Monday, April 11, 2016

Red Team Blue Team

... old team new team.  Or: why I would support publicly funding research into "legitimate, alternative hypotheses" to explain observation.

Background

Back in February of this year, Dr. John Christy of UAH -- and guru of retrieval algorithms for estimating bulk upper atmosphere temperatures from orbit -- went to Washington.  In his prepared testimony, tucked away near the end of his standard fare, he wrote something not so novel in terms of concept, but in the fact that he actually put some numbers to it:
We know from Climategate emails and many other sources that the IPCC has had problems with those who take different positions on climate change than what the IPCC promotes. There is another way to deal with this however. Since the IPCC activity and climate research in general is funded by U.S.taxpayers, then I propose that five to ten percent of the funds be allocated to a group of well-credentialed scientists to produce an assessment that expresses legitimate, alternative hypotheses that have been (in their view) marginalized, misrepresented or ignored in previous IPCC reports (and thus the EPA Endangerment Finding and National Climate Assessments).

Such activities are often called “Red Team” reports and are widely used in government and industry. Decisions regarding funding for “Red Teams” should not be placed in the hands of the current “establishment” but in panels populated by credentialed scientists who have experience in examining these issues. Some efforts along this line have arisen from the private sector (i.e. The Non-governmental International Panel on Climate Change at http://nipccreport.org/ and Michaels (2012) ADDENDUM:Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States). I believe policymakers, with the public’s purse, should actively support the assembling all of the information that is vital to addressing this murky and wicked science, since the public will ultimately pay the cost of any legislation alleged to deal with climate.
Setting aside the editorializing (which is NOT easy for me to do -- "wicked and murky science" -- really?) and extracting the the essence of his proposal from his polemic, I'm very much open to putting my tax monies where his mouth is.

First Some Quantifiable Perspective

Before shelling out 5-10% of the climate research budget, we should probably quantify the budget itself.  The GAO provides a handy summary, current through FY 2014:
Federal funding for climate change research, technology, international assistance, and adaptation has increased from $2.4 billion in 1993 to $11.6 billion in 2014, with an additional $26.1 billion for climate change programs and activities provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009. As shown in figure 1, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has reported federal climate change funding in three main categories since 1993:

- technology to reduce emissions,
- science to better understand climate change, and
- international assistance for developing countries.
The pretty picture is not to be missed:


Figure 1 - US Federal climate spending FY1993-2014 in constant 2014 USD

I'm pleased to see that technology is getting the bulk of increase.  At the very least, science is keeping pace with inflation, to the tune of ... oh ... let's call it an even two bill per year.

So Christy is proposing 5-10% of that for his Red Team which works out to between 100 and 200 megabucks ...

... to write an "assessment report".  It's not clear from his testimony if this is a one-off deal, or if he's asking for an ongoing budget item to fund such activities.

It matters not.  How can I put this charitably?  Let's see.  How about:
Any of our esteemed Gentlepersons from whatever (dis)United State of Americants present in the House chamber who didn't at least raise an eyebrow when Dr. Christy delivered that whopper is FIRED.
... if not first taken out back of the woodshed for a tuneup and forthwith summarily barred from public service for the rest of their natural lives.

I did say it was hard for me to set aside editorializing, didn't I?  Yes, yes I did.  Let's call this one a mulligan.

Back on course, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics tells me that 119.3 million people work an average of 35 or more hours per week.  I'll assume they all pay Federal tax on their wages, so Dr. Christy is asking for $0.84-1.68 per taxypayer for credentialed experts outside "the establishment" ...
... to produce an assessment that expresses legitimate, alternative hypotheses that have been (in their view) marginalized, misrepresented or ignored in previous IPCC reports ...
... and all importantly ...
... thus [ignored in] the EPA Endangerment Finding and National Climate Assessments ...
Look, I know the man is only asking me for between a 1/4-1/2 the price of a Starbucks Grande Cappuccino here.  But as he himself references in his prepared testimony, the NIPCC has already been more or less doing this annually going back to at least 2009.  If I wanted more of the same, I would have long since rummaged under my sofa cushions and donated the proceeds.

Sorry, but endless literature reviews providing little if any new knowledge are not science by my definition of the word.  No sale.

I would be willing to fund Team Red to do some ...

Real Science™

What does it mean?

Dr. Christy and I agree on the first step, forming a "legitimate, alternative hypothesis".  Legitimate is a slippery word, but the Gold Standard for a viable hypothesis is that it needs to be falsifiable and testable.  Whole books have been written about this.  In the interest of brevity I'll leave it at that.

Real Science™ is NOT paying credentialed guns-for-hire to write 1,000 page tomes about how the vast majority of the rest of their colleagues are doing Fake Science. Neither is publishing such stuff outside the primary scientific literature without so much as a whiff of rigorous peer review.

Hypotheses are a dime a dozen.  There are plenty of alternatives already floating around, I don't think it's worth even $1 million of public funds for a Red Team to compile them in a report.  I want formalized testing, and peer-reviewed published science for my money, not regurgitated talking points we've already been hearing for decades.

I really shouldn't have to write more in this section, but I get a feeling that I'm being too hopeful.

A Counter-proposal

Instead of diverting a 5-10% chunk away from "establishment" climate research per annum, let's increase the budget by some healthy percentage for Team Red to do some Real Science™ as described above.  One quality of a scientific theory in this context is that it can be used to make useful predictions.

That means building a model.  Whatever else Red Team does, one of their requirements is to build one, and it should be compatible with and as capable as whatever the IPCC are using at the time.  A good present candidate is the CMIP5 specification, though CMIP6 is currently on the drawing board.

They could probably save themselves a lot of time and funds working with one of the numerous open-source AOGCMs already in use, and under constant development.  However, for various reasons it's likely they would want to roll their own.  So two questions are; how much would that cost, and how long would it take them to do it?

It's not an easy thing to figure out, because writing a climate simulation code isn't just a matter of writing tens of thousands of lines of FORTRAN.  Someone has to feed the coders some data and maths, or they need to come up with those things in the course of their own research.  Which is how it already works in the real world.  Since another real-world problem is time and resource accounting, it can be difficult to figure out what your average AOGCM actually costs to develop, test, maintain and execute.

When I Googled it, one of the top hits comes from Steve Easterbrook (not to be confused with Don Easterbrook or this guy), and his bottom line all up cost for making an AOGCM from scratch, "worst case" scenario is:
Grand total: $1.4 billion.
He makes some estimates for the scientific and support team (about 200 people), and about 20 years of development time.  He then documents some discussions he had with people actually doing this stuff, slashed some estimates in half or quarters and winds up concluding:
Where does that leave us? It’s really a complete guess, but I would suggest a team of 10 people (half of them scientists, half scientific programmers) could re-implement the old model from scratch (including all the testing and validation) in around 5 years. Unfortunately, climate science is a fast moving field. What we’d get at the end of 5 years is a model that, scientifically speaking, is 5 years out of date. Unless of course we also paid for a large research effort to bring the latest science into the model while we were constructing it, but then we’re back where we started. I think this means you can’t replace a state-of-the-art climate model for much less than the original development costs.

What’s the conclusion? The bottom line is that the development cost of a climate model is in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
Right.  So a quarter of $1.4 billion is $350 million.  We'll call those the high and low estimates respectively.  Neglecting inflation (I'm lazy), amortized across 20 years that's $17.5-70 million/yr, or 0.9-3.5% of the total $2 billion/yr US climate science budget.

So, with ModelRed (patent pending) being Team Red's main deliverable, and the estimates above including research moneys and the science staff to do them, it seems more than fair to counter Dr. Christy's presumed one-time request for $100-200 million for an assessment report with:
$100 million/year in constant 2016 dollars, guaranteed for 20 years.
Which is simply 20 years of the low end 5% science budget he floated to the House.

Yes, I said guaranteed.  He'd be crazy to not take it ... I've just sweetened his maximum proposed deal by a factor of five.  Bbbbuttt ...

Have I Gone Bonkers?!

When I first cooked up this seemingly crazy scheme I did think it was possible that I'd gone 'round the bend.  Among the objections I myself raised were:
  1. How do we make sure they spend our money doing something useful?
  2. At what point do we end the charade and cut them off?
  3. Won't this legitimize "junk science" on the taxpayer dime?
  4. What if this is akin to pulling our finger out of the dyke, and they ask for and get more?
Not exactly the least obvious of questions -- after all, contarians have been asking the same ones of Team Green for decades.  Sometimes though, it's fun to put the shoe on the other foot.

I tried to handle (1) by thinking about all sorts of performance metrics: journal articles published per year, software model milestones, etc.  I handled (2) by requiring ModelRed to meet or exceed some skill metric vs. the CMIP5 ensemble.  I'm still thinking there have to be some basic requirements, but as a naive lay outsider, I don't really have a clue what those would be.

That leaves (3) and (4).

For (3), with the exception of the UAH satellite team, most of the credentialed contrarians aren't doing science at all, they're just making noise on blogs or in the form of whitepapers and a smattering of studies which pass muster and find their way into primary literature.  I can't think of a better way to stop the endless whining that nobody's taking them seriously than to shove wads of my cash into their mouths and tell them to shut up and calculate.  Take the full 20 years before uttering another peep if they'd like.  But it's not required.  It wouldn't be possible, nor would it be fair.

My answer to (4) was there from the start, and still is.  They get their guaranteed funds for as long as they like, so long as it is tied to matching funds to be applied toward actual CO2 mitigation.  That could be a one for one matching, my initial thoughts were that the mitigation portion would be some greater multiple of one, certainly no less.

So basically, I'm proposing a trade.  Team Red gets guaranteed funds with one main requirement to build a model, Team Green guaranteed funds to do ... something ... about CO2 mitigation.  Team Red wants more money in the future?  Fine, that's always going to be tied to a roughly equivalent match for Team Green.

What To Do With the Matching Funds?

Anyone who's been reading me recently knows I'm big on replacing coal-fired power plants with fission reactors.  With the estimated cost of new nuke plants now reaching into the tens of billions of dollars by some estimates (albeit, by some who are arguably opposed to building said plants), at best, $100 million/yr isn't going to make much of a splash.  As R&D for next-generation plants, it might make a difference.  Same for viable biofuel research.  Etc.

In reality, the matching funds would be pooled with the entire US climate research budgets, and better-informed policy wonks than I would decide how to allocate it.

It also occurs to me that, while $100 mil (x2 for the minimum matching) is a drop in the bucket as far as the US Federal budget is concerned, the cost-conscious among us would surely gripe about exacerbating the deficit.

So I propose to make it a self-balancing budget line item by offsetting it with ... a carbon tax.  Perhaps that could be as simple as fixed tax per gallon of gasoline sold at the pump.

I don't drive much, and my 4-cyl Honda gets rather good mileage.  On the other hand, the monster truck/SUV/muscle car crowd, who seem to be the most vocal opponents to raising the cost of their already conspicuous consumption might gain some satisfaction from knowing that a tiny percentage of the fuel in their 50 gallon tank is going toward "proving" that it's ok to continue burning the stuff with reckless abandon.

Yes, this pleases me greatly.

The EIA tells me that the US consumed 140.43 billion gallons of petrol in 2015.  Divided by $100 million/yr gives $0.0007 per gallon of fuel, or 3.5 cents per 50 gallon tank.

Cheap!

Wrap-up

Am I really serious about this?  Well yes, mostly.  Surely any Democrat taking this proposal seriously would want bigger concessions. A 7/100th of a cent surcharge on a gallon of gas isn't much of a deterrent from using the stuff, and using to fund climate contrarians might seem like political suicide.

On the other hand, I am making somewhat of a rhetorical point out of all this (no, really?) -- I'm tired of contrarians howling about how wrong mainstream climate scientists are doing it.  I'm tired of hearing about how the IPCC is not taking them seriously.  I'm tired of explaining to them that the reason their ... views ... aren't being better represented is that most of what they're doing isn't science.  It's generous to even call it skepticism.

Thus, it seems fair to me that I should be willing to encourage "their side" to do some science by granting them public funds to do it.  I can see things playing out one of several ways:
  1. Team Red will try to do real science and fail spectacularly.
  2. Team Red will do real science well and find that Team Green wasn't so far wrong after all.  They may even contribute useful stuff, which is how science is supposed to work.
  3. Team Red will do real science well, and against all my expectations come up with a model that better explains the observed warming, gets the thing published in Nature, earns their own collective Nobel Prize, and becomes the tip of the spear of the New Consensus.
Ranked in order of guesstimated probability of occurrence.  If you have to ask me whether that's ascending or descending order, you either don't know me well or haven't read much of the article.

Item (2) might have a better chance of happening than my snark would indicate.  After all, we've already seen a vaguely similar precedent.

At the very least, this article serves as me raising Dr. Christy's bluff and calling.  And I must say, it was fun doing it.

71 comments:

  1. I think I wrote somewhere else that Dr. Christy's proposal should have been for 50% of the funding. But as a fiscal conservative, I think there should not be any spending on climate science or any science not specifically geared to a useful objective like going to the moon.

    My thoughts on your thoughts:

    Sorry, but endless literature reviews providing little if any new knowledge are not science by my definition of the word. No sale.

    Are you referring to the NIPCC here? I think there's more than just reviews in it. Even so, how can it be expected to compete monetarily with the US spending on the blue/green team? Isn't that the point Christy makes?

    Do you think the peer-review process gives red team papers equal opportunity for publication?

    For (3), with the exception of the UAH satellite team, most of the credentialed contrarians aren't doing science at all, they're just making noise on blogs or in the form of whitepapers and a smattering of studies which pass muster and find their way into primary literature.

    Who are the credentialed contrarians that aren't doing science? I'm not saying you are wrong, but an objective reader should realize how hyperbolic this sounds. Furthermore, it would only take one scientist with a better hypothesis or one with answers as to why climate models run hot to justify more equitable public spending on climate science.

    My answer to (4) was there from the start, and still is. They get their guaranteed funds for as long as they like, so long as it is tied to matching funds to be applied toward actual CO2 mitigation.

    First of all, what if red team science indicates there is no need to mitigate CO2? Secondly, there is already plenty spent on the green team effort. Better incentive would be to have green team show where there has been any improvement in determining climate sensitivity. They lose funds to the red team for failure to do so.

    I'm tired of contrarians howling about how wrong mainstream climate scientists are doing it. I'm tired of hearing about how the IPCC is not taking them seriously. I'm tired of explaining to them that the reason their ... views ... aren't being better represented is that most of what they're doing isn't science.

    The problem is you are not talking to any scientists actually doing the work. Correct me if I'm wrong. You bought into the orthodox position, got it validated by novices on warmist blogs, and argue against it with novices on skeptic blogs. To your credit you have done some modelling of your own and you've worked with MODTRAN. Which climate scientists or contrarians are you speaking to that actually do the science we novices are echoing? If you make a statement with "what they're doing isn't science," you really should be able to back that up.

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    1. Sorry, it should be "you...argue against contrarian views with novices on skeptic blogs."

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    2. Hi Chic, welcome back!

      Part 1:

      I think I wrote somewhere else that Dr. Christy's proposal should have been for 50% of the funding.

      I remembered that comment when I was writing this article, went hunting for it, couldn't find it.

      Are you referring to the NIPCC here? I think there's more than just reviews in it.

      That's the big one, but I'm also thinking of McIntyre's mutli-decade fixation on the Hokey Schtick. There are others I could come up with if I put my mind to it. Or cared, really. I don't really pay much attention to them.

      Even so, how can it be expected to compete monetarily with the US spending on the blue/green team? Isn't that the point Christy makes?

      Yes, which is why I'd be willing to throw a modest amount of money at him to put something together. On the other hand, let's not forget that he wasn't asking for money to do science, he was asking for money to write an assessment report so that policy-makers could be made more familiar with "legitimate, alternative hypotheses". I don't know how I can explain it any better to you that he's not talking about actually doing science here. You do real science by doing real research on alternative hypotheses and publishing in primary literature, not by writing "assessment reports" for consumption by policy makers.

      Do you think the peer-review process gives red team papers equal opportunity for publication?

      That's not a question I can possibly answer, I'm not on the inside. Any answer I gave would only be what I'd like to believe.

      Who are the credentialed contrarians that aren't doing science?

      Christy and Spencer are the two most prominent contrarians doing science, and are to be commended for it. Curry doesn't publish, she writes a blog and testifies to congress. Pielke Sr. has written some papers, but I don't think he's as active as say, Schmidt, Trenberth, Mann or any of the other big names we could think of. Wilie Soon? Yeah, he's done a few papers about the Sun, IIRC using out of date data

      I'm not saying you are wrong, but an objective reader should realize how hyperbolic this sounds.

      Consider that Dr. Christy implicitly supports me on this. Main difference is he's not as snarky about it as I am -- I clearly do have the opinion that the alternative hypotheses he's talking about haven't been considered because they're not terribly good in the first place.

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    3. There's no doubt that the vast majority of papers are not written by skeptics or contrarians. Your post caused me to think about who is doing "real" science. Part of the problem, if there is one, is that climate science is a relatively new science. The controversial and somewhat extreme views of some insiders resulted in outsiders from other fields, especially physics, throwing cold water on much of the AGW orthodoxy. If the latter aren't burned at the stake first, I think there will be convergence on common ground closer to contrarian views. I predict this will include acknowledgement of some contribution from CO2, but that natural factors will emerge as the dominant influence on global temperatures. That's my two cents.

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    4. Chic, part 2;

      Furthermore, it would only take one scientist with a better hypothesis or one with answers as to why climate models run hot to justify more equitable public spending on climate science.

      1) Not all models run hot. About 33% of the historical runs used in AR5 are cool over the hindcast portion compared to HadCRUT4. Overall, the ensemble runs about 10% hot, which fact is noted in AR5 itself.

      2) Running hot is by far not the most serious issue with CMIP5 AOGCMs. AR5 devotes an entire chapter discussing how models are validated against observation, with gory detail after gory detail about the discrepancies and major uncertainties in modelling due to the simple fact that we just don't know how every single thing works yet.

      3) There is one box in that chapter devoted exclusively to model discrepancies during the surface "hiatus" period, which proposes a number of different things which could explain the divergence. Since then, Gavin Schmidt has published a paper demonstrating that part of the divergence is due to the post-2005 forcings used in the RCP runs were on balance "hotter" than what was actually realized. Which is not a model problem per se but rather an inherent problem of not knowing beforehand what all the input parameters are going to be. Using the "corrected" forcings, "the models" still run warm, but do significantly close the gap.

      Basically, it's a myth that nobody is paying attention to how wrong climate models are. Your call for "more equitable public spending on climate science" rings rather hollow to me on this point, especially given that I'm arguing for setting aside a portion of funds for a Red Team to go hog wild building their own alternative model!

      First of all, what if red team science indicates there is no need to mitigate CO2?

      If that conclusion was peer reviewed and published in a top tier journal and replicated by multiple other independent teams, it would be good news. Just as a ballpark estimate, it would take at least 30 years for it to happen.

      Better incentive would be to have green team show where there has been any improvement in determining climate sensitivity. They lose funds to the red team for failure to do so.

      That's a very restrictive metric. Not all research being done is attempting to narrow the range of CS, at least not directly.

      Like it or not, the only "equity" in science is doing research and getting it published. I mostly don't see that happening on the contrarian side of things. Lots talk and blog posts about ideas, or how everyone else but them is Doing It Wrong, very little in the way of demonstrating that their own arguments have any merit. So, I'm willing to give them their dream shot by paying an additional $0.0007/gal for gasoline.

      I think they would be nuts to not take it.

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    5. "Why models run hot" was a poor choice of words on my part. Because the majority of the models do run hot, there is room for improvement by an alternative approach.

      Basically, it's a myth that nobody is paying attention to how wrong climate models are. Your call for "more equitable public spending on climate science" rings rather hollow to me on this point, especially given that I'm arguing for setting aside a portion of funds for a Red Team to go hog wild building their own alternative model!

      Whoa, who claims nobody is paying attention to how wrong climate models are? And because you support more funds for a red team, why the knee-jerk reaction against my phrasing the call for more funding as being more equitable?

      Like it or not, the only "equity" in science is doing research and getting it published. I mostly don't see that happening on the contrarian side of things.

      I'll make a point of citing the contrarian research rather than assuming you are doing that already. One problem that I already alluded to is the difficulty contrarians have in publishing their papers. And when some resort to the alternative open online publishing, they are criticized as not being peer-reviewed.

      Lots talk and blog posts about ideas, or how everyone else but them is Doing It Wrong, very little in the way of demonstrating that their own arguments have any merit.

      You paint with too broad a brush. Unless you think you ARE engaged in the research you refer to it seems to me a case of the pot calling the kettle black. If someone IS doing research, at least they ARE trying to demonstrate their arguments have merit and they have earned the right to an opinion on whether or not everyone else is doing it wrong.

      You may be guilty of some hypocrisy here. The experiments by Graeff demonstrated a gravito-thermal effect. AFAIK, his data have not been falsified. Only talk and blog posts about how wrong he is.

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    6. One problem that I already alluded to is the difficulty contrarians have in publishing their papers.

      The non-tinfoil conspiracy theory explanation (aka parsimonious) is that they are crap.

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    7. The experiments by Graeff demonstrated a gravito-thermal effect. AFAIK, his data have not been falsified.

      Neither have they been published in a reviewed journal or replicated. So they might be crap.

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    8. BBD,

      I've got no doubt whatsoever that in the vast majority of the cases, peer review rejects crap. This said, like any other discrimination system, occasionally we might expect it to err. For example:
      http://emilkirkegaard.dk/en/wp-content/uploads/JUAN-MIGUEL-CAMPANARIO-Rejecting-and-resisting-Nobel-class-discoveries-accounts-by-Nobel-Laureates.pdf
      This proports to list 24 such cases.
      Regardless, for me, the important question becomes is the current system working well enough and also do we have any better alternatives. I'm honestly not sure how to answer either of those questions.

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    9. But if gravito-thermal effects turn out to be real science I will eat my shoes.

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    10. Regardless, for me, the important question becomes is the current system working well enough and also do we have any better alternatives. I'm honestly not sure how to answer either of those questions.

      Why? The straightforward answers are yes, and no. I have zero patience with the contrarian insinuation that 'climate science is broken' or any of its variants. It's just a FUD tactic.

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    11. Really? How do you know that the current system is working well enough and that we have no better alternatives?

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    12. And what the heck is a FUD tactic?

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    13. Really? How do you know that the current system is working well enough and that we have no better alternatives?

      Because I don't subscribe to contrarian rubbish.

      FUD = fear, uncertainty, doubt. A strategy of casting doubt on something without ever presenting any hard evidence to back up the insinuation.

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    14. pfft. Because I don't subscribe to contrarian rubbish doesn't answer my question about how you know something BBD. Do you know how well the current system is working? If you've got some insight that gives us a handle on the false accepts and false rejects of peer review, I'd love to hear it. If not, fine, but slogans about contrarian rubbish aren't going to impress anybody.

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    15. BBD,

      Further, I didn't insinuate shit. I asked a question to which I don't have an answer.

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    16. I didn't say you insinuated anything. I said that is the contrarian strategy. And it is.

      Do you know how well the current system is working? If you've got some insight that gives us a handle on the false accepts and false rejects of peer review, I'd love to hear it.

      Although maybe you are insinuating shit. If you think that there are key climate papers that are crap and have slipped through peer review and nobody else in the entire field has spotted serious errors then you are insinuating.

      So?

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    17. slogans about contrarian rubbish

      That wasn't a slogan about contrarian rubbish. That was an accurate description of what it is.

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    18. How do you read these two sentences:
      Do you know how well the current system is working? If you've got some insight that gives us a handle on the false accepts and false rejects of peer review, I'd love to hear it.
      and:
      1. Even conclude I am talking about climate science?
      2. Get the idea that I have said anything about key papers slipping through?

      Look BBD, I say what I mean to say. What I meant was, do you have some way of getting a feel for whether it's one in a hundred papers that are false reject, or one in a thousand, or one in ten thousand. That's what I said. That's what I meant. If I'd meant something else, I'd have said something else.
      For christ sakes.

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    19. This is a climate blog, Mark. The assumption that the subtext - especially from a contrarian - is climate is completely reasonable. Why else bring it up here?

      Really?

      For christ sakes.

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    20. BBD,

      Let me apologize, first off, for becoming irritated and for allowing that to interfere with my civility. I'm sorry about that. Second off, let me introduce myself and explain why I'm here. Obviously my name is Mark Bofill, I'm a contrarian from Lucia's Blackboard. My primary interest these days in the climate discussion is talking to people with different views and trying to understand why otherwise similar people hold different views. As a consequence of this, I think my discourse with Neal King of SkS and maybe Joshua attracted Brandon Gates's attention. He came to visit at the Blackboard, and I thought I'd reciprocate and come talk with him here. In fact Brandon posted an entry on SLR in response to something I said at the Blackboard.

      It seemed to me that you were looking carefully at what I say for hidden meanings. I ask you to accept that I'm not here for that; I'm not here to spread fear uncertainty and/or doubt. I don't come with an agenda, except this: I'm more or less here at Brandon's sufferance and pleasure, to talk about whatever he wants to talk about, in the hopes that I can come to understand his point of view better.

      I'd like to try to reset our conversation. I will try to start over and disregard the communications miscue we started with.

      Thanks for whatever charity, understanding, or grace you bring to bear on this message.

      Mark


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    21. Gents,

      Nature has an entire series of articles on the peer review debate. I've previously seen some editorials here and there, this is the first time I've seen so many articles referenced together on a single page.

      Could be food for thought, or ammo for a food fight.

      Either way, I appreciate your participation, this article is drawing rather more discussion than I'd hoped. May I interpret that as "more like this please"?

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    22. Brandon,

      Sounds good, sure :)

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    23. Chic,

      You paint with too broad a brush.

      Which I generally try to not do (a broad brush on its own); in this case I think it's arguable that I have. I plain don't trust that Dr. Christy's request was made in good faith, for reasons I didn't enumerate in the article because they are legion. It might be appropriate for me to dig into his prepared testimony for other, more specific examples ... which would take no trivial amount of time. IOW, prob. won't happen today.

      Unless you think you ARE engaged in the research you refer to it seems to me a case of the pot calling the kettle black.

      I can see how you'd think so based solely on what I've written above, thus some extension and clarification is warranted. I don't have a problem with scientists publishing their ideas or opinions on blogs, be that hypothetical science questions, policy advocacy, polemics against their detractors, etc. I do have a problem with scientists not actively engaged in domain-specific research claiming that their blog-published ideas and critiques of working scientists in the same field are not being taken seriously by "the establishment". The way to be taken seriously is to get the grant, do the research, and publish peer-reviewed studies in the primary literature.

      To the extent that they can't get the funding to do so -- which, for the record I do think is a dubious claim -- I'm willing to put (some of) my money where their mouth is, and see what they can do with it.

      I don't see that I'm calling the kettle black myself, I'm just a member of Joe Public exercising his right to freely express my opinions -- which are like bungholes ... everyone's got one. Completely different class of noisemaking on my part, and I'm fine with any other amateur pundit doing the same.

      I hold the likes of Curry, Pielke Sr., Idso, Legates and Lindzen to a higher standard. On paper, they have the credentials to be doing "real" research and actively publishing -- adding to the body of knowledge. For all my doubts about Spencer and Christy, they are unarguably regular contributors to their particular field of expertise.

      You may be guilty of some hypocrisy here. The experiments by Graeff demonstrated a gravito-thermal effect. AFAIK, his data have not been falsified. Only talk and blog posts about how wrong he is.

      I'm not seeing any hypocrisy on my part wrt Graeff. I'm quite consistent about holding peer reviewed primary literature as the Gold Standard of scientific discourse. So far as I know, his works are entirely self-published, the only peer review I know of being blog review. I'm satisfied that my own blog review adequately rebutted his blogged results.

      Delete
    24. mark bofill,

      And what the heck is a FUD tactic?

      BBD has already defined it. For my part at least, I do consider this to be a personal article of faith. I can think of no better example of it than my impressions of Exxon's (et al.) behavior over the years.

      Sounds good, sure :)

      That's one vote. These little "puff pieces" are easier for me to write than, say, the SLR post which is what I'm "supposed" to be working on right now -- and probably better suited to my relative lack of technical expertise.

      Delete
    25. Brandon,

      I'm just a member of Joe Public exercising his right to freely express my opinions....

      Then we are in the same boat. Keep up the good work you are doing here. You provide a place for us similar blokes to kick ideas around.

      I hold the likes of Curry, Pielke Sr., Idso, Legates and Lindzen to a higher standard.

      Wikipedia says Curry published 140 papers; Pielke Sr., 300 papers; Lindzen, 200 papers. No count on Idso and Legates, but three paragraphs summarize Legates' work on precipitation measurement, model development and optimization. "Idso has published scientific articles on issues related to data quality, the growing season, the seasonal cycle of atmospheric CO2, world food supplies, coral reefs, and urban CO2 concentrations." How much more do they need to have done to meet your standards?

      I'm satisfied that my own blog review adequately rebutted his blogged results.

      Preposterous. Your blog review does not explain his results and by no means amounts to a rebuttal. Be happy with yourself, but don't be deluded into thinking those who blog trump those who "do the research, and publish peer-reviewed studies," albeit not in what you consider primary literature. Furthermore, how is the opinion of two or three journal reviewers sufficient to judge and sanction a research paper?

      Delete
    26. Chic,

      Keep up the good work you are doing here.

      Most kind, thanks. It is motivational for you to say so.

      Wikipedia says Curry published 140 papers; Pielke Sr., 300 papers; Lindzen, 200 papers.

      Good numbers to have, I'm not surprised that Pielke Sr. is the most prolific of the bunch. Now, we could argue this one of two ways:

      1) I'm wrong for saying leading credentialed contrarians haven't done Real Science
      2) Dr. Christy is wrong for alleging that leading credentialed contrarians have not been heard in literature

      2nd one is a little dubious since Dr. Christy is really saying that the IPCC (and thus the EPA) have downplayed their work. I'm trying to cut the Gordian Knot by saying, "Ok fine, here's some funding, test your alternative hypotheses in the form of building an AOGCM which incorporates them."

      How much more do they need to have done to meet your standards?

      Pretty much what I've been suggesting all along: *collectively* get together and beat the IPCC AOGCMs using alternative hypotheses. To me, being able to better model the entire system in a hindcast is where the rubber meets the road.

      Preposterous. Your blog review does not explain his results and by no means amounts to a rebuttal.

      I don't want rehash all that on this thread. I really don't want to rehash it at all.

      [Interested readers may check out the article and the comment thread. I'll monitor for activity, and wade back into it if there's sufficient interest.]

      Furthermore, how is the opinion of two or three journal reviewers sufficient to judge and sanction a research paper?

      That's only the first hurdle. Replication is the next one. Somewhere between that and widespread adoption is where I'd normally start paying attention. By the time a theory or axiom has become a standard feature of first year physics texts, it will take something just short of an act of God to get me to seriously question it.

      Delete
    27. Mark Bofill

      Let me apologize, first off, for becoming irritated and for allowing that to interfere with my civility.

      Yes, me too. Was in a foul mood last night and in fact deliberately stopped commenting when I did because grrrrrr.

      We'll see how it goes henceforth.

      Delete
  2. Brandon,

    I'm kinda sorta with you. I agree that I don't see the value in writing an 'assessment report'. Where I wonder if we don't part ways is in the basic idea behind a Red Team.
    Generally speaking, Red Team doesn't replace Blue Team with their efforts. Red Team makes Blue Team stronger by finding the flaws in Blue Team's work (presumably) so these flaws can be corrected.
    Now I can understand it if people don't think Dr. Christy honestly wants this. Maybe there are a bunch of contrarians who don't want this (that is, don't want to improve the mainstream science but rather want to overturn it). Still, that's not what Red Team is about.
    Just my .. not even two cents. Let's call it my quarter peso.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mark,

      I appreciate your loose change, especially when it's dropped on what I think is the crux of the matter: Dr. Christy's intent. His prepared testimony raises far more red flags for me than it does a "viable" description of a Red Team ... because I agree with you, the intent should be to improve the Blue Team (more consistent with Dr. Seuss, Green Team more consistent with the political stereotype).

      I don't think that's what he's asking for. I do have an idea of what *I* would want, and am willing to fund it.

      Delete
    2. Brandon,

      Yes, the more I think about it, the more I think that Dr. Christy had no business saying 'Red Team' for what he was asking for. He wasn't asking for a 'Red Team' to engage Blue Team to improve it, he was asking for what you understood him to mean. Funding for alternative science points of view. That's a replacement.
      So yup. I think you're right on this.

      Delete
    3. Mark,

      Thank you, it gives me some hope that a contrarian nose is getting at least a whiff of the same thing my nose is.

      For various reasons my counter-proposal may be completely unworkable, if only because it might not be politically viable. But that's the only obvious problem I see. It could be completely unworkable for legitimate (there's that word again) reasons I don't see because I'm simply too naive and too far removed from how Big Money science is actually funded.

      Delete
    4. But that's the only obvious problem I see.

      No, the obvious problem is that it would be taken as open admission that there are serious doubts at the highest level about the robustness of the current understanding of climate science. That is the political goal behind Christy's proposal.

      We both know perfectly well that no matter how much money you throw at the contrarians, they will not be able to build a model which reproduces current and past climate but has an emergent sensitivity so low as to obviate the necessity for emissions reduction. First off, nature itself cannot square that circle. Second, if the fossil fuel industry with its bottomless budget *could* have produced such a model, it would already exist. Instead, we got Willie Soon.

      Delete
    5. BBD,

      No, the obvious problem is that it would be taken as open admission that there are serious doubts at the highest level about the robustness of the current understanding of climate science.

      That is my own number one objection. I perhaps should have been more clear about it in the main article.

      That is the political goal behind Christy's proposal.

      I fully agree with that, and your second paragraph. I wrote three possibilities how this experiment might turn out if put into practise, the third one included only because it's a logical possibility. The only real option for them to maintain credibility is (2), which if you ask me is why they might not actually take me up on "my" offer. If they had enough hubris to do it, thinking that they would achieve (3) in 20-30 years' time, they would quite likely end up doing (1).

      An expensive joke, but it would be worth it. Or so say my daydreams.

      I did say I was only *mostly* serious, didn't I? Yes, I think so.

      Delete
  3. Given the way science actually works - an active combat of ideas which removes all but the most robust from the field on an ongoing basis - I can see no justification whatsoever for Christy's ridiculous proposal. It is purely self-serving. It is purely designed to create a false impression of dissensus where none exists. It is political, not scientific in essence and in aim. I'm amazed that anyone is taken in by such transparently manipulative rhetoric.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. BBD,
      I'm amazed that anyone is taken in by such transparently manipulative rhetoric.
      .
      Well, maybe it's that people don't understand the way science actually works. Take me for example, I'm not a scientist. I don't know how science actually works. I know how software development actually works, that's what I do. From my field, trying to draw parallels from my experience to understand, a 'Red Team' doesn't sound like a bad idea.
      Software guys don't screw up their software on purpose. It's not that they are incompetent either, or lazy, or stupid. There's no political conspiracy. It's just human nature to have blind spots, that's all. Particularly when people join together on a team with a common objective. Having a team (a separate team) dedicated to looking for my mistakes doesn't sound all that wacky to me. Sounds sort of like QA, which in my experience does help a-lot.
      But, as I said, I'm no scientist, and you're right. I don't know how science works. Maybe it is obvious to scientists that this is rhetoric.
      Thanks.

      Delete
    2. Science already contains red and blue teams. There are hundreds of teams, all nitpicking each others' research looking for holes and angles. Christy is pretending that none of this happens, that there is no fiercely observant and critical community within each field endlessly self-policing for nonsense (and competitive advantage). Christy's proposal is exactly as I described it above.

      Delete
  4. Perhaps Mark would kindly answer a question that would help me with research on another topic, which is indirectly relevant to this: Murry Salby has published ~60 papers on atmospheric physics (circulation, especially), and has published 2 editions of a textbook, at least the first well-respected by experts.

    He offers a strongly-held view that CO2 rise is caused by temperature rise, but not the reverse, but since his first talk in 2011, has not been able to publish any papers on this topic, but instead has mostly given talks sponsored by people who reject mainstream climate science. Would funding his work fit under the Red Team idea?

    For context, see this post, and perhaps consult the discussion corpus PDF.

    If one opens that PDF and does an advanced search for {Mark Bofill}, there are 15 comments. (Assuming this is the same Mark Bofill, I can answer the July 11, 2013 at 6:02 am issue about ticket cancellation.)

    BUT, back to the Christy issue:
    1) The Christy/Spencer work has been funded by Federal government for decades.

    2) They were already cooperating with the George Marshall Institute (~Merchants of Doubt) around 1990, wrote sections for the first book.

    3) Satellite computations are very tricky, (but much smaller than climate models) and their graphs have been used for decades to claim there was no global warming, despite frequent adjustments, and sometimes outright errors (+/- swapped). As far as I know, they have never released the code, so people have had to guess what they were doing.

    4) As BBD says, there are many teams, and constant comparisons of models (CMIP), and outside of the modeling, constant arguing over various uncertainties, combined of course with others.

    (I used to design supercomputers used for many things, including climate modeling at NCAR and GFDL (and others), so spent hours with their researchers. This modelling software is not for the faint of heart.)

    In this case, the theory that smoking causes disease is no better proven than the strong consensus on climate change. People get all sorts of grants to study not well-calibrated aspects of the former or the latter. Both do regular assessment reports, such as the US Surgeon General or the IPCC, whose methods and language are actually similar.

    If one wanted a Red Team to try to present alternates to the latter, it would make just as much sense to do it for the former. For example, somebody could study the idea that a genetic predisposition to cancer causes people to self-medicate with nicotine, and it actually helps some. People have lots of ideas.

    A good example of somebody presenting a surprising alternative idea, facing credible arguments, and slowly getting it accepted is Bill Ruddiman's Early Anthropogenic Hypothesis.
    That's a dandy case study in the way real science works.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. John, thanks. Read Mark Bofill's contributions to the Salby farce with great interest.

      Delete
    2. Worrall asks a good question ...

      02{Eric Worrall} #8July 9, 2013 at 2:02 pm· +24 -0
      Why don’t scientists who have been mistreated by publicly funded science institutes band together, set up their own privately funded institutes? There are plenty of groups who would happily contribute to such an effort. And we’d soon see which produced the better quality research.

      02{A.D. Everard} #8.1.1 July 9, 2013 at 5:40 pm· +13 -0
      I’ve been thinking the self same thing. That’s exactly what’s needed. I think quite a few would jump across, too, finding – at last – a place of true science again. The remaining universities would empty rapidly, or pull their act together if they found their professors and students jumping ship! It’s time for fresh blood and new establishments.


      ... gets the wrong answer.

      Solid gold, John. Thanks.

      Delete
    3. Hi John,

      Would funding his work fit under the Red Team idea?

      I don't know. I'm not impressed with Salsby, despite my earlier remarks. No idea what he's been up to for the last few years.

      In fact, I'm glad you linked that. Years back, I was a much more militant and much less well informed contrarian than I am today. I often assumed without any substantiating evidence that anybody who sounded like they opposed mainstream AGW science was right. The remarks you link are a good example.

      Eventually realizing my error (in this and other areas) caused me to become interested in understanding how, as an otherwise apparently rational guy, I ended up making this sort of error in the first place. I was interested in the systemic underlying causes.

      Still am today, which is why I'm here.

      Thanks John.

      Delete
    4. Mark,

      I wasn't sure it was really you until I saw your trademark ~shrug~ in a few comments. For my part, I'm always more militant at WUWT. Call it reverse peer-pressure.

      Delete
    5. Brandon,

      Yeah. It's hard to find a place to talk without it turning into some sort of ideological sporting event. WUWT's certainly not the place for that. The BlackBoard is better, but as you've directly experienced :) not ideal either. I commented briefly over at Climate Etc., but IMO that's like trying to talk in some strange mixture of PhD's and preschoolers. Very amusing for people with shallow senses of humor (like me :) ) but again just not really conducive to communications.

      Delete
    6. Mark, Part 1:

      If I had been on that Salby thread, I know I would have wanted to clean your clock. TBH, I still kind of do, mainly over your comments to/about Jan Perlwitz. OTOH, that may be fury better directed at Anthony (and here I must remember I have my own sharp tongue). That all said, this was simply beyond the pale:

      ------------------

      Allencic July 9, 2013 at 8:39 am
      I suppose I’m not the only one who finds this way too similar to Germany in the 30’s blackballing (or worse) those scientists who believed in “Jewish Physics” who didn’t toe the Nazi party line. God help us from these fools who claim to be climate scientists. When this finally blows up and the public realizes how badly they’ve been had you might want to invest in pitchforks and torches and tar and feathers.

      ------------------

      Jan P Perlwitz July 9, 2013 at 9:31 pm

      Allencic had a wet dream in [comment @July 9, 2013 at 8:39 am]

      If you are dreaming about pitchforks and torches, tar and feathers against climate scientists, bring it on. I shoot you dead.

      ------------------

      Anthony Watts July 9, 2013 at 10:41 pm
      REPLY: to Jan P Perlwitz @ 9:31PM And with that comment, threatening to shoot another commenter dead, you have in fact earned a permanent ban here at WUWT.

      Congratulations Mr. Perlwitz, you are the first and only commenter here to earn the distinction of a permanent ban by a threat of shooting someone.

      And Allencic, you’ve also earned a ban, two weeks, for bringing up the imagery in the first place. While I perceived it as a generalization in jest, something we might see in a Frankenstein movie, it was misinterpreted and brought out the worst in Mr. Perlwitz, so you are not without blame either.

      We don’t need anybody making threats of violence on either side, even in jest. Just look at what happened over the “climate scientist death threats” in Australia that got blown out of proportions.

      – Anthony Watts

      ------------------


      FFS.

      It gets "better". See Part 2.

      Delete
    7. Mark, Part 2;

      Continuing Perlwitz v. Watts (may as well be Tyson v. Spinks):

      ------------------

      Jan P Perlwitz July 10, 2013 at 3:15 am

      Mr. Watts, since when is the announcement of armed self-defense, in the case that motivated anti-science fanatics among your devote follower herd becomes violent against me and my colleagues is a threat? Isn’t the right to armed self-defense one of the basic principles of your country? You are growing a quasi-religious cult here. I consider it very possible that some “skeptic” fanatics are going to use violence against people and institutions, equally motivated, for instance, as religious fanatics are attacking abortion clinics. It has not been the first time that someone expressed his wish of violence against me or my colleagues on your blog. One example in the past, for instance, was someone named Robert E. Phelan. But be happy, you have your pretext now to make the ban finally offcial, after you and your intellectually challenged moderator friends hadn’t really found any good one before, so that you had to retract your previous one, combined with your pathetic attempt to blame me for it. So, bye, bye, then. I have played enough with you and the other science haters on your junkscience blog.

      ------------------

      Anthony Watts July 10, 2013 at 8:08 am

      Note: above Mr. Perlwitz makes an exit statement at 315AM:

      I decided to allow it, because he’s blaming our deceased moderator Robert Phelan who cannot defend himself while at the same time suggesting all manner of derogatory labels for skeptics.

      Ask yourselves: “is this the behavior of a professional scientist”?

      ------------------


      The most charitable thing I can say is that Anthony clearly hasn't spent much time around professional scientists, has the self-awareness of a brick, and intelligence to match.

      Delete
    8. Mark, Part 3;

      The BlackBoard is better, but as you've directly experienced :) not ideal either.

      No place is ideal. I will say that thus far my overall experience has been positive.

      I commented briefly over at Climate Etc., but IMO that's like trying to talk in some strange mixture of PhD's and preschoolers.

      lol, now *that's* an apt description.

      Delete
    9. I know I would have wanted to clean your clock. TBH, I still kind of do, mainly over your comments to/about Jan Perlwitz.

      Yeah, people like to fight. I do too. The trouble is it doesn't appear to get us anyplace. Mebbe it's a good instinct for pre-civilization. Get mad at something, kill it, eliminate the problem. Doesn't seem to serve us in our day and age though, might be it's like overeating, obsolete physiology.
      Anyways.

      Delete
    10. Brandon,

      No place is ideal. I will say that thus far my overall experience has been positive.

      That is rather gracious of you. Sometimes I think some of the folk over there irritate me more than they irritate you, even when it's you they're trying to battle with.

      Delete
    11. JohnMashey,

      Would funding his work fit under the Red Team idea?

      I found your link to Bill Ruddiman's post enlightening. I wasn't aware of so much interest in the implications of pre-industrial anthroprogenic effects. However, I'm not clear on how that relates to Red Team funding. FWIW, I say yes, definitely.

      Mark claims to be a contrarian, but doesn't offer much of a challenge to the majority opinion here. Let me try. First of all, I don't see why he is so apologetic about his Salby remarks which to me seem entirely on point. The controversy over Salby's research is an entirely different matter from the circumstances and appropriateness of his dismissal.

      1) The Christy/Spencer work has been funded by Federal government for decades.

      Are you referring to the satellite measurements which provide all of us much needed atmospheric temperature info or the research that goes into papers giving their interpretations of that and other data? Do you see any distinction between the two services and know the funding breakdown between the two?

      2) What does contributing to GMI/Merchants of Doubt have to do with anything? Was that federally funded?

      3) Do you suspect Christy/Spencer intentionally adulterate satellite data so that it can be used to claim no global warming? If so, why do they get similar results to RSS and radiosonde data?

      4) Are the constant model comparisons and arguing over uncertainties a matter of public record? I would be interested in those discussions.

      I don't think the comparison between smoking and climate change is congruent. If your hypothetical genetic predisposition to cancer warranted smoking, dispensation could easily be made. In fact, 20 some states have legalized marijuana. But the case for mitigating climate change affects everyone, not just a few smokers who individually choose to take the risk.

      Delete
    12. Chic,

      Mark claims to be a contrarian, but doesn't offer much of a challenge to the majority opinion here.

      Yup. Not what I've come here for right now.

      Delete
    13. Brandon,

      The most charitable thing I can say is that Anthony clearly hasn't spent much time around professional scientists, has the self-awareness of a brick, and intelligence to match.

      You should ban yourself for slander like that. Who are you trying to impress? Walk it back or I'll not comment here further.

      Delete
    14. Mark,

      Doesn't seem to serve us in our day and age though, might be it's like overeating, obsolete physiology.

      I doubt if I'm the first to wonder if intelligence is overrated in the grand scheme of things evolution-wise. Here of course I presume humans are actually "intelligent".

      Sometimes I think some of the folk over there irritate me more than they irritate you, even when it's you they're trying to battle with.

      It's possible, but short of swapping brains (ew), how would we really know? Nobody's done anything to irritate me personally. More just tired of arguing about the same shit, and getting clobbered for explaining why I think it's fruitless and/or returning fire with similar rhetoric because that's easier. Probably fair to say that a good part of it for me is self-irritation.

      Delete
    15. Chic,

      You should ban yourself for slander like that. Who are you trying to impress? Walk it back or I'll not comment here further.

      I'm not big on ultimatums, please don't make a habit of issuing them to me. I'm sorry that I offended you. I'm not sorry that I don't think much of Anthony and have harsh things to say about him. That's about as much as I can manage at the moment, because that exchange seriously pissed me off.

      Delete
    16. It's a simple offer, not like I'm holding you hostage. I've got nothing to lose by holding up my end of the bargain. Maybe you don't either, so no harm then.

      The offense was against Anthony Watts who you publicly slandered. Since he is a public figure, you won't have to worry about being sued. If I were you, I would be ashamed that I let my emotions get away from me on my own blog where I have plenty of time to weigh the consequences of a reaction. That exchange that got you pissed off was between two other people you don't even know.

      Delete
    17. Interesting.
      From my perspective, Brandon's reactions may be pertinent. We were talking about getting swept up in ... something anyway, don't know exactly how to categorize... unreasonable and hostile positions, lets say. The odd thing is, while Brandon and I probably disagree on AGW and a few political points, we appear to be remarkably similar.
      I don't know. I'm not suggesting that it'd be productive to get pissed off and rant in general, but I am suggesting that by not completely quashing the irritation he felt and expressing it maybe it helps me see from his perspective some.
      Not to mention, people vent. This is Brandon's place. Why shouldn't he vent here, in his own place?
      I don't think the matter is worth fussing about, just my take.

      Delete
    18. Chic,

      What I'd prefer in the future is that when I say something you dislike, simply say that you don't like it, and why. No need to sugar-coat it, and no need to offer me anything other than your honest thoughts. You may find that I'll respond, "You know Chic, that was a really harsh thing I said about Anthony's person, I should not have done that."

      We'll never know on this one.

      You're right that I don't know either Anthony or Jan personally. But I do know WUWT. The jibes, taunting and insults I can handle ... I do get what I give. I can't abide the frequent undertone of physical intimidation and violence.

      Delete
    19. Mark,

      Why shouldn't he vent here, in his own place?

      That certainly is one right I *do* claim. That's not what this is about.

      I don't think the matter is worth fussing about, just my take.

      When (not if) I say something someone else doesn't like, I not only am open to hearing about it, I *want* to hear about it. I know my temper well enough to know I often don't control it as well as I'd like.

      Chic's done that before. I say something insulting, he says, "insults are childish". It's an arguable point. We talk it out. That's not what he did here. He said, walk it back or I'm gone. That feels to me worse than having my actions called childish, it feels like being treated as a child.

      There's little need for that with me, and on principle, I'm not inclined to establish that kind of precedent here. We're adults who often say shitty things because this can be an emotional topic. Let's behave like and treat each other like adults.

      Delete
    20. That's good to know.

      Sounds reasonable enough to me.

      Delete
    21. I can't abide the frequent undertone of physical intimidation and violence.

      Brandon, that was exactly what got to Watts. He was allowing whatever-his-name-is to rant plenty until he made a death threat. I don't keep track but I think Watts is extremely lenient with commenters. Maybe you aren't happy with how you were treated. OK, don't go there. Again, who are trying to impress?

      So it's your blog, you can rant all you want. As for me, I prefer to hangout where the goal is a gentlemanly (or lady-like?) discussion, preferably about science not personalities. Probably should have made my criticism be private message. Too late, sorry.

      Delete
    22. Chic,

      So it's your blog, you can rant all you want.

      True, but I don't personally see that as something which absolves me from being unresponsive to criticism.

      Probably should have made my criticism be private message. Too late, sorry.

      Nothing for you to feel sorry about. I would have had the same reaction if you'd sent it in private. Public or private, it's fine for you or anyone to not like what I write and raise an objection. I'll be much more willing to discuss it when I'm not constrained to one and only one possible response.

      On that note ...

      Again, who are trying to impress?

      Nobody. I felt like I'd been in Dr. Perlwitz's shoes at WUWT before, albeit not nearly as intensely, and it pissed me off. Still does.

      ... that was exactly what got to Watts.

      Sure. He's said in the past that he gets hate mail full of violence and death threats. I don't disbelieve him.

      He was allowing whatever-his-name-is to rant plenty until he made a death threat.

      Dr. Perlwitz made a *promise* to defend himself with lethal force *if* threatened with physical violence:

      ------------------

      Allencic July 9, 2013 at 8:39 am
      I suppose I’m not the only one who finds this way too similar to Germany in the 30’s blackballing (or worse) those scientists who believed in “Jewish Physics” who didn’t toe the Nazi party line. God help us from these fools who claim to be climate scientists. When this finally blows up and the public realizes how badly they’ve been had you might want to invest in pitchforks and torches and tar and feathers.

      ------------------

      As for me, I prefer to hangout where the goal is a gentlemanly (or lady-like?) discussion, preferably about science not personalities.

      For cripe's sake, Chic, so do I.

      Does Allencic's comment above look like a gentlemanly one about science? Or does it look like scapegoating a personality by comparing him to a Nazi, and hoping he gets lynched when the rest of the country wakes up to the ruse? Can you really blame Dr. Perlwitz for reacting that strongly to such an insulting and threatening provocation? How could I NOT get a tad bent out of shape reading that?

      If I ever allow an article like this to be published here (or write one myself), I would hope that you'd walk away from here and never come back if I didn't retract it after you asked me to.

      Delete
    23. Chic B

      First of all, I don't see why he [Mark] is so apologetic about his Salby remarks which to me seem entirely on point. The controversy over Salby's research is an entirely different matter from the circumstances and appropriateness of his dismissal.

      Sorry but I don't understand this. Salby was as wrong as you can be about CO2. Salby's dismissal was absolutely justified. What is Mark supposed to be defending?

      Delete
    24. Well, two things.
      1. Being belligerent and combative without regards to the facts is crappy. That's what I was doing. I regret it.
      2. Being wrong always sucks. AFAICT, Salby doesn't have anything. Now, this was a few years back, and I frankly don't remember the details, just my conclusions. I'm not strongly motivated to go review right now, but I might at some point.
      That's where I was coming from at any rate.

      Delete
    25. Mark

      It speaks well for you that you are prepared to admit error. Never an easy thing, especially in pseudo-public like this.

      It will be interesting to see - in the light of your revised views - whether Chic B is going to maintain his position that you should not be apologetic for what you wrote.

      Delete
    26. "I don't keep track but I think Watts is extremely lenient with commenters."

      It's actually worse than that. Watts is uneven in his moderation of comments. If you're saying something against legitimate climate science you can say pretty much anything you like, short of a death threat. On the other side, it's near impossible to offer a critical comment of a contrarian without getting snipped or banned.

      I do moderation at SkS and we are very clear about the rules and will snip for tone regardless of which side it comes from.

      That said, I think Watts' methods serve his purposes. It keeps his regulars riled up and keeps his detractors frustrated, which in turn delights his regulars. All of that plays into the economics of managing a blog that pays the rent through google ads.

      I'll note that SkS runs no ads and has no funding whatsoever. It is run purely because we all care about this potentially critical issue. We actually did once receive an offer of funding and the authors group unanimously rejected the idea. A long discussion wasn't even required. The offer came up and everyone said no.

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    27. I offer a nuance. My experience at WUWT suggests that scrubs like me have little issue getting through, at least prior to, oh, February of this year when all my comments started going to the moderation bin by default. Most of them came out, some were snipped, some simply never appeared. I think it may be a site-wide policy now for everyone that comments aren't posted immediately, but I'm not sure.

      Anyway, main point is that consensus voices from persons with stature have the most trouble. Anthony invariably claims it's because of "repeated site violations". I'm not seeing it, if it were true I should have been banned a year ago along with 99% of everyone else who comments there. And I do mean everyone, including his guest authors and himself.

      I think your observation that moderation is uneven is on the mark. I was only sent to the corner twice, and only one of those times did my interlocutor get the same sanction. Probably five times I got a warning from mod, and at least three additional from Anthony, all of which looked the other way at the other guy's own behavior.

      Every time, my response included, "sure, your site, your rules". First time I even apologized for offending. After that, I complied under protest.

      I don't have as much a feel for SkS moderation. I've seen it happen. Reasons were clearly explained. And I've seen AGW consensus voices clipped.

      I do see plenty of contrarian posts which have gotten through. Same for every other consensus blog out there which allows comments and with which I'm familiar.

      Overall, I think this is pretty much a zero-sum argument. Blog owners moderate at their own discretion, which is exactly how I think it should be.

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  5. Oh John,
    Perhaps Mark would kindly answer a question that would help me with research on another topic,
    If by 'help you with research' you mean 'consent to participate in a study', please do not misconstrue my response as an implicit consent. Obviously I've got no way of knowing if you're running a study or not, but just on the off chance, I thought I'd mention that. Thanks.

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    1. The study was essentially done in 2014, summarized in this post. Read that to see what this about, the interesting question is the extent to which anyone changed their minds later.

      There were a bunch of questions marks that are now resolved by the ruling in the Salby-MQ court case, and with other things, it will probably be this summer before this comes out.

      I held off publishing it until Salby's badly-misused grad student had finished her PhD (under a different advisor). The evidence is pretty strong she had nothing to do with Salby's CO2 craziness, but that he added her retrospectively like a "human shield." Since Jo Nova and others had tried to contact her, stirring things up again before she finished was something I wanted to avoid.

      One of the ambiguities resolved by the court ruling was Salby's claim:
      "15. Upon arriving at Paris airport for my return to Australia, I was advised that my return ticket (among the resources Macquarie agreed to provide) had been cancelled. The latest chapter in a pattern, this action left me stranded in Europe, with no arrangements for lodging or return travel. The ticket that had been cancelled was non-refundable.

      16. The action ensured my absence during Macquarie’s misconduct proceedings."

      This incited many commenters to abuse of MQ, including letters to legislators, demands for defunding, etc, amidst completely crazed conpsiracy theories, like:
      "I love a good conspiracy theory. I’ll take it a step further and propose that Macquarie may have lured Salby to Australia for the express purpose of isolating him, and silencing him if he went off the farm. Let us not forget the Team and the lengths they can go to to protect their ideology."

      Now, Salby's Item 16 seemed dubious to me on first read. For years, I flew 100K+ mile/year, around the world, sometimes with jiggles in flights, having to deal with delays and such. item 16 seemed quite dubious. Didn't Salby have his own credit card? Would anybody sensible schedule a flight to arrive just before a critical hearing? Paris-to-Sydney flights are reasonably frequent, and they take about a day. If you'd missed a flight, and were about to miss a crucial meeting, wouldn't you get in contact ASAP to reschdule?

      Of course, the court ruling showed that most of Salby's claims were false, but I think the judge missed one detail.
      Item 16 was an outright lie:

      2013.04.24 (Sydney) misconduct meeting
      2013.04.25 (Oslo, mid-day) Salby lecture, he'd *already* missed the meeting by 24+ hours
      2013.05.02 Salby gets back to Australia, having stuck in Europe for almost a week

      We don't know when he actually got to Paris, but it was irrelevant: he'd already missed the hearing by at least 2 days.


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  6. My question would be: Hey, researchers have been working on this pretty intensely for the past 40+ years. Why now? Why haven't you managed to come up with a compelling alternative theory in that period of time?

    You don't need 10% of the budget to publish a paper proposing an alternative theory. You can easily do that under the current funding structure... as long as it's "real science."

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    1. Absolutely. And every time I've made that argument on hostile territory I get ... but gatekeeping, sometimes with a reference to private e-mails stolen from E. Anglia CRU.

      Ok, fine, this article is my sketch of a counter-proposal. I don't know, think of it as affirmative action for contrarian hypotheses. Maybe that's why the contrarians at Watts' joint weren't exactly receptive when I floated the idea there just after Christy's testimony?

      I snark of course. I'd like to think the resistance on that side is that deep down, many realize their position is a steaming pile of horseradish.

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