the other water vapor (there being no other significant option available) provides net cooling to the system.
    I’ve no illusion that with the enticement of $2.6 Billion/yr made available to and by the government research labs that my expensive entertainment and education will not continue.

  118. chapprg1,
    CAGW is your construct and I really should simply delete your comment, but you do appear to be being polite, so I’ll let it stand.

    Earth’s atmosphere/geology/biology dynamic energy balance is a random chaotic system and its future behavior cannot be accurately predicted.

    The system is indeed a non-linear, chaotic system, but that simply means that we cannot precisely predict the state of the system, it doesn’t mean that we’d suddenly expect it to diverge greatly from basic energy balance.

    The water vapor cycle is therefore a NET NEGATIVE feedback.

    No, it’s almost certainly not.

  119. BilB says:

    I find myself swimming in the swill at Jo Nova more often these days and I get roundly abused for the effort. David Evans’ theory is particularly compelling for its inconsistency with scientific method and lack of adherence with reality. I’m a product designer and entrepreneur, and certainly no scientist, but even from my perspective the claims made against climate models by Evans and Nova are just plain bizarre.

    It is quite refreshing to discover a forum where rational discussion is practised. So thanks for being there to remind me that the 97 are real. I can go back to mill amoungst with the 3 with confidence in the knowledge that the world is a sane place, and Jonovia is an aboration.

  120. Harry Twinotter says:


    I did give the commenters at Jo Nova a chance. There are not many there that will have a good faith discussion and, like you say, there are several there who start throwing out the insults when their small repertoire of denier talking points run out (some do not even wait that long). Jo Nova herself rarely gives a credible defence of her own articles.

    With this new David Evans model I did not even try to comprehend it, I was happy to wait for publication in the scientific literature. Didn’t he also have a solar model out a while back, it appears to have been forgotten.

  121. Tom Dayton says:

    David Evans has posted a 20 page (!) summary of his 19 posts describing his divine revelations. It’s still wrong (in multiple ways), he not having responded to any of the critiques. But at least it’s shorter.

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