Society of Environmental Journalists

Paul Thacker, who wrote about me very unfavorably in Environmental Science & Technology last August, has written another unfavorable story for the SE Journal here. Thacker thinks that it’s a big deal that we were covered by the Wall Street Journal and that this is an anomaly pointing to bias. He ignores the fact that, when our articles in GRL and E&E were just published, we were written up in Nature, Science, The Economist, feature stories in Natuurwetenschap & Techniek and the National Post – all before the WSJ coverage, plus lots of coverage in European newspapers and media. If you look at the right frame Category News and Commentary, you can see all the coverage.

For the benefit of Tim Lambert and others, I did not “link disapprovingly” to this story. My understand of the technology of linking is that the link itself is attitude-neutral. Of course, my comments on the story, in this case, are negative towards it, but the link itself should work for all parties.

100 Comments

  1. Dave Dardinger
    Posted Apr 11, 2006 at 11:58 AM | Permalink | Reply

    What a hack!!!!

    Makes me want to kick him in his own hockey stick. The distortion is unbelievable. Of course he never actually says what if anything is wrong with your work, just that ‘scientists’ say it’s bad. I’d go on, but of course we all know the actual situation. Too bad the guy doesn’t actually know any science, elsewise we could invite him here to try to explain himself.

  2. John A
    Posted Apr 11, 2006 at 12:30 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Just imagine Steve, a journalist who isn’t a scientist, criticizes you for not being a scientist, and makes reference to a piece in a Journal that you’re not allowed to see.

    SEJ bylaws preclude from membership persons who engage in lobbying or public relations work relating to environmental issues and preclude from active membership persons whose employer engages in lobbying or public relations work relating to environmental issues. If you are unsure about your eligibility, please see our membership policies and bylaws, or contact us at (215) 884-8174 or by email. If you’re sure you are not eligible for membership, a subscription (requires free Adobe Acrobat ® reader) to SEJournal will bring you the quarterly newsletter as well as savings on the annual conference fee.

    What’s the betting that you won’t be allowed to subscribe to this wondrous journal?

    I’m amazed at his journalistic digging that he finds you "associated" with an oil exploration company by looking at the website. He even tried to call you up through the main switchboard and the receptionist offered to get you to call him back – wow, that’s almost like being on the board isn’t it?

    It’s cowardly smear tactics by someone afraid of hard scientific evidence, rather like Hunter and Lambert’s attempts at investigation it hinges not on the merits of your argument but upon paper supplies and toner cartridges.

    And as for this:

    Hopefully, the profile of Stephen McIntyre by The Wall Street Journal will be the last dying gasp of the skeptics. These people were created by industry money, but only flourish because of the ethic of “balance” that exists in journalism.

    I only hope he knows a good lawyer.

  3. ET SidViscous
    Posted Apr 11, 2006 at 1:31 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Hey John

    When am I going to get a check (I assume it’s a check and not a bag brewing over with unmarked bills) cuz I could really use the Dosh.

  4. The Knowing One
    Posted Apr 11, 2006 at 1:45 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Why is anyone upset by the article? The author is either unwilling or (more likely) unable to criticize the scientific aspects of Mc&Mc. So, what does he do? He resorts to ad hominem blather and rumored slurs. You expected what? That an incompetent working for the Society of Environmental Journalists would base the article on facts? Okay, well, maybe being a journalist he should be expected to adhere to basic tenets of journalism. But he didn’t: his agenda is clear.

  5. John A
    Posted Apr 11, 2006 at 1:47 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Re: #3

    When the next oil tanker arrives in Rotterdam, you’ll get your cut. OK?

  6. pj
    Posted Apr 11, 2006 at 1:59 PM | Permalink | Reply

    It’s hard to believe this guy is a professional journalist. What a juvenile, amateurish pile of little trash he’s produced. Heck, this guy makes Tim Lambert look like a genius.

  7. ET SidViscous
    Posted Apr 11, 2006 at 2:30 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Weeeheeeee freee moneyeeee.

  8. Follow the Money
    Posted Apr 11, 2006 at 2:42 PM | Permalink | Reply

    “These people were created by industry money, but only flourish because of the ethic of “balance” that exists in journalism.”

    It never ceases to amuse me the assumption that there is money on only one side of the carbon-based global warming equation. There is plenty on the Kyoto side. Competing energy companies less invested in oil, or not at all invested so, and all the investors and companies, even nations, betting on the Kyoto carbon credit trading scheme to launder assets, obtain otherwise unavailable depreciations and accounts advantages with dead weight factory closures, manipulate fictional carbon emission reductions in third world countries, etc.

    Here’s an interesting dilemma. In Europe recently some enterprising small entrepreneurs have invested in reforestation programs in Spain and such to sop up carbon. Lickety-split IPCC-approved studies “proved” that increasing trees does not sop up carbon but has the opposite effect. Take that! small timers. Carbon credits are for the big boys.

    Yet in California Schwarzenegger is now suggesting an in-state carbon credit trading scheme to battle GW. Who is one of the big bakcers? The lumber industry! Why? Because they want to get credits to trade for NOT cutting down trees. In part this is more profitable due to environmental regulations but even unrestricted cutting they would concoct statistics making not cutting trees more profitable.

    In light of recent “studies” the lumber industry might consider lobbying for regulations allowing them new, wide discretion in cutting AND gain carbon credits. To save the world no less!

  9. John Lish
    Posted Apr 11, 2006 at 2:51 PM | Permalink | Reply

    #8 and those environmentalists still complain about the loss of the rainforests! Talk about having your cake and eating it…

  10. Dave Dardinger
    Posted Apr 11, 2006 at 2:52 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I’m waiting for a carbon credit for buying wood furniture instead of plastic or steel since the carbon in the wood would be sequestered. Indeed, why aren’t we given carbon credits for land-filling trash? Most studys have shown the the paper in landfills lasts for ages.

  11. IL
    Posted Apr 11, 2006 at 3:16 PM | Permalink | Reply

    But the first person I saw when I walked into the room was Stephen McIntyre. He was presenting a poster purporting to find errors in yet another global warming study. It was such an odd juxtaposition. A global warming skeptic was surrounded by research explaining what will happen because of global warming.

    One person who is looking critically at whether the science is sound or not, surrounded by dozens of posters forcasting what will happen assuming AGW is at its direst.

    Antilla says that after looking into the media’s handling of global warming that the best, most factual coverage actually occurs in the United Kingdom. “Outside of the United States, the scientific consensus is understood, and the skeptics don’t have the voice in the media that they do over here,” she says.

    Ha, ha really funny if it wasn’t so tragic. I long to see the BBC display a little balance and not swallow every single ‘the daffodils flowered 2 days earlier in Little Chippenden than last year, it must be AGW. Factual = not looking at opposing evidence because you already know what the answer is. Move over Spanish Inquisition!

  12. ET SidViscous
    Posted Apr 11, 2006 at 3:23 PM | Permalink | Reply

    More importantly there is plenty of skeptical articles in the press outside of the US. in fact Steve posted a link to one just the other day. The last time someone on /. said something seriously I posted 5 articles in that current week from outside the U.S. before said poster said stop he conceded.

    Just because you ignore something (Usually because it doesn’t fit in with your world view) doesn’t mean that it does not exist. But then again, that is the first tool (second, the first is an almost Fanatical devotion to Mann) in the Kyoto Inquisition.

  13. jae
    Posted Apr 11, 2006 at 3:46 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I have never seen a more illogical and biased article. I can’t believe it was in a publication on journalism.

    re: #8

    Who is one of the big bakcers? The lumber industry! Why? Because they want to get credits to trade for NOT cutting down trees. In part this is more profitable due to environmental regulations but even unrestricted cutting they would concoct statistics making not cutting trees more profitable.

    What in the hell are you trying to say here?

  14. Follow the Money
    Posted Apr 11, 2006 at 7:22 PM | Permalink | Reply

    jae-

    I write posts quickly. :)

    At least two ways it works. Under the assumption trees store carbon the forest owner (lumber industry, also pulp I should add) replants trees and gets carbon credits in return to trade for cash or otherwise. This is an unnecessary subsidy to the owner ecause it already intended to replant for a.) future harvest or b.) compelled by environmental regulation.

    Another scheme is for the forest owner to take the forest owned and “swap” credits in return for giving up the rights to harvest. Say if you had a swath of redwoods in California you might decide expensive litigation to allow harvest is more expensive than the carbon credits you could earn by not cutting. The calculus of profit wouldn’t just apply to owners of forests considered environmentally sensitive. All foresters would balance the profit potentials. On the cutting side, the lumber market, on the carbon credits side, what the carbon credit market will give the company, a murkier matter indeed.

    Yahoo news search “schwarzenegger global warming” and you’ll find a variety of articles touching on the subject.

  15. john lichtenstein
    Posted Apr 11, 2006 at 11:33 PM | Permalink | Reply

    There is some mythology about “professional journalists” that needs to be debunked. Any article you read that has to do with a subject you know about, you will find errors in. If you find no errors in the article, it’s because you don’t know the topic. Just go to a town council meeting where they debate proposals to improve an intersection with a stop sign or a signal. The article in the paper will either have the stop sign advocates opposing any improvement or will have the light supporters advocating a complete choking off of traffic. This is what you should expect from the city desk of a major city paper of record from a future Pulitzer contender (hi Eric Lichtblau). You often get better from a small town papers or free weeklies run as a labor of love rather than by “professional journalists”.

  16. JEM
    Posted Apr 12, 2006 at 1:33 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Re #15:

    There is some mythology about “professional journalists” that needs to be debunked. Any article you read that has to do with a subject you know about, you will find errors in.

    Yes. I learned this early, as a teenager, when a house near us caught fire and the reports in the papers, on the radio, etc., managed to get every single fact (except that there had been a house fire) wrong: street, type of house (single or double-storied), time of day, number injured, number of fire engines in attendance, etc., etc.

    To get things so completely wrong must be some sort of art-form. Maybe there should be a prize (how about the Mann ‘Don’t confuse me with the facts’ Prize?) for the finest example every year.

    That said, nevertheless, something about greenery in general and global warming in particular attracts a especially nutty form of reporter, commentator or politician, who seem unusually disconnected from the real world.

    Here in the UK, George Monbiot, Michael Meacher and Camilla Cavendish, three scientific illiterates who have swallowed the AGW story hook line and sinker, would make prime candidates for the Mann Prize this year.

    Just a few days ago our Camilla (who has been a McKinsey management consultant, an aid worker, and CEO of a not-for-profit company, all of which qualifies one to pontificate on the scientific evidence for or against AGW apparently) was writing in the London Times:

    Do nothing? You cannot be serious

    Climate change sceptics want more evidence. But this is a completely irrational view

    …but it is rational to risk wrecking everything on the basis of evidence that does not hold water…

    Sorry, how I be so irrational?

  17. agn
    Posted Apr 12, 2006 at 3:24 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Re #14 and previous:
    Of course, the trading of carbon credits in itself costs some money – because of course, it is not as simple as just handing round pieces of paper with “carbon credit” written on them. No, what we need is a proper market, with actual brokers and traders in it, who do all this hard work. And that costs money – oh yes, you can’t get a decent Ferrari for much under $150,000 these days. Plus of course the costs of lobbying (that is, lobbying government, and their scientific advisers) for getting this market set up in the first place…
    So, the people who have the carbon credits (that might be forest owners, but don’t hold your breath – more likely it’s energy producers who haven’t improved their efficiency and therefore have been allocated credits on the basis of their present usage) and the people who need carbon credits (that’ll be the energy producers who already had improved their efficiency, and therefore are allocated fewer credits, ‘cos they are not emitting so much CO2, right?); these guys are going to have to pay the middlemen in order to trade their credits.
    So the energy producers have to put up their prices, in order to pay for the brokers’ Ferraris, so that, in the end, the ordinary Joe Consumer pays for the whole scam. Nice way of getting more cash to (and from?) your mates in the City, without having to give them peerages…

  18. BradH
    Posted Apr 12, 2006 at 3:30 AM | Permalink | Reply

    We have tidy way to describe this kind of character in Australia – “He’s a wanker, mate.”

  19. Posted Apr 12, 2006 at 4:15 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Here we seem to have a journalist criticizing his colleagues and — do I have this right? — calling for censorship of an idea because he does not think it correct. Even if he were right about the facts, this attitude from a journalist seems bizarre; how does one reconcile it with Jefferson’s views on the role of a free press? Of course, a foolish article here or there makes little difference (though I do appreciate Steve pointing this one out to us). But perhaps it is symptomatic of a deeper problem. Maybe we need to spend more time educating journalists so that they can write intelligently when confronted by complicated factual information and deadline pressure.

  20. John Lish
    Posted Apr 12, 2006 at 4:21 AM | Permalink | Reply

    #16 JEM what about the latest hobby horse of the Venus Express mission? There has been plenty of talk in some of the UK press about the Venusian atmosphere, its greenhouse effect, “Earth’s evil twin”, “Hell” and does Venus hold some warning re climate change… And that’s just the broadsheets…

  21. Jim Erlandson
    Posted Apr 12, 2006 at 5:09 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Today’s Wall Street Journal OpinionJournal has a piece titled Climate of Fear — Global-warming alarmists intimidate dissenting scientists into silence by Richard Lindzen from MIT.

    Scientists who dissent from the alarmism have seen their grant funds disappear, their work derided, and themselves libeled as industry stooges, scientific hacks or worse. Consequently, lies about climate change gain credence even when they fly in the face of the science that supposedly is their basis.

  22. Posted Apr 12, 2006 at 5:38 AM | Permalink | Reply

    All this and no defence of the poor journo from Peter Hearnden – Peter where are you?

  23. Posted Apr 12, 2006 at 5:54 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Dear businessman not scientist :-),

    Jesus Christ, this Paul Thacker is a real Thucker. He asked many scientists and neither of them had an idea who you are. Well, in that case, the scientists were Fackers, too. Others may have more patience to read this kind of “journalism”.

    Another comment: I have no idea whether it’s deliberate or not – but at any rate, TCO is complaining that Karma is eating his comments. So I just want CA to know in the case that it’s an error.

    Have a nice day!
    Lubos

  24. John A
    Posted Apr 12, 2006 at 6:06 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Another comment: I have no idea whether it’s deliberate or not – but at any rate, TCO is complaining that Karma is eating his comments. So I just want CA to know in the case that it’s an error.

    It could be a conspiracy against TCO’s posts. Spam Karma tends to be stricter on old posts (ie which have no had comments in the last 15 days), posts with more than two links or posters with TLA for a name.

    I’ve restored them, although bear in mind that swearing gets the comment deleted automatically.

  25. JEM
    Posted Apr 12, 2006 at 7:23 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Re #20:

    #16 JEM what about the latest hobby horse of the Venus Express mission? There has been plenty of talk in some of the UK press about the Venusian atmosphere, its greenhouse effect, “Earth’s evil twin”, “Hell” and does Venus hold some warning re climate change… And that’s just the broadsheets…

    Yes, I saw/heard the BBC pushing this line too the other day.

    Question: At the ‘standard model’ HS temperature increase rate for the last decade of so, how many years before earth would be as hot as Venus (about 450C if memory serves)? And is this not just a particularly fine example of the absurdity of the whole HS notion?

    (Those who live by extrapolation will die by extrapolation.)

    Also, isn’t it strange how a heatwave in France a couple of years ago was proof positive of GW, but the coldest Eurasian winter for 50 years is not mentioned as counter-evidence?

    (Actually I don’t think either have anything to do with the GW business, but what’s sauce of the goose is clearly not sauce for the gander in this case.)

    And both last year’s New Orleans disaster and this years UK drought are due to GW. Sorry? I would have though that if anything a lack of rain was due to cooling, not warming. No?

  26. Peter Hearnden
    Posted Apr 12, 2006 at 7:56 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Re #25

    “Also, isn’t it strange how a heatwave in France a couple of years ago was proof positive of GW, but the coldest Eurasian winter for 50 years is not mentioned as counter-evidence?”

    It is strange, seeing as no such claim(s) has/have been made – unless, of course, you know better. Coldest Eurasian winter 50 years? I doubt it. Unless,…

    “And both last year’s New Orleans disaster and this years UK drought are due to GW. Sorry? I would have though that if anything a lack of rain was due to cooling, not warming. No?”

    Likewise.

    You want ‘proof positive’, and ‘due to’? You’ll have to wait. Yo want evidence? There is plenty. You deny that evidence? I can’t make you accept it.

    RE #18, OK, Aussie slang (tinnie talk?), but still just name calling. As you might say ‘got anything substantive to say?’.

  27. kim
    Posted Apr 12, 2006 at 8:14 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Thank Thacker,
    The Whack Wanker.
    ============

  28. L Nettles
    Posted Apr 12, 2006 at 8:20 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Mr. Thacker meet John Stossel. Scareing for Money

    http://www.townhall.com/opinion/columns/JohnStossel/2006/04/12/193443.html

  29. ET SidViscous
    Posted Apr 12, 2006 at 8:34 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Peter Peter Peter, you deniers really don’t learn.

    Denying that things happened in recent times, recent enough to be current events, and that has large media coverage isn’t really the way to go, especially when your trying to deny media coverage.

    As to the 2004 Heat wave.

    Europe’s Heat Wave Raises Global Warming Concerns
    http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/21700/story.htm

    Killer heatwave may have fuelled global warming
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,3604,1575336,00.html

    Global Warming Tied to Heat Wave; Lawsuits Loom
    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4195561

    You can find more here.
    http://www.google.com/search?q=France+%22Global+Warming%22+Heat+wave&hl=en&lr=&safe=off&start=10&sa=N

    As to the 2006 Winter, so sad Peter that Deniers like yourself forget all the people dying from the cold just a few months ago.

    Records shatter as arctic weather grips Europe
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10994127

    Record Cold Blows Toward Moscow
    http://www.themoscowtimes.com/stories/2006/01/16/011.html

    Cold weather kills 71
    http://www.news24.com/News24/World/News/0,,2-10-1462_1860620,00.html

    Siberians shiver in record cold
    http://www.upi.com/NewsTrack/view.php?StoryID=20060116-044254-8689r

  30. Peter Hearnden
    Posted Apr 12, 2006 at 8:48 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Sid, I know you’re falling over yourself to score a point or two, but (read this carefully) I don’t deny those media stories, or that people have pointed to said events as evidence – OK?

    But, here are some quotes form said stories with my emphasis: “While experts caution that you cannot read too much into a single hot summer or natural disaster”, “may also have fuelled further global warming”, “finds that global warming probably contributed to Europe’s killer heat wave of 2003″. Sheeshh, that’s not ‘proof positive’!!! I do think it’s a exaggeration to claim anyone has claimed ‘proof positive’. No one has – get it?

    Who’s spinning here???

    Re #27, get back to your classroom, teacher might notice you’ve gone.

  31. ET SidViscous
    Posted Apr 12, 2006 at 8:53 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Your really reaching there.

    Quite a bit of ad hom there too Mr. Peter. I thought you were against that kind of thing.

    Oh that’s right, deniers like yourself are only against it when others use it, being self Righteous you can use it yourself all you want.

  32. JEM
    Posted Apr 12, 2006 at 8:59 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Re #26 & #29:

    Thanks, ET.

    I had not imagined that even our wooden friend Peter would have tried to deny what is blatent, obvious, undeniable, and near-current.

    Even he, I had fondly supposed, had a longer attention span than a goldfish. But then, to paraphrase PT Barnum, you can never underestimate the intelligence of the Hockey Stick Team Fan Club.

  33. Peter Hearnden
    Posted Apr 12, 2006 at 9:03 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Re #31, Oh, neither would I deny I sometimes sling it back, thought would you expect comments like #18 and #27 from sober adults on a site that say’s it interested in ‘substance’ and science? Whatever, that’s twice you’ve accused me of denying something I don’t. Go on, try for a hat-trick.

    But, I’ll not call people wa

  34. Peter Hearnden
    Posted Apr 12, 2006 at 9:06 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Re #32, go on, go and get your dad ;). Really, you make up a rude little rhyme and expect to be taken seriously?

  35. ET SidViscous
    Posted Apr 12, 2006 at 9:07 AM | Permalink | Reply

    I’m sorry Peter, but post 18 is by BradH and 27 by Kim.

    So what your saying is that other peoples insults to someone other than you justifies you insulting me?

    That there is some pretty convuluted logic.

  36. Paul Gosling
    Posted Apr 12, 2006 at 9:07 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Re #25, 26, 29 etc.

    While on the other side of the pond.

    http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/research/2006/jan/national.html

  37. ET SidViscous
    Posted Apr 12, 2006 at 9:09 AM | Permalink | Reply

    And then headed north from there.

    http://www.breitbart.com/news/2006/02/19/D8FS9NRO0.html

  38. Greg F
    Posted Apr 12, 2006 at 9:15 AM | Permalink | Reply

    I have never seen a more illogical and biased article. I can’t believe it was in a publication on journalism.

    You really need to get out more jae. Not to long ago a certain news organization did a story where the evidence was alleged 30+ year old memos that were subsequently shown to be bogus. A “publication on journalism”, that happens to be part of a well known school of journalism, ignored the facts and attempted to defend the forgeries with ad homine attacks. They dismissed factual evidence of an expert with a tacit admission that they didn’t understand the analysis. They called it “long and technical, discouraging close examination.” Ironically they then go on to make a factually incorrect claim about the capabilities of the technology, which they admittedly don’t understand, to attempt to discredit the expert.

    Journalist are word smiths, they have no expertise on the subjects they write on. If you spend a little time checking the credentials of journalist that report on science you will find few, if any, have any science background at all. People who are into math and science are not likely to choose a career in journalism. Conversely, people who become journalist are unlikely to have much in the way of math or science.

  39. Mark
    Posted Apr 12, 2006 at 9:19 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Some of the coldest skiing I’ve ever had.
    Mark

  40. jae
    Posted Apr 12, 2006 at 9:28 AM | Permalink | Reply

    re 14. Now I understand what you were trying to say. I work for the forest industry.

  41. Peter Hearnden
    Posted Apr 12, 2006 at 9:41 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Re #35, no, I’m not saying that, I know who wrote #18 and #27 and I referred to them. I’m not sure where I have insulted you Sid, unless disagreeing is that? Perhaps a mocking ‘get it?’ was too much for you? Heck, you better not stick around here then…

  42. ET SidViscous
    Posted Apr 12, 2006 at 9:45 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Well, much as this pains me to do, I must apologize to Peter.

    I went back to the original post and saw that in fact Peter was refereing to someone else, missed it first time around.

    So I do apologize for that one wrong attribution Peter.

  43. Peter Hearnden
    Posted Apr 12, 2006 at 9:47 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Re #42 I thank you sir.

  44. John A
    Posted Apr 12, 2006 at 9:53 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Here’s a conundrum for Mr Thacker:

    In 1905, Albert Einstein published four papers on theoretical physics showing that classical physics was fundamentally flawed.

    1. “On a Heuristic Viewpoint Concerning the Production and Transformation of Light”, (“àƒÅ”ber einen die Erzeugung und Verwandlung des Lichtes betreffenden heuristischen Gesichtspunkt”) proposed the idea of energy quanta. The idea of energy quanta was motivated by Max Planck’s earlier derivation of the law of black-body radiation by assuming that luminous energy could only be absorbed or emitted in discrete amounts, called quanta.

    This laid the foundation of quantum physics and practically all of the late 20th Century technology is based upon this paper’s insight.

    2. “On the Motion Required by the Molecular Kinetic Theory of Heat of Small Particles Suspended in a Stationary Liquid”, (“àƒÅ”ber die von der molekularkinetischen Theorie der Wàƒ⣲me geforderte Bewegung von in ruhenden Flüssigkeiten suspendierten Teilchen”) delineated a stochastic model of Brownian motion.

    This established beyond all doubt, the existence of atoms.

    3. Einstein’s third paper that year was called “On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies” (“Zur Elektrodynamik bewegter Kàƒ⵲per”, published on June 30, 1905). In this paper, Einstein was able to reconcile Maxwell’s equations for electricity and magnetism with the laws of mechanics, by introducing major changes to mechanics close to the speed of light. This later became known as Einstein’s Special theory of relativity.

    This paper established that Newtonian Physics which everyone assumed to be correct, was in fact only partially correct under certain circumstances and wholly wrong in its assumptions about light, the speed of light and the absoluteness of space and time.

    4. “Does the Inertia of a Body Depend Upon Its Energy Content?”, (“Ist die Tràƒ⣧heit eines Kàƒ⵲pers von seinem Energieinhalt abhàƒ⣮gig?”) was published on September 27 in Annalen der Physik, containing one of the most famous equations in the field of Physics: E=mc².

    This paper established that mass and energy were inextricably linked, and let to the development of nuclear energy, as well as explanations for how the sun shines.

    Yet at the same time, Albert Einstein in 1905 was a patent clerk (3rd class), had only a degree in physics and no doctorate and held no academic position.

    Bear also in mind, that a massive scientific consensus was against any of Einstein’s work to be correct, and even in the 1930s, a book called “100 Scientists against Einstein” railed against the Theory of Relativity in the most vitriolic and personal terms.

    Using the Thacker criteria, was Albert Einstein in 1905, a scientist or a non-scientist?

  45. L Nettles
    Posted Apr 12, 2006 at 10:05 AM | Permalink | Reply

    22, 26, 29 and 36

    ET has posted the article linking the 2004 European Heat wave and the 05-06 European winter to global warming and Paul Gosling has posted the comparable winter data summary for the US. To complete the package here is the summary for Aug 04 showing a cooler than normal summer in the U.S.. I remember all the way back that so long ago thinking how the Euros were freaking about a hot summer when we were getting a break. Averages are funny things

    http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/research/2004/aug/national.html

  46. kim
    Posted Apr 12, 2006 at 10:12 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Greg F, #38, CJR still defends that bit of journalism. As I read that article sitting on the floor of the local Borders, and knowing what I had just learned about typography, the journal pages turned into giant cockroach pelts. They are still defending that amazing piece of work; in a review of journalism, mind you.

    Someone, somewhere has a new, great, idea for journalists. They think it might be a good idea to introduce them to the concept of regression analysis. So few journalists have a clue, and consequently haven’t a clue about ‘science’. Now the politics, they’re good at that.
    ================================================

  47. kim
    Posted Apr 12, 2006 at 10:14 AM | Permalink | Reply

    I remembered; it’s one theme of a Masters in Journalism program at either NYU, or Columbia.
    ================

  48. Peter Hearnden
    Posted Apr 12, 2006 at 10:23 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Re #44. Well, scientists are sceptical. I hope I am, it’s taken years for me to be ‘convinced’.

    I have no doubt if Steve is ‘right’ (whatever that means:AGW? MBH? RE? The proxies? Due diligence? Data accesability? Plus add ons like sea levels, and entropy) it will out. And, I’m most certainly not interested in standing up for something wrong – life’s to short for that (though of course you’ll not accept that).

    So, we will see, but I’m not holding my breath and history is littered with people who think they, or others, are the mistreated genius Galileo or Einstein of their time/field. The odd ones are, Steve might (though I think it highly unlikely) be one.

  49. kim
    Posted Apr 12, 2006 at 10:23 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Peter, you mistake my interest here, I’m seriously interesed in this issue, but I’m not recognized as a serious scientist, here. Now do you think Thacker is not whack? For the ones without kids, ‘whack’ means crazy.
    ===========================================

  50. Peter Hearnden
    Posted Apr 12, 2006 at 10:26 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Re #49 I don’t think (based on reading his words) I can (or any of us can) come to a judgement that Thacker is a ‘whack’ or a wa

  51. kim
    Posted Apr 12, 2006 at 10:36 AM | Permalink | Reply

    A journalist justifying censorship? Whack, here, there, and everwhere. I’m not sure about wa.
    ====================================

  52. JEM
    Posted Apr 12, 2006 at 11:09 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Re #34

    Re #32, go on, go and get your dad . Really, you make up a rude little rhyme and expect to be taken seriously?

    Well, I dunno.

    I go away for a couple of hours and when I come back I’m a poet.

    And I didn’t know it.

    (Look Peter: that rhymes!)

    In fact, I still don’t see the poetry in what I said earlier.

    But then maybe Peter knows about poetry as well as wood. It’s good to know he knows something about something,

  53. McCall
    Posted Apr 12, 2006 at 11:45 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Dr. Lindzen weighs in on a related aspect of this.

    http://www.opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=110008220

    As I’ve mentioned before, Dr. Lindzen has peer-review published in this field more than any of the RC scientists. Yet in addition to the blatant censorship many of us have experienced in attempting to post on RC.org, RC personnel foster/contribute/perpetuate to their extended following a policy of professional smearing (my kindest word on this practice) — Dr. Lindzen has been a target.

    As another target, Mr. McIntyre, you’re in a growing but prestigious list of people with sound critiques of “consensus AGW theory.” Most are consistently under attack by both learned/scientific people who should know better (e.g. Dr. Lambert), as well as authors like above whose scientific understanding is so lacking, it makes his screed both alarming and laughable at the same time.

  54. Steve Bloom
    Posted Apr 12, 2006 at 12:03 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Re #53: ‘As another target, Mr. McIntyre, you’re in a growing but prestigious list of people with sound critiques of “consensus AGW theory.”‘

    Apparently you can just make this stuff up. It takes some serious imagination to have failed to notice the shrinkage of the field of critics as “AGW theory” has advanced. Appreciate your fans while you got ‘em, Steve.

  55. John A
    Posted Apr 12, 2006 at 12:29 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I draw attention to this paragraph:

    If the models are correct, global warming reduces the temperature differences between the poles and the equator. When you have less difference in temperature, you have less excitation of extratropical storms, not more. And, in fact, model runs support this conclusion. Alarmists have drawn some support for increased claims of tropical storminess from a casual claim by Sir John Houghton of the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that a warmer world would have more evaporation, with latent heat providing more energy for disturbances. The problem with this is that the ability of evaporation to drive tropical storms relies not only on temperature but humidity as well, and calls for drier, less humid air. Claims for starkly higher temperatures are based upon there being more humidity, not less–hardly a case for more storminess with global warming.

    When I pointed out that warming of the poles relative to the tropics would reduce storminess and extreme weather events, it was John Hunter who popped up with “What is this, a joke?”

    That simple fact is a fundamental principle of meteorology, yet for some reason Dr John Hunter of the University of Tasmania, didn’t know about it. This doesn’t exactly encourage me in the belief that the rest of his science is what he claims.

  56. Mark
    Posted Apr 12, 2006 at 1:26 PM | Permalink | Reply

    yet for some reason Dr John Hunter of the University of Tasmania

    That devil! :)

    Mark

  57. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Apr 12, 2006 at 1:44 PM | Permalink | Reply

    #53. I’ve only commented on multiproxy reconstructions. I’ve never commented on AGW theory one way or the other. I’m mainly interested in whether anyone offers any valid criticisms of what we’ve published in this area. To date, no one has shown that any of our observations are incorrect and there have been a number of confirmations of key points. Both Huybers and von Storch-Zorita have recognized the bias in MBH methodology, although they disagree on the implications. I’ve considered the points on which they disagree and am content that they have not identified any defects in our analysis. Burger and Cubasch have endorsed our comments about the non-robustness of MBH methodology and even generalized the result. Wahl and Ammann have grudgingly agreed with our comments about the failed MBH98 verification r2 and CE statistics, although it’s buried pretty deeply in their results. Wahl and Ammann have also grudgingly recognized our sensitivity calculations as ones that can be obtained using MBH98 methodology.

    The only policies that I’ve argued for are better archiving of methods and codes and I think that I’m making gradual progress in this, even with the Hockey Team. I’ve said on numerous occasions, that if I were a policy maker, I would rely on a consensus rather than views from sceptics. My interests are entirely scientific and, in the areas that I’ve studied closely, I am very unimpressed by the quality of work erlied upon for the consensus. Having said that, in a policy job, I would reluctantly be guided by that work, but would do what I could to try to get the quality of work improved. I don’t really want to spend energy on what policies are right or wrong – there are lots of people who worry about such things, I’d rather stick to the area that I know about.

  58. Greg F
    Posted Apr 12, 2006 at 2:44 PM | Permalink | Reply

    The only policies that I’ve argued for are better archiving of methods and codes and I think that I’m making gradual progress in this, even with the Hockey Team.

    Steve, I think you have a huge impact on the archiving of data which may in the long run be even more important then your work on proxy reconstructions. Scientist tend to be very narrowly focused on their specialty. I suspect many of them just assumed that, going through peer review, the science behind the reconstructions was solid. It would also not surprise me if many of them were unaware that the data for these reconstructions was by in large not available. By getting the data archived scientist that were quietly skeptical can now take a closer look. Scientists that are in the community who were skeptical may have been reluctant to ask for the data for fear of being ostracized

    I’ve said on numerous occasions, that if I were a policy maker, I would rely on a consensus rather than views from sceptics. My interests are entirely scientific and, in the areas that I’ve studied closely, I am very unimpressed by the quality of work relied upon for the consensus.

    How about if there were a similar scenario with a private business. And you were the CEO. A few of the employees come to you and inform you that there are some potentially serious problems. You examine their concerns and see they have merit. As the CEO, and chief policy maker, would you still go along with the “consensus?

  59. McCall
    Posted Apr 12, 2006 at 2:46 PM | Permalink | Reply

    With all due respect Mr. McIntyre, your critical points of distinction are lost on the AGW camp, as evidenced by the author above. It is largely your weak Cox associations, like Dr. Lindzen’s (commensurate, with experience) consulting fees that are all that many need to discount your expertise on anything related AGW Theory, included a purely statistical argument you are clearly qualified to make. AGW Theory and your own arguments/contributions (statistical, dendro-, archival …) are as secondary to the issue as Dr. Lindzen’s consulting fees are to Ross Gelbspan, David Thacker and their narrow-minded (to downright ignorant) followers. But I’m sure you already knew that, as it’s likely a factor in your balance on this blog, just as the fact that you started this thread.

    As a quid pro quo, I acknowledge my own narrow-mindedness (though not ignorance), regarding Dr. James Hansen. To me, he is forever discounted by his acceptance of the $250,000 Heinz Foundation Award in 2001, plus his personal injection into politics (mostly recently in 2004 Presidential election). My caution of him is supported by the fact that he has also made mistakes (with his significant contributions) in the field, serving to reinforce my initial distrust of his public pronouncements. As such, one might argue he deserves an asterisk for disclosure of same, each and every time he pronounces or publishes — not unlike what the AGW camp appears to reflexively call for, whenever a fossil-fuel industry link is found (no matter how tenuous).

  60. McCall
    Posted Apr 12, 2006 at 2:51 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Correction: “COX” should read “CGX”

  61. McCall
    Posted Apr 12, 2006 at 3:25 PM | Permalink | Reply

    re: 54 Relax, Mr. Bloom.
    My reference to you was, “as well as authors like above whose scientific understanding is so lacking, it makes his screed both alarming and laughable at the same time.” I figured that line would wake you up, and it did.

    BTW, did you catch my reference to you in #59, or do you need a hint? You used to be so balanced about Dr. Lindsen, until you swallowed what Mr. Church fed you (via Mr. Gelbspan’s book, and other hit sites like ExxonSecrets).

    Now when will that other shoe (er’ poster) drop? Will it take 12, 24, 36 hours?

  62. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Apr 12, 2006 at 3:26 PM | Permalink | Reply

    #59. Given that Hansen was at all relevant times an employee of the U.S. federal government and all his writings were funded by his employer, why does the prize belong to him personally as opposed to being turned over to his employer. I presume that there are policies on this and I’m sure that he’s complied with policies.

    In terms of funding, I really get the raw end of the stick. All my opponents get publicly funded (and very handsomely) while I’m doing this on my own nickel and the opportunity cost has been very substantial. I didn’t plan to do it this long, but I enjoy it. I don’t get paid to do climate work and I can’t do this on the level that I’m doing it, while also doing business, so my business interests have lapsed – hence “retired” or “semi-retired”. CGX is not a producing company and has no interest in Kyoto. My association arose out of a reverse takeover of a gold exploration ocmpany a number of years ago and I’ve done a very limited amount of business consulting for them and virtually none over the last couple of years. Anyway I’m used to the ad homs by now. I figure that, if that’s the best that they’ve got, they don’t have very much.

    It’s been a lively market for speculative stocks and my wife wants me to get back to earning some money. Sometimes you can’t win.

  63. Jim Erlandson
    Posted Apr 12, 2006 at 3:49 PM | Permalink | Reply

    The Lindzen article (see #21 above) just became a topic on Slashdot. The comments make the discussion on this blog look … well … see for yourself.

  64. ET SidViscous
    Posted Apr 12, 2006 at 3:54 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Par for the course over there.

    Actually it’s nice to see more counter viewpoints there, and at least the alarmist articles don’t sho up on a semi daily basis anymore.

  65. TCO
    Posted Apr 12, 2006 at 4:45 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I think you’ve moved the needle with respect to archiving. You forgot to list the TCO criticisms in your list. Although there’s no guarantee that you would get funded, I think you definitely won’t without formal publication of the various analyses here.

    P.s. I wish you the best wrt money/work decisions. Maybe you could work for 6 months and then “science for 6 months”. But I don’t know your situation.

  66. JEM
    Posted Apr 12, 2006 at 4:48 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Funny how this news from NASA/JPL never made it into the media…

    http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/mgs/newsroom/20050920a.html

    …and for three Mars summers in a row, deposits of frozen carbon dioxide near Mars’ south pole have shrunk from the previous year’s size, suggesting a climate change in progress.

    So, is this caused by…

    a) pollution from these two tiny surface exploration craft?

    b) these pesky Martians?

    c) entirely natural, probably from a warming sun?

    If you think the answer is a), I’m sure there must be a nice padded cell waiting for you somewhere.

    If you think the answer is b), that nice padded cell still beckons.

    Or if you think the answer is c) might that not just mean that we have the smoking gun that proves that any current warming here on earth is natural — and so we are wasting our time, money and efforts trying to stop the inevitable.

    … so naturally this news is suppressed.

  67. McCall
    Posted Apr 12, 2006 at 5:15 PM | Permalink | Reply

    re: 66 “three Mars summers in a row” is way too short to be climatically meaningful. One solar irradiance cycle is ~11 earth years, is 11/1.88 or 5.9 Mars years. So these observations span one-half of that cycle — essential meaningless on several climatological levels.

  68. ET SidViscous
    Posted Apr 12, 2006 at 5:16 PM | Permalink | Reply

    What is the weight of CO2?

    I’m waiting to hear that the overabundance of CO2 is leaving the atmosphere and getting caught in Mars atmosphere and causing Global warming there as well.

    It’s at least as credible as some stuff I’ve heard from alarmists, which is to say not very.

  69. JEM
    Posted Apr 12, 2006 at 5:50 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Re 66:

    So these observations span one-half of that cycle “¢’‚¬? essential meaningless on several climatological levels.

    Yes of course. Except that it seems one summer in France (2004) that’s hotter than usual is touted as conclusive proof of AGW by the AGW clergy at the BBC, etc. So three summers on the trot on Mars is actually much more convincing that that — but goes against AGW so it’s kept quiet.

    And anyway I’m not the one saying there’s climate change going on on Mars, but JPL. Go tell them it’s meaningless.

    I suspect the whole AGW edifice will eventually collapse when it ceases to be believable to the public. A few winters like the one we’re just emerging from here in W Europe over the coming years would eventually destroy public acceptance of the notion.

  70. JEM
    Posted Apr 12, 2006 at 5:51 PM | Permalink | Reply

    That last one should have be Re: 67

  71. Gerald Machnee
    Posted Apr 12, 2006 at 6:25 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Re #54:
    “Apparently you can just make this stuff up. It takes some serious imagination to have failed to notice the shrinkage of the field of critics as “AGW theory” has advanced”
    And where is the tabulation page of critics?

  72. Posted Apr 12, 2006 at 6:58 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Perhaps I’ve completely missed the mark here, but does Steve even qualify as a skeptic? My sense is that he is at heart an _auditor_. His goal is not to prove or disprove AGW or anything else, but rather to insist on rigorous analysis and accurate reporting: Reproducibility; Verification; Accuracy; etc. I have a hard time understanding how a rational person could object to Steve’s efforts to clean up the messes that exist in climate science — or in any field, for that matter.

  73. McCall
    Posted Apr 12, 2006 at 8:29 PM | Permalink | Reply

    re: 69, “meaningless”
    “One summer in France” — yep!
    Three summers on Mars — yep.
    Cooling since ’98” (nearly as meaningless as Mars example) — yep!
    Warming since ’75 (two+ 11 year, and one+ 22 year cycles) — yep!

  74. BradH
    Posted Apr 12, 2006 at 9:03 PM | Permalink | Reply

    RE: #26

    RE #18, OK, Aussie slang (tinnie talk?), but still just name calling. As you might say “got anything substantive to say?’.

    Touche! Fair enough, Peter.

  75. JEM
    Posted Apr 13, 2006 at 12:26 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Re: 73:

    “One summer in France” “¢’‚¬? yep!
    Three summers on Mars “¢’‚¬? yep.
    Cooling since “98”‚Ⱡ(nearly as meaningless as Mars example) “¢’‚¬? yep!
    Warming since “75 (two+ 11 year, and one+ 22 year cycles) “¢’‚¬? yep!

    And no warming from ’40 to ’75 (three+ 11 year, and one and a half+ 22 year cycles) “¢’‚¬?nope!

    You’re being highly selective. Basically, you’re saying that if it suggests AGW it’s valid but if it does not suggest AGW it’s not.

    It is exactly such biased and ignorant reporting that this thread is discussing, in case you haven’t noticed.

    (BTW: over the last 100 years we seem to have had about 57 years of warming and 43 years without warming, or actual cooling. The case for inevitable warming does not look so convincing when looked at from that perspective, does it?)

  76. Steve Bloom
    Posted Apr 13, 2006 at 1:04 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Re #72: To answer that seriously, somewhat “skeptical” would perhaps be fair, but not “skeptic” as such (although perhaps dendroclimatologists would feel differently, as Steve does seem to have discounted their entire field). What’s most bothersome about Steve is that he’s so happy to host some pretty ignorant deniers here, although there’s something incomplete about the picture since Steve is also smart enough to know that any climate scientists who visit here to have a look come away with a pretty bad taste in their mouths. OTOH maybe he enjoys the nasty and/or ignorant comments and figures they will make no difference in the end. Any climate scientists who try to participate typically end up pretty well flamed.

    As an example of such ignorance and how it gets abetted, consider JEM’s comments about Mars global warming. At least a couple of folks here who’ve seen his comments know why they’re completely wrong, but said nothing to correct him. Why, do you suppose?

  77. Steve Bloom
    Posted Apr 13, 2006 at 1:09 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Re #72: To answer that seriously, somewhat “skeptical” would perhaps be fair, but not “skeptic” as such (although perhaps dendroclimatologists would feel differently, as Steve does seem to have discounted their entire field). What’s most bothersome about Steve is that he’s so happy to host some pretty extreme deniers here, although there’s something incomplete about the picture since Steve is also smart enough to know that any climate scientists who visit here to have a look come away with a pretty bad taste in their mouths. OTOH maybe he enjoys the extreme denialist comments and figures they will make no difference in the end. Any climate scientists who try to participate typically end up pretty well flamed.

    As an example of how denialist comments get abetted here, consider JEM’s comments about Mars global warming. At least a couple of folks here who’ve seen his comments know why they’re completely wrong, but said nothing to correct him. Why, do you suppose?

  78. Steve Bloom
    Posted Apr 13, 2006 at 1:13 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Hmm, spam filter ate my polite response to #72. I wonder why.

  79. John A
    Posted Apr 13, 2006 at 2:37 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Re #72

    Perhaps I’ve completely missed the mark here, but does Steve even qualify as a skeptic? My sense is that he is at heart an _auditor_. His goal is not to prove or disprove AGW or anything else, but rather to insist on rigorous analysis and accurate reporting: Reproducibility; Verification; Accuracy; etc. I have a hard time understanding how a rational person could object to Steve’s efforts to clean up the messes that exist in climate science “¢’‚¬? or in any field, for that matter.

    There’s the rub. Climate science has been overwhelmed by irrationality. Some climate scientists have been spinning hypotheses that are scientifically untenable (such as the one about warming of the poles relative to the tropics causing more extreme weather). Steve has been accused of being a front man for an incredible (and non-existent) conspiracy by fossil-fuel companies to suppress the bad science, based on nothing more than innuendo.

    At the moment, climate science (and journalism) has been overwhelmed by a bad case of apocalyptic fever, and I suspect it will take a new generation of scientists better trained in statistics to calm things down again.

  80. Posted Apr 13, 2006 at 6:05 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Re: #72 and #76

    A clarification: By “rational person” I meant “one dedicated to the search for a rational explanation of the universe” (i.e., a scientist). I did not mean to imply that anyone in particular was “irrational” in the usual sense of the word.

  81. McCall
    Posted Apr 13, 2006 at 10:18 AM | Permalink | Reply

    re: 75 and 73
    Look again — “yep” meant “meaningless” as long term climate indicator (all are over too short a time frame). The 1st and 4th misused to support GHG AGW on earth, the 2nd and 3rd being (conditionally) misused to counter same. And yes you can find for either position, additional short-term indicator misuse by isolating on earlier (short) periods.

  82. John A
    Posted Apr 13, 2006 at 10:44 AM | Permalink | Reply

    A clarification: By “rational person” I meant “one dedicated to the search for a rational explanation of the universe” (i.e., a scientist). I did not mean to imply that anyone in particular was “irrational” in the usual sense of the word.

    I did.

  83. JEM
    Posted Apr 13, 2006 at 12:30 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Re:#78:

    Look again “¢’‚¬? “yep” meant “meaningless” as long term climate indicator (all are over too short a time frame).

    Yes OK, I misread your position. Sorry.

    I agree with the above quote. My observation was how the media selectively reports ‘evidence’ for AGW but ignores ‘evidence’ against it.

  84. John A
    Posted Apr 14, 2006 at 8:21 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Great moments in Environmental Journalism #94: Ignoring the antecedant

    In late June, I got a call from a scientist who told me that Congressman Barton had just launched an investigation into the work of Michael Mann. "This is really scary and intimidating," he told me.

    I thought it was a great story because Barton was asking to see Mann’s raw data and financial records. My first call was to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, which Barton chairs. I was put in touch with a spokesperson who, in typical Washington manner, did not want to be identified.

    So you quote an unnamed scientist who didn’t wish to be named, but then when a spokesperson doesn’t want to be named, it’s different?

    Curious, I read all three stories and was struck how The Wall Street Journal gave so much credibility to Stephen McIntyre when every scientist I interviewed questioned McIntyre’s credentials. In The New York Times, Andrew Revkin described McIntyre as a person "with no expertise in climate change."

    Some people I called told me they had never even heard of McIntyre and lauded Mann as a great researcher.

    But Andrew Revkin is a journalist and not a scientist, so why did you squeeze an opinion of McIntyre as a person of no expertise in climate change, from someone else who has no expertise in climate change?

    I’d also like to know who these people are who think Mann is "a great researcher" for future reference. I mean, other than Michael Mann.

    At this point I became very intrigued and started looking into the background of Stephen McIntyre. I confirmed that he wasn’t a scientist.

    Why did you do that? When did Steve McIntyre ever claim that he was a scientist? Is science the sole perogative of scientists or can anyone do it? I can name a 9-year old girl who did some important science and was published in a peer-reviewed journal. Should she have waited until she was a scientist?

    How did you establish that Steve McIntyre was not a scientist because he had worked in the private sector? Are scientists never employed outside of academic institutions?

    ========

    Bottom line: sloppy, throwaway yellow journalism that should make real journalists blush (even if they’ve forgotten how)

  85. MrPete
    Posted Apr 14, 2006 at 9:07 AM | Permalink | Reply

    This is beginning to sound like “vigorous discussions” we used to have in Silicon Valley: Seat-of-the-pants Pragmatists vs Computer Scientists.

    Bottom line then: a lot of folks with impressive academic credentials had little ability to produce real world results. Their knowledge had never passed the test of the messy real world. We learned to hire real world expertise in preference to academic expertise. I’ll take “knows how to make it work” over “knows how it ought to work” any day.

    Steve M detractors don’t seem to “get” that he’s got valuable experience in slicing through hype-for-investors to discover what’s really going on. They’re starting to learn what it feels like to be raked over the coals by people who know hype when they see it.

    [I'm pondering what kind of noise to make, and to whom, to help turn up the heat on an "industry" that has lost its scientific bearings. This is absolutely ridiculous. There are some awesome leaders of integrity out there, even in the political realm. Just have to get past the (understandable) layer of trust-in-majority-views.]

  86. JEM
    Posted Apr 14, 2006 at 10:43 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Re #85:

    There are some awesome leaders of integrity out there, even in the political realm.

    Your faith in our political leaders is touchng.

    Meanwhile I’m trying to think of a single current leader who has the least idea of how science works…. actually, come to think of it, Margaret Thatcher was a chemist and the current German Chancellor Angela Merckel, is a physicist. But Thatcher was also a lawyer and apparently swallowed the AGW line whole. I suspect that to operate as a politician you have to switch of the ‘scientist’ bit of your brain and use the ‘lawyer’ bit alone; but lawyers are like journalists; they don’t have genuine beliefs.

    That’s not what they’re there for. Isn’t ‘politician of integrity’ something of an oxymoron, like ‘journalist who knows what he/she’s talking about’?

    Neither are interested in objective fact, only whatever view they think will garner the most votes — or readers.

    So long as AGW is thought to be fashionable, they won’t abondon the talk. But (saving grace) they won’t walk the walk either, because that would involve unpopular measures that would loose votes — or readers.

  87. Gerald Machnee
    Posted Apr 14, 2006 at 11:04 AM | Permalink | Reply

    The article by Thacker cannot even be considered as “junk journalism’ as related to “junk science”. There are essentially no back-up references. “Scientists said” is not documentation.
    There was an interesting investigation by CBC News in Canada which resulted in some releases in January. The complete articles can be found at: http://www.cbc.ca/national/news/chandra/.

    Here is the beginning of the article which shows why “audits” are necesary today—
    For almost three decades, Memorial University provided an out-of-the-way corner of the scientific world for the career of Dr. Ranjit Kumar Chandra to flourish.

    Over the years, he became a world-renowned expert in the field of nutrition and immunology, was the recipient of the Order of Canada, and said to be a two-time Nobel Prize nominee, a man they called “the Jewel of Memorial.”
    But in the summer of 2002, Chandra packed up his office and quietly slipped into retirement. He had been accused of committing scientific fraud by one of the world’s most prestigious journals. For those who had followed his work over the years, it was a sad end to an otherwise remarkable career.

    In 2005, the study that brought Chandra’s career to a halt was officially retracted. That might have been the end of his story, but in fact, it’s just the beginning.

    Over the past year, CBC News has been digging into Chandra’s past and what we’ve found is startling. We’ve uncovered a pattern of scientific fraud and financial deception that dates back to the eighties. And perhaps the most astonishing fact is this: the university that employed him knew he had committed fraud and did little to stop it.

  88. MrPete
    Posted Apr 14, 2006 at 2:31 PM | Permalink | Reply

    re: #85, “Neither [politicians nor journalists] are interested in objective fact, only whatever view they think will garner the most votes “¢’‚¬? or readers.”

    Certainly quite common today; no argument.

    Fortunately, there are a few who understand that “public servant” is about service — menial service when you get down to diakonia where “ministry” comes from, as in “Ministry of XYZ.”

    Ah well, going off on the rampant greediness of our culture has nothing to do with hockey teams protecting their own, does it…

  89. Greg F
    Posted Apr 14, 2006 at 3:34 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Bottom line then: a lot of folks with impressive academic credentials had little ability to produce real world results.

    About 5 years ago I had the pleasure of attending a lecture by Bob Pease of National Semiconductor. Bob Pease is a famous personality in electrical engineering circles as both a designer and writer. He had numerous example circuits, designed by academics, that worked in computer models but not in the real world. He put up hand drawn transparency’s (no computer for Bob!) of some of these circuits and would ask the audience what was wrong. The faults in the designs were obvious to every one within 20 seconds which was evident by the chuckles and ohh’s . The champions of these computer model circuits were none other then PHD academics. The difference between academics and engineers in private enterprise is incentive. If you design stuff that doesn’t work it is obvious and has consequences. One of those consequences might just be your job, or lack thereof. In academia, short of fraud, those consequences don’t exist. It didn’t make a difference if the modeled circuits didn’t really work since they would never be built and sold. IOW, there is no negative feedback (or customer feedback), in much of academia, to act as a check on reality. In academia if your wrong you just “move on”.

  90. ET SidViscous
    Posted Apr 14, 2006 at 4:05 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Bob Pease is a great writer, and I can see him doing just that.

  91. Pat Frank
    Posted Apr 14, 2006 at 4:27 PM | Permalink | Reply

    #84 “Why did you do that? When did Steve McIntyre ever claim that he was a scientist? Is science the sole perogative of scientists or can anyone do it?”

    Exactly right, John. Science is entirely democratic. Anyone can do it so long as their work meets the objective standards of science. Astronomy, for example, has a great tradition of amateurs, and no one challenges their results by taking a stand on credentials. No steveblooms (neologism alert) appear to denigrate them as shills for Newton-inspired industry, either. Engineering, likewise, has had large inputs from private non-degreed inventors.

    The entire attention paid to credentials bespeaks a malignant attempt to discredit by innuendo rather than an honest reliance on merits to make the case. That tactic, in itself, demonstrates the emptiness of the AGW position. Rather very much like Intelligent Design theorists (sic) making points among the elect by impugning evolutionary biologists as the propagators of immorality.

    I was very negatively impressed with Thacker’s continual “businessman Steve McIntyre” references. Being gainfully employed in business is to be a criminal in the environmental left (within the far left in general, actually).

  92. MrPete
    Posted Apr 14, 2006 at 7:39 PM | Permalink | Reply

    [#91, your point is well taken, yet you may want to study this carefully before maligning 100% of design science. There are meritorious arguments to be found in some of the most unlikely corners, even in arenas massively overrun by kooks ;).]

  93. Follow the Money
    Posted Apr 14, 2006 at 8:49 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Hey all! Update on the tree industry and carbon credits.

    Recall small-investors in Western Europe were planting trees and reforesting in pursuit of gaining carbon credit subsidies. When this started to become publicized recently Lo and Behold! studies were whipped up and rapidly disseminated (BBC naturally) showing that trees don’t store carbon! Tough cookies for the small-fry investors and foresters looking for extra cash for their replanting activities.

    Lo and Behold again! the forestry industry strikes back! From the April 14 Guardian:

    “Fragrance of pine forests helps to slow climate change”

    The fresh fragrance released by trees in northern pine forests is a significant component in slowing climate change, according to research.

    The particles that carry the forests’ olfactory assault also help to cool the planet by bouncing energy from the sun back into space. Now researchers have worked out that the forests produce enough microscopic particles to load the atmosphere around them with 1,000-2,000 particles per cubic centimetre of air.

    The discovery will help plug a big hole in climate change models and so help scientists to make more accurate predictions of global warming from greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane.

    Hans-Christen Hansson of the Air Pollution Laboratory in Stockholm, Sweden, said airborne particles are a big unknown factor for climate scientists. “We are afraid we have totally misjudged the trend of climate change because the particles are not in the models in a comprehensive way.”…

    Naturally only the most cynical would point out that Sweden has a large forestry industry.

  94. Pat Frank
    Posted Apr 14, 2006 at 9:17 PM | Permalink | Reply

    #92 – Presuming by “design science” you mean so-called “Intelligent Design (ID) Theory,” and not engineering practice, then the topic you mention has no scientific merit whatever, Pete. I published an article on ID. If you drop me a line, I’ll send you a pdf copy. If anyone can defeat the arguments therein, they might have a case.

  95. MrPete
    Posted Apr 14, 2006 at 9:41 PM | Permalink | Reply

    #94, Sorry, bad presumption. The book referenced, by Ross/Rana, incorporates testable/falsifiable models, in specific opposition to “ID theory.” I was initially more than skeptical (what testable hypothesis is possible about the supernatural?!), and ultimately impressed both by their respect and careful holding to scientific methods, and a reasonable “let the chips fall where they may” perspective looking at current state of the art. The journal references alone were worth the price of the book.

    Pat, I’ll go offline with you on this if there’s any further discussion necessary. This could rapidly become OT to the present company ;)

  96. Pat Frank
    Posted Apr 14, 2006 at 11:06 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I also co-authored a book chapter-review of the origin of biological homochirality leading to the origin of life, Pete. Ross/Rana have no legs to stand on in making an insoluble mystery of the former. Deriving a valid chemical theory of the latter is only a matter of time and effort.

  97. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Apr 14, 2006 at 11:28 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Please, no ID stuff.

  98. JEM
    Posted Apr 15, 2006 at 1:08 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Re #97: Hear, hear!

    We have enough on our plate tackling religion (in the sense of an unfalsifiable hypothesis) masquerading as science in the wonderful world of AGW without taking on ID as well.

    Meanwhile, back among the fragrence of the Swedish pine forests, does that little saga not just serve to demonstrate that when we get right down to it, we do yet not know nearly enough about such matters — by which I mean weather and climate as well as trees — to be in a position to make meaningful forecasts let alone concoct functional and practical interventions?

    If any interventions are really needed, of course.

  99. MrPete
    Posted Apr 15, 2006 at 8:40 AM | Permalink | Reply

    #97, Thank You! Yes, AGW science vs religion is plenty enough here.
    :)

  100. Chris Chittleborough
    Posted Apr 15, 2006 at 9:56 AM | Permalink | Reply

    For more evidence that Mr Thacker suffers from “credentialism”, see this comment on a later thread.

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