A little surprised it took this long

After writing about the Terence Mills affair I popped across to Bishop Hill to point out that Mill’s ideas were mostly nonsense. This then lead to a rather lengthy exchange about me posting comments during working hours (I think it might have been 4:51pm), including someone claiming to be tracking my activity so that they could inform my employer. It also lead to the rather bizarre claim that, as taxpayers, they have the right to tell me how to do my job.

I thought I might therefore explain a few things about university life that maybe some don’t fully understand. Firstly, universities are not public sector; they’re normally charities. Yes, a good deal of the funding does come from taxpayers, but that doesn’t make them public sector and it doesn’t make their employees public servants. Also, given the new student fees system in the UK, a much smaller fraction comes directly from taxpayers than was the case in the past.

Also, academics typically have academic freedom, which means they are free to question established ideas and express controversial views without jeopardizing their jobs. The topic I choose to engage in may not be directly related to my key research area, but academics are actually free to broaden their interests, so there is no fundamental reason why an astronomer can’t express public views about climate science. Furthermore, I now have 3 publications related to this topic, so – technically – it is now one of my research areas.

Additionally, academics don’t normally have formal working hours. The expectation is that they average at least as many hours as they’re contractually obliged to, and do whatever it is that their Head of Department requires them to do. You need to prepare for and give your lectures, prepare and mark exams/classwork, do whatever administration/management you’ve been assigned, attend whatever meetings you’re expected to attend, and engage in research. There is, however, no expectation that one arrives at 9am and leaves at 5pm.

There’s also another factor. Academic jobs (well mine certainly) can be very disjointed. Sometimes I’m busy preparing lectures, sometimes giving them, sometimes I’m focusing on management/administration task, sometimes I’m travelling, sometimes I’m supervising students, sometimes I’m trying to get some research done, sometimes I’m focusing on writing it up,….. What I do can vary greatly across a year and also within a single day. Sometimes I’m waiting for some analysis to complete, and then I might respond to a blog comment. Sometimes I’ve just finished going through a lecture and so I quickly respond to a blog comment. Sometimes I’m waiting for a meeting to start, so respond to, or write, a blog comment. Sometimes I’m travelling and happen to have WiFi access on a train, so respond to a blog comment or write a post.

To be fair, though, I probably do spend too much time on this. However, I do try to write my posts quickly, which – of course – might seem obvious to those who read them. I should, however, probably stop wasting my time on certain things; like engaging in discussions with people who think that “I’m a taxpayer, therefore I can…” is a valid argument. On the other hand, every now and again I seem to need to remind myself why I should stop wasting my time on certain sites. Interactions, like the one I’ve been having on Bishop Hill, is a good reminder of why I really shouldn’t bother commenting there.

However, I don’t hugely care if someone wants to complain to my employer. It’s a free world and people can do whatever they like. Almost certainly, nothing will come of it. As taxpayers, they can – of course – campaign to change how universities are funded and run. But until such time as they achieve that, I’ll continue to do my job – to the best of my abilities – as I’m obliged to do it, not how they think I should do it. The only possible downside of someone complaining might be colleagues discovering that I waste my time commenting on certain blogs. That would be a little embarassing, but – thankfully – I have a job where I’m free to embarrass myself if I wish to do so.

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293 Responses to A little surprised it took this long

  1. Something else that came up in this discussion – which I couldn’t quite work into the post – was the issue of how one conducts oneselves. I haven’t always done so as I would to, but I do try to be reasonably polite. However, one reason I like to stay pseudonymous (despite being outed) is that it allows me to simply be someone who writes a blog and sometimes comments elsewhere. However, since some people know who I am means that they seem to think that they can define how I should behave (you’re an academic, therefore …). If I was promoting my credentials, maybe they’d have a point, but since I don’t, I don’t think they do. Of course, what’s also clear is that they don’t expect the same from themselves from or others who comment on that site. My view has always been that if people want dialogue to be better, then they should set an example.

    I’m also not entirely sure why some seem to think this. I think one reason may be related to the “I’m a taxpayer” issue. It seems that some think that because they perceive themselves as paying my salary (which they don’t) that they can impose a standard on me that they don’t on themselves. Another might be to do with a sense that they think their insults are justified, while anything snarky I say is not.

    Of course, I’m not condoning bad behaviour or trying to excuse when I behave less well than I should, but I do have a habit of responding in kind. It’s a flaw and I do try not to. I just don’t always succeed. The solution is to not comment on sites where such poor behaviour is the norm, but then I get accussed of staying in my echo chamber. Although, I was recently accussed of staying in my echo chamber while commenting on another blog. I suspect I just can’t win 🙂

  2. 😀 Anthony Watts tried to intimidate me in the same way. Next time I will link to your post.

    They really have no clue how science works. You are a scientists 24/7, but do need breaks once in a while.

    Related Mud wrestling with a pig In “Anthony Watts”

  3. BBD says:

    Typically vile behaviour by the whiners about “shutting down the debate”. Was there ever such a crew of nasty hypocrites?

  4. When I pointed out that it appeared to somewhat intimidatory, the response was essentially that they were taxpayers and had the right to determine what I did during working hours. Pointing out that I don’t have working hours, didn’t seem to work. I think you missed the link in your “wrestling with a pig”.

  5. BBD,
    I did point out the irony of those who pontificate about freedom and speech and liberty trying to muzzle someone. They, of course, had a reason why they were right to do so in this circumstance.

  6. “academic freedom, which means they are free to question established ideas and express controversial views without jeopardizing their jobs”

    Actually, academic freedom allows us to present our research findings without jeopardizing our jobs. Our academic duty is to refrain from expressing opinions that are unsupported by research.

  7. Willard says:

    > Our academic duty is to refrain from expressing opinions that are unsupported by research.

    Citation needed for this comment supported by your research, Rich.

  8. Richard,
    Actually, what I wrote is a paraphrase of what is written in the Summary of Conditions of Employment that is publicly available. The full quote is

    Academic Freedom
    If you hold a contract of employment with the University as a Professor, Reader, Senior Lecturer or Lecturer or are otherwise engaged in teaching, the provision of learning or research, your employment is subject to the principles of academic freedom as enshrined in the relevant Statutes, and the Ordinances and Regulations of the University. In particular, all such employees shall have freedom within the law to hold and express opinion, to question and test established ideas and received wisdom and to present controversial or unpopular points of view without placing in jeopardy the appointments they hold or any entitlements or privileges they enjoy.

    However, our Academic duty should be

    to refrain from expressing opinions that are unsupported by research.

    but this doesn’t seem to stop some from doing so, and this isn’t actually what academic freedom implies.

  9. semyorka says:

    I get this from time to time , the variation usually is “you post a lot you must be a student or retired”.

    What did strike me though is that I am sure its only recently with the advent of automation that astronomers did not have to do a night shift with the kit when they got telescope time.

  10. dikranmarsupial says:

    Perhaps the taxpayer would like to pay me some overtime for being at work on Saturday (or for working late in the evenings)? ;o) There is I think one thing missing from this article which is that “public understanding of science” is something that academics should be expected to do, and this blog has done quite a lot of explaining science at an appropriate level for the general public.

  11. What did strike me though is that I am sure its only recently with the advent of automation that astronomers did not have to do a night shift with the kit when they got telescope time.

    Actually, most big ground-based observatories require an astronomer on duty when observing. Howeverm there are a growing number of robotic telescopes (1m class), and space-based observatories obviously don’t.

  12. Jim Hunt says:

    Let me Google that for you Victor:

    http://bfy.tw/4TwO

  13. There is I think one thing missing from this article which is that “public understanding of science” is something that academics should be expected to do, and this blog has done quite a lot of explaining science at an appropriate level for the general public.

    Thanks. I find the public understanding of science argument difficult to make because it feels that – if that was the motivation – I should probably be doing it non-pseudonymously. Of course, I’m happy if it does aid public understanding of science.

  14. Anyone out there with the appetite and stamina to trawl through Professor Tol’s utterances to determine where has failed to “refrain from expressing opinions that are unsupported by research”?

  15. BBD says:

    dikran writes:

    “public understanding of science” is something that academics should be expected to do, and this blog has done quite a lot of explaining science at an appropriate level for the general public.

    I wouldn’t perhaps go so far as to say ‘expected’ to do (the ones I know work pretty bloody hard as it is) but it is difficult to see how an academic could be censured for providing a quality educational resource to the public on a vitally important topic. Free of charge. In their own time.

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  17. dikranmarsupial says:

    ATTP I think pseudonymity is fine, one of my favourite statisticians* William Sealey Gosset published under the name “student”, what matters is the correctness of the argument and how well it is communicated.

    * for services to beer.

  18. ATTP – I think it is a measure of how effective you have been and some other notable contributors to your blog, at countering the pseudo science of the ‘contrarians’ at Bishop Hill and elsewhere that they, having comprehensively lost the argument, decide to play the man rather than the ball. It is surely a sign of their increasing desperation that they stoop to such tactics.

  19. Dikran,
    Indeed, I do prefer the idea of it being the argument, rather than the person.

    Richard,
    I’d like to think so, but then one does have to be careful of making such arguments.

  20. Something else that struck me about the exchange on BH is that I’ve always felt that most people are inherently decent (although I did independently discover the error in that view yesterday, but that’s another story that I may refrain from telling) but – I think – not a single other commenter suggested that it was crossing some kind of line.

  21. RT writes: “Our academic duty is to refrain from expressing opinions that are unsupported by research.”

    Note the absence of any qualifier on ‘research.’ So, if you can find research, albeit *shoddy* research, to support your view you need not refrain from spouting any particular nonsense. Hence the GWPF and papers like those by Terrence Mills. Or John Mashey’s favorite Dog Astrology Journal.

    Support by gremlins is an open question.

  22. Joshua says:

    Back in the day, I posted a bit at WUWT and because I sometimes use an academic email address, Anthony concluded that I was posting while I was being paid by that university. So he wrote a comment accusing me of such, and that I was being dishonest or unethical (along with a comments about being a “coward” or some other nonsense) for posting during while being paid by an employer.

    I told him that he was wrong, that there was no way he could support his accusation, and that I could prove that he was wrong in ways that could easily be verified, independently. I also offered wager, with odds very favorable in his direction, that I could prove that he was wrong and that he should either take my bet or acknowledge his error.

    Not surprisingly, my comment that he should acknowledge his error or take the bet never got posted, and with that comment I was put into moderation. I subsequently made the same offer to Anthony’s at Judith’s crib when he showed up there – pointing out also that some might consider it “cowardly” to make an accusation and then refuse to be accountable for its veracity – but he never responded.

    So much for Anthony’s concept of what it means to be a “skeptic”: draw a conclusion without sufficient evidence (as revealed in that his conclusion was completely wrong), insult someone on the basis of a poor approach to analyzing evidence, and then refuse accountability for the error.

    But I also found it interesting that despite constant complaints about moderation at sites like Real Climate, not one resident “skeptic” at Climate Etc. spoke up to press Anthony on his use of moderation to duck accountability.

    I’m sure that you’ll all be shocked by that.

  23. “Let me Google that for you Victor:”

    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2014/04/28/mud-wrestling-with-a-pig/

    Is one of the three “related posts” suggested by Word Press just below the post. I was impressed as how accurate this algorithm was. (Sorry for the html errors in my first comment.)

  24. not one resident “skeptic” at Climate Etc. spoke up to press Anthony on his use of moderation to duck accountability.

    I’m sure that you’ll all be shocked by that.

    What? And they seem like such, nice, decent people who would be aghast at such obvious double standards 😉

  25. @wotts
    I referred to the original definition of academic freedom of 1215, while my notion of academic duty goes only back to AAUP 1944. Anyway, academic freedom does not allow you to say or do whatever you like.

  26. Joshua, I am shocked, utterly shocked, that that would happen at a blog of the only group in the USA that adheres to the moral values of Christ Jesus.

  27. Joshua says:

    ==> “Our academic duty is to refrain from expressing opinions that are unsupported by research.”

    Richard always makes such interesting comments.

    If Anders writes that he like chocolate more than vanilla, does he need to support that opinion with research?

    Looking past Richard’s espousal of standards that he himself doesn’t live up to (I remember one time in particular pointing out Richard’s failure to support opinions he expressed with research)…that comment is interesting from another angle, also.

    I think it’s a good example of a “skeptical” willingness to hold freedom of expression hostage to pursue an ideological agenda.

    “Skeptics” often like to complain that there freedom of expression is under assault, but yet employ a double standard in revealing a convoluted notion of what it even means to have an opinion. I would say that Anders, like anyone else, should ground an conclusion within a scientific method of analysis. If challenged, it’s a good idea for Anders to make it clear how he analyzed that evidence. But WTF does that mean about placing a limitation, whereby in being an academic, he should refrain from offering an opinion unless it is research based?

    But perhaps Richard got onto Spencer to get him to provide research in support of his opinion that “realists” are analogous to Nazis, or got onto Judith for offering research in support of her opinion that “realists” are analogous to Jihadists, and I just missed it?

  28. Richard,

    I referred to the original definition of academic freedom of 1215

    Interesting, but I did say academics typically have.

    Anyway, academic freedom does not allow you to say or do whatever you like.

    Indeed, and I didn’t say otherwise. Odd, it’s almost as if you’re responding to an entirely different post.

  29. dikranmarsupial says:

    Richard wrote “I referred to the original definition of academic freedom of 1215”

    I think someone is playing the “Box and Jenkins (1970)” game again ;o)

  30. dana1981 says:

    Our academic duty is to refrain from expressing opinions that are unsupported by research.

    Then you should really #FreeTheTol300.

  31. I’m confident history will look favourably on all those who gave of their time to fight the barrage of pseudo-science, fake ‘skepticism’ and ideological propaganda that sought to delay action on climate change. Rarely, if ever, was there a worthier cause.

  32. Joshua says:

    ==> Anyway, academic freedom does not allow you to say or do whatever you like.

    What a remarkably Richard-like comment. Yes, it’s true that academic freedom does not protect you if you murder someone. And it doesn’t protect you if you scream “fire” in a crowded theater.

    And that relates to whether Anders can post opinions in blog comments during the day how?

    And it relates to the logic of accusing Anders of misusing tax dollars by posting opinions in blog comments during the day how?

  33. Magma says:

    Since the vast majority of deniers don’t understand science, the scientific process, or how scientific researchers operate, it’s hardly surprising they don’t understand when they work either.

    Next they’ll be telling you to get back to whatever job your boss has given you. “Where are those 20 new exoplanets I asked for last week? If you can’t meet a simple deadline, there’s others here that will.”

  34. @wotts
    I referred to you “there is no fundamental reason why an astronomer can’t express public views about climate science”. As you have no papers in statistical climatology, it would be customary for you to remain silent on a paper in that field, and you certainly cannot claim an academic freedom to comment. Academic freedom means that you cannot be fired for reporting politically inconvenient results in disk accretion (a fairly unlikely event).

  35. Joshua says:

    ==> …you certainly cannot claim an academic freedom to comment.

    How completely absurd.

  36. Jim Hunt says:

    Victor – When I tried that I discovered to my delight that my alter ego “Snow White” was number one!

    As luck would have “she” entered Anthony Watts into our 2016 “New Einstein” contest this very morning:

    http://GreatWhiteCon.info/2016/02/the-great-white-con-2016-new-einstein-award/#Anthony

    Here is the introduction to his rather long winded impersonation of a mud soaked pig:

    You two guys are quite the pieces of work. You both operate under multiple identities. Jim Hunt has three I have been able to identify, Lawrence Martin/Martinez has two.

  37. MartinM says:

    As you have no papers in statistical climatology, it would be customary for you to remain silent…

    If only it were customary for you to remain silent.

  38. climatehawk1 says:

    Worth noting that the “charity” tax loophole has been abused in extraordinary fashion in the U.S. by right-wing groups to create science-denying, politics-distorting echo chamber. Jane Mayer’s “Dark Money” has the goods. Excellent read.

  39. dikranmarsupial says:

    Richard wrote “As you have no papers in statistical climatology, it would be customary for you to remain silent on a paper in that field, and you certainly cannot claim an academic freedom to comment. ”

    This is utter rubbish. In science what matters is the correctness of the argument, not the training or research of the person making it. For example, I have no papers in economics, however I have every right to point out the failings of a paper where the conclusions are (for example) heavily dependent on a single datapoint that appears to be an outlier.

  40. Tol’s Law: sooner or later, the discussion will be about Richard Tol and his utterances.

  41. Andy Skuce says:

    There is some irony in the fact that those expressing “concern” for academics spending office time correcting misinformation on denialist blogs are all to ready to support wasting huge amounts of time with their frivolous FOI fishing expeditions.

  42. Joshua says:

    Personally, I don’t go along with the conventional wisdom about “trolls,” which is that their intent is to inflame, or annoy or derail conversations. I think that typically, trolls are expressing their real opinions.

    Consider that when you evaluate whether or not Tol is a troll. Maybe his intent is not merely to inflame or annoy. Maybe he has some combination of goals, but maybe he really just believes the garbage that he writes in comments at this blog.

  43. Joshua says:

    Andy –

    There is some irony in the fact that those expressing “concern” for academics spending office time correcting misinformation on denialist blogs are all to ready to support wasting huge amounts of time with their frivolous FOI fishing expeditions.

    IMO, there is an over-riding pattern where the climate wars serve as proxy for underlying ideological battles to manifest.

    Often, we see the discussion in the “skept-o-sphere” overlap quite heavily with discussions about taxes. Many of the opinions “skeptics” express, seems to me to be an outgrowth of an underlying ideology that government and government institutions amount to crooks spending money they acquired through theft (taxes).

    The inconsistency in rhetoric that you highlight reminds me of when “conservatives” were clamoring that states’ attorneys general should be fired for not prosecuting people for voter fraud after the attorneys general concluded that the prosecutions were not going to return any convictions, and thus would be a waste of money.

    Logical consistency does not get in the way of ideological orientation being expressed:

    Doublethink is the act of ordinary people simultaneously accepting two mutually contradictory beliefs as correct, often in distinct social contexts.[1] Doublethink is related to, but differs from, hypocrisy and neutrality. Somewhat related but almost the opposite is cognitive dissonance, where contradictory beliefs cause conflict in one’s mind. Doublethink is notable due to a lack of cognitive dissonance — thus the person is completely unaware of any conflict or contradiction.

    George Orwell created the word doublethink in his dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984);

  44. Richard,

    As you have no papers in statistical climatology, it would be customary for you to remain silent on a paper in that field

    Depending on how you define this, this may not be true. Shall I take it, though, that what you really meant was “I would prefer that you remain silent on a paper in that field”.

    and you certainly cannot claim an academic freedom to comment.

    I think I’ll stick with what it actually says, rather than what you’d like it to have said.

  45. Joshua,

    but maybe he really just believes the garbage that he writes in comments at this blog.

    Yes, this is indeed quite possible.

  46. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    I don’t understand. You say:

    However, our Academic duty should be

    to refrain from expressing opinions that are unsupported by research.

    Maybe the illustrative example of expressing an opinion on whether you prefer chocolate or vanilla seems absurd, but doesn’t the very notion of “opinion” – clearly identified as opinion as opposed to an analytical conclusion – imply that support in research is not a necessary prerequisite? Seems to me that whether or are voicing an opinion (based in research) is not what’s critical, but that you should be clear about articulating the distinction between your opinions and your analytical conclusions, and that when expressing analytical conclusions you explicate your reasoning. IMO, what is problematic is when academics display a disdain for differentiating their opinions from analytical conclusions (as I see happening so often from Judith, for example).

  47. Eli Rabett says:

    From the Associate Dean

  48. MartinM says:

    Maybe he has some combination of goals, but maybe he really just believes the garbage that he writes in comments at this blog.

    Well, maybe, except that so many of his comments seem to be carefully constructed to avoid actually saying anything of substance.

  49. Joshua,
    Okay, you’re right about opinions. Technically, the academic freedom bit that I quoted earlier does seem to suggest that support in research is not a necessary prerequisite. I was really just agreeing that academics should be responsible when they speak publicly. They should be able to either defend their views using evidence (and it doesn’t have to be their research) or they should be clear that it’s an opinion.

    IMO, what is problematic is when academics display a disdain for differentiating their opinions from analytical conclusions

    Yes, I agree.

  50. Tadaaa says:

    @ ATTP,

    I wouldn’t worry too much – you get this crap when you engage with lunatics, and I certainly appreciate the fact that actual working scientist take the time to address these idiots

    Personally I believe the tide is turning regarding the general perception of AGW in the wider community

    On a brighter note my daughter was offered a place at your esteemed institution last week

  51. BBD says:

    Richard T sez:

    As you have no papers in statistical climatology, it would be customary for you to remain silent on a paper in that field, and you certainly cannot claim an academic freedom to comment.

    But this isn’t what I’d call a paper as such. It’s more of a blog article posted on the website of a contrarian lobby group. I think that makes it fair for *anyone* to comment.

    I find your attempt to shut ATTP down both transparent and risible, Richard. Perhaps even shameful.

  52. Tadaa,
    It’s doesn’t worry me, apart from the possibility of wasting some people’s time.

    On a brighter note my daughter was offered a place at your esteemed institution last week

    Very good, well done to your daughter.

  53. BBD says:

    @ Eli

    ‘If we paid faculty for the hours they work, we’d have to declare fiscal exigency.’

    Exactly. The academics I know well (two are good friends) work bloody hard.

  54. BBD says:

    And the pay is, frankly, derisory.

  55. dikranmarsupial says:

    BBD indeed, it is the freedoms and flexibilities that compensate for the fact we could be earning more elsewhere for fewer hours.

  56. Joshua says:

    Martin –

    ==> Well, maybe, except that so many of his comments seem to be carefully constructed to avoid actually saying anything of substance.

    Maybe it isn’t a matter of “careful construction” but a direct extension of whether his opinions are substantive? I don’t see any reason to think it’s deliberate more than reflexive. I consider it a window into Richard’s analytical process.

    When he says something like:

    “Anyway, academic freedom does not allow you to say or do whatever you like” I really wonder if it’s because he’s reacting so reflexively that he doesn’t perceive how that comment is a non-sequitur wrapped up in a straw man (or is it a straw many wrapped up in a non-sequitur)?

    I question how likely it is that someone would so willingly display such vapid reasoning simply to annoy others.

  57. Note that I do not deny Wotts’ right to comment. I just don’t believe it falls under academic freedom.

    Besides, Wottsy writing under pseudonym weakens any claim to academic privilige.

  58. BBD says:

    Besides, Wottsy writing under pseudonym weakens any claim to academic privilige.

    Oh come on, Richard. He never made any such claims.

  59. Richard,

    Note that I do not deny Wotts’ right to comment. I just don’t believe it falls under academic freedom.

    Based on what I quoted, this would appear obviously wrong.

    Besides, Wottsy writing under pseudonym weakens any claim to academic privilige.

    And how does it make any difference. Do you really think that something that would fall under academic freedom could put my appointment in jeopardy just because I’ve said something pseudonymously. I don’t think this makes any sense. Maybe you could provide an example of something that would have fallen under academic freedom doesn’t because the person chose to say it pseudonymously? I wait with bated breath.

  60. BBD is also correct. This isn’t about invoking academic priviledge (I’m not even quite sure what that means) but simply the fact that academics have the freedom to – within the law – hold and express opinions ….without placing in jeopardy the appointments they hold.

  61. Joshua says:

    ==>> “Note that I do not deny Wotts’ right to comment. ”

    Thank god. Imagine if Richard were not so magnanimous.

  62. dikranmarsupial says:

    “Note that I do not deny Wotts’ right to comment. I just don’t believe it falls under academic freedom.”

    Again that is nonsense, academics have freedom to pursue research and scholarship on any topic they like, and that includes discussing the results of their research/scholarship on blogs.

  63. dikranmarsupial says:

    “Besides, Wottsy writing under pseudonym weakens any claim to academic privilige. ”

    did that apply to Nicholas Bourbaki?

  64. Magma says:

    Was my snipped comment too inflammatory, despite the careful wording? 🙂

    I suppose it didn’t elevate the tone much.

  65. And let’s dispel once and for all with this fiction that Richard Tol doesn’t know what he’s doing. He knows exactly what he’s doing.

    Let’s dispel with this fiction that Richard Tol doesn’t know what he’s doing. He knows exactly what he’s doing.

    This notion that Richard Tol doesn’t know what he’s doing is just not true. He knows exactly what he’s doing.

    I think anyone who believes that Richard Tol isn’t doing what he’s doing on purpose doesn’t understand what we’re dealing with here. Okay?

    With the thinking level and evasiveness he displays here he would never have gotten a job in academia. If this were my blog, I would ban him to lift the level of the conversation.

  66. Yes, sorry, it wasn’t entirely unreasonable but I thought I’d aim for the moral high ground 🙂

  67. jsam says:

    Academic freedom allows people to be Academic Advisors to secretly funded politically motivated anti-science bodies. That seems elastic enough to allow for variances in working days and comments on statistics.

  68. Phil says:

    I wonder why the denizens of BH are so upset about your forays into Climate Science, ATTP. After all, one of their (presumed) heros, Richard Lindzen, says this of climate scientists;

    Was Lindzen suggesting, asked Tim Yeo at this point, that scientists in the field of climate were academically inferior.

    “Oh yeah,” said Lindzen. “I don’t think there’s any question that the brightest minds went into physics, math, chemistry…”

    Taken from the bottom of this rant

    Given this, you would think all genuine skeptics would be grateful for independent scrutiny of climate science from a “brighter mind” … wouldn’t you ?

  69. BBD says:

    + 1 jsam

  70. Phil,
    I think I’m the wrong kind of physicist – I’m one who doesn’t think that climate scientists are academically inferior.

  71. Andrew dodds says:

    Well, as a UK taxpayer, and therefore aTTP’s Lord And Master (TM) , I demand that he/she/it (I’ve never checked) spend more time on public outreach. And since I earn more than average, my orders should count for a higher multiple..

    I like this idea. I can henceforth order all 6 million public sector employees around, including the police and army. Always fancied a go in a Eurofighter. And pensioners, as they are paid from taxpayers. And anyone not earning enough to be a net contributor (a surprisingly high number). 50 million or so people I can treat as my personal slaves.

    Tomorrow should be fun. Prisions are public sector, aren’t they?

  72. If this is true

    As you have no papers in statistical climatology, it would be customary for you to remain silent on a paper in that field

    maybe Richard could let us know what aspect of insect reproduction policy Matt Ridley advised the GWPF on, and what it had to do with global warming. Richard, may – of course – claim that Matt Ridley is not actually an academic and is, therefore, not constrained to speak on topics in which he has actual expertise and is not constrained to say things that are based on actual research or evidence – the irony might be that that is indeed exactly my impression.

  73. Phil says:

    I wonder whether Richard Tol would comment as to whether his fellow academic advisor to GWPF Richard Lindzen’s assertion that climate scientists were academically inferior was supported by research ?

    I’m one who doesn’t think that climate scientists are academically inferior.

    Of course, you must be the wrong kind of physicist (like Richard Muller and Kevin Cowtan too)
    They must have in mind people like Gerlich and Tscheuschner – that turned out well, didn’t it ?

  74. verytallguy says:

    Interactions, like the one I’ve been having on Bishop Hill, is a good reminder of why I really shouldn’t bother commenting there.

    I’m not sure any more of the article was necessary to be honest.

  75. Willard says:

    > [M]y notion of academic duty goes only back to AAUP 1944:

    Does AAUP stand for Association of American University Professors, Rich?

    Here’s a statement I could find, which was only adopted in 1966:

    The Statement

    1. Professors, guided by a deep conviction of the worth and dignity of the advancement of knowledge, recognize the special responsibilities placed upon them. Their primary responsibility to their subject is to seek and to state the truth as they see it. To this end professors devote their energies to developing and improving their scholarly competence. They accept the obligation to exercise critical self-discipline and judgment in using, extending, and transmitting knowledge. They practice intellectual honesty. Although professors may follow subsidiary interests, these interests must never seriously hamper or compromise their freedom of inquiry.

    2. As teachers, professors encourage the free pursuit of learning in their students. They hold before them the best scholarly and ethical standards of their discipline. Professors demonstrate respect for students as individuals and adhere to their proper roles as intellectual guides and counselors. Professors make every reasonable effort to foster honest academic conduct and to ensure that their evaluations of students reflect each student’s true merit. They respect the confidential nature of the relationship between professor and student. They avoid any exploitation, harassment, or discriminatory treatment of students. They acknowledge significant academic or scholarly assistance from them. They protect their academic freedom.

    3. As colleagues, professors have obligations that derive from common membership in the community of scholars. Professors do not discriminate against or harass colleagues. They respect and defend the free inquiry of associates, even when it leads to findings and conclusions that differ from their own. Professors acknowledge academic debt and strive to be objective in their professional judgment of colleagues. Professors accept their share of faculty responsibilities for the governance of their institution.

    4. As members of an academic institution, professors seek above all to be effective teachers and scholars. Although professors observe the stated regulations of the institution, provided the regulations do not contravene academic freedom, they maintain their right to criticize and seek revision. Professors give due regard to their paramount responsibilities within their institution in determining the amount and character of work done outside it. When considering the interruption or termination of their service, professors recognize the effect of their decision upon the program of the institution and give due notice of their intentions.

    5. As members of their community, professors have the rights and obligations of other citizens. Professors measure the urgency of these obligations in the light of their responsibilities to their subject, to their students, to their profession, and to their institution. When they speak or act as private persons, they avoid creating the impression of speaking or acting for their college or university. As citizens engaged in a profession that depends upon freedom for its health and integrity, professors have a particular obligation to promote conditions of free inquiry and to further public understanding of academic freedom.

    http://www.aaup.org/report/statement-professional-ethics

    Is there a chapter or a verse that would coincide with your notion of academic duty?

    Many thanks!

    ***

    Here’s Rich voicing an opinion on journalistic practices:

    Was that an authoritative statement?

  76. dikranmarsupial says:

    “When they speak or act as private persons, they avoid creating the impression of speaking or acting for their college or university.”

    for example, by speaking or acting pseudonymously and not explicitly mentioning their university?

  77. @willard
    Sorry: AAUP 1940, clause 2
    http://www.aaup.org/report/1940-statement-principles-academic-freedom-and-tenure

    I believe this was a response to the intense debate whose side the USA should take in WW2, if any.

  78. Richard,
    Do you mean the bit about how they should conduct themselves in the classroom?

    Teachers are entitled to freedom in the classroom in discussing their subject, but they should be careful not to introduce into their teaching controversial matter which has no relation to their subject.

    Maybe you could explain how that is relevant. Then again, maybe you shouldn’t bother. It’ll be like Box & Jenkins (1970) all over again.

  79. dikranmarsupial says:

    “but they should be careful not to introduce into their teaching controversial matter which has no relation to their subject.4”

    careful does not mean you shouldn’t do so, it means you shouldn’t do so without care.

  80. BBD says:

    I’m slightly surprised that this latest sally by Richard is being taken seriously enough to merit extended discussion.

    If ATTP was being volubly wrong about climate science I imagine someone like Gavin Schmidt would endeavour to set him straight.

    If ATTP isn’t being volubly wrong about CS then he is providing a useful resource where others can learn more about science.

    If contrarians don’t like that, then they can lump it.

  81. I’m slightly surprised that this latest sally by Richard is being taken seriously enough to merit extended discussion.

    It used to annoy me, but now I just fuind it amusingly bizarre. Victor does have a point, though.

  82. someone like Gavin Schmidt would endeavour to set him straight.

    Actually, IIRC, Richard Betts has promised to do that and contrarians seem to like him.

  83. ” statistical climatology”

    You know what would shut up many of these econ Tol-types? Find more climate behaviors that are not statistical, but are based on deterministic physics. Statistical models can be argued against more easily than deterministic models, simply because of the levels of uncertainty involved.

    I have been looking at ENSO and QBO to find these deterministic behaviors. For QBO, I think the determinism can be pinned to a well-understood and predictable forcing. I am continuing to refine the analysis here.
    http://contextearth.com/2016/02/13/qbo-model-validation/

    As an interesting comparison, take a look at the model fits to LIGO gravitational wave data and contrast that to what can potentially be done with QBO. At least one astro-physicist reading this, right ? 🙂

    The repercussion if it pans out is that much of Richard Lindzen’s ideas go down the drain. The determinism removes much of the uncertainty in climate predictions and this can be used to gain confidence in being able to tackle ENSO.

  84. Joshua says:

    Victor –

    I guess the folllowing was at least partially in response to my comment above:

    ==> This notion that Richard Tol doesn’t know what he’s doing is just not true. He knows exactly what he’s doing.

    So what is it that you’re so certain that Richard is doing, purposefully? Posting inane and vapid comments in an attempt to annoy? To derail or distract?

  85. Tadaaa says:

    Why don’t they all form a consortium to underwrite flood risk insurance and provide cheap premiums to people who find themselves uninsurable

    It is a win win, they get to tell the world AGW is a hoax, they were right and make a shed load of cash too

    I imagine it’s all based on statistics anyway – so right up their ally

  86. Duh, ignore my last comment, spent too much time doing maths today and obviously not concentrating sufficiently. ATTPs preceding comment was spot on though, pointing out that Richard’s quote was an obvious non-sequitur.

  87. Dikran,
    Well yours also pointed out something I missed; in addition to it referring to the classroom, it doesn’t actually suggest not doing it, just doing it carefully. That may often lead one not to do it, but it doesn’t mean never do it.

  88. Biologists should be free to talk about evolution in the classroom, but outside they should refrain from such controversial topics.

    (For any Fox News listeners: that was sarcasm).

    Maybe the academic council of the Global Warming Propaganda Foundation could be so kind to take upon themselves the important task to determine whether public statements are controversial or on topic.

    (For any UKIP voters: that was sarcasm).

    Joshua, my reasons were in my last paragraph.
    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2016/02/27/a-little-surprised-it-took-this-long/#comment-73532

  89. Joshua says:

    Victor –

    I get your reasoning to conclude that he wouldn’t do what he’s doing if it weren’t purposeful, but I don’t understand from what you wrote what you think his purpose is (in posting inane and vapid comments).

  90. BBD says:

    ATTP

    Actually, IIRC, Richard Betts has promised to do that and contrarians seem to like him.

    Really? Set you straight on what? Or have I misunderstood this?

  91. BBD,
    If I was volubly wrong about CS.

  92. BBD says:

    Ah, *if*. I see, thanks.

  93. Joshua, I have some ideas, but that would be pure speculation and not enlightening.

    Do you know why Trump does what he does?

  94. > AAUP 1940, clause 2

    Let’s quote that clause from the American Association of University Professors, Rich:

    Teachers are entitled to freedom in the classroom in discussing their subject, but they should be careful not to introduce into their teaching controversial matter which has no relation to their subject. Limitations of academic freedom because of religious or other aims of the institution should be clearly stated in writing at the time of the appointment.

    http://www.aaup.org/report/1940-statement-principles-academic-freedom-and-tenure

    Your notion of academic duty is quite thin, if only because it’s negative: “should be careful not […]”

    There’s also a note:

    Second 1970 comment: The intent of this statement is not to discourage what is “controversial.” Controversy is at the heart of the free academic inquiry which the entire statement is designed to foster. The passage serves to underscore the need for teachers to avoid persistently intruding material which has no relation to their subject.

    http://www.aaup.org/report/1940-statement-principles-academic-freedom-and-tenure#4

    Now, if you please, Rich, let’s revisit what you said earlier:

    Our academic duty is to refrain from expressing opinions that are unsupported by research.

    It thus seems to me that you transmuted “should be careful not to introduce into their teaching controversial matter which has no relation to their subject” into “refrain from expressing opinions that are unsupported by research.”

    I duly submit that this transmutation fails your own notion of academic duty.

    That’s a bit rich, Rich.

  95. Joshua says:

    Victor –

    My point is that there’s no good reason why a person would so consistently write such vapid and inane comments if they perceived them to be vapid and inane. I think that Richard actually believes his comments to be insightful or presenting views that validly challenge those of Anders and others. I think he believes that he’s actually making substantive arguments – just like everyone else here.

    Trump is probably in a different category. Trump espouses views that he probably doesn’t really hold (at least some of them), because he stands to gain directly form doing so. He’s running for office and his chances increase if he presents views that please a given constituency. He is seeking popularity. He is seeking fame and fortune. All of those goals are advanced from making vapid and inane comments.

    I don’t see Richard as likely having any of those goals based on what he does here. Does it make him more popular? Probably not – most people who read his comments here think that they are vapid and inane. Does it enhance his fame of fortune? Probably not for the same reason.

    Isn’t your determination that he is purposefully posting inane and vapid comments based on speculation?

  96. guthrie says:

    I’m desperately trying to recall a famous quote about the difficulties of telling a pretence from a deeply held conviction, and how if someone pretends for long enough they believe it themselves. Argh.

  97. Joshua,
    I have to admit that I had always assumed that Richard’s comments reflected his views of me and the site.

  98. BBD says:

    Joshua

    I think he believes that he’s actually making substantive arguments – just like everyone else here.

    You don’t see Richard’s playful spirit coming to the fore once in a while? I’m surprised.

  99. Joshua, no the determination is based on observation. Why he acts this way would be speculation. If Trump is already one exception, it is normally save to assume there are more. I can think of many reasons why someone would act this way, but that would not lead to productive discussions.

    It is good to act yourself as if people (you do not know) act in good faith, but not to expect that everyone actually acts that way. Other people are not Joshuas with just different information about the world.

  100. verytallguy says:

    Tols 2nd law strikes. Again.

  101. Magma says:

    vtg: Any exchange involving RT will eventually degenerate to being about RT?

  102. David Smith says:

    [Mod: redacted]
    You’ve written a post all about me. I’m chuffed. I really hope you let this comment go through, because you admit you “moderate heavily”.

    Anyway, as I told you over at Bishop Hill: I believe you waste too much of your day blogging when you should be working at the job you’re paid to do. Am I trying to stifle free speech? Not at all, no person should be stopped from promoting their own point of view in their own free time and that includes you Ken. However, UK taxpayers like myself help to fund universities and don’t like to be ripped-off. If every Professor up and down the country spent as much time blogging and commenting during the working day as you do, scientific research would grind to a halt. That would be a waste of taxpayers’ cash.

    As I said, in about a month’s time I’ll be informing your employers about how much time you waste on the company dime. It’s up to them what they decide to do with the information. They can tell me to stuff it if they so wish, or just ignore me. I’ll know that I’ve done my best to stop an academic wasting his working day spreading unnecessary alarm about a non-problem. It’s a free world and I can say what I like. However, I do it outside of my company time, as if I wasn’t doing my job to the best of my abilities I wouldn’t be fulfilling my contract.

    Right everyone, pile on! I’ve been looking forward to this all day!

  103. John Hartz says:

    ATTP: Is it true that you used to moonlight as a write for the Seinfeld show?

    I ask because some of your best posts seem to be about nothing. In other words, who really cares what the lightweights at BH say about you?

  104. I don’t know about TOL.I.AM’s expertise in economics, which if not as old a profession as prostitution, attracts at least as much opprobrium. But it seems he is demonstrating an A grade in psychology: winding people up successfully every time he pokes his little stick into hornets nests is not his fault. He’s just a kid! He is in serious need of some attention deficit.

  105. John Hartz says:

    Re the crap that goes on in the comment threads of websites such as BH, I share the following…

    During a radio show the host said he couldn’t support Donald Trump because he wasn’t acting Presidential. His guest said that that’s what many find so compelling about Donald Trump. His behavior, even when it’s so inappropriate, comes across as authentic in this day of political correctness. He went on to include others in that list of authentic people, whose often rude, tasteless or boorish behavior he considered so refreshingly authentic, including Kayne West and all of his escapades

    Apparently, nastiness is the new authenticity. Apparently, the cruder and ruder a person is, the more real that person is.

    IS NASTINESS THE NEW AUTHENTICITY? by Tim Wright , patheos, Feb 25, 2016

  106. Joshua says:

    ==> Apparently, nastiness is the new authenticity.

    Interesting.

    It kind of makes sense that those favorably impressed by Trump think that nastiness seems authentic because they, themselves, are characteristically nasty people.

    It certainly applies to most of the Trump supporters I’ve come across in the climate-o-sphere (a pretty high % of “skeptics” as far as I can tell). Usually, trying to generalize from the climate-o-sphere is not well advised, because it’s an outlier group – but I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if there were a disproportionately large crossover between “skeptics” and Trump supporters, relative to other “conservative” political figures.

  107. Joseph says:

    I think that Richard actually believes his comments to be insightful or presenting views that validly challenge those of Anders and others. I think he believes that he’s actually making substantive arguments – just like everyone else here.

    Joshua it pretty obvious to me that Richard has said things here before specifically to annoy ATTP. Does he believe everything he says? I have no idea. Is he always trying to annoy? I don’t know that either But I do know acting inane or being evasive can be pretty annoying.

  108. @willard
    Sure. I am stricter than most on this.

  109. The same in France. A university employee is often suspected to waste funds from tax payers and there is a new fashionable thinking that the time spent at office is working time. One can also think that measure of work is not the time spent whatever the place it takes place and blogging and reading blogs are a usefull contribution to increase skills and knowledge. I hope you will keep on because your thinking and writing is one of the most refined source of information. Watts’s opinion and activities are promised to same development as blacksmith turnover when cars appeared.

  110. As people may notice, the person who thinks they have some right to tell me how to do my job has commented. I don’t plan to respond (as I don’t think their comment really deserves one) but can I ask that if any others do, that they illustrate how to engage in a contentious discussion without being insulting and abusive. This isn’t Bishop Hill.

  111. David Smith,
    I will ask you one question. If you are a UK taxpayer, why does your IP address geo-locate to outside the UK? Are you on holiday?

  112. Arnaud,
    Thanks.

    One can also think that measure of work is not the time spent whatever the place it takes place and blogging and reading blogs are a usefull contribution to increase skills and knowledge.

    Indeed, I’ve learned quite a lot doing this.

  113. Academics don’t really have a “working day” (or even contracted working hours), we certainly don’t get any overtime for working late into the evenings or at the weekends, and most of us take work home with us in the evenings, even if it is just reading papers etc. One wonders how an academics “free time” is defined? In any case, it is fairly easy to see that ATTPs scientific research certainly isn’t grinding to a halt, I wish I was as productive!

  114. Hyperactive Hydrologist says:

    My wife is a researcher at a UK University. I’m pretty sure her contract doesn’t stipulate the number of hours she must work per week. The only thing the Uni seem to be bothered about is the work she produces and that she is writing papers.

    Academics, especially early career academics, don’t last long in academia unless they are producing high quality work. Less than 10% of students who complete PhDs go on to have a successful careers in academia.

  115. David Smith says:

    Am I on holiday cause my ip address is outside the UK?
    Nope, VPN old chap. Standard operating procedure these days.
    How else would I use Pirate Bay?
    Currently, I think my ip says I’m somewhere in New York. Isn’t amazing what modern tech can do?

    dikran: “we certainly don’t get any overtime for working late into the evenings or at the weekends,”
    Well that can’t be the case with attp, as he spends most of his weekends blogging and commenting too. However, it’s completely up to him as to what he does once he’s out of the office.

    arnaud: ” blogging and reading blogs are a usefull contribution to increase skills and knowledge.”
    I’m not to sure what blogging about global warming has got to do with exoplanets.

    BTW do html tags work on here? If so, I’ll use them

  116. Tom Curtis says:

    David Smith:

    “However, UK taxpayers like myself help to fund universities and don’t like to be ripped-off. If every Professor up and down the country spent as much time blogging and commenting during the working day as you do, scientific research would grind to a halt. That would be a waste of taxpayers’ cash.”

    A very simple check shows that from 1992 to December 2012, ATTP published 97 papers at an average rate of 8.8 papers per annum. On April 13th, 2013 he started publishing this blog. Since then he has published seven papers in 2014, fifteen papers in 2015, and three papers in the first two months of 2016. Overall that works out at an average annual publication rate of 13.3, a 51% increase in publication rates. That shows a distinct increase in research quantity. At the same time, his citation rate has also increased, suggesting an increase not just in research quantity, but also in research quality.

    While neither a perfect nor a complete index of his productivity, the data on public record shows that his blogging and commenting activity is more likely to have enhanced his research activity than impeded it.

    Of course, David Smith did not bother making any such check on ATTP’s actual productivity. Rather, he merely made assumptions that pandered to his desire to make fact free criticisms.

    Worse, on the basis of those fact free criticisms, he wants to attempt to undermine somebodies career.

    I have not followed David Smith’s posting career anywhere, and would not waste my time doing so. However, I strongly suspect he does not, and has not made similar threats to academics blogging on other subjects (of which there are many); thereby giving the lie to his claim his concern is really about efficient use of taxpayer funds. He wants to censor ATTP, and is bluffing with a popgun in order to do so.

  117. verytallguy says:

    The post from David Smith is quite something.   Attempting to silence your opponent in a debate by threatening their livelihood.  Nice. 

    The multiple ironies are almost amusing: “sceptic” blogs criticise the anonymous but try to intimidate those whose identity is known; the whinging about “censorship” of ATTP moderating comments whilst simultaneously attempting to gag him; the bombast and certainty coupled with ignorance of the actual subject. 

     

  118. Tom,
    Thanks. I guess David could argue that correlation doesn’t imply causation and that the increase may have been more than 51% if I’d not been spending time on this. Additionally, maybe the increase is just internal variability 🙂

    However, I strongly suspect he does not, and has not made similar threats to academics

    I’m pretty sure I’m aware of other academics making comments during what David regards as working hours. I won’t name names, but I’m sure that in his campaign to save the UK taxpayer from academics who aren’t doing what he thinks is their job, he’ll be researching this fully and writing to the universities of all those concerned.

  119. David Wrote “Nope, VPN old chap … Currently, I think my ip says I’m somewhere in New York. Isn’t amazing what modern tech can do?” and “However, it’s completely up to him as to what he does once he’s out of the office.” which suggests a straightforward solution! ;o)

    Of course David ignores the substantive point that academics do not have formal working hours, so if you want to prescribe what they can and can’t do within regular office hours, the taxpayer ought to start paying them overtime for working outside working hours. If you really want to bring scientific research to a halt, try getting rid of the freedoms which compensate for the long hours and low pay (relative to qualifications).

  120. David,

    Nope, VPN old chap. Standard operating procedure these days.

    Ahh, okay.

    How else would I use Pirate Bay?

    Is this legal?

  121. matt says:

    How did this relatively uninteresting post get so many comments?

  122. matt says:

    Oh. Hi Richard.

  123. Uninteresting…okay, you do have a point 🙂

  124. David Smith says:

    Excellent. It’s all starting to kick off. This is going to be fun.
    I’m out and about shopping with my wife so I’m rather busy mingling with all the thousands of people on Oxford Street (none of whom I bet give give two hoots about global warming. They’re more interested in iphones and handbags).
    When I get home, I’ll get back to you all.
    All the best,
    David

  125. David,

    It’s all starting to kick off. This is going to be fun.

    Remember, this isn’t Bishop Hill. I have standards and I am not particularly interested in things “kicking off” unless by that you mean “have a constructive discussion”. You must know that I think that your arguemnt about being a taxpayer, and therefore having some kind of right to impose conditions on people you regard as taxpayer funded, is pathetic. It’s very obviously wrong. Therefore, I don’t have any great interest in a lengthy discussion about something that I regard as ridiculous. You’re, of course, more than welcome to try and construct a more insightful argument, but simply repeating what you’ve repeated in Bishop Hill won’t really qualify.

  126. BBD says:

    David Smith

    I’ll know that I’ve done my best to stop an academic wasting his working day spreading unnecessary alarm about a non-problem.

    Do be sure to mention your denial of the scientific consensus when you write to ATTP’s employers. It is relevant. They need to understand where you are coming from in order to give the proper weight to your views.

  127. Jim Hunt says:

    David,

    Why don’t you ask some of them, then get back to us with the results of your straw poll? An MP4 from your iPhone would do the trick nicely. Here’s one I recorded earlier, so you can see how to go about it:

  128. John Hartz says:

    ATTP: David Smith is to you what Newman was to Seinfeld, ie., a pain in the arse. 🙂

  129. John Hartz says:

    Ditto for Richard Tol.

  130. Raff says:

    I think ATTP’s engagement on denial sites is valuable and I wish other scientists (or knowledgable people) would do likewise so as to dilute the misinformation presented. This won’t change the minds of the committed but it does at least balance the stupid with the sensible so that readers chancing upon a site have better odds of rejecting the nonsense.

    It is probably best to avoid getting into insults etc (although I generally fail to turn the other cheek) but I have a feeling that insulting behaviour is sometimes not accident or chance. I think it is a direct response to the dilution of their pure stand of stupidity. They want to provoke people like ATTP in order to (a) drive him away (I recently decided this to be true of clisecp.com) ; (b) be able to dismiss him as rude, offensive, a “liar”, etc and thereby prevent people from reading him.

  131. Raff,
    Whatever they’re trying to do, today on cliscep I was called a “sad sicko” for commenting on a Saturday. I just can’t win; comment during the week and I should be working, comment on the weekend and I’m a “sad sicko” 🙂

  132. David Smith says:

    Right, I’m back from watching my wife look at shoes.
    I’ll try my best to answer a few things. In any future comments I’ll call you lot ‘greens’ as other inoffensive names really seem to upset you. You can call me what you want “sceptic/denier/anti-science/etc”. I couldn’t care less.
    I’ll keep off the taxpayer thing as attp doesn’t like being reminded of it. I’ll also not use his real name as he doesn’t seem to like being reminded of that either.
    Here we go, in no particular order:

    this blog has done quite a lot of explaining science at an appropriate level for the general public.

    That doesn’t mean attp has got the science right. Oh, and if you try using lines like “every major scientific organisation agrees that…” doesn’t prove attp is correct. Science isn’t done by consensus.

    correlation doesn’t imply causation…maybe the increase is just internal variability

    Got it in two attp. We’ll have crossing over to the dark-side soon!

    those favorably impressed by Trump

    I realise you weren’t specifically referring to me, but just for the record I think Trump is a complete wing-nut. That doesn’t mean the global warming debate isn’t politicized. It is – it’s nothing more than a left vs right battle and has very little indeed to do with science.

    Is this legal?

    No it’s not and I was joking. I stream all my movies. Pirate Bay makes a good political point about freedom, but it’s not for me. Real freedom I love: go Linux!

    On April 13th, 2013 he started publishing this blog. Since then he has published seven papers in 2014, fifteen papers in 2015, and three papers in the first two months of 2016.

    And imagine how many more papers attp could have published if he hadn’t spent so much time working on his blog. Astrophysics is an amazing field of science. I wish attp would spend more time on it as I’m sure he has a lot more to offer.

    Do be sure to mention your denial of the scientific consensus when you write to ATTP’s employers.

    Aah, the consensus thing again. Remember, science isn’t done by consensus.

    which suggests a straightforward solution! ;o)

    Dikran was suggesting attp used a VPN. It’s good advice, but rather too late I’m afraid. Everyone knows who attp really is. For instance, Tom Curtis definitely knows who he is, as he was listing the number of attp’s published papers. I wish attp would publish more.

    Attempting to silence your opponent in a debate by threatening their livelihood

    Silence him? Nope, he can say what he likes in his free time away from the office.

    How did this relatively uninteresting post get so many comments?

    I’m finding it quite interesting. Long may it carry on.

    low pay (relative to qualifications)

    Attp doesn’t have to work in academia – he can always go out into the real world and get a higher paying job. Using the excuse, “why should I work hard when you don’t pay me enough?” is not particularly impressive.

    A university employee is often suspected to waste funds from tax payers and there is a new fashionable thinking that the time spent at office is working time.

    What else should time spent at the office be? Sleeping time? Shopping time? Gaming time? Your comment is comedy gold. I’m going to save it for future reference.
    And last of all:

    To be fair, though, I probably do spend too much time on this

    I fully agree with you attp.

  133. Don’t,

    I’ll call you lot ‘greens’

    No you won’t. I’ll only leave that one there so that I can respond to point out that future labels will be moderated.

    Serious question, why do you think that as a taxpayer you have some right to change my working conditions?

  134. BBD says:

    Aah, the consensus thing again. Remember, science isn’t done by consensus.

    I didn’t say that it was. I pointed out that a scientific consensus now exists and that you – a layman without any relevant expertise – are denying its validity. How you expect to be taken seriously by anyone when you behave like this is a mystery. Anyway, dig out the green ink and get scribbling away. Good luck.

  135. snarkrates says:

    It is tempting to relate this post to that on Kahan’s research, because in our concern to avoid making the denialati feel stupid, we run the risk of failing to comprehend just how stupid they are. Mr. Smith is a classic example. For whatever reason, he is incapable of comprehending the truth. Perhaps it is a failure of intellect or more likely, it is that he is too cowardly to face the truth. It does not matter. Whatever the cause, he spends the majority of his limited intellect trying to convince himself of the opposite of what is true.

    And ATTP, I am afraid that having competent people invade his echo chamber is making that difficult–hence his need to silence the few competent voices who venture into such realms of ignorance and stupidity.

    These days, if you aren’t generating complaints or receiving death threats, you aren’t doing your job effectively. Having abandoned any semblance of valuing truth, threats and intimidation are all the denialati have.

  136. Tom Curtis says:

    David Smith:

    “And imagine how many more papers attp could have published if he hadn’t spent so much time working on his blog. Astrophysics is an amazing field of science. I wish attp would spend more time on it as I’m sure he has a lot more to offer.”

    I note that you have now changed your argument. I am sure that ATTP would write more papers if he didn’t have a family, or didn’t sleep, or didn’t take holidays. That in no way makes it a reasonable expectation that employees of tax payer funded institution not have families, sleep, or holidays.

    If we stick to your original argument, you have a hypothesis that ATTP blogging results in reduced productivity by ATTP. We have tested that hypothesis by two measures (publication rate and citation rate), and on both tests the reverse of your predicted relationship obtains. I know AGW deniers, like other pseudo-scientists, are not big on allowing their hypotheses to be falsified.

    Even a hypothesis that ATTP was less productive of research than his peers prior to his commencement of blogging would fail, and since then his research productivity has increased by two independent measures.

  137. snarkrates says:

    David Smith: “Remember, science isn’t done by consensus.”

    Actually, it is. You are simply too dim to comprehend what scientific consensus is.

    The best statement of scientific consensus I’ve run across comes from Richard Hamming: “Most people like to believe something is or is not true. Great scientists tolerate ambiguity very well. They believe the theory enough to go ahead; they doubt it enough to notice the errors and faults so they can step forward and create the new replacement theory. If you believe too much you’ll never notice the flaws; if you doubt too much you won’t get started. It requires a lovely balance.”

    Scientific consensus refers to the models, tools and body of knowledge that scientists use to study the world–and correct and advance the models, tools and body of knowledge they use to study the world…

    Scientists cannot afford to fall in love with their models. If they did, they would never advance their understanding. They’d be in the same state as true believers like you with your uncritical glibertarianism. At the same time, they cannot afford to be so afraid of “uncertainty monsters” that they never get started, viz. a certain professor at GA Tech. You both fall into the category of “not even wrong.”

  138. John Hartz says:

    Raff:
    As someone who cut his teeth on refuting climate denier drones on comment threads more than fifteen years ago, I firmly believe that the people who populate webistes such as WUWT and BH live in a bubble-world of their own creation and have lttle impact in the real world. We all, including ATTP, spend way too much of our valuable time and energy jawboning about them and too little time taking action in the real world.

  139. jsam says:

    Mr Smith should write all his posts in green ink. It would be that much simpler to recognise him for what he is.
    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Green_ink

  140. David wrote “That doesn’t mean attp has got the science right” but didn’t provide any evidence that ATTP hadn’t got the science right. David’s waggishness might go down well playing to the gallery at skeptic blogs, but I’m not impressed. If David wants to have a rational discussion of the science I’d be happy to participate, but I have no interest in the sort of attention seeking in his last comment, life is too short.

  141. BBD says:

    Remember that we have Prof. Richard Betts’ personal assurance that he will correct ATTP if he gets the science wrong. I don’t recall any interventions from Richard.

  142. This must be one of the most ironic pseudo “attacks” ever. A considerable part of the mitigation skeptical scientists writes blogs and op-eds, while only a minor part of scientists does so.

    Where were the complaints about waste of tax payer money when Judith Curry told her denizens some time ago that due to reduced administrative tasks she could blog more? Where are the complaints about the productivity of Judith Curry, which has completely tanked since she become a political activist?

    I support the academic freedom of Judith Curry, even if I do not see her activities as very academic, but policing whether scientists are sciency enough would be extremely bad for science. That would open the door to more intimidation of scientists by people like Harper (Canada), Larry Marshall (CSIRO, Australia), and Lamar Smith (R-TX, USA).

    I am sure that ATTP would write more papers if he didn’t have a family, or didn’t sleep, or didn’t take holidays. That in no way makes it a reasonable expectation that employees of tax payer funded institution not have families, sleep, or holidays.

    I know it was in jest, but to be clear: this is not true. Science is a creative profession, you need downtime. After thinking long and hard about a problem and being really determined to solve it, the solution normally comes when you are not consciously thinking about the problem.

    Einstein was known to start the day at 10am with a nice long hot bath. I get my best ideas during walks or under the shower and made several links between topic I may never have thought of due to twitter and blogs, next to more traditional places such as seminars, conferences and talking to colleagues.

    A scientist needs two modes, concentrated problem solving (analytic work, coding, writing) and letting the mind wander (find new problems and new solutions). And you need to be able to switch between these modes, preferably quickly.

    Judge the quality of the results, the scientific papers; how they were made is none of anyone’s business.

  143. David Smith says:

    I pointed out that a scientific consensus now exists and that you – a layman without any relevant expertise – are denying its validity

    I’ll remind you. Consenus isn’t science. There was once a consensus about the theory of phlogiston. It didn’t make the theory correct. I may be a layman, but I have a degree in mathematics, so I should be able to understand a good portion of it 🙂

    No you won’t

    What collective noun do you want me to use? I was genuinely trying to be tactful. Your side of the debate loves to call sceptics ‘deniers’, with all its unfortunate connotations. For instance, snarkrates has made up the noun “denialati”. He also called me “stupid” a lot, which isn’t very classy. However, I couldn’t care less what anyone calls me. I’m not that precious.

    Mr Smith should write all his posts in green ink. It would be that much simpler to recognise him for what he is.

    I don’t use green ink. I use red. I’m a maths teacher.

    That in no way makes it a reasonable expectation that employees of tax payer funded institution not have families, sleep, or holidays.

    Sorry Tom, I think you’ve completely missed my point. When did I suggest that attp shouldn’t go to sleep, have children, or go on holiday?

    Scientists cannot afford to fall in love with their models.

    Oh, but they have fallen in love with them. And that is one of the major problems. Look at Hansen’s ABC scenarios. Completely wrong, but I still see people trying to defend them.

    Serious question, why do you think that as a taxpayer you have some right to change my working conditions?

    I presume your working conditions and job contract are perfectly reasonable. But I don’t believe you’re fulfilling that contract. I have a right to voice my opinions to anyone I like, including your employer. It’s a free world. I think you’re wasting a lot of people’s time and money and that concerns me. Especially as you’re wasting your time on a very shaky hypothesis whose predictions have failed to come true ( For instance, where are those 50 million climate refugees?)The big problem is that shaky hypothesis is used to justify spending trillions on useless green technology and pointless taxes that are hitting people like me in the pocket, and I resent that.

    Jim, I watched your video. That is perhaps one of the most uncomfortable conversations I’ve ever seen. The bloke was just trying to have a beer (and go surfing?) and seemed to just be humouring you. I don’t think I ever want to make a video like that. Besides, I couldn’t as I don’t have an iphone. Go android and go linux!

  144. David,
    That doesn’t answer my question. Why have you decided that you can define my working hours when – contractually – I don’t have any?

    Also, you appear to be a Maths teacher. In what way does that give you the credentials to judge my productivity?

    Also, the reason you can’t use “green” is because people here haven’t said anything that would really be consistent with them being described as Greens. You, however, said this

    I’ll know that I’ve done my best to stop an academic wasting his working day spreading unnecessary alarm about a non-problem.

    and this

    Especially as you’re wasting your time on a very shaky hypothesis

    It’s therefore quite hard to stop people from using terms like “denialiati”. I’ll go back and see if there are any particularly egregious insults that I should redact. You shouldn’t, however, necessarily assume that I disagree with what was being said, just that I’d prefer people not to say things that are particularly insulting.

  145. David,
    Also your comment about consensus is particularly silly. Science isn’t done by consensus, however that doesn’t mean that there isn’t one. Also being aware of the consensus is very often an important part of doing science. Not everyone can redo everything from scratch every time they do research. Similarly, that some consensus position have turned out to be wrong does not suddenly mean that we should assume that the existence of a consensus is an indication that it will turn out to be wrong. There are plenty of examples of consensus positions being strengthened with time.

  146. On the “Shouldn’t you be working?” point. We know that in an always on world, work bleeds into family/ private life, and vice versa. Oh for more people like Ricardo Semler who understands that packing folk into Dilbert boxes for 9-5 is not necessarily a formula for success. I thankfully have always worked for great companies that empower and trust their staff to do great stuff. Results count. The best programmer who worked for me could achieve more in 2 hours than the next best in 8 hours, but the market did not allow us to pay him 4 times as much.

    If academia cannot be at least as creative with time management as the business world, then I am seriously worried about academia.
    Oh, and please keep quiet about this dirty secret … Einstein’s annus mirabilis in 1905 when he produced 3 brilliant papers, were created on the sly while working at a Patent Office.
    I am guessing Einstein got the day job done to a great standard … and changed the world!

  147. BBD says:

    David Smith

    I’ll remind you. Consenus isn’t science.

    For the second time, that is not what I said. Read the words, David.

  148. BBD says:

    I may be a layman, but I have a degree in mathematics, so I should be able to understand a good portion of it

    Obviously, you don’t.

  149. snarkrates says:

    Mr. Smith, [Mod: redacted]

    Smith: “Oh, but they have fallen in love with them. And that is one of the major problems. ”

    Really? You are seriously contending that tens of thousands of climate scientist have fallen so blindly in love with their models that progress in climate science has been arrested? Seriously? This must come as a shock to the editors of Science and Nature, PNAS…, who are regularly publishing advances in not just climate science but every other scientific field? Do you really think that if climate science were pathological that the editors of such broadly based journals wouldn’t notice it?

    “Look at Hansen’s ABC scenarios. Completely wrong, but I still see people trying to defend them.”

    Oh dear. You are so clueless that you think that scenarios are part of the model. They aren’t. They are input to the model. Anyone can define a scenario. I really like denialists like you Davey boy. The more you say, the more you discredit yourselves.

  150. David Smith says:

    If David wants to have a rational discussion of the science I’d be happy to participate

    More to the point Dikran, let’s discuss all those failed predictions that got everyone in such a lather that goverments went and spent trillions on a non-problem:
    – the 50 millions climate refugees that failed to appear
    – children in the UK still “knowing what snow is”, despite what Dr Viner predicted
    – the multitude of predictions telling us that Arctic sea ice would be completely gone by now, yet it is still there. Yes, it is decreasing slowly, but nothing like what was predicted and there’s no proof anyone’s SUVs are to blame for it.
    – Flannery convincing the Aussie govt to blow money on desalination plants because of his predictions about permanent drought, only for it to promptly rain.
    – The Antarctic actually gaining sea ice, rather than losing it as the models predicted. There was then an unashamed volte-face, with all the climate scientists announcing that in fact, a warming world meant MORE ice, not less.
    – The Met Office’s Julia Slingo telling us in 2012 that UK winters would be drier and colder because of global warming. However, when the last couple of winters were warm and wet she claimed it was linked to global warming.
    Sorry Dikran, it’s all twaddle. You’ll have to try damn hard to convince me otherwise.

  151. Phil Clarke says:

    “Ken/Phil,
    Please keep on, it’s so amusing to see the pair of you digging yourselves deeper and deeper into a very muddy hole. A few complaints and FOI requests to your employers and professional bodies should see the pair of you brought to book.”

    So says the charming ‘Salopian’, at BH unintentionally flattering me by bracketing me with our host. It is an idle threat of course, I use my own name and a few minutes with Professor Google would enable our interlocutor to discover that I am the Director of my own company.

    Perhaps I should discipline myself.

  152. snarkrates says:

    Oh, this is fricking brilliant. Davey boy doesn’t even know what constitutes a scientific prediction and what is merely the opinion of an individual researcher. It is clear that this is his first venture outside of the denialosphere. If we try, I’ll bet we can make him cry, too.

  153. David Smith says:

    You are so clueless that you think that scenarios are part of the model.

    I suppose Hansen’s ABC stuff shouldn’t be called scenarios, but predictions. I presume he used a model to come up with his ABC predictions, or did he just pull them out of thin air? Those alarmist predictions are what caused a load of people to panic – pity it didn’t come true.

  154. David,
    Maybe we could stick to the topic for the moment. There are a few too many misconceptions in what you’ve said to address them at the moment. You still haven’t answered my question. Why do you think you can define my working hours?

  155. David Smith says:

    Davey boy doesn’t even know what constitutes a scientific prediction and what is merely the opinion of an individual researcher

    Hmmm… most other people would call such statements as “Artcic sea ice will be gone by 2012” a prediction. I’d call a statement such as “UK winters will be colder and drier” a prediction. A scientist has claimed something will happen in the future. That’s a prediction. It’s a pity those predictions never came true. You’re trying to wheedle out of things Snarkrates, and it’s not convincing me, I’m afraid. You’ll have to try harder.

    Phil C, good to see you! Phil told everyone over at BH that he was opening a bottle of vegan champagne to celebrate the fact that 13 rather mis-guided young people had got themselves criminal records for breaking into an airport and causing no end of trouble.

  156. snarkrates says:

    David,
    Were the “predictions” in a scientific journal? Were they made in multiple articles by multiple research groups? If not, they are not scientific predictions based on the model of Earth’s climate. Did you ever even take a science course?

  157. David,

    most other people would call such statements as “Artcic sea ice will be gone by 2012” a prediction.

    Noone that I know of ever said this. Please stop promoting denialist nonsense and answer my question.

  158. Magma says:

    I wouldn’t have predicted it, but the Contrarian Quality Index has plummeted below the Tol benchmark.

  159. “We all, including ATTP, spend way too much of our valuable time and energy jawboning about them and too little time taking action in the real world.”

    I would rather see criticisms of scientists who wield influence based on their reputation and credentials, such as Lindzen and Curry. By debunking Lindzen’s QBO theory, he goes down many notches in terms of a bullying authority. Curry’s misguided application of Bose-Einstein statistics to the atmosphere has made her a bit of a laughing-stock among physicists.

    The real world of research operates at this level, and you really can’t be meek about laying out their shortcomings. Yet I almost see pushback on criticism, because to call out Lindzen and Curry, it places a black-mark on others that cite their work.

    For example, is it a house of cards that others use Lindzen’s ideas in climate models to show how well they can fit the QBO, when the reality is that the foundation that Lindzen laid out is suspect?

  160. David Smith says:

    Right, it’s getting towards dinner time and I’ve got a lot of ironing to do before my wife slaps some pasta and pesto in front of me.
    Just to finish up:
    I had no intention of reporting attp to his employers. I’m not that vindictive and don’t wish him any financial harm. I just wanted him to think a bit harder about how he spends his working day. Hell, I even got him to admit that he spent too much time blogging.
    Besides, to gather any data about the exact times of the day that attp is blogging instead of working would entail me having to go through his blog in detail and I’d rather stab my eyes out with a blunt pencil than do that.
    It’s been great interacting with you all. I’ve had real fun. All I want to say to finish is this:
    Attp, I genuinely hope you will give it up with the global warming stuff. Your work on exo-planets sounds fascinating and I genuinely hope you spend as much time as possible on your research. There is so little we know about what’s out there and we will never stop discovering. That is what makes science so fascinating and that is what I tell the kids I teach every day.

    PS Thanks for letting my comments through.

  161. snarkrates says:

    “when danger reared its ugly head,
    he bravely turned his tail and fled;
    yes, brave Sir David turned about,
    and gallantly, he chickened out.”

  162. Eli Rabett says:

    David Smith, science, as Kuhn points out IS done by consensus, otherwise you have political drivel and Bishop Hill.

  163. Phil Clarke says:

    Chicken

    “Let’s discuss all those failed predictions that got everyone in such a lather that goverments went and spent trillions on a non-problem:

    – the 50 millions climate refugees that failed to appear”

    One silly outlier.

    “– children in the UK still “knowing what snow is”, despite what Dr Viner predicted”

    You guys love this one don’t you? A filler piece in a newspaper from 15 years ago written by a business journalist. A woeful piece of science journalism. You might want to revisit it and look at what was said by Viner – those would be the words in quotes – and what was added by the journalist. You might like to compare it to what the primary sources (IPCC, the Met Office, the literature) were saying at the same time.

    “– the multitude of predictions telling us that Arctic sea ice would be completely gone by now, ”

    Mainstream predictions are for an ice free summer Arctic sometime around 2030-2050, a lot earlier than was predicted just a few years ago. Are you seriously suggesting that the observed decrease is not a cause for concern?

    “– Flannery convincing the Aussie Govt to blow money on desalination plants because of his predictions about permanent drought, only for it to promptly rain.”

    Don’t know much background on this – link?

    “– The Antarctic actually gaining sea ice, rather than losing it as the models predicted. There was then an unashamed volte-face, with all the climate scientists announcing that in fact, a warming world meant MORE ice, not less.”

    IPCC : “Most models simulate a small downward trend in Antarctic sea ice extent, albeit with large inter-model spread, in contrast to the small upward trend in observations. {9.4}”

    Personally, I think observations will align themselves with projections in 5-10 years or so, in the meantime, no need to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

    “– The Met Office’s Julia Slingo telling us in 2012 that UK winters would be drier and colder because of global warming. However, when the last couple of winters were warm and wet she claimed it was linked to global warming.”

    Again, a link would be good, I am fairly sure Professor Dame Sligo knows the difference between weather and climate.

    “I suppose Hansen’s ABC stuff shouldn’t be called scenarios, but predictions. I presume he used a model to come up with his ABC predictions, or did he just pull them out of thin air? Those alarmist predictions are what caused a load of people to panic – pity it didn’t come true.”

    Hansen’s 1988 predictions, projections, whatever were made with a climate model that had a sensitivity around 4C, the modern best estimate is nearer 3C. His mid-range scenario B had a value of 0.99C for the global anomaly in 2015. NASA just posted a value of 1.04C for January 2016. Not too shabby.

    “Phil told everyone over at BH that he was opening a bottle of vegan champagne to celebrate the fact that 13 rather mis-guided young people had got themselves criminal records for breaking into an airport and causing no end of trouble.”

    Montford’s gift for distortion seems to have rubbed off on you. I was marking the fact that the protestors had gained a lot of publicity without acquiring jailtime, contrary to gleeful predictions by the likes of Montford and Delingpole.

  164. BBD says:

    It’s true. You don’t get very much done if you have to reinvent the wheel every day.

  165. Michael Mann and Gavin Schmidt are taking on and jawboning with lightweights as well

  166. John Hartz says:

    Paul Pukite: John Cook and his all-volunteer team at Skeptical Science has done and continues doing what you have suggested needs to be done.

    (Although I am a member of the SKs team, I am not a climate science wonk as are most of my colleagues.)

  167. “If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.” And James Annan’s play on it, “If I have seen further than others, it is by treading on the toes of giants.” Both build upon the work of those who went before.

    As BBD says, you won’t get much done if you keep having to reinvent the wheel or building a mathematical system from scratch or deriving any of a million others pieces of consensus from first principles. If you can do it and come up with a different answer and your new answer becomes widely accepted, then history will remember you.

    Funny how it’s almost always people who don’t actually *do* any science that knows how science operates.

  168. Jim Hunt says:

    David,

    I’m glad to hear it. I “went Linux” long before Linux existed. Ported CROMIX to my Gemini 80 Bus system.

    I note that your Android seems to be unable to record the denizens of Oxford Street expressing their AGW apathy. Or is that down to “finger trouble” on the part of the operator?

  169. BBD says:

    Phil Clarke

    Again, a link would be good, I am fairly sure Professor Dame Sligo knows the difference between weather and climate.

    A minor point: it would be Prof. Slingo or Dame Julia, not a mashup 😉

  170. David, it appears 31% of aTTP’s University funding comes from the taxpayer directly. Therefore I submit you can only control 31% of his time (if any) and he might be blogging and commenting in the remaining 69%. Even allowing for other taxpayer sources, not all of the Universities funding comes from taxes.

    http://www.docs.sasg.ed.ac.uk/gasp/factsheet/financefactsheet200809.pdf

    https://www.wiki.ed.ac.uk/download/attachments/68630228/UOE_Annual_Report_and_Accounts_2014-15.pdf?api=v2

    I see David is using o e of Monckton’s tactics – running to tell teacher.

  171. Jhn Hartz said:

    “Paul Pukite: John Cook and his all-volunteer team at Skeptical Science has done and continues doing what you have suggested needs to be done.”

    I don’t see a research category or a research forum on that site. I used the search facility and didn’t see criticism of Curry’s Bose-Einstein blunder, or anything on Lindzen’s QBO.

    Are you willing to allow me to do a guest post on that site? Or start up a research thread?

    We have that at John Carlos Baez’s Azimuth Project. John has a long history of moderating forums that beat back weird ideas — having moderated Usenet forums and authoring the Crackpot Index.

  172. andrew adams says:

    David,

    In any future comments I’ll call you lot ‘greens’ as other inoffensive names really seem to upset you.

    Personally I very rarely take offence at labels which are used to describe me in discussions on this or other topics. I think it’s worth voicing an objection to this one though, not because it’s offensive or perjorative per se but because it displays a misunderstanding of where many people who are concerned about climate change are coming from.
    I personally don’t think of myself as a “green”. I’m certainly sympathetic towards the environmental movement but I don’t think of myself as part of it – I don’t subscribe to any green organisations or particularly direct my energies towards environmentalist causes. I can’t speak for others who comment here (or our host) but I know I can say the same about many other people who think climate change is a huge problem which needs to be addressed.
    Of course climate change will have large environmental impacts, but it will also have huge economic and humanitarian impacts. It’s too big and wide ranging an issue to be merely a “green” cause.

  173. andrew adams says:

    One more thing. I’m glad that you have rowed back on your threat to report ATTP to his employers. Not because I thing he would have anything to fear but because it would be a petty, vindictive and mean minded thing to do. Let’s face it, no-one likes a sneak.

    I’ve seen the “you work for the public sector so I’m your boss” argument used a lot by climate change “skeptics” and it’s nonsense. ATTP’s employer is the university where he works, he has a contract with them, the management are responsible for monitoring the performance of their staff and judging what is or isn’t appropriate behaviour. I’m all for accountability for public bodies at an institutional level, which is why I’m in favour of strong FoI laws but that doesn’t give me the right to walk into my local council office, go through their files and tell the people there how to do their jobs, any more than I can do the same at a listed company in which I’m a shareholder.

  174. John Hartz says:

    Paul Pukite: I’ll discuss the issues you have raised about Lindzen’s QBO theory and Curry’s Bose-Einstein blunder with my colleagues at SKS and get back to you.

    It’s possible that both issues were addressed in one or more sessions of the course, Making Sense of Climate Science Denial.

    Much of the newer material included in the course has yet to be integrated into the appropriate texts of the SkS portfolio of rebuttal articles.

  175. Raff says:

    ATTP, I noticed (sad sicko) although it is possible he was really trying to say “mad psycho”. My theory is that most “skeptics” are in fact sociopaths.

  176. Raff,
    I’m reluctant to generalise, but it does seem as though there is some kind of natural selection process that leads to “skeptic” blogs being frequented by those with a similar mindset. I suspect it is more to do with reasonable people simply choosing not to engage there. It’s one reason why I should really stop myself.

  177. Brandon Gates says:

    snarkrates,

    Re: your Richard Hamming quote, I’ve been partial to this one ever since I ran across it:

    We have no right to assume that any physical laws exist, or if they have existed up until now, that they will continue to exist in a similar manner in the future. ~Max Planck

    Yet this did not lead to apathetic paralysis, but rather to curiosity and inquisitiveness; which I think is the proper way to be intensely sceptical. We don’t eschew doing science because we might be wrong, we do it because we KNOW we are.

  178. jsam says:

    Lewandowsky was right.

  179. jsam,
    Indeed, and some people seem to hate having that pointed out.

  180. Jim Hunt says:

    David,

    If you watched my “uncomfortable” video you will realise that I have a blog whereon I pontificate about Arctic sea ice. For your edification regarding the so called “2012 twaddle” see for example:

    http://GreatWhiteCon.info/2015/01/mark-serreze-and-the-arctic-sea-ice-death-spiral/

    There’s even an Antarctic sea ice page:

    http://GreatWhiteCon.info/resources/antarctic-sea-ice-graphs/

    Can you see all the southern sea ice that’s gone missing over the last year?

    As Anders put it, “Please stop promoting denialist nonsense”. Have you finished your ironing, pasta and pesto yet? If so please answer his question and then my question.

  181. Brandon Gates says:

    Anders,

    I’m reluctant to generalise, but it does seem as though there is some kind of natural selection process that leads to “skeptic” blogs being frequented by those with a similar mindset.

    Yup, they’re gunning for the mother of all shared Darwin Awards. ‘Tis one exception to the “sharing is caring” rule if there ever was one.

    I’m in a mood today to paint with the broad brush: I don’t think it’s a waste of time to rebut self-destructive idiocy. I do get that it can be a frustrating and thankless avocation. FWIW, you have my thanks and appreciation.

  182. BBD says:

    + 1 Brandon G

  183. Willard says:

    > I just wanted him to think […]

    By setting up a phony threat.

    That’s just great.

  184. verytallguy says:

    Would it be uncivil to say that I find myself, to use the technical term, “creeped out” by someone who makes bullying threats to silence someone by reporting them to their employer, only later to say “ha ha only joking lolz”

    There are weird and unpleasant people on the intertubes. Particularly on climate “sceptic” blogs, it appears, unfortunately.

  185. Tom Curtis says:

    David Smith:

    “As I said, in about a month’s time I’ll be informing your employers about how much time you waste on the company dime. It’s up to them what they decide to do with the information.”

    And later:

    “I had no intention of reporting attp to his employers. I’m not that vindictive and don’t wish him any financial harm.”

    Note the past tense. Clearly these two sentences contradict each other, so one at least is false. As both speak to intentions, we can exclude the possibility of simple error. Ergo David Smith reveals himself as a deliberate liar. As such, none of his words can be trusted, and discussion with him is pointless.

  186. Tom Curtis says:

    Victor Venema:

    “I know it was in jest, but to be clear: this is not true.”

    It was not in jest. David Smith, presented with contrary evidence, simply changed his argument from ‘Because ATTP blogs, he will be unproductive; and therefore should stop blogging’ to ‘If ATTP did not blog, he would be more productive; and therefore he should stop blogging’. His new argument is not presented with any qualifications, so if it is valid, we are entitled to draw the same conclusion from any activity of ATTP such that, if he were to stop doing that, or reduce his time doing that, he would be more productive, ie, complete more research. For some simple substitutions the argument is obviously incorrect. Ergo his new argument is invalid, and he cannot rationally draw his conclusion from his premises.

    He may have a variant of his new argument in which, with suitable qualifications it is valid but it is not our task to guess what those qualifications may or may not be. If he is not prepared to state them explicitly, and defend them, then he is relying solely on the obviously invalid explicit argument.

    Of course, his changing his argument to maintain his conclusion in the face of contrary facts is of a piece with his attempt to reverse the burden of proof by appealing to variability in annual productivity.

  187. John Hartz says:

    Just another day in the blogosphere…

  188. BBD says:

    John H

    Just another day in the blogosphere…

    Yes, but pernicious nonsense has to be nailed. IMO Tom Curtis did so definitively.

  189. John Hartz says:

    Here’s something we all need to pay attention to…

    Climate change is causing chaos in the environment and beyond; experts are warning we’re “not even close to being prepared” for the damage it does to our mental health.

    Climate change is wreaking havoc on our mental health, experts say by Tyler Hamilton, Toronto Star, Feb 28, 2016

  190. John Hartz says:

    BBD: Tom Curtis is indeed the Dragonslayer.

  191. MWS says:

    @David Smith
    – Flannery convincing the Aussie govt to blow money on desalination plants because of his predictions about permanent drought, only for it to promptly rain.

    It might have rained in the Eastern States of Australia, but in the south-west of Western Australia, nearly half of our potable water comes from desalination plants (and almost all the rest from ground water). Dams contribute a very small amount due to declining annual rainfall.

    I don’t believe Tim Flannery was involved in any of the decisions to build WA’s desalination plants, the first was built under a Labor (left-wing) state government, the second by the Liberal coalition (read right-wing) government.

    While the East coast desalination plants may not be useful ATM, a strong el Nino may change that.

  192. John Hartz says:

    BBD:

    Yes, but pernicious nonsense has to be nailed.

    Only if it is not deleted. 🙂

  193. dhogaza says:

    ATTP:

    “I guess David could argue that correlation doesn’t imply causation and that the increase may have been more than 51% if I’d not been spending time on this.”

    Personally I’m surprised that he’s not claiming that your increase in productivity proves that CO2 is Brain Food …

  194. I hadn’t realised that Philip Moriarty’s post was actually in the Times Higher.

  195. BBD says:

    Good perspective by Moriarty there. I hope David will follow the link if he looks in on the thread again.

  196. John Hartz says:

    BBD: Given the commentary posted by David Smith on this thread, I seriously doubt that reading Moriarty’s article would impact his mind-set one iota.

  197. John Hartz says:

    As a resident, by birth, of the United States, here’s what keeps me up at night…

    We now have a pretty good idea who will be on the ballot in November: Hillary Clinton, almost surely (after the South Carolina blowout, prediction markets give her a 96 percent probability of securing her party’s nomination), and Donald Trump, with high likelihood (currently 80 percent probability on the markets). But even if there’s a stunning upset in what’s left of the primaries, we already know very well what will be at stake — namely, the fate of the planet.

    Why do I say this?

    Planet on the Ballot, Op-ed by Paul Krugman, New York Times, Feb 29, 2016

    Between now and the election in Nov, I will devote more of my time and energy to actively supporting candidates who embrace the scientific consensus about manmade climate change and who pledge to take decisive action to prevent a climate catastrophe.

  198. anoilman says:

    Wow… Anders is being accused of being up to date with technology and behaviors around their use (blogs, cell phones) in the real world. I can see why being up to date is upsetting for deniers.

    The fact is that outside of your work, you can do pretty much whatever you like. All professions work this way. In private business, your employers can react negatively, but there are a lot of laws in place to prevent them from acting rashly.

    Scientists are allowed to do what ever they like outside of their academic roles. This is how Lintzen gets away with claiming that NASA is engaged with conspiracies to manipulate data. If this was an actual publication he’d be laughed at for being the rube he is;
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2012/03/misrepresentation-from-lindzen/

  199. Just catching up with this thread having not looked at it since Saturday.

    David Smith tells us he’s a maths teacher so I can only assume his original accusation stems from jealousy. I imagine he himself, a civil servant, has to teach in a classroom from first thing every morning until it’s time to go home and any spare time is spent preparing lessons or marking homework. That a university professor appears to have so much time to spend on blogs while ‘at work’ must be really galling.

    From his comments it becomes clear that he expects climate science to have somehow come out of a text book fully-formed, maybe like his own subject did for him. Plenty of consensus in maths, eh? He just can’t get his head round the fact climate science is a body of knowledge still in those early, malleable stages where evidence remains to be accumulated and ideas are still being tested. This means that, while there’s already a firm consensus developed out of multiple lines of evidence across many disciplines, there is still much uncertainty, which will lead to expectations which don’t work out quite as anticipated. The need to hone concepts, improve models and adjust projections is not the sign of incompetency David thinks it is—it’s a sign of open minds trying to reduce the error bars. There’s more cross-checking, replication of results and heated discussion going on than David can imagine. This is strength not weakness, and it produces, not is driven by, consensus.

    David Smith needs to open his mind and stop being brainwashed by the denial blogs where his pathetic memes clearly originate.

  200. John Hartz says:

    Does anyone happen to know if David Smith has revealed the underlying reason (i.e., political and/or religious ideaology) why he rejects the scientific consensus about manmade climate change?

  201. Willard says:

    > I am stricter than most on this.

    Sure, Rich:

  202. anoilman says:

    Willard: Spitting Image didn’t think Lawson’s intellect was superior. Downright confused if you ask me;

  203. Glenn Tamblyn says:

    David Smith

    “– Flannery convincing the Aussie Govt to blow money on desalination plants because of his predictions about permanent drought, only for it to promptly rain.”

    And Victoria is likely to place an order for 50 gigalitres of water from it’s desal plant if the dry conditions continue. http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/will-victorias-desalination-plant-need-to-get-bigger-20160228-gn5k26.html

  204. Glenn Tamblyn says:

    And Perth gets over 40% of it’s water supply from desalination

    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2016/02/27/a-little-surprised-it-took-this-long/#comment-73726

    “Over 40% of Perth’s water needs – about 150 billion litres a year – is supplied by water desalinated at our 2 desalination plants.”

  205. Kestrel27 says:

    Rather late to the party but what strikes me in the above is the quaint notion that the mud thrown on sceptic blogs is worse than that thrown by pro consensus blogs. Trust me, it isn’t; presumably none of you have had a close read of the comments on, say, Hotwopper recently. The fact is that many on both sides regard most on the other as deluded idiots and say so with varying degrees of politeness. Of course it achieves nothing other than to give those who agree a nice warm cuddly feeling inside.
    I was a bit surprised to see attp commenting on BH when he resisted a suggestion I made
    that he might comment on Notalotofpeople. Of the two I think the latter is more civilised. Perhaps it’s because Homewood tends to concentrate on analysing historical weather and climate trends rather than the science whereas BH is more of a mixed bag.

  206. Michael 2 says:

    The purpose of a university is to research and to educate (share results of current and past research). This blog, and others, is a new and effective way to share research and discover trends in public interest. Within broad limits I believe university staff ought to be encouraged to be actively engaged in social media where there’s at least a slight educational benefit.

    I blog during my work hours occasionally if I am waiting for a task to complete. I’m on duty essentially 24 hours a day. As I look around the office at people on Facebook, YouTube or Hulu I realize that engaging in conversations here spans a gamut of technology and science that is quite valuable.

    I salute your good work.

  207. Kestrel,

    Rather late to the party but what strikes me in the above is the quaint notion that the mud thrown on sceptic blogs is worse than that thrown by pro consensus blogs. Trust me, it isn’t

    I’m not responsible for what others say on other blogs, and I’m not convinced that what you say is true.

    I was a bit surprised to see attp commenting on BH when he resisted a suggestion I made
    that he might comment on Notalotofpeople. Of the two I think the latter is more civilised.

    Possibly, but I find those who seems to suggest that “I work with numbers therefore I can do anything with numbers” irritating. Paul Homewood is clearly wrong and should look up the meaning of hubris.

  208. Kestrel27 says:

    In reply to your first response I can only say that I think reading a few consensus supporting blogs should convince you unless your internal barometer is set to regard contrarian comments as inherently more objectionable. Yours is a civilised blog; the insults are usually reasoned!

    On Paul Homewood, obviously he is a confirmed contrarian but many of his posts are designed to point out that on the basis of past records the belief that the latest storm, flood, or whatever that has taken place somewhere is attributable to climate change is wrong or questionable. I for one would like to see someone argue against him if his facts or conclusions are wrong but it doesn’t seem to happen. I recognise though that your focus is different.

  209. I for one would like to see someone argue against him if his facts or conclusions are wrong but it doesn’t seem to happen.

    My impression is that there wouldn’t be much point.

  210. Kestrel27 says:

    On the meaning of hubris, the point is I think that whereas I have complete confidence in my unshakable and well founded convictions you, whose convictions are entirely wrong and won’t be persuaded otherwise, have hubris. So really using the word is mud slinging albeit with a civilised Ancient Greek veneer.

  211. Sometimes it’s justified. If a vast majority of actual experts largely agree about some complex topic, and some people with no formal expertise seem to think they’ve noticed obvious issues with what these experts suggest, then I think “hubris” is a polite way to describe what they’re doing.

  212. verytallguy says:

    Kestrel

    I wasn’t familiar with Paul Homewood’s blog until the DMI kerfuffle.

    He’s a conspiracy theorist:

    There has been so much skulduggery going on in the climate establishment in recent years that it is hard to avoid the conclusion that this graph has been withdrawn simply because it gives the “wrong” results.

    There’s no point in engaging with anyone who has that as a starting point; he’s (deliberately?) put himself beyond rational debate.

    https://notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com/2016/02/19/dmis-missing-graph/

    He was, of course, later proved wrong, and amusingly attempted to mount his moral high horse.

    As I stated at the time, my real complaint was that they withdrew the graph with no explanation. It is only the power of the internet that has now forced this clarification.

    Hopefully, other such organisations will learn that they too owe the public a much more open and transparent approach in future.

    https://notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com/2016/02/25/dmi-explain-why-graph-was-withdrawn/

    Climate contrarians. Dontcha just love them.

  213. semyorka says:

    “The fact is that many on both sides regard most on the other as deluded idiots and say so with varying degrees of politeness. ”
    The same can be said of the creationists vs the “Darwinists”.
    Or those who follow the likes of Thunderbolts.com and the electric universe vs those who follow idiots like Einstein and Newton.

    https://xkcd.com/675/

  214. @willard
    “superior intellect” referred to Terence Mills, but Nigel Lawson is also extremely clever.

  215. On what do you base your claim that Terence Mills is a “superior intellect”. This isn’t really a question to which I’m expecting a sensible answer.

  216. BBD says:

    Just not clever enough.

  217. BBD says:

    Actually, NL isn’t so much clever as intellectually arrogant.

  218. Joshua says:

    Kestrel –

    ==> Trust me, it isn’t

    What methodology have you used to evaluate the tone of the blogospheric comments on the different sides of the climate wars, respectively. More interestingly, how did you control for your own biases when doing so?

  219. Dana’s piece reminds me of the opening post. Initially, Wotts offered invective and commentors added more insults. After a while, it emerged that there are solid reasons to reject Mills’ paper. Instead of presenting those reasons, Dana opted for ridicule.

    Someone in the financial sector, one of those who make decisions about whether or not to invest your pension funds into renewable energy, would recall Terence Mills as a respected economists (he of Mills and Craft) and would recognize his methods from their undergraduate textbooks. As Dana has no counterargument, he would just be dismissed as a ranting environmentalist.

  220. @wotts
    You’ve met Dana, so I surmise you haven’t met Mills.

  221. Initially, Wotts offered invective and commentors added more insults. After a while, it emerged that there are solid reasons to reject Mills’ paper.

    It was obvious to most straight away. Also, why are you so concerned about “invective”; you seem to be a past master yourself? Are you only concerned when it’s someone else?

    Instead of presenting those reasons, Dana opted for ridicule.

    Not only is this not true, some things simply deserve to be mocked.

  222. You’ve met Dana, so I surmise you haven’t met Mills.

    I’ve met neither. I’ve also probably exchanged lengthier emails with Mills than with Dana.

  223. BBD says:

    @VTG

    I went and had a look at Homewood’s blog only to discover a recent post promoting Nils-Axel Morner’s ‘criticism’ of Kopp et al. (2016). N-A M is described as ‘a leading authority’ on sea level. As you say, pointless to engage.

  224. BBD says:

    “superior intellect” referred to Terence Mills, but Nigel Lawson is also extremely clever.

    Junk analysis from the one; junk pseudo-scepticism from the other. No evidence of superior intellect to support RT’s claim.

  225. Kestrel27 says:

    verytallguy: I think you’re wrong. Just because Paul Homewood is a conspiracy theorist or is wrong sometimes or often doesn’t mean he’s always wrong. It’s not as if he doesn’t try to get it right in the kind of historical post I was talking about even if he is looking at the world through a set of glasses you don’t like. If he’s wrong factually I would like someone to point it out.

  226. BBD says:

    If he’s wrong factually I would like someone to point it out.

    We just did. No point in defending the indefensible – already got Richard in that role.

  227. Jim Hunt says:

    VTG – You may not have noticed that Mr. Homewood started censoring my comments once the truth about “DMIGate” threatened to emerge. For more on the NALOPKT porky pie production line see:

    http://GreatWhiteCon.info/2016/02/gross-deception-about-dmis-missing-graph/

    The GWPF then happily republish this pig swill as if it were the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. In actual fact it is of course precisely the opposite.

  228. dikranmarsupial says:

    Richard wrote “, would recall Terence Mills as a respected economists (he of Mills and Craft) and would recognize his methods from their undergraduate textbooks.”

    So what? Being an expert in economics does not mean you are in a good position to forecast climatic variables, and anyone that thinks along those lines is making themselves more susceptible to Dunning-Kruger rather than guarding against it*. If you want to venture into another field then either learn the science or collaborate with someone who already knows it, or preferably both. Statistics is not a cookbook, just because a particular method is useful for one application, does not mean it is useful in another (you need to consider the physics in this case).

    * it is a shame that Mills does not appear to have discussed his work with somebody who does have a background in climate (for instance in the Geology department at his institution).

  229. I looked up “invective”. I think Richard should look up “hyperbole”.

    Kestrel,

    Just because Paul Homewood is a conspiracy theorist or is wrong sometimes or often doesn’t mean he’s always wrong.

    That’s not a particularly good reason for actually paying him any attention. From what I’ve seen, he is sufficiently ill-informed that he isn’t even capable of really knowing if and when he’s wrong.

  230. izen says:

    Kestrel27
    “The fact is that many on both sides regard most on the other as deluded idiots and say so with varying degrees of politeness.”

    Another fact is that only one ‘side’ has over a century of scientific understanding to justify the opinion it holds.
    The other is dependent on cherry-picking, conspiracy theories and threats to your employment.

  231. dikranmarsupial says:

    Rcihard Tol wrote “Someone in the financial sector, one of those who make decisions about whether or not to invest your pension funds into renewable energy, would recall Terence Mills as a respected economists (he of Mills and Craft) and would recognize his methods from their undergraduate textbooks. As Dana has no counterargument, he would just be dismissed as a ranting environmentalist.”

    Actually, isn’t that a pretty damning criticism of the financial sector? i.e. that they just go on repuation (or lack of) rather than actually judging the arguments on their merits when making decisions about out pension funds? I sincerely hope this is just another bit of Richards ClimateCraic ™.

  232. @dikran
    If it were just on reputation, Mills wins hands down.

    But someone who reads both Dana’s bluster and Terence’ competent exposition would come down on Mills’ side — because you need to think really hard to find fault in what Mills did.

  233. Marco says:

    ““superior intellect” referred to Terence Mills,”

    I’m not sure that letting your academic credentials be bought by an ideological thinktank classifies as having a “superior intellect” compared to *any* commenter here.

  234. dikranmarsupial says:

    Richard wrote “If it were just on reputation, Mills wins hands down.”

    It isn’t at all on reputation, it is science, all that matters is whether the argument is correct and in Mill’s case obviously it isn’t.

    “But someone who reads both Dana’s bluster and Terence’ competent exposition would come down on Mills’ side”

    which proves the value of judging by reputation, does it not?

    “because you need to think really hard to find fault in what Mills did.”

    Not really, the errors in Mill’s argument have all cropped up before and been discussed at length, we all ought to know that manually cherry picking changepoints is a statistical error.

  235. @dikran
    The vast majority of people have no time to read through all material, and will judge an argument by its cover. Econometrics prof at leading business school v Guardian blogger? That’s a hard one.

    A small minority will quickly glance through Mills’ treatise and recognize its level-headed professionalism. Few will see through.

  236. Tom Curtis says:

    Richard Tol, anyone who reads Mill’s ‘competent exposition’ with any attention will note that his predictions depend essentially on his cherry picking of breakpoints. Absent that cherry picking, he would have predicted positive temperature trends (with wide error margins) going forward. Because of the obvious cherry picking, any competent observer would then conclude that Mills was either incompetent or dishonest. Your argument removes the first possibility.

    That you do not remove your association with the GWPF over their publication of so incompetent or dishonest a report, and continue to defend the report opens up the same dilemma for you. As you do not plead to incompetence, again the only rational conclusion is dishonesty.

  237. verytallguy says:

    Kestrel

    Just because Paul Homewood is a conspiracy theorist or is wrong sometimes or often doesn’t mean he’s always wrong.

    I didn’t say he was always wrong. Just that he’s not worth spending time on. He’s a conspiracy theorist. He was factually wrong on the reasons for DMI’s withdrawal of the graph, as he later acknowledged, albeit with spectaularly poor grace. I’ve no interest in proving factually wrong whatever his other theories are; he can just respond that the data which proves him wrong was fiddled.

    BBD, he probably supports Velikovsky too 😉

    Jim, like I said, not worth engaging with. That the GWPF repeats this stuff would appear to flat out disprove Richards hypothesis that Lawson has a “superior intellect”. Unless we consider the alternatives, but they would involve questioning Lawson’s character, which I’d rather not do. So we will give him the benefit of the doubt and presume he has been proved intellectually incapable of understanding cliimate science. And therefore not “superior”

  238. verytallguy says:

    As there is no “recommend” here, I will instead simply repeat Tom’s excellently put point.

    As you do not plead to incompetence, again the only rational conclusion is dishonesty.

  239. Kestrel27 says:

    All right I get it. Everything Paul Homewood posts is tainted. But I’ll have one more go. I’m talking about the posts where he goes over the history of weather events such as rainfall, storms and floods seeking to show that the latest event of that kind is not atypical and therefore is not attributable, he would claim, to climate change. He sets out the facts as he sees them; he reasons from them. The facts he uses are verifiable as true or false. If no one here thinks it worthwhile to challenge him when his facts are wrong I think that is a little sad.

    I am less interested in his more overtly ‘climate political’ posts.

  240. verytallguy says:

    Kestrel

    If no one here thinks it worthwhile to challenge him when his facts are wrong I think that is a little sad.

    I think it’s perfectly reasonable. Otherwise…

  241. BBD says:

    I’m talking about the posts where he goes over the history of weather events such as rainfall, storms and floods seeking to show that the latest event of that kind is not atypical and therefore is not attributable, he would claim, to climate change.

    If Homewood routinely claims that extreme weather events have nothing to to with AGW, that’s unphysical and factually wrong. Fractional attribution is very difficult, but that doesn’t mean to say that the increased energy in a warmer troposphere plus the increase in water vapour plus the increase in sea surface temperatures have no effect on extreme weather events. Of course they do.

    To claim otherwise is denialism. To maintain that claim in the face of correction is dishonest.

  242. BBD says:

    I second VTG that Tom Curtis’ cogently argued view bears repeating:

    Because of the obvious cherry picking, any competent observer would then conclude that Mills was either incompetent or dishonest. Your argument removes the first possibility.

    That you [Richard] do not remove your association with the GWPF over their publication of so incompetent or dishonest a report, and continue to defend the report opens up the same dilemma for you. As you do not plead to incompetence, again the only rational conclusion is dishonesty.

    This comes up a lot. Incompetence or dishonesty? If it is a scientist like Christy or Spencer, I have to reserve judgement, but here we have one renowned econometrician endorsing the errors of another at some considerable length and in the face of correction.

  243. dikranmarsupial says:

    “Richard Tol wrote “The vast majority of people have no time to read through all material, and will judge an argument by its cover.”

    Yes, which is why I suspect the GWPF is happy to settle for plausible looking nonsense from an economics professor that supports their argument, rather than solid, internally consistent science, because many readers will be taken in by it. Do you think that is a good thing?

    “Econometrics prof at leading business school v Guardian blogger? That’s a hard one.”

    Exactly, this is a really good example why that sort of reasoning is deeply unreliable. Ttaking any individuals word for it is risky, organisations less so, scientific consensuses even less so in turn! If you can’t just the validity of the argument, then at least choose a reliable source. An economics expert analysing climate data is not a reliable source, any more than a climatologist expounding on the details of economic theory.

  244. John Hartz says:

    Dikran:

    Rational thinking goes out the window in a propaganda war and GWPF is nothing more than a propaganda machine.

  245. Kestrel27 says:

    verytallguy: and yet you find the time to post in support of those you fully agree with! Is that time better spent than debating with someone who takes a different view?

  246. Willard says:

    > “superior intellect” referred to Terence Mills […]

    Indeed, Rich – that’s why I cited it here. A nice addition to your many ad hominem usages. While the thread is turning into an ad hom arms race, your counterfactual starting “If it were just on reputation” simply wins it.

  247. John Hartz says:

    Kestrel27:

    Generally speaking, very little is gained by posting on comment threads.

  248. Willard says:

    Dear Kestrel,

    Please stop peddling Paul in this thread and let otters decide how to manage their time as they wish.

    Thank you nevertheless for your concerns.

  249. pbjamm says:

    Kestrel27 > “unless your internal barometer is set to regard contrarian comments as inherently more objectionable”

    I find the comments that run counter to the scientific evidence or disparaging toward climate scientists to be “inherently more objectionable”.
    VTG nor anyone else needs spend their time debating people they consider cranks or consistently wrong. Time is a precious commodity and repeatedly using it to combat the same people over the same arguments is a waste of it. To quote The Smiths:
    “In my life
    Why do I give valuable time
    To people who don’t care if I live or die”

  250. verytallguy says:

    Kestrel,

    time spent with conspiracy theorists is time wasted.

  251. @dikran
    Do I think it is a good thing that people are allowed to make up their own minds what to study in detail and what not? Yes. Do I lament that most people chose to be pig ignorant about most things? Yes.

  252. John Hartz says:

    Richard Tol:

    Do I lament that most people chose to be pig ignorant about most things? Yes.

    Your superiority complex is showing.

    BTW, How many subject areas are you fluent in?

  253. dikranmarsupial says:

    Richard Tol yet again substitutes his own question for one that he doesn’t want to answer. This is known as “Evasion” Richard, and it does you no favours at all as it is fooling nobody. Not responding to the question would have been better, at least that would have avoided the implicit admission that the GWPFs publication of the report is, to say the least “questionable”.

  254. @dikran
    Mill’s paper is a perfectly respectable piece of work. You would need to adopt a minority view in time series analysis (as I do) to argue that it is wrong.

  255. Mill’s paper is a perfectly respectable piece of work.

    If it were some random timeseries, then this might be true, but as an analysis of temperature data, I don’t think it is.

  256. dikranmarsupial says:

    Richard Tol wrote “Mill’s paper is a perfectly respectable piece of work. You would need to adopt a minority view in time series analysis (as I do) to argue that it is wrong.”

    No, the [segmented] regression obviously makes the model useless for forecasting, that is not a “minority view in time series analysis”. Choosing the breakpoints by hand, without a proper statistical test, means that it is in no way “perfectly respectable”. The fact that the forecast that it produces (which is presumably the reason the GWPF published it) is obviously wrong again means the report is not “perfectly respectable”. The lack of any basis in climate physics means that it is not “perfectly respectable”.

    I note you have evaded the subject of your evasion; have you thought of going into politics?

  257. jsam says:

    “have you [Tol] thought of going into politics?”

    He’s a lobbyist. He is already in politics.

  258. John Hartz says:

    On our side of the pond, we have a con artist running for the Republican presidential nomination.

    Like PT Barnum, he believes that “There’s a sucker born every minute.”

    Are there any similar con artists running for high office in the UK?

  259. snarkrates says:

    Richard Tol: “Mill’s paper is a perfectly respectable piece of work. ”
    Come on, Richard. ‘Fess up. How long did you have to practice in front of the mirror before you could say that with a straight face. As Dikran has pointed out, the change-point cherrypicking alone makes it a joke.

  260. dikranmarsupial says:

    Richard appears to be arguing that it is “perfectly respectable” for the GWPF to publish a piece of fundamentally flawed work providing the flaws are too technical/subtle for most of their intended audience to notice. I beg to differ.

  261. @dikran
    As you see above, I gave Mills an XL for extra lazy. He could have tested against actual radiative forcing rather than a linear trend, and he could have estimated the break points. Neither would have affected the conclusions in a material way, because the trend in radiative forcing is almost linear anyway and an objective procedure would have put the trend breaks in roughly the same spots.

  262. Except we know that it’s not linear, so discovering that a linear trend isn’t necessarily the best model doesn’t immediately imply natural variability somehow dominates. This is not complicated. You’re – once again – defending rubbish.

  263. Joseph says:

    As you see above, I gave Mills an XL for extra lazy.

    Did you get a chance or anyone else at GWPF get a chance to review this work?

  264. dikranmarsupial says:

    Richard, so if something gives the “right” answer, for the wrong reasons then that is “perfectly reasonable”?

    “objective procedure would have put the trend breaks in roughly the same spots.” would it? The statistical evidence for a breakpoint at the end of the 20th century is not very strong, even if you cherry pick your data source.

    Do you think the GWPF should have published the report in its current form, given that it clearly has led to incorrect conclusions being drawn by those unable to spot the flaws?

    “The global average temperature is likely to remain unchanged by the end of the century, contrary to predictions by climate scientists that it could rise by more than 4C, according to a leading statistician.”

  265. izen says:

    @-BBD
    “This comes up a lot. Incompetence or dishonesty?”

    The two options are not mutually exclusive.
    In fact as is being illustrated in this thread the only reasonable conclusion for some contributors to this debate is that they embody both.

  266. John Hartz says:

    ATTP:

    You’re – once again – defending rubbish.

    Seems to me that Richard Tol and Donald Trump are cut out tof the same cloth.

  267. pbjamm says:

    >Richard, so if something gives the “right” answer, for the wrong reasons then that is “perfectly reasonable”?

    Wasn’t one of Tol’s primary criticisms of Cook(2013) that it got the right answer but got it the wrong way?

  268. Wasn’t one of Tol’s primary criticisms of Cook(2013) that it got the right answer but got it the wrong way?

    Indeed, Richard has said this regularly. Maybe this is his ultimate plan; expect much higher (virtually impossible?) standards for those with who he disagrees, than for himself and those with whom he agrees?

  269. John Hartz says:

    Richard Tol:

    A snake-oil salesman who’s worth his salt knows when it’s time to move on to the next town. No one in this town is buying your magic elixer. Adios!

  270. Andy Skuce says:

    As Emerson, Lake and Palmer famously observed: a foolish consistency is the hobgremlin of econometrists’ minds

  271. Kestrel27 says:

    Willard: I’m perfectly happy to let otters decide how to manage their time as they wish. I can’t prevent them from doing so, nor would I wish to.

    pbjamm: well you are a sensitive soul! As you have that attitude I’m sure you won’t be surprised if there are difficulties in persuading the general public to accept the consensus or take climate change seriously. People do read contrarian blogs you know; BH attracts roughly the same number of comments as this one. Oh, and I loathe the Smiths.

  272. pbjamm says:

    Kestral27: I do not understand how my attitud in any way impacts the ability of the general public to be convinced of the accuracy of climate science.
    I spent plenty of time back in the day reading BH, WUWT, and other science free sites before I decided determined they were a waste of my time.
    ” Oh, and I loathe the Smiths” – more evidence of your poor judgement.

  273. John Hartz says:

    I agree with Kestral27. Otters should be able to manage their time as they wish. Ditto for beavers and all wildlife.

  274. snarkrates says:

    Tol: “…an objective procedure would have put the trend breaks in roughly the same spots.”

    Bzzzt! No, but thank you for playing. Each breakpoint introduces additional variables into the fit, and so each breakpoint has to have significant statistical support. The only breakpoint in the past 50 years was around the mid ’70s.

  275. Tom Curtis says:

    It is blatantly false to claim that “the trend in radiative forcing is almost linear anyway”, given the clear breakpoint around 1970 for the anthropogenic data, and slightly earlier for all forcings:

    It is also blatantly false to claim that “an objective procedure would have put the trend breaks in roughly the same spots”, with Mills 2002 breakpoint only appearing if you force the procedure to have 7 or more breakpoints, and with models determining the number of breakpoints objectively picking only three breakpoints in the temperature series:
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/282999564_Study_of_structural_break_points_in_global_and_hemispheric_temperature_series_by_piecewise_regression

    Richard Tol again shows he has no regard for truth when defending the GWPF.

  276. Tom Curtis says:

    Anders, I know there is reason to give fellow academics the benefit of the doubt when it comes to assessments of honesty and competence, but surely Richard Tol has removed all doubts on those points. He is not incompetent in this area, given his general background in statistics and his peer reviewed research correlating temperature increases to anthropogenic causes. Ergo only dishonesty can account for his continued, blatantly false assertions in defense or Mills. IMO, continued unrestricted posting rights for Tol on this forum is simply a waste of your time (which is significantly more to the point of the OP on this thread than the discussion of Mills’ GWPF nonsense).

    It is certainly a waste of my time, which is why I will make no further comment on Tol’s nonsense. Trolls Refuted A Thousand Times are as boring as PRATTs.

  277. John Hartz says:

    Perhaps it is time to move on to big picture topics. For example…

    “The Old Normal Is Gone”: February Shatters Global Temperature Records by Eric Holthaus, Slate, March 1, 2016

  278. “Perhaps it is time to move on to big picture topics. For example…

    “The Old Normal Is Gone”: February Shatters Global Temperature Records by Eric Holthaus, Slate, March 1, 2016”

    How does Holthaus (a meteorologist) get away with saying that “In fact, El Niño’s influence on global temperatures as a whole is likely small—on the order of 0.1 degree Celsius or so.” Huh? The El Nino effect is huge!

    The big picture is that no one can predict El Nino even though it is IMO a deterministic system. I seemingly harp on about QBO, even though someone like Lindzen spent 50 years spinning his wheels and not being able to figure out the forcing mechanism.

    Predict these indices with some certainty and then load them into global climate models — soon we will have global climate models with enough robustness for prediction.

  279. Tom,
    You do have a point. It is hard to understand how Richard can defend some of the garbage that he chooses to defend.

  280. BBD says:

    No, it isn’t, ATTP. Not if you consider that Tom may be correct and Richard may be pushing a political peanut with every means at his disposal.

  281. Okay, I am being rather subtle. I still find it hard to understand why an academic would continually choose to defend things that are obviously wrong and that they must – given their expertise – know to be wrong. Maybe academic credibility isn’t an important factor for them?

  282. BBD says:

    Contrarianism is political, not factual. In politics, winning is what matters, hence the constant, shameless mendacity.

  283. dikranmarsupial says:

    The thing I find hard to understand is what Richard thinks he is gaining by the constant evasion. Once it has been pointed out that someone is using evasion as a rhetorical ploy, then every time they use it after that is telling everybody that they are indeed using it as a rhetorical ploy and implicitly admitting they know they can’t “win” by open, rational argument. The sensible thing to do would be (i) admit that Mill’s paper was bad and that the GWPF shouldn’t have published it in its current form or (ii) provide some rational argument to support Mills analysis (i.e. not just based on his reputation) or (iii) keep quiet.

  284. BBD says:

    dikran

    Contrarianism works by keeping the ball in play. No matter how often debunked or how obvious the dishonesty (to regular players). The *appearance* of a ball being in play creates the misleading impression in the public mind that there is a valid game and two apparently well matched teams on the pitch. But you know this.

  285. SDK says:

    From Spencer’s blog about the record UAH values from February:

    LARRY FIG:
    March 1, 2016 at 11:34 AM
    Dr. Spencer,

    Might I kindly suggest you take another look at your new way of adjusting satellite data to get temperatures? Obviously your Mar. data is too high.

    With respect,
    Larry

    Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D. says:
    March 1, 2016 at 11:45 AM
    let me know what you think the answer should be and I’ll correct it. LOL

    LARRY FIG:
    March 1, 2016 at 11:54 AM
    As long as you don’t make it higher than the peak in 1998 we can say that the the pause continues. What you are doing is very dangerous and irresponsible.

    With respect,
    Larry

  286. SDK,
    That’s brilliant, thanks.

  287. John Hartz says:

    ATTP: While you ponder Richard Tol’s motivations and behaviour, there is no need to grant him access to this venue. That is Tom Curtis’s central point and I wholeheartedly concur.

  288. 5 Tols on 1 March enough already.

    never send to know for whom the bell tolls
    It tolls for thee

    About the subject attacks, rather a compliment to be targeted in this way. Means they can’t find a better argument.

  289. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:

    >>> Maybe academic credibility isn’t an important factor for them?

    Saint Judy has already answered that question. During congressional hearings, even.

    Some days, I’d settle for mere plausibility, never mind academic credibility.

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