Trying to post at realclimate

I attempted to post a comment up at realclimate in response to the following:

#Re: response to #63:
"And of course once the data is published, others are free to reinterpret it and/or use it in another way."
It seems that one good step would be for journals to require public archiving of all primary data & methods as a condition of publication. Would you support this?
Comment by Armand MacMurray “Β’’‚¬? 2 Oct 2005 @ 4:33 am

I sent in the following comment using my own name and email address:

Re #65: There is a great deal of unarchived data pertaining to multiproxy studies e.g. a list of the 387 sites in Briffa et al [2001] (which may or may not be archived); measurement data for many sites used in Esper et al [2002]; data versions used in Mann and Jones [2003]; methods of Mann and Jones [2003]; data as used in Crowley and Lowery [2000] or data citations for the versions used; measurement data for many Jacoby sites studied in the last 10 years except Mongolia; sample data for Thompson’s ice cores, etc. etc. Sometimes data is archived in password protected sites like SO&P. Will you join in seeking to improve standards of data archiving implemented by journals such as Nature and Science and in studies funded by NSF?

This was submitted early this morning and was not posted today, although their inbox has been cleared and many comments posted. Indeed, Gavin Schmidt added this comment to post #65, which was not in it this morning:

[Response: Yes. In paleoclimate research, I think that once a time series is published, it should be made available at one of the standard archives. This almost always happens with new papers now, though there are a few exceptions, mostly from older papers that were published prior to universal web access. The methods description just needs to be enough so that some else can work out what was done. …. – gavin]

You wonder how they can say these things with a straight face.

As to the censorship of my comment, they really are pathetic. Gavin Schmidt has posted here in the past and is welcome to post here in the future.


  1. TCO
    Posted Oct 2, 2005 at 8:15 PM | Permalink

    Maybe they are huddling before they release it. You are kind of a big guy and they want to plan their blue within-the-post, voice of God, reply carefully.

  2. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Oct 2, 2005 at 8:44 PM | Permalink

    I’d be surprised if it sees the light of day, especially given Gavin’s fatuous in-the-box response, which is readily refuted. Daylight is their enemy.

  3. John A
    Posted Oct 2, 2005 at 8:48 PM | Permalink

    Daylight is their enemy.

    “The Kyoto Vampires”

  4. JerryB
    Posted Oct 2, 2005 at 9:13 PM | Permalink



    If you’re in the UK, shouldn’t you be sound asleep at this time?

    Otherwise, for dealing with vampires, you might consult Joss Whedon (who wrote the script of Buffy the Vampire Slayer). πŸ™‚

    As for the so called “realclimate” folks, would anyone seriously consider buying a used car from any of them?

  5. Posted Oct 2, 2005 at 9:21 PM | Permalink

    Steve, I have had no direct communications with you over any of these issues and so I’m not quite sure why you feel so antagonistic towards me. I answered your sock puppet sincerely. That you feel that I am being ‘fatuous’ is unfortunate, and possibly part of the reason why you don’t get treated more seriously. I have no influence on any of the studies you cite and SO&P is an ongoing project, not a published study. Just because I have disagreed with the importance of your substantive points concerning MBH, it does not imply that I am somehow against openness in climate science. You are making a serious error if you conflate the two things.

  6. JerryB
    Posted Oct 2, 2005 at 10:18 PM | Permalink

    It has been said that truth can be stranger than fiction; but some
    fiction can be stranger yet.

    In Davin’s comnent is the bizarre juxtapostion of: “I answered your
    sockpuppet” and “sincerely”!

    It seems that someone who is sufficiently delusional pretentiously to
    name their website “” is capable of any number of bizarre

  7. Dave Dardinger
    Posted Oct 2, 2005 at 10:48 PM | Permalink

    re #5

    You’re not doing yourself any favors by calling Armand MacMurray a sock puppet. Do you or do you not have input as to whether or not a message by Steve can be posted on RealClimate and if not, why not?

    And if you don’t know why Steve complains about how he’s been treated, perhaps you should actually try reading some of the material here instead of just being mock angry.

    And while you’re at it, how about telling some of Mann’s sock puppets who post here to try discussing why Steve’s “substantive” posts concerning MBH are so disagreeable? (pun intended)

  8. Posted Oct 3, 2005 at 2:09 AM | Permalink

    I need to apologise. I understood from the text of the post that Steve had posted both comments (in my defense, it was quite late in the evening). I have subsequently been informed that this was not the case, and so I apologise to both Steve and Armand for the confusion my statement caused.

  9. TCO
    Posted Oct 3, 2005 at 5:11 AM | Permalink

    I don’t care about sock puppets or anger or if there is a cause for anger. But Steve’s post is on topic and should be put on the board. No, you don’t control those studies, Gavin. No one is expecting you to do pugil stick drills with USMC Jones to get data out. πŸ™‚ Just post Steve’s comment (even if you disagree and have a blue voice of God reply) so that community can discuss it. Y’all told me he could post there as long as he followed rules.

  10. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Oct 3, 2005 at 5:33 AM | Permalink

    Gavin, re #5. Your response may have been "sincere", but it was inaccurate. Not only that, but you suppressed a post that provided objective information on the topic, thereby helping to incite your readers. I used the term "pathetic" not in an antagonistic way, but in a descriptive way. These petty little acts of daylight prevention are pathetic. As to "fatuous", it was a little Mannian, but not entirely uncalled for, given your deletion of objective information and dissemination of "sincere" disinformation. Under the circumstances, I lapsed into realclimate use of adjectives, but generally I work pretty adjective-free. You are projecting antagonism onto me. I’m too old to be angry; that’s for younger people like yourself. I find hypocrisy amusing. My usual (and preferred) voice is one of irony. Sometimes I don’t adhere to it, but that’s my objective. Our articles were written in a formal voice. Whether they deserve serious consideration or not is independent of the occasional subsequent use of an adjective here and there on an active blog. I might add that any such use occurred well after unsupportable and slanderous assertions of "dishonesty" by your realclimate cohort were made to a journal in an attempt to forestall publication of an article. I don’t see much evidence of scientific "openness".

    PS. You still haven’t posted my comment at realclimate.

  11. TCO
    Posted Oct 3, 2005 at 5:49 AM | Permalink

    You’re not to old to be pissed, Steve…

    Gavin, release the prionser!!! πŸ™‚

  12. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Oct 3, 2005 at 5:54 AM | Permalink

    Re #5. I had said that Gavin had posted here in the past. In #5, Gavin seems to deny this. This is untrue – see here

  13. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Oct 3, 2005 at 6:02 AM | Permalink

    Gavin, more substantively, if you support data archiving, will you join with me in writing to the journals and to NSF requesting that data be archived for a list (to be jointly agreed) of studies in which the archiving has not been done? Or if you prefer, will you write on your own account requesting the journals to correct this, if I provide you with a list which you can independently confirm (and the ones mentioned in my comment are all important examples)?

  14. TCO
    Posted Oct 3, 2005 at 2:31 PM | Permalink

    Count to ten, Steve. I don’t think Gavin was denying having posted here with his statement about no direct communication with you. Have you all had a phone call or an email or even a long blog interchange? I don’t fault him for THAT remark. Still think he should release the prisoner…

  15. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Oct 3, 2005 at 4:09 PM | Permalink

    I have never understood why the Hockey Team is so stupid about not releasing data and methods. I’ve been in a litigation and lawyers teach you that there’s no point fighting over stuff that you’re going to lose. Gavin has no obligation to defend poor practices by others and I don’t know why he does (I know why he does, but you know what I mean).

    I’ve always felt completely convinced that daylight would prevail on data and methods at some point, that attempts to withhold data and methods could not succeed. Fighting this is a waste of time in one sense; I’ve spent a vast amount of time that could have been productively applied to other topics. But it’s a big secondary issue in its own right that anyone can understand. There’s a real chance of influencing practices as only the most devout Mannians will support the Hockey Team in keeping their data concealed and their methods described only in generic terms.

  16. TCO
    Posted Oct 3, 2005 at 6:42 PM | Permalink

    1. Don’t try to get me to believe that you are all above getting pissed at the little weasels, Steve. πŸ˜‰ (Puts hand on manly shoulder)

    2. Gavin is actually pretty good fellow (for the crew). I really don’t think he was wrong when he said that he had not had discussions with you. Don’t get too tough with the dude verbally. Not all those guys have my pumped up Internet trolling (and YMCA weightlifting) muscles. Some of them will get their feelings hurt with rough talk.

    3. Well of course (re methods). McFreedom about said it all, with his comment about “Mann, you lose!” in response to the defiant, “I will not show the algorithm”. These dudes are so far from Feynman or Wilson or any of the real voices of science.

    4. I’m still worried that you will let these fights distract you from doing new work and from writing up the work done to date. Even if you never get Mann to say uncle (even with holding him down on the playground and drooling spit on his face…), you can (and are) having an impact on the field. Even the simple issue of the people who write the argumentative comments on your comment (it was in effect a comment) nowshowing their code is an advance. You should keep putting new stuff out. I’m worried that you are hesitating because people will find some small mistake and impugn your overall Mann destruction. Who cares. Move the stuff forward. Get Ross to earn his keep and be a good editor. He missed that damn figure #…

    [/broken record]

  17. Terry
    Posted Oct 3, 2005 at 10:26 PM | Permalink

    IMHO, Gavin doesn’t deserve some of the scorn being heaped on him here. He seems to be the most reasonable of the realclimaters. In fact, his second response above was quite gracious. He seems to have a genuine scientific streak.

    When you first come across realclimate, it comes off very well. They know their stuff and they maintain a fairly high tone. After a while, though, their attitude becomes quite disturbing. For instance, they very recently wrote a post about GW increasing hurricane intensity. They cited Emanuel extensively (almost exclusively), but didn’t mention any criticisms of Emanuel, and, more bizarely, didn’t mention Landsea at all (except for a cite to one of his papers). Obviously not the stuff of disinterested scientific investigation and inexplicable given their professed reverence for consensus.

    I tried to post a comment asking why they didn’t mention Landsea or the criticisms of Emanuel but they wouldn’t post it or any other post pointing this out. There appears to be a good bit of sanitizing going on there, which, when you think about it, is essential to their apparent mission to maintain their claims of consensus.

    Also, you really have to have some pity for Mann himself. His papers were written when he was just a research pup, and his whole reputation rides on them. In academia, many reputations have been established the way he established his: flimsy papers based on shaky pemises supported by flawed and manipulated empirical work that produce weak and non-robust results. Often, researchers get away with this because there is so little checking of their work and because it is impolite to point these things out. Such an academic’s worst nightmare is to have some pest relentlessly and very publicly burrow into his work and expose the sloppiness.

  18. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Oct 3, 2005 at 10:46 PM | Permalink

    Terry, I wouldn’t say that it was particularly “gracious” to withdraw an untrue ad hominem, but I guess that’s about as good as it gets with the Hockey Team.

    Mann makes it pretty hard for anyone to have pity on him. He’s been pretty savage on people like Soon and Baliunas. He’s engaged in some very unprofessional activities with us, such as writing to journals distributing false and scurrilous Environmental Defense Fund claims that I was associated with ExxonMobil and accusing Ross and I of “dishonesty”. Natuurwetenschap & Techniek were shocked. They tried to hammer us pretty good at realclimate when they started up and spread a lot of disinformation. They all seem to think that it’s all right for them to take swings at Ross or me, and then get all sniffy and precious when there’s some blowback.

    What should worry you is that realclimate attitudes are probably representative of IPCC. Based on what you see at realclimate, would you trust them to give full disclosure of adverse results.

  19. John A
    Posted Oct 3, 2005 at 11:54 PM | Permalink

    When you first come across realclimate, it comes off very well. They know their stuff and they maintain a fairly high tone. After a while, though, their attitude becomes quite disturbing…..

    …There appears to be a good bit of sanitizing going on there, which, when you think about it, is essential to their apparent mission to maintain their claims of consensus.


    That, to me, is what is insidious about “RealClimate”. It purports to be an academic weblog of climate science but when you scratch the surface, you realise that all is not what it appears.

    In my opinion, RealClimate is a political propaganda site for an extremist environmentalist worldview. The subtle and not-so-subtle censorship of opposing evidence that does not fit that worldview, is all pervasive. RC studiously avoids all mention of this weblog and refers to Steve McIntyre and Ross McKitrick only in negative and emotive terms.

    The reply here by Gavin Schmidt is typical of RC’s style:

    I need to apologise. I understood from the text of the post that Steve had posted both comments (in my defense, it was quite late in the evening). I have subsequently been informed that this was not the case, and so I apologise to both Steve and Armand for the confusion my statement caused.

    This is a classic obfuscation. Where was the confusion? That Armand McMurray and Steve McIntyre were not the same person would have been obvious to any administrator within seconds by looking at their IP addresses. But Schmidt pointedly does not apologise for the censorship, nor restore Steve’s comments, nor invite Steve to repost them, nor answer the substance of what Steve commented on. Schmidt is sorry over trivia but makes no amends for the censorship of Steve McIntyre’s sensible request.

    Underpinning all of this is the real purpose of “RealClimate”: to defend Michael Mann from the reality of what he has done. No criticism of Michael Mann’s documented actions is ever allowed.

    Like Steve, I take the long historical view that daylight will come and the truth will out. But first, the darkness must be made visible.

  20. Posted Oct 4, 2005 at 4:03 AM | Permalink

    Yes, censoring comments is pathetic.[Tim Lambert’s off topic post about thermodynamics redacted]

  21. fFreddy
    Posted Oct 4, 2005 at 4:32 AM | Permalink

    Re #20
    Hello, Tim. Care to engage in the real arguments while you’re here ?

  22. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Oct 4, 2005 at 6:32 AM | Permalink

    RE #20 and 21: Tim, thanks for chipping in on this even if it’s only here. It would be nice if you noted this on your own blog. The realclimate pettiness is one thing; but it symbolizes a very unfortunate aspect of Hockey Team climate science – their unwillingness to disclose adverse information. The same mentality governs this petty censorship as animated Mann’s original withholding of adverse cross-validation statistics and sensitivity information.

    fFreddy, I’m OK with Tim not weighting in on other matters. Speaking from my own experience, he’s got a lot to do in creating material for his own blog.

  23. Posted Oct 4, 2005 at 9:11 AM | Permalink

    Gavin, you have a poor track record wrt real climate critics, see some of the frustration here:

  24. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Oct 4, 2005 at 11:36 AM | Permalink

    Re #30: 29 and 30 crossed in the mail. Please take this to Lambert on Cos Latitudes or Spam Karma or Debunkers.

  25. JerryB
    Posted Oct 4, 2005 at 12:46 PM | Permalink

    Perhaps Tim needs help finding πŸ™‚

  26. TCO
    Posted Oct 4, 2005 at 7:36 PM | Permalink

    Let’s be nicer to Gavin. I like him.

  27. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Oct 4, 2005 at 10:43 PM | Permalink

    Fair enough, I thought the whole topic had been shut down and hadn’t noticed the Sept. 2, 2005 comment by John A after the topic had been closed. I’ve re-opened the Is It Karma? post where the comment is made for a little while to give you a chance to reply on it if you want.

  28. Posted Oct 7, 2005 at 4:05 PM | Permalink

    re 26 What do you like about Gavin? Censoring critics?

  29. TCO
    Posted Oct 7, 2005 at 10:44 PM | Permalink

    No…just he seems more willing to actually engage with us evil people…

  30. Brooks Hurd
    Posted Oct 10, 2005 at 3:21 PM | Permalink

    After several unsuccessful attempts, I finally got one of my posts on Realclimate today. This was not a very controversial topic. It was a comment on Quantoken’s claim that the total quantity of fossil fuel reserves is known.

    I posted another one today in answer to a poster about GW and seismic activity. If they were related, the people working on earthquage prediction would have published this correlation since the data is so easy to obtain. I wonder if this one will make it.

  31. TCO
    Posted Oct 10, 2005 at 4:15 PM | Permalink

    It is strange and dissapointing that they don’t post Steve’s on topic, non-trolling argument regarding GW studies and data disclosure.

  32. Ed Snack
    Posted Oct 10, 2005 at 6:40 PM | Permalink

    TCO, it is certainly not “strange” that RC won’t post up Steve’s comment, I suggest you do not understand the thinking of those people who run that site. Posting up such a comment would force them to acknowledge that Steve has something worthwhile to say, which RC has spent 10 or so months desperately trying to deny. Disappointing I can agree with.

  33. TCO
    Posted Oct 10, 2005 at 9:45 PM | Permalink

    They said Steve could post. They have let other people debate both sides of the issue. I think there is some misunderstanding or reason that they think steve is off-topic.

  34. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Oct 10, 2005 at 10:28 PM | Permalink

    Come on, they said I could post, but when I tried, they didn’t post it.

    If there was a “misunderstanding”, Gavin came on here and had a chance to explain it. He didn’t. I don’t believe that there was a misunderstanding.

  35. TCO
    Posted Oct 31, 2005 at 4:49 PM | Permalink

    I wonder why Gavin did not allow this post. It followed the posting guidelines. Could it have anything to do with:

    a. being from you.
    b. being an argument against a position of his.

  36. Ian Castles
    Posted Nov 27, 2005 at 1:53 AM | Permalink

    This is a report on some recent postings (and failed postings) at the RealClimate website. It casts doubt on the claim by the Group of Contributors to the site, in their “Welcome statement’ of almost a year ago, that ‘the discussion here is restricted to scientific topics’, and that they “will not get involved in political or economic issues that arise when discussing climate change.’ I value the opportunity that ClimateAudit affords me to place this report on the record, without having to fear that it will be censored or subjected to interpolated comments before publication.

    In a posting on RealClimate on 9 November entitled “Lawson vs the IPCC’, Gavin Schmidt criticised views expressed by Lord Nigel Lawson, former UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, and by the Select Committee on Economic Affairs of the House of Lords in what Schmidt described as a “curious report’ on “The Economics of Climate Change.’ In the course of a posting which was almost entirely directed to political and economic issues, Schmidt wrote:

    “The heart of Lawson’s case is the economic criticism of the IPCC scenario generation process which has been pushed by Ian Castles and David Henderson. We are not economists and so we won’t engage in the specifics of this criticism, but as consumers (so to speak) of the product, it’s worth making a couple of relevant points. First, it should be emphasised that the scenarios are used solely for the providing input into climate models, and not for generic economic planning decisions…’

    This was an elementary error that Schmidt would not have made if he had read the Terms of Reference of the IPCC Special Report on Emissions Scenarios, which referred to “The advent of integrated assessment (IA) models [that had] made it possible to construct self-consistent emissions scenarios that jointly consider the interactions between energy, economy, and land-use changes’, and stated explicitly that the new scenarios “were intended to have broader uses than simply a set of emissions trajectories to drive climate models.’ The wider uses of the SRES in the IPCC’s current Assessment Report (AR4) were of course extensively discussed on this site on the strings “Ian Castles on IPCC Economic Assumptions’ and “Major British Review on Economics of Climate Change’ – but the RealClimate site does not provide a link to ClimateAudit on its site (but does provide this facility to the sites of Tim Lambert (Deltoid), William Connelley (Stoat) and Stephen Schneider).

    In a response to posting #7 on the “Lawson vs the IPCC’ thread, William Connelley, who is also a Contributor to RealClimate, made the same mistake of assuming that the IPCC emissions scenarios were developed solely for the purpose of climate modellers, and volunteered the opinion that “There is a very good case for people like the HoL Economics Committee, or Castles and Henderson, getting off their bums and generating their own scenarios instead of just criticising from the sidelines.’ Connelley registered the “suspicion … that the reason that they have not done this is because they know full well that they will get much the same result.’

    By 12 November the RealClimate site happily published a contribution (#43) which explained that most of the members of the House of Lords are “appointed by the Prime Minister of the day’, but that “There is no scrutiny of the PM’s selection … So now, Tony Blair has in effect packed the Senate with placemen of his own choice’. Another posting on the same day claimed that Lord Lawson is in a “a fairly (sic) unique position’, because “As a member of the House of Lords he … no longer has any accountability’, and “can therefore say anything he likes, without any fear of reprisals from the cabinet, whips, or the electorate. His current “job’ will never be at risk.’ (His position may perhaps be likened to the Group of Contributors to RealClimate, who state that their posts “do not represent the views of the organisations for which they work’, and that they “are solely responsible for the content of the site’).

    In lengthy comments on 15 and 16 November (#56, #63 and #64), I attempted to correct some of the errors made by the RealClimate contributors, but their responses indicated that they still had not grasped the point that the IPCC scenarios are used by all three of the Panel’s Working Groups, not just Working Group I. William Connolley responded to my posting #64 with the observation that “Leaning on the House of Lords committee for support is feeble: the HoL did a PRETTY POOR JOB’ (the words that I have reproduced in capitals were hyperlinked to a posting headed “House of Lords subverted by sceptics’ on Connelley’s own website, which alleged, inter alia, that the Committee had “degenerated into bald-faced lying’).

    In a posting on 19 November (#73), David H quoted from a speech made in the House of Lords during the previous week in which Lord May, President of the Royal Society (U.K.), had referred to “the issue about which the group of distinguished economists on the committee of the noble Lord, Lord Wakeham, said so many good and wise things’, so apparently Lord May did not share William Connelley’s view that the Committee had done a “pretty poor job’.

    But this has not deterred RealClimate from continuing to publish offensive attacks on the unanimous report of this all-party Committee, and ad hominem attacks on Lord Lawson. At the time of writing, the latest posting on the “Lawson vs the IPCC’ string (#78 on 25 November) refers to “a rather old and very conservative Chancellor of the Exchequer’, and avers that “to read these economist’s pronouncements in regard to anthropogenic global warming is comically absurd, it produces an effect as bizarre as would be engendered by reading a critique of the Theory of Relativity by a committee of lawyers.’ The correspondent characterises the assumptions underlying Lord Lawson’s arguments as “inane’, “breathtakingly presumptuous’ and “overbearingly arrogant’, and describes his conclusion as “immoral’: all of this on a website on which the discussion was to be “restricted to scientific topics’ and which “would not get involved in political or economic issues.’

    In a new thread entitled “The False Objectivity of “Balance’ ” , with an initial posting by “mike’ on 18 November, the RealClimate site has gone further than in the past in providing a medium for crude attacks on “contrarians’. For example, post #7 on this string baldly states that:

    “Scientists like Drs. Mann, Bradley, Hughes, Trenberth, Emanuel, etc. are keeping science separate from politics. Skeptics like Michaels, McIntyre, Idso, Lindzen, Singer, etc. are politicising science so they can continue to get work. If the science was permanently severed from the politics, these skeptics would be out of work.’

    In response to #50, Gavin Schmidt observed that “This is why Lindzen is so clever. Note that he doesn’t say that climate in 40 years time is as unpredictable as weather (since he knows that is not true), but he focuses on what people (in general) may or may not believe. Sneaky!”

    At #60, a correspondent noted that he has “seen several “serious’ contrarians’ remarks that would be nearly libelous or slanderous.’ He went on to claim that “These “contrarians’ have no footing left and are attempting to drag some of the most respected scientists (like Drs. Mann, Bradley, Hughes, Schneider, and Trenberth) down the hill with them. On the other hand, I have seen no comments by these respected scientists which attempt to attack the “contrarians’ in such a libelous or slanderous manner.’ There would be differing opinions on that score.

    In a response to #69, Gavin Schmidt accused a correspondent to RealClimate who had quoted some sentences from an interview given by Stephen Schneider in 1989 of using a “ridiculous canard’ in what could “only be interpreted as a deliberate attempt to mislead.’ Here is Schmidt’s full response (I have put the extract quoted by the correspondent in upper case to enable it to be placed in context):

    “[G.S.] Oh please… Selective mis-quotations of that interview have been contrarian fodder for years and are a complete distortion of what was said and what Schneider’s position is. The full quote and Schneider’s respsonse to the issue are easily available (here) and continued use of this ridiculous canard can only be interpreted as a deliberate attempt to mislead. Just to make it perfectly clear the full quote is:

    “[S.S.] On the one hand, as scientists we are ethically bound to the scientific method, in effect promising to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but – which means that we must include all the doubts, the caveats, the ifs, ands, and buts. On the other hand, we are not just scientists but human beings as well. And LIKE MOST PEOPLE WE’D LIKE TO SEE THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE, WHICH IN THIS CONTEXT TRANSLATES INTO OUR WORKING TO REDUCE THE RISK OF POTENTIALLY DISASTROUS CLIMATE CHANGE. TO DO THAT WE NEED TO GET SOME BROADBASED SUPPORT, TO CAPTURE THE PUBLIC’S IMAGINATION. THAT, OF COURSE, ENTAILS GETTING LOADS OF MEDIA COVERAGE. SO WE HAVE TO OFFER UP SCARY SCENARIOS, MAKE SIMPLIFIED, DRAMATIC STATEMENTS, AND MAKE LITTLE MENTION OF ANY DOUBTS WE MIGHT HAVE. This ‘double ethical bind’ we frequently find ourselves in cannot be solved by any formula. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest. I hope that means being both.

    “[G.S.] Schneider also made it abundantly clear that this bind should be tackled directly by any scientist dealing with the media:

    “[S.S.] [Misquoters] also omit my solutions to the double ethical bind: (1) use metaphors that succinctly convey both urgency and uncertainty, and (2) produce an inventory of written products from editorials to articles to books, so that those who want to know more about an author’s views on both the caveats and the risks have a hierarchy of detailed written sources to which they can turn. What I was telling the Discover interviewer, of course, was my disdain for a soundbite-communications process that imposes the double ethical bind on all who venture into the popular media. To twist my openly stated and serious objections to the soundbite process into some kind of advocacy of exaggeration is a clear distortion. Moreover, not only do I disapprove of the “ends justify the means” philosophy of which I am accused, but, in fact have actively campaigned against it in myriad speeches and writings. Instead, I repeatedly advocate that scientists explicitly warn their audiences that “what to do” is a value choice as opposed to “what can happen” and “what are the odds,” which are scientific issues.

    “[G.S.] Hopefully forums like RealClimate make it easier to put sound-bites in context with all the caveats and problems. We are not here however just to be used for talking-point jousting. -gavin]
    [End of comment by Gavin Schmidt]

    Schmidt neglected to mention that prominent “contrarians’ such as Julian Simon (“The Ultimate Resource 2, 1996) and Bjorn Lomborg (response to critique of “The Skeptical Environmentalist’, 2002 at ) had already made Schneider’s position just as “perfectly clear’ as he had — i.e., they had reproduced every word of the “full quote’ given by Schmidt.

    In order to show that the correspondent to RealClimate had not presented a selective mis-quotation that represented “a complete distortion of what was said and what Schneider’s position is’, I submitted the following post to Real Climate:

    Gavin, Your response to #69. In 1976, Stephen Schneider wrote: “I have cited many examples of recent climate variability and repeated the warnings of several well-known climatologists that a cooling trend has set in – perhaps one akin to the Little Ice Age – and that climate variability, which is the bane of reliable food production, can be expected to increase along with the cooling” (quoted in Julian Simon, “The Ultimate Resource”, p. 267). That was a scary scenario and Schneider made no mention of any doubts he may have had. Maybe he didn’t have any doubts. But there must always be the suspicion, which is not in the least corrected by the fuller explanation of his position that you have quoted, that in this case Schneider believed that it was more important to be effective than to be honest. It is no answer to express the “hope” that one can be both. Either Schneider believed that a cooling trend had set in, in which case he was categorically wrong; or he had decided not to “include all the doubts, the caveats, the ifs, and buts” in the interests of being effective.

    Regrettably for Stephen Schneider, the full extract that you quote does indeed make his position “perfectly clear.” In fact, after quoting every word of that extract in “The Ultimate Resource 2” (1996, p. 574), the late Julian Simon recalled Schneider’s earlier view that the planet was cooling and asked some pertinent questions:

    “Does this sort of person ever stop and ask himself such questions as: Why should anyone believe me now if I was so wrong then? Would it have been a good thing if I had then been more effective in getting the public’s attention? What about if I had stretched the truth then as I now advocate doing – would that have been a good thing?”

    In a vitriolic attack on Bjorn Lomborg’s “The Skeptical Environmentalist” which was published in “Grist” magazine in December 2001, Schneider wrote:

    “Lomborg asserts that most of the six representative emissions scenarios from the IPCC Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (SRES) are implausible and that only their lowest emissions scenario is ‘likely.’ The scenarios Lomborg attacks were prepared in three drafts over the course of three years by the SRES team, and were subjected to three rounds of reviewers. So on what grounds does this statistician … declare specific SRES scenarios with high emissions ‘fairly implausible’ but those with low emissions ‘much more likely’? Note that the dozens of authors and hundreds of IPCC reviewers who assessed the emissions scenarios recognized the tremendous uncertainties involved in constructing such scenarios and judged all scenarios to be ‘equally sound’ … How dare this guy announce the likelihood of various scenarios to which the SRES authors are very uneasy about assigning probabilities?’

    It is simply not true that “dozens of authors and hundreds of IPCC reviewers” had characterised all of the scenarios as “equally sound” – and in any case, as Schneider knew perfectly well, such a judgment says nothing whatever about the probability of their occurrence. Does anyone seriously suggest that the IPCC scenario with the highest economic growth rates instantly became three times more likely than the other three marker scenarios when the IPCC decided (after the main scientific review had been completed) to add “Fuel Intensive” and “Technology” variants to the A1 marker scenario, but not to any of the others)?

    Moreover, Schneider must have known of the results of the study by the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change (Report 73, March 2001) which had attempted to attach probabilities to the various emissions scenarios and suggested that an increase in global mean temperature of 5.8 deg. C was HIGHLY UNLIKELY, with a probability of less than 1 per cent (Webster, Mort D, Chris E Forest, John M Reilly, Andrei P Sokolov, Peter H Stone, Henry D Jacoby and Ronald G Prinn, “Uncertainty Analysis of Global Climate Change Projections”). Schneider was of course at liberty to disagree with the results of this study, but his failure to report the findings of the expert study was yet another example of this scientist’s apparent inability “to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but…” Schneider’s belief that he is entitled to suppress such information because he is a human being who’d like to see the world a better place is profoundly revealing. There is no “double ethical bind”, and there is no “right balance” to be found. The scientist’s responsibility is to be honest, full stop. There may be ways in which he may also be effective – but these do not include offering up scary scenarios; making simplified, dramatic statements; or making little mention of any doubts he might have.”
    [End of post submitted to RealClimate]

    The posting was published by Real Climate as follows:

    “Gavin, ….. [ad homs. deleted]

    [Response: Ian, this is not the place for character assassinations. -gavin]”

    An ad hominem argument, according to Wikipedia, is “a logical fallacy that involves replying to an argument or assertion by attacking the person presenting the argument or assertion rather than the argument itself.’ The point of my post was to reply to the argument mounted by Stephen Schneider in 1989 by reference to his own statements in 1976 and 2002. If some of my comments can be construed as a personal attack on Professor Schneider I withdraw them and plead that (a) I am genuinely puzzled about why he believes his responsibilities as a scientist may be at odds with his responsibilities as a human being, and (b) that he made a personal attack on me from the floor of the IPCC Expert Meeting on the Use of Emissions Scenarios in Research in Amsterdam in January 2003.

    The suggestion that my posting amounted to “character assassination’ is a bit rich, coming as it does from a “working scientist’ who has casually accused Professor Richard Lindzen of being “sneaky’. In his written evidence to the House of Lords Committee inquiry, Professor Lindzen noted that he had been conducting research into various aspects of the physics of climate for the past 45 years, and had held professorships successively at Chicago, Harvard and MIT. Instead of criticising the Committee for the conclusions that they have drawn after examining Professor Lindzen (as well as Dr. Pachauri, Sir John Houghton, Sir David King and a number of other distinguished scientists and economists), I would be interested as a layperson to have from one of the RealClimate team a considered analysis of Professor Lindzen’s written and oral evidence before the Committee.

  37. JerryB
    Posted Nov 27, 2005 at 8:04 AM | Permalink


    I would like to thank you for that, and for your several other, informative comments here.

  38. Paul Linsay
    Posted Nov 27, 2005 at 10:05 AM | Permalink


    Would you provide a link for the testimony that Lindzen gave to the House of Lords Committee inquiry? Thanks.

  39. Brooks Hurd
    Posted Nov 27, 2005 at 11:20 AM | Permalink


    By redacting your attempted post Gavin once again has proven that he decides when to “tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but – which means that we must include all the doubts, the caveats, the ifs, ands, and buts. [S.S.]” Sadly, this reflects poorly on his intellectual honesty.

    After reading threads on RC, I get the feeling that many AGW supporters have the same blissfully ignorant attitude that I had during the time that I attended university. They seem to believe that the world is simple place and if only we could do a few things to make the world a better place then we would be moving closer to the utopia toward which they are striving. They do not want to accept any differing viewpoints because they are so convinced of the “rightness” of their views.

    These attitudes may be charming when expressed by a sophomore, however coming from a scientist they are dismaying to say the very least.

  40. Ian Castles
    Posted Nov 27, 2005 at 3:05 PM | Permalink

    Re #50. Paul, I think the best way is to go to , which will take you to the Report (section by section). At the foot of the page are links to each of the days of the hearings. Click on 25 January 2005, which was the day that Professor Lindzen (and also my co-author, Professor David Henderson) appeared before the Committee. The written evidence is reproduced immediately before the transcript of oral evidence.

  41. Geoff Smith
    Posted Nov 27, 2005 at 4:23 PM | Permalink

    Re #50,

    You can find Dr. Linzen’s testimony at for the Adobe version (2.5 MB) or for the html version. Sorry, I don’t know how to incorporate the direct link.


  42. Doug L
    Posted Nov 27, 2005 at 6:09 PM | Permalink

    Since by now it is has been well documented that RealClimate is not pure as the driven snow, a “John McLaughlin” style survey to reveal perceptions of this sad state of affairs may be revealing. Survey participants could be encouraged to select the worst appropriate response from the following list:

    The “honesty” of Real Climate web site is best described by which option:

    0: Totally open and honest, persecuted by vicious campaign organized by fossil fuel industry

    1: Information on Website only controlled to save the valuable time of genuine heroes

    2: Information on website only controlled to save the valuable time of people who might waste their time reading disinformation promoted by the fossil fuel industry

    3: Generalizations stated in the form of absolutes to sooth the true believers

    4: Righteously indignant scientists/priests need to scold blasphemers

    5: There must be a middle ground somewhere!

    6: information on website controlled to keep the site popular with true believers and encourage promotion of the site.

    7: information on website controlled to misdirect public from difficult issues

    8: Site is run by Orwellian stooges believing in their own lies

    9: Site is nothing more than a cynical ploy to cover up a major blunder

    10: Site may be just the beginning of a Nixonian-like damage control scheme, hockey team may start checking each other for hidden recording devices. Next IPCC report to prominently feature a graph of a million years of low CO2 to be dubbed “Hockey Stick Two”. Confusion over the two graphs will help deflect attention by discouraging normal people from wanting anything to do the subject.

  43. Dave Dardinger
    Posted Nov 27, 2005 at 7:20 PM | Permalink

    Doug, mark me down for #8

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