Kibitzing on Klimate Konversations

Since my time is somewhat short these days, I am having to narrow my focus here. Instead of looking at major themes and events I’m going to try and take advantage of my predilection for snooping in comment threads at places where I’m banned.

kibitzer

One such is And Then There’s Physics, a Klimate Konsensus blog run by and for true believers. I was banned there before even making an appearance, due to what the blog owner said was my ‘nastiness’. Okay. Of course, then he said he didn’t ban me, his co-blogger said she did, and my comments weren’t allowed up (and everything I’ve written there or in emails to the blog owner have been scrupulously polite and on-point). As I’ve had comments moderated for quoting was was said about me in comments that were approved, I’m forced to assume that nastiness, like the tallness of aunts, is a discretionary matter.

But I go there to read the comments. (The actual posts are not very useful. If And Then There’s Physics has a lot to say, it certainly isn’t about physics. His thought for today was apparently “as far as climate science is concerned, physics + logic beats statistics. I don’t have an issue with people delving into the details of some analysis to try and understand what was done, or trying to improve some analysis. However, at the end of the day, this is a physics problem and applying complicated statistics doesn’t mean that the result makes any sense, or finding some technical statistical fault with an analysis doesn’t mean the result is completely wrong. The day that Steve McIntyre and Nic Lewis recognise this, is the day I’ll take them more seriously. I’m not holding my breath.”

At some point, someone should take him aside and gently point out that since climate scientists including physicists do attempt to make statistical comparisons of climate, related data, other studies and even the occasional meta study, it would help to use good statistical practices rather than bad. Or even emphasize that not only does McIntyre not try to use statistics to trump climate science, he supports the broad sweep of the multidisciplinary findings, saying in front of a group of skeptics that he would listen to the IPCC recommendations. But when scientists like Michael Mann misuse statistics to emphasize a narrative they have already decided on, good statistics trump bad statistics.

When another commenter remarked “I know you don’t want to talk about Mann, but that is another example where statistician involvement at the onset could certainly have saved a lot of wasted energy” ATTP replied, “I doubt it would have made any difference. I don’t believe that the attack on MBH98 was motivated by a desire to do sound statistics. You can live in your fantasy world where you believe that to be the case. I’ll remain in the real world where people appear to attack anything that present results that they perceive to be inconvenient.”

And this is what I’ve encountered time and time again in the conversations held on weblogs about climate change. It is clear that ATTP is not familiar with what he is discussing. He clearly does not know what Michael Mann did. He does not know what Steve McIntyre wrote in response. Most importantly, although he clearly does not know why McIntyre has done what he has done, he imputes a base motive to Mac–that he is only attacking Mann’s work because he doesn’t like the results.

Far from it: “Similarly, the Oxburgh report, cited by Mann (Pl.’s Resp. at 19) as evidence of his “exoneration,” examined only the conduct of East Anglia Climate Research Unit scientists, not Mann. Nonetheless, the panel concluded that it was “regrettable” that tree-ring proxy reconstructions “by the IPCC and others” neglected to emphasize “the discrepancy between instrumental and tree-based proxy reconstructions of temperature during the late 20th century.” See Pl.’s Resp., Ex. 5 at 5 ¶ 7. Prof. David Hand, the head of the Royal Statistical Society and a member of the panel, subsequently singled out Michael Mann’s research for criticism, noting that Mann’s used “inappropriate methods” that “exaggerated the size of the blade at the end of the hockey stick.”

…[Hand] said the strongest example he had found of imperfect statistics in the work of the CRU and collaborators elsewhere was the iconic “hockey stick” graph, produced by Michael Mann of Pennsylvania State University in University Park. The graph shows how temperatures have changed over the past 1000 years (see graphic, right). Hand pointed out that the statistical tool Mann used to integrate temperature data from a number of difference sources – including tree-ring data and actual thermometer readings – produced an “exaggerated” rise in temperatures over the 20th century, relative to pre-industrial temperatures. That point was initially made by climate sceptic and independent mathematician Stephen McIntyre.”

And in this he is wrong. And this error cheapens whatever ATTP could possibly hope to bring to the debate.

Part of ATTP’s current popularity is due to his presentation of himself as an academic physicist, above the fray and beyond partisanship. However, he started his blogging peradventures by authoring another weblog that spent most of the time attacking Anthony Watts and his wildly popular blog Watts Up With That. As ATTP’s blog failed to get any traction or traffic, he cast about for another forum to use for promoting his preferences regarding climate change.

ATTP is unpleasant to those he disagrees with, but probably has a contribution to make to the climate debate. However, his current efforts insure that he will be preaching to the choir–and of course, the occasional kibitzer such as myself.

33 responses to “Kibitzing on Klimate Konversations

  1. At some point, someone should take him aside and gently point out that since climate scientists including physicists do attempt to make statistical comparisons of climate, related data, other studies and even the occasional meta study, it would help to use good statistical practices rather than bad.

    Of course, and nothing I’ve said disagrees with that basic point. I have no problem with people criticising me. It would be nice if they criticised what I actually said, not what they think I said.

    And in this he is wrong.

    Wrong about what? I didn’t say that MBH98 did not have statistical issues, nor did I say that McIntyre did not highlight a genuine issue. My point was that it’s hard for me to believe that it was motivated simply by a desire for statistical purity. You can of course disagree.

    He clearly does not know what Michael Mann did. He does not know what Steve McIntyre wrote in response.

    Yes, I do. Just because we disagree about something doesn’t mean that I don’t know what was done or written.

    Part of ATTP’s current popularity is due to his presentation of himself as an academic physicist, above the fray and beyond partisanship.

    Well, I don’t present myself as above the fray and beyond partisanship. I openly acknowledge that I get too involved in the fray and am partisan. I try not to be, but I know I don’t succeed as well as I probably should.

    However, he started his blogging peradventures by authoring another weblog that spent most of the time attacking Anthony Watts and his wildly popular blog Watts Up With That.

    Define “attack”. By your definition, this post here qualifies, or do you do what most seem to do: criticism by me = attack; attack by someone you agree with = criticism?

    As ATTP’s blog failed to get any traction or traffic

    It was doing fine.

    As for the nastiness, that was based on our first interaction on Stoat. If that was anomalous and you don’t normally behave in that way, my apologies for judging you on a single encounter.

    • “My point was that it’s hard for me to believe that it was motivated simply by a desire for statistical purity.”

      In order to make that statement, you would need to reject SM’s own description of why he first examined the Hockey Stick, as well as all of the related evidence that demonstrates he supports the broad outlines of Climate Science and Global Warming. In the face of that rejection, I can’t imagine any evidence could possibly convince you to change your mind.

      Too bad, because this is pure tribalism, ascribing base motives – in the teeth of evidence – to those who question your favourites. It is no different in any meaningful fashion from those who claim climate scientists are motivated by greed. No less damaging to the debate, either, as it puts aside any real discussion of issues in favour of personal opinions.

      • In order to make that statement

        It’s not a statement.

      • “It’s not a statement.”

        OK, but what would you call it, then? It certainly appeared to me to be an expression of your opinion of SM’s motives. What else would you call it? Is it merely a notion of yours that does not rise to the level of actual conviction?

        Also, nice deflection – quibbling with word choice rather than deal (in any fashion) with the overall point I was attempting to make.

      • knr,
        If you were to go to what motivated this whole exchange it was motivated by someone one my blog saying I know you don’t want to talk about Mann. I made the mistake of responding, and look where are now. This is why I don’t want to talk about Mann. It’s broadly irrelevant – IMO.

        Is it merely a notion of yours that does not rise to the level of actual conviction?

        Yes, unapologetically so. I have no idea what motivates people and would not state with confidence what it is. I simply pointed out that I find it hard to believe that the critique of MBH98 was based simply on a desire for statistical purity. You may not like that this is what I think. You may disagree with it. I can’t, however, change my view simply because you don’t like it. It’s what it is. I don’t even have to defend it. It’s simply my view.

        At the end of the day, however, I don’t really care all that much. It’s not science and if I want to know more about our millenial temperature history, I’m going to go and read some recent papers, not delve into a debate about papers (and what motivated them) from 10-20 years ago.

      • aTTP –

        Who’s knr?🙂

        More seriously, thanks for the clear response. Good to know where you think you actually stand.

        Can’t say that I entirely agree with you, though, as it seems to me that your first reactions to Mann vs. McIntyre are much stronger than a mere notion would bring on – but that’s simply my view.

        Also, I would never expect you or anyone to change their views simply because I didn’t like them. That would be simply ridiculous, and highly counter to my beliefs. I could wish that I had some way to challenge you to examine some of those views based on evidence rather than opinion. Lord knows, following evidence has made me change enough views in the past 10 years of reading on the damned climate wars. I really feel that there would be a whole lot less bitterness shown and a whole lot more science discussed if everyones tribal expressions were toned down. Not gonna happen, I guess, but sure would be nice…

      • kch,
        Thanks. I think knr is someone else I have responded to somewhere in a comment thread in the last few weeks and I was just in a rush when I responded to yours. Apologies.

      • ATTP, nobody in the Konsensus blogosphere wants to talk about Mann. I don’t think that’s an exaggeration. Some have rules about not talking about Mann or the Hockey Stick.

        Various reasons are offered:

        1. Climate science is much more than the Hockey Stick.
        2. It is a lightning rod for skeptics.
        3. It’s been litigated to death.
        4. The issues involved are not particularly interesting
        5. Mann has been exonerated by multiple investigations
        6. It’s been a decade–let’s get over it
        7. Other researchers have replicated Mann’s findings

        However, those on the opposing side keep bringing it up, unconvinced by those reasons. Why?

        I would submit it is because that the Konsensus is vulnerable on Mann-related issues and the skeptics (and we lukewarmers) know it.

        Obviously climate science is relatively unaffected by the publication of a badly flawed paper, even if accompanied by frantic defenses that are obviously political. The planet still warmed, we still are one of the contributors to that warming, one of the major contributions is human greenhouse gases.

        But in a world where we are equated with scum sucking devil dogs who deny the Holocaust occurred, we badly need something that can serve as shield and sword. In a world where you are explicit about refusing to debate your opponents, both skeptics and lukewarmers need a counter to the slick propaganda emanating from Oreskes, Cook, Lewandowsky, Anderegg, Prall et al, and the NGOs flooding the media with iconic representations of parts of the biome they claim to be at risk.

        It’s not Mann-made climate change that is causing the consensus problems. Climate change is real with or without the Hockey Stick. Your problem is that the Konsensus made Mann in your own image. A flawed approach to solve a political problem defended to the death not because it is right but because it is yours.

    • Hello ATTP. You banned me. You said you didn’t ban me. I cannot comment at your site. I have been polite and on point in all our communications.

      You impute bad motives to Steve McIntyre. You are incorrect. I would be remiss if I didn’t point that out.

      You miss the entire point, in any event. Your comment on your thread about physics and logic being superior to statistics. You’re absolutely incorrect, because Mann and other climate scientists first misused statistics in preparation of their results and then again in communication of them.

      I am not saying statistics is more important than science. I’m saying that scientists who misuse statistics should not lie about it and insult those who call their attention to their own mistakes.

      As for nasty, I’ve been called a pimp, a lying sack of shit and worse by those who are regular commenters on your blog. At times I have lost my temper in response.

      But I never banned someone and then told the world I hadn’t done it.

      • I have been polite and on point in all our communications.

        Then you and I have different definitions of polite. If you don’t remember our exchange on Stoat, then maybe you should go and remind yourself. I’m not apologising for judging you on that exchange again.

        You impute bad motives to Steve McIntyre.

        No, I don’t. Not really, at least. My point was that I find it hard to believe that the criticism of MBH98 was based solely on a desire for statistical purity. You can disagree, but I’m not about to change my view simply because you disagree.

        Your comment on your thread about physics and logic being superior to statistics.

        It’s not really a fight between physics + logic and statistics and I didn’t say “superior”. It’s simply a fairly obvious statement, that when considering a physical system, physics + logic beats pure statistics. You can disagree if you wish.

        I’m saying that scientists who misuse statistics should not lie about it and insult those who call their attention to their own mistakes.

        Sure, I’ve never said they should. Of course, we may disagree about whether or not someone has lied, but that doesn’t change that I don’t think they should.

        As for nasty, I’ve been called a pimp, a lying sack of shit and worse by those who are regular commenters on your blog. At times I have lost my temper in response.

        Fine, and I’ve lost my temper when others have done the same to me. I don’t condone it and I sympathise with those who have been subjected to such insults. Noone, however, has ever done so to you on my site and I would moderate any such comment if they did. I’m not responsible for how people behave elsewhere.

        But I never banned someone and then told the world I hadn’t done it.

        I’ve never knowingly done so either. If you don’t believe that my moderator had done so without telling me, that’s fine with me. You’re not obliged to (although it might be regarded as rather ironic given what’s motivated your post).

        Look it’s just blogs. If you want to get all worked up about a few comments being deleted and my moderator banning you without telling me first (and then unbanning you) go ahead. I have many better things to do with my time. I’ve also got no problem with you criticising me on your blog (unlike many in this debate, I don’t regard genuine criticism as a form of attack). However, it would be appreciated if you actually read what I write and criticised what I actually say, not what you think I said, or what you think I might mean.

      • ATTP, in the week after RachelM said that it was she that had banned me without consulting with you and you said that I was not banned, I submitted 5 scrupulously polite and on-topic comments. They all went straight into moderation and refreshing the page saw them disappear. They had been censored out of existence.

        You are not telling the truth. I am banned from your site.

        I have been polite at your site. What thread at Stoat contains my comment that has you clutching your pearls?

        When you write, “I don’t believe that the attack on MBH98 was motivated by a desire to do sound statistics. You can live in your fantasy world where you believe that to be the case. I’ll remain in the real world where people appear to attack anything that present results that they perceive to be inconvenient”, how is that anything but an attack on the motives of Mann’s chief critic, Steve McIntyre? Please be specific.

        And again you miss the point. McIntyre is not attacking climate science. He is highlighting the misuse of statistics in analysis of certain data streams and again in the communications regarding certain papers.

        You write, “Fine, and I’ve lost my temper when others have done the same to me. I don’t condone it and I sympathise with those who have been subjected to such insults. Noone, however, has ever done so to you on my site and I would moderate any such comment if they did. I’m not responsible for how people behave elsewhere.” Yet you banned me based on something I supposedly wrote at another site. What was it I wrote at Stoat (a site with entirely different moderating principles and whose author is famously acerbic–I’ll bet what I wrote pales in comparison with what he’s written about me).

        More importantly you insist falsely that I’m not banned at your site.

        As for reading what you have written, I have done better–I quote you.

      • As for reading what you have written, I have done better–I quote you.

        Yes, people keep claiming that they can’t have misinterpreted what someone has said because they quoted their exact words. Strange how they’re often wrong. Anyway, you clearly just want to keep complaining, so you can carry on by yourself. I’ve got better things to do.

      • Yes, moaning about two years before the mast is much more important than answering honest questions about what you’ve written.

      • Yes, moaning about two years before the mast is much more important than answering honest questions about what you’ve written.

        If you recognised that you’re just some random person on the internet, and stopped behaving as though I’m obliged to respond to your questions, maybe I’ll answer one. While you’re thinking about that, maybe you could also read through some of my other response to establish if you’ve correctly interpreted what I’ve said. You’ve done what seems quite common: take something that has a very specific and obvious meaning, and extract all sorts of other meanings that reflect what you think I might have meant, not what I actually said. When I write something, or say something, I write (or say) precisely what I want to write (or say) and the meaning I want to convey is precisely what those words convey. Whatever other meaning you think I may be trying to convery is irrelevant. You can, of course, believe that I was trying to convey some other meaning, but I don’t have to defend what you think I meant; I only have to defend what I actually said (and, then, only if I can actually be bothered doing so).

      • Fine ATTP. Let’s start with two questions: 1. Why am I banned at your site? 2. Why did you say I was not banned at your site?

        Please don’t cavil. I am banned there. I cannot post a comment. You did say I was not banned at the site.

        You write below that your moderator unbanned me. That is not the case. I cannot post a comment on your site.

        So, 1. Why am I banned at your site? 2. Why did you say I was not banned at your site?

      • 2. Why did you say I was not banned at your site?

        Because your details aren’t in my comment blacklist. Yes, I realise that your recent comments have been deleted. Again, that wasn’t me. You can choose to believe me or not. My responsibility, maybe, but I didn’t do it.

        At the end of the day, I don’t particularly care. It’s my blog, I get to run it as I wish. If it bothers you so much that your recent comments have been deleted, just don’t make any. Nothing about this exchange has convinced me that there’s any benefit to me interacting with you. That doesn’t bother me in the slightest.

      • Oooookay, ATTP. You keep coming to my site and commenting. I thought there must be a reason. Evidently not. Like I keep saying, have fun–why blog if it isn’t fun?

  2. I’ve written there or in emails

    When did you email me? I’ve no record of receiving any emails from you.

  3. Tom,
    You have an ability to call pigs that is amazing. I hope you can avoid wrestling.

  4. “It is clear that ATTP is not familiar with what he is discussing. He clearly does not know what Michael Mann did. He does not know what Steve McIntyre wrote in response. Most importantly, although he clearly does not know why McIntyre has done what he has done, he imputes a base motive to Mac–that he is only attacking Mann’s work because he doesn’t like the results.”

    One of the most stunning examples of this was when he claimed at his own blog that
    “McIntyre & McKitrick 2005 has numerous easily explained issues”.
    Apparently these issues were so easy to explain that he didn’t bother to explain what they were. When challenged by Brandon, he got himself into deeper trouble by claiming that
    “What seems indisputable, though, is that the 10 hockey sticks presented in MM05 (one of the papers, you probably know which one) were not selected randomly from their sample of 10000.”
    In fact, in neither of the MM05 papers are there “10 hockey sticks presented”!
    So he was repeatedly criticising a paper that he hadn’t read properly himself.

    AndThenTheresPolitics might be a better name. The way he started with the political LeftofCentre blog, then switched to WottsupWIthThat, making no link between the two, fits perfectly with the definition of stealth advocacy.

    • Paul,
      And how am I meant to describe your behaviour? Infantile, juvenile are words that spring to mind. There are others that I’ll avoid mentioning. Yes, I’ve got some things wrong in the past. I’ve at least acknowledged them. In fact, in the example you quote, I was wrong, but I was confusing the paper with the Wegman report (which actually, IIRC, had 12 figures, not 10). Also, if you were honest, you would at least be willing to acknowledge that what I was referring to was correct (the sample of 100 HSs provided in the supplementary information to MM05 were not randomly selected). I’m, obviously, not expecting you to do so, and I have no interest in actually discussing this with you. (This whole saga is the reason I have no interest in discussing Mann and the various issues related to MBH98 and MM05, they’re irrelevant and it’s tedious having to go through all this again and again).

      Yes, I wrote a different blog under a different pseudonym. Yes, I called it “ToTheLeftofCentre”. Until I was outed, only one other person knew that I wrote that and the total number of reads in 5 years was less than I get a month on my current blog (and that was dominated by a single post on the Astronomy and Particle Physics funding crisis from 2008). Yes, I did sometimes mentions politics (my God, how could I?), but mostly wrote about unversities and science funding. I know you can highlight some examples, as you’ve done, but that might be called cherry-picking.

      The way he started with the political LeftofCentre blog, then switched to WottsupWIthThat, making no link between the two, fits perfectly with the definition of stealth advocacy.

      Again, shock, horror, he wrote more than one blog pseudonymously. And what do you call your behaviour? As I’ve already said, I find it juvenile, but then – to be fair – that’s my single word description for the online climate debate, so you’re not alone. Maybe time you grew up, though? It might be tricky as it does seem as though the standard tactic of the “skeptic” movement is to go around highlighting whatever flaws they can find with those with whom they disagree, and acknowledge nothing. I guess if that’s all you’ve got, it’s all you can do. Maybe look in a mirror once in a while, though.

      Also, you highlighting my two blogs seems to be typical “skeptic” conspiracy ideation. I wrote a blog that indicates that I am left-leaning. As far as I’m aware, I’m allowed to be (unless you’re suggesting some kind of law against it?). Now I write about climate science. Therefore it must be because I want to use climate science to advocate for a socialist utopia? Pathetic and one reason why I regard the retraction of the Recursive Fury paper as a travesty!

      • … and straight in with the name calling and accusations of dishonesty. From the guy who claims to be trying to keep the discussion civil, but told Richard To to f*** off (without the asterisks) at his own blog.
        Well, if you were honest, you would acknowledge that your claims about M&M having numerous easily explained issues was false.
        If you were honest, you would have acknowledged your previous political blog when you started the climate one, rather than trying to hide it.
        If you were honest, you would not have banned someone as reasonable and polite as Tom Fuller from your blog.

      • Paul,

        If you were honest, you would not have banned someone as reasonable and polite as Tom Fuller from your blog.

        I didn’t ban him. He’s not banned. Your definition of polite and mine are clearly very different.

        If you were honest, you would have acknowledged your previous political blog when you started the climate one, rather than trying to hide it.

        I didn’t try to hide it and it wasn’t really political. I had one blog, I started another one. I know you think I’m advocating, but I have no real idea what for.

        Well, if you were honest, you would acknowledge that your claims about M&M having numerous easily explained issues was false.

        There are numerous easily explained issues. You, of course, would be unconvinceable and discussing this is with you would be a complete and utter waste of time. You don’t even seem willing to acknowledge what I said above. Also, “Issues” doesn’t mean “wrong”.

        From the guy who claims to be trying to keep the discussion civil, but told Richard To to f*** off (without the asterisks) at his own blog.

        Yes, I failed to be civil. He deserved it. I’d be amazed if I was the first to say this to Richard Tol. Also, the only reason you know if because Richard Tol tweeted it. If he’d been upset he might have asked me to retract it, rather than broadcast it. It also got moderated and I later apologised.

        and straight in with the name calling and accusations of dishonesty.

        I didn’t call you a name and I didn’t call you dishonest. Jesus, this isn’t complicated. Also, this is remarakbly ironic given what you said at the beginning of your comment above.

        Look, I don’t like you. I’m sorry, but that’s the case. I think you’re one of the least pleasant people I’ve ever encountered and I think your online behaviour is appalling. I do my best to avoid you. I’m quite happy having nothing whatsoever to do with you, and I have no reason to interact with you and no desire to do so. If you want to write about me on your blog, go ahead. It’s a free world. Actually properly representing what I say might be nice, but I’m not too bothered if you can’t bring yourself to do so. To be honest, I’d be really surprised if you did. If you want to go around the internet telling people that I had another blog that you regard as political, that I once said something that was wrong on another blog, and that I once told someone to f**k off, go ahead. Don’t be surprised if I continue to regard you as juvenile and immature, though. You should also look up what Ad Hominem means.

    • Paul,
      Wrestling with ATTP is fun for ATTP, but gets you nothing but muddy.

  5. Dearest Tom,
    I think that you should step back and articulate what you want to accomplish with this blog. And then before every entry, ask yourself is this furthering your cause. If you are trying to change the minds of those leaning toward alarmism, this isn’t the way to do it.
    Most people on most issues decide whether or not to believe something by judging the source and not by looking at the actual data. Look at the comments here. Look at your positions on nuclear and shale gas. No environmentalist will take your arguments seriously no matter how good they are. And don’t tell me these so called skeptics are any different. They are just cherry picking blogs to find talking points that agree with their politics. They are deniers. I’m a skeptic.
    I’ll try to read your posts and respond directly to them. I’m going to ignore other comments on this blog.

    • Hi Marty

      I admit that I am searching for a new direction for TLW–previously you suggested some investigative journalism about Oreskes. I’m not certain I have the time to do that, plus doing it from Taiwan would not be incredibly easy. Any other ideas?

      I really like both you and Hunter. Wish you weren’t at such loggerheads.

      • Agreed, Tom. I find Marty’s perspectives interesting. For what its worth, from my perspective the pieces you are doing that analyze how far off track the consensus has gone are very good work. By the way, how is your Cantonese?

      • Hi, Hunter. Cantonese non-existent. I’m a Mandarin-only kinda guy for now. The four tones just kick my butt–and Cantonese has nine…

  6. Marty,
    You mean “denying” like “denying” plate tectonics and using silly arguments like conservation of momentum to justify it?
    Or do you mean “denying” that there is no credible or authentic evidence about fracking?
    Or do you mean “denying” that you are at heart a conpsiracy guy who relies on big conspiracies to explain away people who write things you don’t like?

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