JoNova

A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).


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Climate scientists move to atom-bomb number system, give up on exponentials

POSTED in the Satirical Tomes:

News that could have been, but wasn’t.

Climate modelers announced today that in future they would report everything in Hiroshima-atom-bomb-equivalents, or Habe. The President of Climate-Scientists-Anonymous said the old system of joules was boring, and no one understood what ten-to-the-twenty-two meant anyhow. “We leave that stuff to the computers” he said.

“The planet has been building up temperatures at the rate of four Hiroshima bombs of heat every second, and it’s all our fault, say climate scientists.”

— Neda Vanovac, Climate change like atom bomb (interviewing John Cook )

Skeptics said they preferred exponentials, but could debunk alarmists with any units. Science Blogger Jo Nova said if Neda Vanovac had called “I would have told her that while John Cook’s figure sounded like a marvelous marketing gimmick, scientifically it was meaningless. For starters, the Sun blasts 1,950 Hiroshima’s worth of energy over the Earth every second (h.t to Wellerstein). So we got four more? Did Cook forget to mention that, or was he just trying to scare people?”

Jo explains that Cook’s units are a parody of science: “The atomic-bomb delivered all the energy in one [...]

Lewandowsky, Cook and the Barack Obama tweet that wasn’t

Stephan Lewandowsky (and John Cook) got excited that Barack Obama ‘retweeted’ the (fallacious) 97% consensus study. In The Conversation, Stephan Lewandowsky made it the leading line (right under the name-calling headline):

“When President Obama last week tweeted that “97% of scientists agree: climate change is real, man-made, and dangerous” it drew the attention of his 31 million followers to the most recent study pointing to the consensus in climate science.”

As a Professor of Psychology on a academic site, we might assume Lewandowsky might be more factual and less like a direct marketing campaign. (Dear Stephan, there is no chance 31 million followers read his tweets. Twitter is not like that. Obama is following 662,021 people. You think he reads them?)

Worse, that tweet was not by Barack Obama. The @barackobama account is run by an activist group called Organizing for Action (OFA). It’s the fourth biggest twitter account in the world, but Obama gave the account to OFA earlier this year, and he doesn’t appear to have used it since. (Still it’s not like Lewandowsky’s career depends on understanding how people work, and how to spot a fake right? Oh. Wait… )

OFA use Obama’s photo and his name, [...]

Cook’s fallacy “97% consensus” study is a marketing ploy some journalists will fall for

What does a study of 20 years of abstracts tell us about the global climate? Nothing. But it says quite a lot about the way government funding influences the scientific process.

John Cook, a blogger who runs the site with the ambush title “SkepticalScience” (which unskeptically defends the mainstream position), has tried to revive the put-down and smear strategy against the thousands of scientists who disagree. The new paper confounds climate research with financial forces, is based on the wrong assumptions, uses fallacious reasoning, wasn’t independent, and confuses a consensus of climate scientists for a scientific consensus, not that a consensus proves anything anyway, if it existed.

Given the monopolistic funding of climate science in the last 20 years, the results he finds are entirely predictable.

The twelve clues that good science journalists ought to notice:

1. Thousands of papers support man-made climate change, but not one found the evidence that matters

Cook may have found 3,896 papers endorsing the theory that man-made emissions control the climate, but he cannot name one paper with observations that shows that the assumptions of the IPCC climate models about water vapor and cloud feedbacks are correct. These assumptions produce half to two-thirds of [...]

Dear John, you want “deniers” to help you do a fallacious survey eh?

John,

Thanks for the invite to assist with the crowd sourced online survey.

Unfortunately I just can’t see this working.

1. The survey is profoundly anti-science, it’s exactly the kind of thing I debunk on my blog. Consensus is the stuff of politics, not science. Science is not a democracy, and we don’t vote for the laws of physics, which are either right or wrong and not “97% popular”. Hence, any answer you get in this survey (and it appears you already have the answers) has got nothing to do with understanding the climate of Earth. It may possibly be helpful in psychosocial analysis of groupthink in modern science, or the effect of monopsonistic funding on scientific progress, but that brings me to problem 2, even if it were useful for that, you are not the researcher to study that. See point 2.

2. You still refer to us as “deniers” in much of your work. You admitted there was no such thing as a “climate denier” a few months ago (albeit after five years of using the term), but you have not adopted a more useful name, or apologized for abusing the English language. Clearly you think skeptics are [...]

Lewandowsky, Cook claim 78,000 skeptics could see conspiracy survey at Cooks site where there is no link

The MoonLanding paper is finally here. Eight months after Lewandowsky was so sure he had a “peer reviewed” conclusion that he announced his results in The Guardian and The Telegraph , the paper has finally been published.

Lewandowsky et al claimed to show skeptics are nutters who believe any rabid conspiracy like the “moon-landing was faked”.  Their novel method for discovering the views of skeptics involved surveying sites frequented by those who hate skeptics.

The survey questions included conspiracies likely to appeal to a small percentage of conservative or free market thinkers, and largely left out conspiracies that would appeal more to supporters of bigger government (like the idea that the rise of “climate denial” was a big-oil funded conspiracy). It studied big-government conspiracies and ignored big-corporate ones. There are gullible conspiracists who also believe in global warming, but there was no danger this survey would find them. The survey bias was so obvious, even alarmist commenters said they feared few “denialists” would take it. The results that were headlined in newspapers were based on a tiny sample of ten respondents to an anonymous online survey. Not surprisingly Lewandowsky’s university (UWA) received many complaints about ethics, methods, and the dismal quality [...]

IPCC Lead Author calls Lewandowsky “deluded”

People across the UK are rolling in the aisles in laughter.

Lewandowsky’s latest paper, “Recursive Fury” (which has just reappeared),  categorized a comment by Richard Betts under the heading “Excerpt Espousing Conspiracy Theory” (in the supplemental data). But instead of being a comment from a rabid tin-foil-hat skeptic, Betts turns out to be Head of Climate Impacts at the UK Met Office and an IPCC lead author.

When Betts was informed about this by Barry Woods, he tweeted “Lewandowsky et al clearly deluded!”

Here’s the comment by Betts that Lewandowsky et al think demonstrates conspiracist ideation. Betts is pointing out how easily the authors of the original paper (claiming that skeptics-believe-the-moon-landing-was-faked) could have posted their survey link in places where skeptics were actually likely to see it. The Moon landing paper — after all — claimed to analyze skeptics but ended up getting results only from sites that were virulently anti-skeptic.

Richard Betts: “The thing I don’t understand is, why didn’t they just make a post on sceptic blogs themselves, rather than approaching blog owners. They could have posted as a Discussion topic here at Bishop Hill without even asking the host, and I very much doubt that the Bish [...]

John Cook of (un) SkepticalScience, admits “climate change denier” is inaccurate. Will he stop name-calling?

I don’t think John Cook realizes how his latest article affects virtually everything else he’s written.

(Repeated on the SMH too.)

How accurate is a book when even the title describes a group of people who don’t exist? Will Cook stop abusing English?

So he finally admits the banal, that there is no rational explanation for calling skeptical scientists “climate deniers” or “climate change deniers”. Bravo. (No one denies that climate changes, or thinks the Earth has no climate.). But this is terminology he uses everywhere, and it describes a group of people that don’t exist. Has he only just noticed?

We think through our language, and when we use sloppy, inaccurate words, we get sloppy inaccurate results. Abusing our language is what people do when they don’t have a rational argument.

Misleading language is de rigueur for Cook. Even the name of his “SkepticalScience” website is the anti-thesis of accurate English. He’s not skeptical of “official science” in the slightest, and with a gaping hole in his logic (see below), not too scientific either.

Look out for the “fake” tag, too. Since when did a representative of a university call another university academic a fake? Since Cook did. He [...]

The Worst Cookbook Interview Ever?

Robin Williams is supposedly one of Australia’s top science communicators. He, and the ABC, continue to support ad hominems, name-calling, and are running scared of a real scientific debate. Williams will not allow skeptics to explain their views on his show, except in comments on stories, and then apparently, even that was too much, and a raging thread (for the Science Show) mysteriously disappeared for days when it got too hot. BobFJ has been dedicated in tracking it, and keeping the pressure on the anti-science pronouncements of Williams et al. Here we have all the fun of the so called “Science” Show meeting the author of  Un-Skeptical-Science, with half-truths and irrelevancies broadcast across the continent thanks to the taxpayers of Australia. — JoNova

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Guest Post by  Bob Fernley-Jones (aka Bob_FJ)

In addition to regular readers of Jo Nova, those familiar with John Cook’s misleadingly titled website “Skeptical Science” may be shocked by what follows.  Some will also likely recall Jo’s article; Robyn Williams shreds the tenets of science.  It largely covered the awful Robyn Williams interview of Bob Ward of 2/Oct/2010, and resulted in strong ridicule of the ABC going viral around the world.   Well, lo [...]

The Unskeptical Guide to the Skeptics Handbook

It’s taken 21 months, four professors, and three associate/assistant professors, and THIS is the best they could come up with? The printed version listed no author (the pdf has been updated with John Cooks name*) yet wears the logo of the University of Western Australia (UWA), which will embarrass that university as word spreads of the intellectual weakness of their “Guide“.

Did UWA commission this piece of rather inept, qualitative “feel-good” science and clumsy reasoning? Stephan Lewandowsky invited John Cook to speak at UWA and “offer assistance“.

The booklet uses a mislabeled graph with a deceptive scale, won’t show the damning graphs it supposedly debunks,  assumes positive feedback occurs despite the weight of empirical evidence against it (Douglass, Spencer, Lindzen), and repeats irrelevant information even though The Skeptics Handbook describes why rising sea levels and glaciers and ice sheets can’t possibly tell us what causes the warming. It misleadingly discusses a different fingerprint — one that isn’t the key point and isn’t disputed by skeptics. Cause and effect are mixed up, and naturally there are strawmen arguments to unnecessarily destroy for the spectacle of being seen to do something. To top it off, Cook still thinks a measurement is [...]

Sherwood 2008: Where you can find a hot spot at zero degrees

The line blurs between peer-reviewed-science and peer-reviewed-public-relations.

The Big-Scare-Campaign needed an answer to the missing hot-spot question. They needed to find the “hot spot”, or failing that, at the very least provide a “hot spot” type graph that would answer the critics; something that passed for a scientific answer that might fool journalists and bloggers. The failure to find the projected hot spot is so damning, and so obviously not what the models predicted, that there is a veritable industry of people working hard to find a reason why the weather balloon results must be wrong.  Steven Sherwood creatively even resorted to throwing out the thermometer readings entirely and using wind shear instead.  (If only we’d known! All those years and we didn’t need the thermometers?)

In Robust Tropospheric Warming Revealed by Iteratively Homogenized Radiosonde Data (March 2008) Sherwood et al combine both windshear and temperature data to reconsider the radiosondes yet again. The Scientific Guide to The Skeptics Handbook and others use the graph from the top left corner of this paper (Fig 1 here) to suggest that the hot spot is not missing, or that the “fingerprint” was found. Sure enough, it’s a cute graph. Looks “hot”, right?

[...]

How John Cook unskeptically believes in a hotspot (that thermometers can’t find)

John Cook might be skeptical about skeptics, but when it comes to government funded committee reports, not so much.

The author of “skeptical science” has finally decided to try to point out things he thinks are flaws in The Skeptics Handbook. Instead, he misquotes me, shies away from actually displaying the damning graphs I use, gets a bit confused about the difference between a law and a measurement, unwittingly disagrees with his own heroes, and misunderstands the climate models he bases his faith on. Not so “skeptical” eh John? He’s put together a page of half-truths and sloppy errors and only took 21 months to do it. Watch how I use direct quotes from him, the same references, and the same graphs, and trump each point he tries to make. His unskeptical faith in a theory means he accepts some bizarre caveats while trying to whitewash the empirical findings.

In the end, John Cook trusts the scientists who collect grants funded by the fear-of-a-crisis and who want more of his money, but he’s skeptical of unfunded scientists who ask him to look at the evidence and tell him to keep his own cash.

These two graphs are not the same [...]