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Diagnosing a victim of anti-science syndrome (ASS)

By Joe Romm  

"Diagnosing a victim of anti-science syndrome (ASS)"


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[Note: Watts Up With That, one of the web's most anti-scientific blogs, is a finalist for the Weblog awards "Best Science Blog" (see "Weblog Awards duped by deniers -- again!"). Even more farcically, early voting suggests Watts has a chance of winning (see here). Since the fine science blog Pharyngula is doing well in the voting, I'd now suggest voting for it.]

In this post I’m going to present the general diagnosis for “anti-science syndrome” (ASS). Like most syndromes, ASS is a collection of symptoms that individually may not be serious, but taken together can be quite dangerous — at least it can be dangerous to the health and well-being of humanity if enough people actually believe the victims.

One tell-tale symptom of ASS is that a website or a writer focuses their climate attacks on non-scientists. If that non-scientist is Al Gore, this symptom alone may be definitive.

The other key symptoms involve the repetition of long-debunked denier talking points, commonly without links to supporting material. Such repetition, which can border on the pathological, is a clear warning sign.

Scientists who kept restating and republishing things that had been widely debunked in the scientific literature for many, many years would quickly be diagnosed with ASS. Such people on the web are apparently heroes — at least to the right wing and/or easily duped (see “The Deniers are winning, but only with the GOP“).

If you suspect someone of ASS, look for the repeated use of the following phrases:

  • Medieval Warm Period
  • Hockey Stick
  • Michael Mann
  • The climate is always changing
  • Alarmist
  • Hoax
  • Temperature rises precede rises in carbon dioxide
  • Pacific Decadal Oscillation
  • Water vapor
  • Sunspots
  • Cosmic rays
  • Danish physicist Henrik Svensmark
  • Ice Age was predicted in the 1970s
  • Global cooling

Individually, some of these words and phrases are quite useful and indeed are commonly used by both scientists and non-scientists who are not anti-science. But the use of more than half of these in a single speech or article is pretty much a definitive diagnosis of ASS.

When someone repeats virtually all of those phrases, along with multiple references to Al Gore, they are wholly a victim of ASS — in scientific circles they are referred to as ASS-wholes.

A newly prominent ASS-whole is Harold Ambler, who managed to get this article past a HuffingtonPost intern over the weekend: “Mr. Gore: Apology Accepted.” I was not originally planning to post on this (unsourced) collection of long debunked denier talking points since, as regular readers know, my policy is not to waste time on the umpteenth debunking. Anyone who might be persuaded by Ambler’s tripe can do a simple search for each myth on RealClimate or on this blog. Relevant posts, to name but a few, include:

For more detailed debunking (with links and citations) of every single myth that Ambler raises (without bothering to present links and citations) go to Skeptical Science. Also see “HuffPost scores a 100 on the Inhofe Scale“.

As deniers or ASS-wholes go, Ambler is quite lame. Separate from his long list of long-debunked denier talking points, who could possibly take seriously somebody who wrote the following:

Mr. Gore has stated, regarding climate change, that “the science is in.” Well, he is absolutely right about that, except for one tiny thing. It is the biggest whopper ever sold to the public in the history of humankind.

Such a statement is anti-scientific and anti-science in the most extreme sense. It accuses the scientific community broadly defined of deliberate fraud – and not just the community of climate scientists, but the leading National Academies of Science around the world (including ours) and the American Geophysical Union, an organization of geophysicists that consists of more than 45,000 members and the American Meteorological Association and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (see “Yet more scientists call for deep GHG cuts“).

Such a statement accuses all of the member governments of the IPCC, including ours, of participating in that fraud, since they all sign off on the Assessment Reports word for word (see “Absolute MUST Read IPCC Report: Debate over, further delay fatal, action not costly“). And, of course, Ambler’s statement accuses all of the leading scientific journals of being in on this fraud, since the IPCC reports are primarily a review and synthesis of the published scientific literature.

So who could possibly take seriously Mr. Ambler? None other than “Best Science Blog” finalist Watts Up With That? Yes, Watts reprints Ambler’s entire post — and does so approvingly:

Shocker: Huffington Post carries climate realist essay

Congratulations to Harold Ambler, who frequents here in comments, for breaking the climate “glass ceiling” at HuffPo. This essay is something I thought I’d never see there. Next stop: Daily Kos? – Anthony

To reprint Ambler’s post and call it a “climate realist essay” makes Watts as anti-scientific as Ambler himself.


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43 Responses to Diagnosing a victim of anti-science syndrome (ASS)

  1. Nick says:

    Another indicator is sufferers are unaware that their expressions of incredulity may be seen as diagnostic of sheer ignorance. As well mention of the word ‘model’ may provoke spontaneous tutting,clicking and hissing, even involuntary voiding. Many of these fools suffer the chronic form, PASS (pernicious anti-science syndrome),which is precisely what one should do on the urge to respond. Altogether a debillitating and often intractable social disorder.

  2. Bob Wright says:

    Don’t forget Senator Imhofe’s two favorite Hungarians, Miskolczi and Zagoni. Google these guys to find every denier site out there.


  3. Frank says:

    I’m not trying to sound like an ASS, but it seems that we need to get more evidence before taking any radical action that may damage our economy and take away personal freedoms. Once again, I’m not saying global warming is a hoax; I’m saying we need to get more data to answer some important questions. How much of the warming is due to humans, and how much is due to natural causes? How will things be in the future? Remember, the heat trapping effects of co2 are non-linear – the difference in radiative forcing of co2 from 300ppm to 400ppm is more than the difference from 400ppm to 500ppm.

    Another thing: which parts of the world will be affected, and by how much? The arctic is warming, but much of the antarctic doesn’t have a warming trend (except for the peninsula). Also, what will be the rate of warming? Estimates cover a huge range now, from a mild 1.5 degrees to a hot 6 degrees by 2100. More time is needed to get a better estimate.

    This is particularly important since a small amount of warming could actually be a good thing. It’ll reduce deaths from cold weather (more people die from cold storms than from heat waves), increase crop yields (plants grow better with more co2), and cut shipping times (send cargo through the Northwest and Northeast passages).

    Also, the political/social part needs more debate too, maybe even more than the scientific part.

    One important question: even if a 5-7 degree rise in temperatures is possible, do we really want to strongly control people’s lives? Force everyone to live in cramped apartments and densely populated places so that nearly everything can be within walking or cycling distance? Ban or ration meat so that deforestation and emissions can be reduced? Let the government control your thermostat to prevent wasted energy? These aren’t crazy questions; in fact, the last one has already been proposed (but not yet implemented) in California.

    Or, do we adapt to the warming by relocating to places higher above sea level? Can we build leevees and other structures to hold back the sea in countries and regions where relocation is not possible? Can we build dams and store water in places where floods are predicted to occur more often? Can we desalinate ocean water to provide water for people impacted by drought? If we can, what is the economic impact of it?

    There are many questions and uncertainties out there, but only time will give us the answers.

  4. Jörg Haas says:

    Frank, I understand your concerns. But you sound like someone who is relatively new to this debate. Take your time and plough through a lot of the evidence that is around. There are a couple of very good books to read. But don’ expect the rest of the world to wait until you have done all the reading.
    There has been loads of thinking on each of the questions that you are posing, and there are very good answers. It still boils down to the need to act now very fast, if we wish to preserve the freedom of our children and grandchildren. Because the biggest threat to their freedom is not climate action, but inaction. Is an increasingly chaotic world. So if you are concernced about freedom, you should support strong climate action – now!

  5. Neven says:

    Frank, you ask a lot questions. Some of the answers are out there but be careful that you don’t get misled by misinformation.

    ‘do we really want to strongly control people’s lives?’

    What would people choose to do if they were properly informed? Do you keep shitting in your bed after you have seen evidence that shitting in your bed can be very, very dangerous to your health? It’s not about controlling, it’s about changing unhealthy habits.

  6. DavidONE says:

    It will be a travesty if a scientifically illiterate wingnut, like Anthony Watts, wins a ‘science’ award (no matter how insignificant in real scientific terms). His Dunning Kruger level will be off the scale if he gets this – and his echo chamber of idiots will have their flight from reality validated if he wins – as though they need any help in that department.


    How many decades of science would be good enough for you? We have over a century of accumulated scientific research that confirms ACC.

    All of your questions are easily answered with Google – it’s all out there. Why are you asking in comments here? That’s a standard Denier tactic – keep asking the same questions that suggest doubt where there is none.

    And when I say there is ‘no doubt’, I don’t mean the science can predict what temperature it will be in NY on 10 July 2038, it simply means there is no scientific doubt that human activity has warmed the planet and if we continue current consumption / usage patterns we will jeopardise the viability of much of the planet to sustain life as we have known it since we emerged from Africa ~150,000 years ago.

    > More time is needed to get a better estimate.

    No, there is no more time. The Deniers, Doubters and Delayers have been saying that for decades. Damage has already been done and it will get much, much worse the longer we delay.

    Also, don’t interject politics in to science. Understand the science first and then worry about trivial political issues. You might even find that politics is no longer important once you understand the science – you’ll just be focused on a solution regardless of political affiliation / ideology. Drought, disease, famine, hurricanes and sea level do not distinguish between right / left or country borders.

  7. hapa says:

    it’s an exciting time to be against carbon mitigation — you’ve got momentum, you’re rising, more and more people are seeing the truth — team calamity is all about winners, winning — stick with them — you’ll never get disrespected — never be lonely — and one day they’ll take you to the candy mountain — lucky you.

  8. P. G. Dudda says:

    Frank: Tell coastal Bangladeshis whose freshwater sources have already been infiltrated with seawater that they should “just build more levees”. That water is now near-useless for both human consumption and agriculture, and even if it weren’t, they have no money with which to build levees.

    Tell Tuvaluans that they should just “move upland” (there is no upland to move to). They’re seriously considering a national evacuation to New Zealand. The Maldives are investigating buying land in Australia for the same purpose.

    While southern Greenlanders are enjoying being able to farm again, people in Qaanaaq/Thule can no longer hunt due to thinning ice. What they _can_ catch, the must pull out immediately, or parasites that have migrated northward will destroy the meat.

    And my own research on Greenland’s ice cap (comparing old vs new maps) clearly shows ice cap and glacier retreat in process. Frederikshaab glacier no longer pours out into the sea as it did in 1929, and Qaqortoq municipality has added about 15% more land due to icecap loss. In some areas, year-to-year is measured in tens of meters.

    So yes, there are now measurable and humanly-observable impacts of climate change. It is no longer “if” or “when”, but “how bad?” and “can we mitigate?”

  9. MikeB says:

    Frank – for someone who doesn’t want to sound like a ASS, you sound exactly like a ASS (or at least Lomborg like, which is almost as bad). Have a look at the links on the right hand side of the page – lots of good stuff on the science, and what we can do about climate change. If you don’t want to look, well, then we know where your coming from.

    As for Harold Ambler, a quick look at his website is a must, being full of grade A ASS. It’s pretty clear which college he went to (a long time ago), because he talks about it a great deal…see if you can guess which one!

  10. llewelly says:


    I’m not trying to sound like an ASS, but it seems that we need to get more evidence before taking any radical action that may damage our economy and take away personal freedoms.

    I suggest you start here. The evidence is overwhelming.

    Right now, the most effective way to reduced CO2 emissions is to use less energy – replace exiting appliances and autos with more efficient models, insulate apartments and homes, install double windows (storm windows), and so on. All of these measures save money over any time span greater than a few years. Some of them save money immediately. That makes more money available to middle class consumers, putting money into the economy, and improving the economic situation.

    The next most effective way is replace coal power plants with solar and wind. Solar and wind reduce medical costs due to pollution (mining, refining, and burning of coal kills about 60,000 Americans each year), and create more jobs per unit of power than any other extant form of large scale power plants.

    Unlike coal and oil, solar and wind are often cost-effective on a small scale. In much of the US, a roof full solar cells and a small windmill can greatly reduce, or even eliminate a home-owner’s dependency on power plants – thus increasing their freedom.

    I could go – but the fact is that CO2 emissions reductions are not likely to be costly until we reach the final 10% or so. (Many years down the road from here.)

    However – global warming is already increasing drought and ‘burn’ days, contributing to longer and fiercer wildfires, which cost a great deal of money to control. This hurts the economy in many ways – wild areas become unusable for recreation, tree farms loose valuable wood, and so on. Droughts have also contributed to reduced production of crops, especially grains, which has hurt the economy. Global warming already hurts the economy, and it’s likely to get much, much worse.

    Remember, the heat trapping effects of co2 are non-linear – the difference in radiative forcing of co2 from 300ppm to 400ppm is more than the difference from 400ppm to 500ppm.

    The effect of a given amount of warming on the environment is also non-linear. Consider the arctic ocean. Where covered with permanent sea-ice, it is highly reflective, and most of the sunlight striking it during the long days of the arctic summer (months of continuous sunlight near the pole) is reflected – thus keeping the arctic cool. But that is relatively thin. When it melts, there’s water there, which absorbs most of the sun’s energy – thus increasing the heat content of the arctic ocean, and contributing to global warming. Snow cover works the same way. When the earth warms enough to melt all the summer arctic sea ice, the arctic – and to a lesser extent the rest of the earth – will become much warmer.

    Permafrost can also melt and release both CO2 and methane – another highly non-linear effect.

    I’ll leave your other errors for other to respond to – but all of them have already been responded to here .:

  11. Roger says:

    Frankly, ‘Frank’ struck me as an ‘ASS-2′ immediately. This is someone who starts their reply with a lie, claiming that they are not in the denier camp when they are, and then goes on to sow seeds of fear and doubt in the minds of still-ill-informed readers. (He doesn’t deserve most of the polite replys that he got, though I found that a few were helpful.)

    Fear: Oh, yeah, like Obama is really like going to start programming my home thermostat, then not let me buy a Hummer with a big tax incentive, etc. OK, Frank, if you want your economic freedom, why don’t you insist on a simple carbon tax and rebate program such as the one that Jim Hansen is proposing?
    Most politicians are too timid to show any leadership on this point, even though it would be much better for every reason in the world. Instead, politicians put careers ahead of doing what is right for the planet, and support a complex ‘cap and trade’ program that avoids the ‘tax’ term–even though the bottom line, in terms of costing the public more money–as we begin to account for the social cost of burning fossil fuels, will be about the same.)

    With a carbon tax, people can still buy Hummers, still heat their homes to 78 degrees in the winter while wearing a T-shirt and shorts–they’ll just need to pay the full cost of burning carbon, including the social cost of destroying the climate that has allowed all life forms that we know to evolve.

    For me, the choice is clear: switch to clean, sustainable energy ASAP, before we lose the opportunity to do so, if we haven’t already reached a tipping point. Our grandkids will thank us for doing this–not to mention the benefits of saving what petroleum will remain for use as a raw material for all of the chemicals, pharmaceuticals, plastics, lubricants, adhesives, airplane fuels and countless other things that we can, and must continue to derive from them in order to enjoy some of the benefits of modern life.

    We have spent decades of time and billions of dollars doing the research. No executive in the history of government or business has ever had more high quality information with which to make a decision like this. We have been ‘frozen in the headlights’ of oncoming science that our executive branch has, for whatever reasons, failed to heed.

    Put another way, to be a bit more blunt: Our best experts tell us that the ship is very likely to be sinking. Let’s move on out of the dining room and start loading the lifeboats, women, children, and those who believe the experts first. Then, we’ll continue the debate with all the ASSs– who are welcome to stay on the ship alongside the lifeboats. By the time the lifeboats are loaded (e.g., by the time we’ve made a significant switch to alternative energy), we’ll all know who was right. And all of the poor, innocent, confused–or simply too-young-to-understand citizens who listened to the true experts can be saved, while all of the deniers can do the only honorable thing for them to do at that point–which is quite clearly: to down with the ship that they’d like to captain.

    So, on with the action. As Obama has so said (and I’m sure that I’m only paraphrasing): “The time for denial is over!” Thank God!

  12. a major ASS says:

    Strangely I have lately found that saying that science is not settled on AGW brands me as an ASS and, couriouser and couriouser for an european atheist, thrown in the same hole as creacionists et al.

    Warming, and associated sea rise, existed throughout the past 2 centuries.

    Before implied CO2 influence and with (grossly 25 year hotter 25 year colder phases)

    Longer term data does not perclude historic warmer periods (proxies exist that allow reasonable doubt).

    Yet it is now “settled” that it cannot be discused?

    Best regards

    p.s. by the way, this was a lousy cold year and you won’t get a single year warmer than this one for the next 20 years

    [JR: Yeah, Major ASS, you are one of those people who post nonsense, but would you take a bet on your p.s. -- is it just by denier B.S.]

  13. a major ASS says:

    That could be arranged, but do you want to propose terms that allow me to win on a shorter timescale? (on the original comment you might win, even with a fluke, any year, I must wait 20 years to collect)

    best regards

  14. Joe says:

    I’ll give you better than 1 “fluke” in 20 years. I’ll bet that half of the next 10 years (starting in 2009) are warmer than 2008. Should be a no-brainer for you. And I’ll even be OK with the Hadley temperature dataset.

    If you want a shorter timeframe, propose a different bet.

  15. a major ASS says:

    Dear Joe

    On your terms it suits me just fine.

    2009 to 2018 anyone getting the first five wins.

    I expect to colect start of 2014 (but you might think the same). worst case scenario things get settled at the start of 2019.

    Would you accept 5.000 € for our wager?

    Could you leave a link so that I can leave a private message?

    Best regards

  16. msn nickleri says:

    Another indicator is sufferers are unaware that their expressions of incredulity may be seen as diagnostic of sheer ignorance. As well mention of the word ‘model’ may provoke spontaneous tutting,clicking and hissing, even involuntary voiding. Many of these fools suffer the chronic form, PASS (pernicious anti-science syndrome),which is precisely what one should do on the urge to respond. Altogether a debillitating and often intractable social disorder.

  17. another ASS from Germany says:

    Huumh, some of my teachers may spin in their grave now.

    Personally: I had:
    Math: A-
    Physics: A
    Chemics: A
    History: A
    English: D (did improve that in the last 40 years)
    German: B
    Sports: D-
    Religion: E (a born roman catholic, but was too critical, did too often
    refer to historical (scientific) datas/sources, did have some ancestors in the history science).

    I have to confess, I was in the AGW bloc until ’03, but -IMHO- datas did not support it anymore, since then.
    So, I am an ASS. Strange, in my job I’m – famous/feared – for my distaste for people taking assumptions w/o a good clause/good datas/good research/good science/good reason.

    Hmmmm, Dear Sir, may I have the liberty to diagnose a different

    It’s the BeAgressiveToAllWhoIgnoresMyPersonalFearsSyndrome -
    or BATAWIIPF -Syndrome.

    Personally, I don’t fear to be disproofed. But I can’t rule out to be wrong.
    But then, let’s do it on the way of science. Not on the way to diagnose on somebody else psychic insanity. That has been done too much in history.

    Science is like freedom.
    You allways have to fight for both,
    because they allways are inseperately.

  18. onporposie says:

    You excoriate Watts as being “anti-scientific,” yet the wattsupwiththat blog site has several direct links on the side bar to fresh real data (including SOHO’s solar observatory and sea ice extent) and a resources page on the menu bar that has numerous links to official (government and academic) sites for atmospheric studies, climate anomalies data, temperature data, sea states (ENSO, PDO, etc.), solar data, weather station data, and others. This site (climateprogress) has none of that. Even links from this site to others that should have access to the raw data, don’t. For example, realclimate’s science links go to selected interpretations while skirting the original source data. Does the source data intimidate you or is it that you find these data irrelevant except through the prism of the IPCC?

    While this site weighs heavily in the field of ad hominem smearing of those who raise valid and reasonable questions about the underlying basis for anthropogenic warming claims, the Watts site weighs equally as heavily on the source data and the underlying analysis of that data. On balance, I would say the Watts site does not deserve your label “anti-science.”

  19. David B. Benson says:

    Oh dear. All those wanting to avoid becoming ASSes or just wnating to learn the science, try reading “The Discovery of Global Warming” by Spencer Weart:


  20. Jim Prall says:

    On Porposie:

    Nice try, but having links to a lot of uninterpreted raw data is not really informative to normal readers. It is the interpretation of that data by scientists that constitutes the arena of climate science. That takes place in scholarly publishing, subject to peer review.


    Two more symptoms to include on the list for A.S.S.:

    1) “Science does not proceed by consensus” (what the *heck* does that even *mean*?)

    2) Dismiss any criticism of a climate inactivist as “ad hominem”, a “smear”, etc. (BUT: conveniently overlook the use of language like “hoax” and “fraud” by the inactivist camp against basically all mainstream science!)

    Happy New Year!

  21. Skeptics are Smart says:

    You guys need to realize that skeptics are smart people. Prove scientifically the E.S.P. exists and they will stop being skeptical. The fact that these same points keep coming up over and over again is because your crowd never actually addresses them. Sorry, but a bunch of links to some web page with a bunch of hand waving and no actual science is not going to convince a skeptic of your side of the argument. WUWT is a popular science blog, and deserves to win. Best of all it is not biased, blind, and political like yours and all other ACC sites obviously are.

  22. Meng Bomin says:

    Best of all it is not biased, blind, and political like yours and all other ACC sites obviously are.

    Those that claim not to be biased:
    1. Don’t understand basic philosophy
    2. Are likely trying to sell or feed you BS.

  23. Dodgy Geezer says:

    @Jim Prall

    I have some concerns about your view of ‘science’.

    1) you seem to think that you have to be a ‘scientist’ to do it. This is fundamentally not true. Some people do science for a living (and are on average likely to be better at it than those who do not) but it is a mode of thinking, which is open to anyone. That is why links to base data should be provided, so that anyone can reproduce the thought processes involved. Do you think that only professional gardeners should be ‘allowed’ to plant shrubs..

    2) Relying on the word of someone else, who may be very qualified, is something we do every day. It is not wrong. We do it when walking over a bridge, for instance. But that is NOT science. It is faith….

    Now it is quite reasonable to have faith in science. And it is quite reasonable to say that you believe in Global Warming because you have faith in the major scientific establishments who have pronounced that it exists. But you can’t say that what you are doing when you do this is science. It is actually closer to religion….

    3) The use of ‘ad hominem’ and other ‘smear’ language. Here you are correct. By definition science is about two (or more!) sides arguing their position, and this can get heated. Particular care should be taken to avoid emotional language, but I’m afraid that both sides in this debate have descended to this on occasions. When this happens the subject ceases to be science, and becomes rhetoric…

    4) Your view of the importance of ‘consensus’ is very odd. Almost all major scientific advances, almost by definition, were made by one person working against the prevailing trend.

    Going against the trend does not mean that someone is automatically right, of course, but equally it does not mean that someone is automatically wrong. In fact, it should have no impact on the science whatsoever. People who claim that ‘consensus’ is important in scientific advance are not doing science. They are doing politics….

    Faith, politics, rhetoric and religion are important features of human activity. I am not knocking them. But they are different from science.

  24. Bob Wallace says:

    Dodgy, you are correct in saying that sometimes the person going against the trend in science is correct. But that only happens when that person presents some data which changes the nature of the discussion.

    At this time the (fill in your favorite word here) side is presenting no data which falls outside the existing models. All that is being presented is a rehash of points proven to be incorrect.

    Furthermore to say that science does not operate via consensus is to show that you do not understand the scientific process.

    Science does not take a popular vote to decide the truth. But there is an informal consensus that forms around a body of evidence. Published studies are carefully examined for methodological flaw and the data compared to other accepted data. As that body of evidence grows theories are put forward to best explain “what it all means”.

    Scientists think and rethink those theories to see if they are consistent with known facts and over time some theories gain strength via this informal consensus process.

    Scientists, more that any other group of individuals, are constantly looking for other explanations for the body of evidence. This is how scientists gain fame and fortune. (Fortune in terms of nice, fat research funding streams.) To be the person who finds the flaw and purposes a new accepted theory is to win the season finals. Or more.

    Scientists, by nature, are the true skeptics. They are constantly questioning the “party line”, looking for opportunity.

    When you find a level of consensus among field-specific scientists as we now observe concerning climate change it would be wise to pay close attention to what is being said. The people who are in the best position to judge the evidence are very, very convinced,

    Someone out of the field, purposing an alternative reality but with no contrarian data is very unlikely to be correct. It’s placing your fate in the hands of likely false prophets.

  25. yorrman says:

    I’m not going to believe a bunch of liberal professors paid big bucks by socialists to drag down capitalism!

  26. Skeptics are Smart says:

    So the sites that are obviously biased are not trying to sell B.S., LOL.

    Current temperatures are well below the model projections. This is a fact. There is your data. Let me guess the response. One of the 20 models predicted the temperature correctly in 2008. Ok, so the other 19 models are all wrong, and only one of them is right. What are the exact temperature predictions for 2009/2010/2011 for the one model that got it right this year? Or do we just get to cherry pick a model each year that is closest to the actual data, while completely ignoring all the other models that are wrong, and all the other years the model in question was wrong? This is what you call science?

  27. Rick says:

    And you are trying to wipe them out.

    I guess that makes you an ASS-wipe. Somehow that fits the tone.


  28. Magnus says:

    Sorry. The discourse has shifted.

    List of words which definitions or meaning in climate science are dogm, so that a slight error makes you an heretic (Distinguished Professor emeritus of Earth Sciences Jan Veizer and the American solar astrophysicist Eugene Parker are of course heretics with regards to Svensmark) :

    Medieval Warm Period
    Hockey Stick
    Michael Mann
    The climate is always changing
    Temperature rises precede rises in carbon dioxide
    Pacific Decadal Oscillation
    Water vapor
    Cosmic rays
    Danish physicist Henrik Svensmark
    Ice Age was predicted in the 1970s
    Global cooling

    Thanks for the inspiration!

    [JR: If by "slight error" you mean "repeated attempts at gross disinformation."]

  29. Cliff McQueen says:


    You assert that “sometimes the person going against the trend in science is correct. But that only happens when that person presents some data which changes the nature of the discussion.”
    It was my impression that Einstein completely changed physics without presenting any new data at all. He simply interpreted what was already there for everyone else to see. I am sure that if Einstein was still with us he would be amused by all these scientists agreeing with each other and peer reviewing each others papers.
    Incidentally, in the real world, computer models are designed and used for understanding processes. No proper scientist would dream of using them for predicting future processes. Only “climatologists” do that.

    [JR: Wrong, wrong, and wrong. Einstein presented an elegant, simple, and testable theory that explained lots of data, especially data that didn't fit any other theory. The same is true of human-caused global warming.

    Einstein was a passionate believer in humanity and in the role of scientists speaking out strongly. He would be a leader among those calling for the strongest action.

    In the real world, computer models are used for all kinds of projections -- economic, scientific, meteorological, epidemiological. In the case of human-cause global warming, computer models are only one way the scientific community has come to understand what the future holds. A look at paleoclimate record is another. And, frankly, even simple extrapolation is pretty damn grim these days!]

  30. Cliff McQueen says:

    Your history is similiar to your science. Never allow the facts to spoil a good story. The only data that did not fit the facts in Einstein time was the strange ( and very slight ) anomaly in the orbit of Mercury. Newtonian physics was completely accepted by a global consensus of scientists. Indeed, Lord Kelvin ( yes that one ) stated in a speech to the British Association for the Advancement of Science in 1900 that “There is nothing new to be discovered in Physics now. All that remains is more and more precise measurement.” (He didn’t use the expression “the science is in” – but you get the idea). Einstein’s theory was elegant and testable but hardly simple. It was not accepted by the “consensus” for many years. As for being a leader – Einstein hated nothing more than belonging to any movement, scientific (or especially) political. The concept of a consensus of scientists engaging in political activism was anathema to him.

    It is true that projections are made using computer models. The projections are made to test the model against real world data so that the model can be improved and hence improve understanding of the underlying processes. But you wouldn’t bet your mortgage on one. Personally, I use Met Office projections on a daily basis. I wouldn’t bet a nickle on one.

    [JR: You are quite wrong about Einstein. When you say "Einstein's theory" you seem to be assuming that was just his (later) theory of General Relativity (1915). He changed physics a decade earlier with a variety of papers, including special relativity and the photoelectric effect, for which he won the Nobel Prize, and which is, ironically, one of the theoretical underpinnings of solar PV.

    And, as always, climate ain't weather.]

  31. John Murph says:

    Talk about a pot calling the kettle black! McQueen has a garbled and messed-up account of the history of Relativity. Relativity arose from the structure of the equations for electromagnetic induction (worked out before 1900). Einstein’s first paper was on the electrodynamics of moving bodies and his thinking was inspired by the fact that Maxwell’s equations (derived from experiment) predicted a constant velocity for light; Something that contradicted classical mechanincs and was known before 1900.
    For example, Konrad Lorentz thought that the constant velocity could be accounted for by proposing some ‘classical style’ aether, Einstein took the equations literally and figured that the equations would work if time and space were not absolute measures, but related to relative velocity. Instead of space and time, the special relativity introduced a new invariant measure that keeps the sum of the square roots of the space interval and time interval constant. Einstein clearly showed how the whole of classical mechanics was then a special case within the new framework.

    After the suceess of special relativity, Einstein knew that this new ‘Special Relativity’ invalidated the models of gravity within classical mechanics and sought to find a solution for gravitational fields that was consistent with special relativity. That finally led to a model the predicted the correct behaviour of the precession of mercury’s perihelion, and the bending of starlight (confirmed by eclipse measurements during WWI). Many so-called ‘aether’ theories also claim to come up with the same numbers, but at the expense of injecting ad-hoc ‘make believe’ in to science.

    In contrast to this transformation in fundamental science, Global warming is not about any such fundamental transformation. The relevant thermodynamics and characteristics of gasses are well settled and not in debate. What is being debated is the dynamics of a complex system.

    The denialist “hypothesis” that we can change the structure of the atmosphere without disturbing the climate, has no scientific basis. There is no scientific model of climate as a stable system able to cope with perturbation in the composition of the atmosphere.
    The science says that changing the mix of gases in the atmosphere should cause a change in the thermal dynamics, as will changing albedo etc.

    I think the point of ASS is that many climate ‘denialists’ are purely political animals serving an agenda in such a way as they see fit, and have no regard for science except when it suits them. Personally, I think many ‘Greenies’ are also political animals, particularly those that chant the mantra ‘follow us, we know what to do’ and are just as blinkered to science that doesn’t suit them.

    For example, the science and technology of control systems, an area that I work in. There is nothing about the proposed ‘Green’ programmes that gives me any confidence that any of their schemes will work at all. The system is non-linear and has many natural sources of greenhouse gas that will not ‘go back’, or stop cascading, if we cut down a little. The notion that the greens are ‘saving the planet’ is just as barking mad as the denier programme that says that despite the thermodynamics and the well characterized responses of gasses to radiation, increased CO2 methane etc will have no effect.

    If the modelling of the effect that greenhouse gases will have on climate, is so difficult, then the modelling of the non-linear control required to mitigate the effect is just pie in the sky right now.

    I think that there is a need far more work on the ‘what to do’ end of the spectrum, and a public recognition that both sides of the debate are polluted with political animals that are science illiterate, and are merely selling their own self-serving versions of “We know what to do”.

    John M

  32. Cliff McQueen says:

    John M

    Your analysis of the Special Theory of Relativity is admirable, if rather pompous, and completely misses the point – as did JR’s response to my original comment. JR introduced the expression “Einstein’s Theory” btw -it wasn’t me. As it happens Maxwell’s equations did not, in themselves, contradict Newton. The orbit of Mercury did.

    My point is that Einstein was not misled by a “consensus” of peer scientists – which indeed existed. He did not introduce any lab produced data – he didn’t have a lab. In fact, Einstein was not even a scientist at the time. He was a free thinking outsider. You may be familiar with the type. They are now called “sceptics” and “deniers”. Einstein revolutionised the world of physics against bitter opposition ( not least from politically motivated scientists who had other agenda ) by the sheer power of his intellect. We have forgotten the scientists who opposed him now because he was right and they were wrong.

    Einstein would have been very comfortable with the labels sceptic and denier because that was precisely what he was. If he had followed the “consensus” believing that “the science is in” there would have been no Special Theory of Relativity or General Theory of Relativity or indeed any need for explanations from you.

  33. Theodore says:

    I have noticed that some people (Frank) raise the question of whether global warming is caused by humans or if it is natural. I don’t really think it matters. Apparently, global warming extinctions have happened in the past entirely without any human help. We need to be in control of the situation regardless of the origin of the warming. God may be distracted with something else at the moment. It is our business.

    Disease is also perfectly natural. I do not accept that as a positive recommendation.

  34. Jeff P. says:

    The opposite of an ASS is a Global Warmist. The tenets of this newest religion are as follows:

    1. Global warming is happening.
    2. Global warming is bad.
    3. Humans are causing global warming.
    4. mostly by CO2 emissions.
    5. The United States government can do something to stop it.
    6. The harm that the US government will inflict on its own citizens in trying to stop global warming won’t be worse than doing nothing at all.
    7. The resources that the US government will spend in trying to stop global warming wouldn’t be better spent elsewhere, addressing more serious and near-term concerns.

    So sorry, I don’t believe in at least one of (1) — (7). Therefore, as a heretic, I must be burned. Oh, wait…

    As this is written, on April 21, it is snowing in Chicago. I still can’t grow Lady Banks roses here.

    As you define it: I am proud to be an ASS. It means I am still susceptible to data input and reason and don’t choose to rely on faith as pronounced by self-annointed, interest-conflicted Global Warmist priests.

    You really need to get rid of the Goracle and anyone who talks like him. People who say “the debate is over” are well on their way out of science and into religion. In science, the debate should NEVER be over.

  35. Tim says:

    @Jeff P
    Debate (science based) fine
    Debate in fave of overwhelming evidence + huge risk + no other habitable planet for Earthlings = debate must not be allowed to stop this change from occuring

    Less pollution
    Better food
    Less energy intensity
    More sustainability
    Happy humans
    Happy Earthlings
    Better way of life

    All this can be achieved under a framework of increased jobs, happier, healthier humans but probably not zillions of % growth.

    I choose live long, slow, happy, sustainable.

  36. Tim says:

    PS @ Jeff P

    Sure. Global warming + CH4 explosion + species migration + permanent Australian drought (I live in Melbourne, I know what I am talking about) + no Australian alpine ecosystem (and other countries) + wars over food and water (arable land).

    Sure thing. Global warming sounds delightful (if you live in pov, cold, NE USA).

  37. ianam says:

    “As this is written, on April 21, it is snowing in Chicago.”

    Which is utterly irrelevant, [snip].

    “In science, the debate should NEVER be over.”

    As with the other ASSes, you don’t understand science. The debates about geocentrism, flogiston, spontaneous generation, state steady theory, Young Earth Creationism, Lamarckian evolution, and much else are over; the proponents of these views were WRONG.

  38. Paul UK says:

    Add to that list:

    1. “i’m not a denier”
    2. “we need to collect more data before doing anything”

  39. NikFromNYC says:

    “The denialist “hypothesis” that we can change the structure of the atmosphere without disturbing the climate, has no scientific basis. There is no scientific model of climate as a stable system able to cope with perturbation in the composition of the atmosphere.
    The science says that changing the mix of gases in the atmosphere should cause a change in the thermal dynamics, as will changing albedo etc.”

    The problem is that the amount of change is not at a level that would be obviously problematic. A pie chart of the atmosphere will show no visible change if CO2 goes from a tiny fraction of 1% to a doubled tiny fraction of 1%. So, sure, I imagine this fraction of a % change will indeed cause a fraction of a % perturbation in temperature dynamics, possibly even a few % if there is a 10X amplification but when you start claiming that it will cause catastrophic changes you claiming that a trace gas is the driving force of the whole system. That claim cannot be made in a flippant manner without making yourself ridiculous.

    And there certainly *is* basis for climate as a stable system, namely one with negative feedbacks all over the place exactly because former atmospheres with positive feedbacks were unstable and were replaced by a stable one! This is such a simple concept that it needn’t be argued, being so obvious as to be about as controversial as a triangle being claimed to be the smallest polygon.

    One example of a stable system that is in fact very fragile is the solar system. It’s like clockwork yet calculations show that if Mercury’s orbit was altered even a fraction of a % then the entire inner solar system would plunge into chaos like back when a planet hit the Earth to create the Moon. But the atmosphere is not like the solar system since it has all manner of +/- feedbacks, especially negative ones!

    In hand-waving theory at least, the simple fact that plants consume C02 would completely counteract industrial emissions. It is only because we have measured a rise in CO2 that this obvious corrective mechanism does not sound obvious but in fact sounds silly. But it’s not silly. It’s just wrong, or at least wrong enough to not dominate the system.

    Another “silly” idea is that if it warms, more clouds form due to water evaporating more and this will reflect sunlight away, and this will prevent catastrophe.

    Ah, not so easy to debunk that one is it? Why? Because it will take another CENTURY or more of T data to make the answer obvious without computer models. There is too much variation in T over decades for T to match CO2 in an obvious manner over the mere single century in which undebatable data is available.

    If you claim the Hockey Stick (there I go again…using a “talking point”) is good data, then YESTERDAY’S post of Lucy Skywalker pretty much kills Briffa’s new version of it. How? It shows that Briffa used an algorithm to cherry pick only ten (!) trees of which only one (!!!) is crucial to match thermometer records of global average temperature, *but* the area in Siberia where those dozen trees are located itself fails to track the global average temperature! The trees he chose by matching modern era temperature do not match the thermometer records for that actual area! This shows quite clearly that these Siberian trees cannot be indicating temperature after all, meaning they are not “showing a strong T signal”. Unless they are psychic that is. After all trees are mythologized as being spiritual entities. Perhaps they *do* detect the state of the planet. That and Astronomy are the sort of things that will now be required for the AGW side to continue to support the broken Hockey Stick. It was not enough to point out that using an algorithm to cherry pick trees that match recent RISING thermometer records will very likely result in a false Hockey Stick *if* those trees happen to be randomly matching the data because trees are lousy T proxies. It was also not enough to point out that temperature rises from increased sun activity will effect tree growth via photosynthesis and sunlight caused release of fertilizing CO2 from permafrost in Siberia. No correction was made for fertilization! And based on undergraduate science, if CO2 is in fact causing warming then trees are the last proxy you want to use since trees are expected to respond to CO2 variations much more than to T variations!

    But such reasoning which has NOT been properly addressed (sorry but I *did* look and found nothing that to convince me despite being trained to accept a good argument) is “unscientific”?! I’m a Ph.D. chemist, so literally being a scientist means that if I have a valid point that I am in fact being “scientific” indeed.

    How can you honestly scoff at people who notice that Briffa’s Hockey Stick is not just problematic but corrupt to the core? The act of matching data to modern thermometer records is atrocious on the face of it. It is bluntly bad science. If trees are not T proxies at *all* his method STILL gives a Hockey Stick due to random variations in INDIVIDUAL trees! Add the story that he WITHHELD his data for a decade and you have the making of a real fraud.

    Here is a look at local thermometer records where Briffa selected trees from:


    And *where* was this quick study published, where comments act as a form of peer review? On WUWT.com, the very site you say is unscientific.

    You want to convince us non-climatologists who will then convince our friends and family (likely 20-100 people who through word of mouth will no longer hear a skeptical view each month)? Then you must stop presenting such “maybe” quality research as being proof.

    Let me close with saying that yes, the skeptical side I now see increasingly as dishonest in a petty way. For instance, the founder of WUWT did a huge, rather funky cool folk scientific (volunteer-based) study of temperature stations with the perfectly good hypothesis that the Urban Heat Island Effect was skewing the average T upwards. He turned out to be utterly wrong. It merely required a ten minute collection of his best-rated stations plugged into a graphing program to show that leaving out all but the very best stations resulted in…NO DIFFERENCE from the overall average that the NOAA had been publishing for years as a graph.


    However, this fact is NOT mentioned on SurfaceStations.org. That’s an atrocious omission. Why? Because people like me who took AGW at face value, then became skeptics due to in my case discovering that so very many hundred year old station records trended DOWN instead of up over the whole century, we suddenly have to distance ourselves from the skeptics as a community because they are lying to us by omission. Think of how many people end up on SurfaceStations.org, contently thinking that his “upcoming paper” will blow AGW theory out of the water? I’d say *most* of newly minted skeptics, such as Glenn Beck viewers. And how long will it take for them to find out that the results are in fact already in and are negative? Months! In my case a couple years or more! I’m pissed off, I can tell you that.

    I’m afraid what is forming, since I can’t be alone in this, is a group of people who are simply concluding that the data is simply not in and that AGW is a “maybe” and by rights must remain so not for lack of future developments but for BOTH side’s lack of ability to face up to developments. Shame on you both! You are BOTH unscientific. You are BOTH willing to massage statistical software to spit out what you want and you are both quite happy to conceal results from your own side that do not fit your pet theory. So stop calling WUWT “unscientific” until you let go of your own nasty side. At this point I still avoid AGW sites because they are MORE unscientific by a great degree than skeptic sites. Skeptics tend to poke fun at AGW sites, but only AGW sites truly character assassinate the other side.

  40. Mike says:

    The anti-science brigade should be forced by law to give up anything invented or created by scientists… which also rather fetchingly also reduces green house gases.

    So they won’t be allowed to use:
    1) Antibiotics
    2) Airplanes
    3) Televisions
    4) iPods
    5) Computers
    6) Electricity
    7) Modern medical operating methods
    8) All medicines (except maybe herbal remedies).
    9) Cars
    10) Bikes
    11) Modern homes (they will have to live in mud huts).
    12) Purified water (they will have to drink out of lakes).
    13) Freezers / fridges
    14) Tins (as in tinned food).
    15) Cellphones

    Well you get the idea. It is only fair that doubters do without any product with any relation to science… and no I’m not joking.

  41. PurpleOzone says:

    The idea of comparing Einstein to the deniers of global warming makes me want to barf. Einstein wrote down equations, and predicted effects. He was a startling original scientist in the way he thought and advanced physics tremendously.
    The AGW deniers look for points to pick at to convince a gullible public that we don’t have to do things differently. After all who wants to believe AGW? I sure don’t! It’s horrible.
    Einstein looked at the whole picture and struggled to find a unifying vision that would explain more than one fact. The deniers grab one fact out of context and yell “See AGW isn’t real!” They REFUSE to see the picture, REFUSE to see the fundamental physics and chemistry and Serve up Refuse. Plenty of examples above.

  42. Tom T says:

    The denialists here really do make me laugh, albeit in a sad, “What a @#$%-up you are” way. Jeff P in particular leads the pack with his list of canards…by the way, Jeff, have you asked yourself where the Arctic cap is going? Is it perhaps taking a vacation, sinking out of sight where we can’t see it? Where’s the Greenland sheet going? Why is the arctic tundra melting? You know, that stuff we called permafrost? The stuff we built roads on? Which are now failing?

    Indeed, do you, Jeff, deny that CO2 is the right size to trap infrared light rather than let it pass into space without impediment? That it is able to act as an insulator in the atmosphere?

    Do you deny that we, the human species, annually pump out more than 130x the CO2 volume of all the volcanoes on the planet combined? And would you deny that this will have no impact whatsoever on heat retention in the atmosphere and on the planet?

    Do you deny that if the Greenland and Antarctic caps melt, that sea levels will rise? Do you deny that changes in temperature and salinity (and hence viscosity and density) of the oceans as a result of introducing so much fresh water to them will have an impact on oceanic currents, and therefore result in changes to global heat distribution?

    Do you deny that such potential changes would have impact on the growth of grains and other elements of our food supply? That such changes have already taken place in the form of changes to blooming seasons and resulting die-offs of symbiotic pollinators?

    Do you deny that resulting crises over food, coastal refugees, fresh water, caused by such events as I loosely describe above would have an impact on our already-unstable socio-political environment?

    Your denial in the face of bald factual information amounts to destructive nihilism that exceeds the wishes of any Islamic terrorist.

    Take your own life, Jeff P. Quietly and alone. Perhaps Rushbo or Ms. Coulter will grant you 72 virgins in the afterlife. The internet is polluted enough with boner pill ads, your addition is of no value. You seem only to exist as something that others are required to step around so as not to dirty their shoes.


  43. Mario says:

    @Yorrman: “I’m not going to believe a bunch of liberal professors paid big bucks by socialists to drag down capitalism!”–

    Where you’ve been the past 4 years? Wherever it was you were hiding, you missed the near collapse of capitalism under the hands of the biggest free-market ideologues this side of Herbert Hoover. And you worry about paying “socialist” professors bringing it down….we could only wish….

    @ Tim

    I am at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire and temperatures are 10F higher than average. It is actually quite pleasant. I don’t miss my old campus in Westwood (UCLA).