Sigh… Cook Again

Update 2: Below in comments, someone named Rachel who helps ATTP moderate the blog And Then There’s Physics, informed me that she had done what I attributed to the blog owner and further, that she did not inform the blog owner immediately.

Update: Well, And Then There’s Physics doesn’t really like to talk with people who don’t agree with him. He said I was rude and appealing to authority when I entered Mike Hulme’s quote (see below).

And the following comment was censored:

“Gee. I’m sorry. Where was I rude? I’d like to know your definition of rude, as I am a guest here and do not wish to offend. Please, can you point out instances?

Was it “To what category does “garbage” belong?” Oh–sorry, that wasn’t me.

Was it “Some people can’t read”? Oh–sorry, that wasn’t me.

Was it “Has I was just going to ask if Thomas Fuller is testing how trollish he can be before his comments are moderated. ” Oh–sorry, that wasn’t me.

Was it “As Groundskeeper Willie says in his political hit job…” Oh–sorry, that wasn’t me.

Was it “then write a f*****g social science paper on it Tom. I’m sure you’ll be seriously influential in the faculty tea room.” Oh–sorry, that wasn’t me.

As for appealing to authority, I thought instead I was finding support within the scientific community for Pekka’s position. I do most humbly apologize.”


Welcome to Groundhog Day, climate style. There’s more to say about Cook, but most of it will sound very familiar.

groundhog day

Richard Tol has a new assessment of Cook et al’s 97% purity paper–I mean consensus diatribe. Regular readers of this space will remember that I dealt with the topic here and here. Those wanting to get a more complete picture might also look at Jose Duarte’s treatment here, Poptech here, and Andrew Montford (also known as Bishop Hill) here.

The climate blog And Then There’s Physics is now busy regurgitating the feeble defenses offered on behalf of Cook’s contribution to junk science since the day it came out. It is here.

They have resuscitated the zombie arguments used before, none of which address Tol’s two new additions to the many, many criticisms of the paper, nor any of the older criticisms that are at least as damning if not more so.

Tol writes, “First, U Queensland claimed data cannot be released because of a confidentiality agreement. There is a confidentiality agreement, but it does not cover the requested data. John Cook claimed data cannot be released because they were never collected. They were.

Second, the not-collected-data-that-somehow-do-exist-nonetheless (aka time stamps) reveal the sequence of the research: Data were collected and analysed. More data were collected and analysed. The classification of the data was changed, and more data were collected before the final analysis. Going back to collect data, and collect data differently, is a big no no in experimental design, particularly if those who analyzed the preliminary data also collect the data.”

ATTP (the blog host) calls Tol’s statements ‘deceitful’, but does not say how or what the truth of the matter is.

Typical of the comments is “Tol strikes me as someone who would not drink his own pesticides.” That’s the level of intelligence mustered in defense of Cook’s paper.

For those who have forgotten (or those who simply would like to forget), (and quoting myself) “In May 2013 John Cook et al published a paper in Environmental Research Letters, published by IOP publications. The paper was titled “Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature”.  In it they claim that they find a 97% Consensus on Human-Caused Global Warming in the Peer-Reviewed Literature.” The project was conceived as a ‘citizen science’ endeavor using volunteers from the Skeptical Science website.

Except they didn’t. The previous statement was published on the website of Skeptical Science, a weblog that Cook and one of his co-authors, Dana Nuccitelli, operate. (Although there is a lot of science on the website, to call it skeptical is not accurate. It is a purveyor of consensus messages, pure and simple.) But what their paper actually says is very different: “We analyze the evolution of the scientific consensus on anthropogenic global warming (AGW) in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, examining 11,944 climate abstracts from 1991–2011 matching the topics ‘global climate change’ or ‘global warming’. We find that 66.4% of abstracts expressed no position on AGW, 32.6% endorsed AGW, 0.7% rejected AGW and 0.3% were uncertain about the cause of global warming.  There is a dramatic difference between “97% Consensus on Human-Caused Global Warming” and “66.4% of abstracts expressed no opinion on AGW.”

“The ‘97% consensus’ article is poorly conceived, poorly designed and poorly executed. It obscures the complexities of the climate issue and it is a sign of the desperately poor level of public and policy debate in this country [UK] that the energy minister should cite it.”

Mike Hulme, Ph.D. Professor of Climate Change, University of East Anglia (UEA)

When I noted at ATTP that “from Andrew Montford’s analysis of the paper: “There was also apparently a problem with the number of papers processed by raters, with one participant getting through no fewer than 765 abstracts in a 72-hour period” the reply was “In a world where most abstracts are a foolscap page in length.”

Okay. I’ll admit that it is possible to review 765 abstracts in 3 days. I’ll just maintain that you can’t do it well.

When I noted from the paper’s Methods that “Abstracts were randomly distributed via a web-based system to raters with only the title and abstract visible. All other information such as author names and affiliations, journal and publishing date were hidden. Each abstract was categorized by two independent, anonymized raters.” and then quoted from the raters’ discussion board: “FYI, here are all papers in our database by the author Wayne Evans:”


“I was mystified by the ambiguity of the abstract, with the author wanting his skeptical cake and eating it too. I thought, “that smells like Lindzen” and had to peek.”

The reply was that since the forum’s contents had been taken from Cook’s website (where they were posted in plain view), that I was “Yes, arguing based on criminally obtained private communication.”

Cook is a curious mixture of junk science and propaganda.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. There is a scientific consensus on a narrow definition of anthropogenic contributions to global warming. Several surveys have put scientific agreement at about 80%.

I am part of the consensus (although I’m not a scientist). I believe global warming is real, is a threat and should be addressed in the present day.

And I don’t like pseudoscience and puppeteers spouting propaganda that confuses the public, angers their legitimate opponents and further sinks climate science into a muddy morass that makes action less likely.

21 responses to “Sigh… Cook Again

  1. Tom,
    Being from the South and been exposed to a lot of fundamentalist style believers growing up, I find ATTP’s style of communication and responses to counter data to be very similar to the rabid sort of fundie. That is why I don’t visit sites like that- angry ignorance dressed up as enlightened faith is just too predictable. Watching it in secularists only shows that somehow this sort of ignorance is not relegated merely to the uneducated.

  2. Hiya Hunter,

    Yeah, Judith said some nice things about him, but he’s just another Tobis…

    • I’ve no idea why you titled your post “Sigh…Cook again”. It’s people you broadly agree with who keep bringing it up. As far as I’m concerned, the result is largely obvious and such studies only exist because some keep claiming (erroneously) that there isn’t a consensus, or do their utmost to discredit any work that illustrates the existsence of such a consensus.

      I’m assuming that comparing me to Michael Tobis was meant to be an insult. If so, why?

      • You are a real twit, coming here after you ban me from your blog.

        You obviously didn’t read Tol. You obviously didn’t read what I wrote. Are you capable of reading the written word?

        Two inches above your sputtering I wrote “I am part of the consensus (although I’m not a scientist). I believe global warming is real, is a threat and should be addressed in the present day.”

        Wo bu dong. Ni bu shi kan yingwen?


      • As for the Tobis part, he spent half his time trying to sound all reasonable and hail fellow, well met, but he just couldn’t keep his composure and would periodically go mental.

        That’s you all over. Just for giggles, point to one comment I made on that thread that was actually rude.

      • You are a real twit, coming here after you ban me from your blog.

        Not only have I not banned you. Why did you think that? But if you’re unhappy with me being here, just ban me. It’s not complicated and I’d be perfectly happy with that. Okay, you don’t to bother banning me, since I’m quite happy not to comment here. I know I called you rude, but the only reason for not doing so would be because it’s a little impolite, not because it isn’t true. Also, why you you write a post and mention me, and then be annoyed when I comment here.

    • Tom, pig wrestling alert.

  3. Here’s the deal, ATTP. Post my comment up on your blog. Tell everyone you deleted it four times. Apologize for that and for calling me rude. Then if you want to discuss things, fine.

  4. I deleted your comment four times and banned you early this morning, Thomas Fuller. I mistakenly didn’t mention it to AndThen until this afternoon. Feel free to blame me.

    • Rachel, that’s unfortunate. There is blog etiquette on how to deal with commenters. I banned willard, for example, here. But I didn’t delete his comments prior to that. (I did afterwards.)

      Importantly, I advised him on the blog what he was doing that I found inappropriate, told him what the consequences would be if he continued and suggested specific actions he could take if he was interested in commenting further.

      As with any contested topic discussed on the internet there is no shortage of ill-will between many of the participants.

      Sloppy blog etiquette doesn’t help.

      However, thank you for coming here and advising me about what you did. That shows more guts, quite frankly, than I have seen from many bloggers (and more commenters) on both sides of the fence on this issue.

      I actually think that’s more important than your original incorrect action.

  5. In case you did not know ATTP has been outed as Ken Rice, a Reader of Astronomy and Public Relations Director at the Institute for Astronomy, within the School of Physics & Astronomy at the University of Edinburgh (UK).

  6. ATTP/Ken Rice is at most a wannabe. He is probably a neverwuzzer. Either way he is not worth engaging. His postings are vaccuous and derivative and he is unable to frame an argument. I visited his site once and felt like I had visited a poorly run pig farm.

  7. Tom, this post is off topic but fascinating. The implications of just how much climate fear promoters have lied is interesting. This from a thread over at WUWT on Iceland:

    Nils Rømcke
    April 11, 2015 at 2:38 am

    When we read the stories from Snorre Sturlason at school back in the 1950ties we learned that Iceland was covered by forest in the time of the vikings. That was in warmer days when the norsemen settled in Greenland and America.

    April 11, 2015 at 4:48 am

    Seriously? You reckon the whole of Iceland was covered in forest in the time of vikings?

    April 11, 2015 at 6:05 am

    Well Martin,seeing as there are forests in iceland now, and according to the Iceland forest service between 25% and 40% of the land area of Iceland was covered by birchforests and woodlands at the time of human settlement in 1140, I guess you better start taking some headache pills.
    April 11, 2015 at 6:42 am

    Whole of Iceland?

    Martin: You just love adding words to other’s speech yet hate it when someone questions your writings.

    Iceland had forests. Period!

    It also had extensive green areas where sheep were tended.

    Which means that the medieval Vikings were far more observant and intelligent than you.
    Grey Lensman
    April 11, 2015 at 6:48 am


    It wasn’t always thus. Despite the rather frightening name of the country, Iceland was green when Vikings came to settle.

    About 60% of the country was covered in bushes, trees, grass and all that. As one of the sagas says: “At that time, Iceland was covered with woods, between the mountains and the shore.”


    you were saying?????????????
    April 11, 2015 at 7:00 am

    Martin has just demonstrated the negative impact obsession with cliamte catastrophe can have on one’s thinking abilities.

  8. Pingback: Denial 101–I made the list! | The Lukewarmer's Way

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