WattsUpWithThat: Psychic seals have evolved ability to predict future climate AND they know it’s cooling

Apparently, the seals believe a debunked theory that Global Cosmic Rays drive climate. Or maybe they just watch Fox News.

April Fool’s?  If only.

On March 21, the ‘science’ blogger Anthony Watts actually published the following headline story and lede:

Canadian Harp Seals In New England (“prediction” of cooling?)


Yes, Watts is suggesting that Canadian Harp Seals are psychic, or, technically, have developed precognition — although a bizarre form of precognition whereby they incorrectly predict the future based on discredited scientific theories.  You’d think that would have been selected against by evolution.  But I digress.

No, the WattsUpWithThat post isn’t an attempt at humor (at least not intentionally), as the rest of the post (and the comments) make clear.  Amazingly, the post has been up for 10 days!  Until Watts takes it down, I think we can safely ignore any criticisms he offers of others.

The piece continues by excerpting The Boston Channel this way:

Small numbers of juvenile harp seals are typically found each winter stranded along the coast of the northeastern United States. But this year, well over 100 adult harp seals – not juveniles – have been spotted “¦ In some areas they’re reporting three times the normal number of sightings “¦ we’ve had four sightings of adult harp seals in North Carolina, which we’ve never had before. We typically don’t see them that far south. “¦

For now, there is no clear explanation for why more seals are showing up in U.S. waters, said Gordon Waring, who heads the seal program at NOAA’s fisheries science center in Woods Hole, Mass.

They could be making their way south because of climatic conditions or perhaps in search of food, Waring said.

“These animals are known to wander a lot,” Waring said. “Whether they’re following food down or whatever, we don’t really have a good understanding of it.”

Garron said she and the seal organizations will look at environmental trends, such as water temperatures, to see if it’s influencing the harp seal range.

Regardless of the reason, biologists are taking notice, Doughty said.

WUWT omits the part of the article where we learn that “the number of harp seals found in the northwest Atlantic” is “9 million.”  But no matter.  If even a hundred harp seals have precognition, that is reason enough to call the Fringe Division and Special Agents Scully and Mulder of the X-Files.

The WUWT post simply ends this way:


So the hundred precognitive harp seals not only know that genuine climate science is wrong — see NASA’s James Hansen: “One sure bet is that this decade will be the warmest” on record.  They have apparently also been reading WUWT.  Too bad they haven’t read the actual science at SkepticalScience, which thoroughly debunks Svensmark.

Here are various comments at WUWT on this erudite post:

  • The thought that the humble Harp Seal has a better ability to predict future climate changes than the combined “intelligence” of all the worlds Climate Scientists and their GCM’s with gazillions of mega-bytes of processing power, is one that I find absolutely freaking hilarious. Please let it be true.  Oh! The humility!
  • Interesting story. Wonder how this will be spun by warmers?
  • Given the concatenation of the cooling phases of the oceanic oscillations, the curious Cheshire Cat Sunspots, and the apparent weakness of CO2 as a warming agent, global cooling over the near to medium term is a lot more likely than global warming. Bet on it.
  • It appears that Harp seals are smarter the Climate Scientists and their computers.

Actually the whole comment set is funnier than anything Dave Barry could conceive.  One commenter quotes the post and writes:

  • >>””¦through the complex processes of evolution and natural selection, may have developed an ability to sense coming changes.”<<   “This is basicly incorrect. Creature do not ‘develop’ the ability to survive, natural selection simple kills the ones that were not born with the ability to survive. It is this critical point that answers the question ‘How did the xxx develop yyy?’. The answer is: It did not, the ones born without yyy died out, only the xxx’s with yyy are left.  Species do not ‘develop’ to survive, they develop IF they survive.  (sorry, it just irks me when people mix this up, I think it is a critical point in understanding natural selection )

The post author, Ira Glickstein, however disagrees and doubles down on his pre-cognition theory:

Harp Seals have survived for many millions of years, which includes many, many warming and cooling cycles. During that long period, their range has extended and contracted repeatedly, with many being killed in the process. The ones who survived and reproduced have evolved many traits and combinations of traits, at both individual and group levels. Therefore, I think it is responsible when I say they “”¦ may have developed an ability to sense coming changes.”

So it is “responsible” to say that harp seals may have developed inaccurate pre-cognition (or at least the ability to read websites that ignore physics and embrace pseudo-science).  Or at least 100 out of 9 million have.  The cutting edge ones.  Mutations, perhaps.

My favorite comment is :

  • With an as yet undetermined appendage Ira writes:  “Animals like the Harp Seal have experienced many millions of years of climatic change and, through the complex processes of evolution and natural selection, may have developed an ability to sense coming changes.”  Once you buy into the narrative that random mutation and natural selection turned some ancient bacteria into a Harp Seal it’s pretty easy to believe the same process could give it the ability to predict the climate years in advance, huh?  Stupid is as stupid does.

You have to read it a couple of times to really appreciate it — wearing head vises, of course.  Oops, I suppose I should have mentioned that first.

For the record, I checked with Dr. Peter Ewins, Senior Officer for Arctic Species at WWF-Canada.  He writes:

This year, as seems to be increasingly the case these days, anomalously low sea-ice conditions are occurring on Canada’s east coast in the late winter.   The sea-ice is historically the stable platform where harp seals have their pups at this time of year.  The rapid declines in sea-ice coverage, associated with rapid climate change, clearly leave the harp seals with a major problem.

It’s pretty clear that the dispersal of a small portion of the harp seal breeding/adult population (6-10 Million animals currently I believe) is totally associated with anomalous low sea-ice conditions off Labrador-Newfoundland-Gulf of the St Lawrence.  100 animals is really a small number compared to the overall population size.

Darn.  I was hoping to track down the seals and see if they could tell me who was going to win the World Series.

Bottom Line:  At WUWT, it’s April Fool’s every day.

40 Responses to WattsUpWithThat: Psychic seals have evolved ability to predict future climate AND they know it’s cooling

  1. Richard Brenne says:

    If ever a (metaphoric) seal deserved to be (metaphorically) clubbed, this is the one. . .

  2. Douglas says:

    I saw flocks of geese flying south this past October as well. That puts the final nail in the AGW coffin, evolutionist-warmist scum!

  3. paulm says:

    The reason why there is no action… David Suzuki say something like… “no politician will do anything about GW, even if they know because its political suicide”

  4. Maya says:

    Too bad he couldn’t consult Paul the Octopus. That would have settled things once and for all.

  5. SecularAnimist says:

    The ridicule at WattsUpWithThat’s expense is well-deserved. That anyone would consider it a “science” site is appalling.

    Having said that, there is a serious story here about the effect of global warming — specifically the rapid and extreme warming of the arctic — on the harp seals. Although the numbers affected now may be small, it does not require precognition to see this as a harbinger of much worse to come. We’re talking canaries in the coal mine here.

    Which makes rather despicable for WUWT to exploit this tragedy to support its ludicrous pseudoscience.

    (I would add that for anyone who follows modern parapsychology research, particularly the significant scientific evidence for the reality of phenomena that we call “precognition”, WUWT’s blathering about seals evolving “an ability to sense coming changes” in their environment that may occur over timescales of years to decades, is pseudoscientific rubbish every bit as goofy as the crackpot nonsense about evolution and climate.)

  6. MarkB says:

    Anyone notice the paper Watts has been involved in basically says the same thing as Menne et al. and what climate scientists have already known? Station siting has negligible effect on the observed warming trends.

    See comment #72470, where Watts reveals part of his abstract. Notice what he bolded at the end, as if it’s a new finding. Zeke exposes that 3 posts below.

    When Menne et al. came out…

    Watts responded hysterically with the help of his buddy Pielke, claiming “rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated”. So using that odd analogy with the new paper in review, Watts has taken his own life.

  7. You have to read it a couple of times to really appreciate it — wearing head vises, of course. Oops, I suppose I should have mentioned that first.

    Joe, this stuff has been figured out The Editors back in 2008.

    In short, what we’re seeing here is a Wingnut Fractal.


  8. MarkB says:

    Here’s perhaps another pre-April Fool’s joke from McLean, Bob Carter’s partner-in-crime.

    Seals seem to be considerably more intelligent than global warming deniers.

  9. Chris Winter says:

    It could be worse. WUWT could be writing about HAARP seals — which, in accord with a certain facet of wingnut orthodoxy, should be able to AFFECT the climate.


  10. Boro Nut says:

    It probably has something to do with an increase in evil among seals. There’s hardly a day goes by without someone over at WUWT denying there has been any observed increase in seal evil, which is a sure sign there has been.

  11. Russell says:

    I wish Tallbloke would throw Tony a fish.

  12. caerbannog says:

    A bit OT, but very amusing.

    It looks like Marc Morano is starting to s**t some serious bowling-balls over the BEST preliminary results.

    Here’s what that twit just twittered (he even included Muller’s email address):

    Muller Exposed: ‘I was disheartened by the testimony of Richard Muller…he has totally destroyed any credibility he might have had with me’ Visit Site
    Muller is ‘a man driven by a very serious agenda, a man who doesn’t check his work and who pays insufficient attention to facts in testimony’

    I shudder to think of all the steaming turds that must be landing in Dr. Muller’s inbox right now…

    Anyway, I am *almost* certain that this isn’t an April fool’s prank — but these days, who can tell??

  13. David F. says:

    Not too surprising for Watts. It’s more funny to see how quickly they jump on one of their own. Dr. Muller, of BEST, is really taking a lashing over there. Anthony’s got to keep his deniers in line — can’t have them do any thing other than towing the denialist myth.

  14. Dano says:

    Heap scorn and ridicule upon these low-watt wankers.



  15. Chris Winter says:

    There’s no exact match among open threads to post this link to a debunking video, so I’ll drop the link here.

  16. Bob Doublin says:

    One of the proudest things I could ever say in my life would be that I have no credibility in the eyes of a lying sack of sh*t like Marc Morano!!
    Nice cautionary tale for all those who lie down with the Denier Establishment (Curry etal)Once your usefulness is over, they won’t hesitate to throw you under the bus as soon as it is necessary or the slightest bit more profitable to do so. (Don’t you wish it would happen real soon to Watts?)

  17. Everett Rowdy says:

    This is good news for the famished polar bears struggling due to diminishing sea ice: lots of ineptly psychic seals lying around, waiting for the cooling to return.

  18. Rob Honeycutt says:

    caerbannog @ 14… Jeez, what is it with Morano publishing email addresses? It’s such a childish response.

  19. Rob Honeycutt says:

    Bob @ 18… We can all hope that’s what’s going on behind the scenes after Anthony divulged the treasured surface station data to the (now) evil (now) warmist Muller.

    I know Joe has his issues with Muller but, as much as the other side is now deciding to hate Muller, makes me kind of like him a bit.

  20. Dana says:

    Wow, I can’t believe this isn’t an April Fool’s post. As mind-boggling insane as it is to argue that Harp seals are climate psychics, how do you then connect that to Svensmark and galactic cosmic rays? I guess Harp seal psychic powers are particularly attuned to the solar magnetic field?

    All I can do is shake my head in bewilderment at the Bizarro World that is WUWT.

  21. GFW says:

    To divert from the humor, isn’t it obvious that:

    Less ice along the Labrador coast -> less habitat for harp seals -> an increase in the (small) fraction of harp seals who swim/drift further afield than normal.

    (So in answer to one of Watts commenters, that’s how a realist will “spin” this.)

  22. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    MarkB, #10, McLean is a constant source of amusement, (and bemusement at just how a species of which he is, after all, purportedly, a representative, got this far), on Australian comments blogs. He’s there all the time (he appears at a permanent loose end-his PhD must have hit a snag)barking the greatest denialist imbecilities (eg no-one has ever produced a single scrap of evidence that CO2 has any effect on global temperatures)then demanding to be addressed as a ‘sceptic’. He has the uber-denialist’s arrogant presumption as well, dismissing all the ‘lesser lights’ such as all the Academies of Science of the planet with consummate condescension.
    He is, naturally, a favourite of the ‘moderators’. The bias in the Rightwing MSM is no accident, and is undisguised. The most imbecilic deniers, the scrapings of the bottom of the Dunning Kruger barrel, are there, post after post, with the most cretinous canards, all long since disproved. But like zombies they lurch on. The argument of ‘false balance’ is pure jollop. In almost all other circumstances, say Libya, for example, the Rightwing MSM never seeks ‘balance’. The ideological bias is near 100%-Gaddafi is a mad dog, the Western powers only, as ever, concerned with human rights and ‘morality’, in which fields they are the ultimate experts and arbiters of what is right and what wrong. And even with anthropogenic climate change the notion of false balance is another lie. Here, in the Murdoch media in particular, there is no balance. The coverage is 90%+ in favour of denialism and against the science. There is absolutely no doubt that anthropogenic climate change denialism is and always has been an absolute ideological priority for the Right.

  23. Joan Savage says:

    If Gordon Waring has said that some harp seals, “could be making their way south because of [weather] conditions or perhaps in search of food,” instead of using the word “climatic,” the whole article might have escaped the attention of WUWT in the first place.

    Meanwhile, over the past month, many young adults of the human species have been making their way south because of climatic conditions or perhaps in search of food or sex, but no one has suggested that they have some special foresight about the future.

  24. Daniel J. Andrews says:

    Why not psychic seals? We already have a host of psychic groundhogs predicting when spring will come. Not much of a leap to seals now, is it?

    I honestly can’t keep track of what WUWT that believes. Sometimes he seems to agree it is warming, then cooling, then can’t know. This week it seems it is warming (BEST results), but cooling is coming (seals).

    The harp seal bunch *may* be a cherry-pick too. E.g. In bird migration there are a very small bunch that migrate the wrong direction (reverse migration). Often they are juveniles, but sometimes adults. Occasionally some area will be treated to a number of rarities that suddenly pop up in larger numbers than normal. In 2008 we had Sage Thrashers (a southwest U.S. bird) showing up in central BC. Therefore Sage Thrashers are psychic and knew that the temperatures were going to warm so came north. And they were right too…2010 especially was a hot one.

    You start looking around and you’ll find small groups of birds and aquatic mammals migrating into areas they haven’t been before, or have only been there in small numbers. Seems strange to pick one of those critters and then claim they’re migrating because they might know what is going to happen to the climate (they can’t tell you what the weather will be like either–they don’t grow extra bushy coats in the fall if the winter is going to be extra cold etc–those are urban (forest?)legends).

  25. paulm says:

    Natural disasters? | World news | The Guardian
    Floods, earthquakes, landslides: 2011 has a been a year of disasters. Are we to blame, asks Bill McKibben. Plus survivors’ stories

  26. Eric Steig says:

    Gosh everyone, why so critical of the science? The problem with Watts isn’t bad science. It’s the fact that his work is totally unoriginal, and is actually blatant plagiarism of Ray Pierrehumbert’s original work at RealClimate, showing the influence of sheep farming in New Zealand on global climate (the sheep-albedo feedback). Of course, that piece was a rip off of the serious (peer-reviewed!) paper by Squeak and Diddlesworth on the ptarmigan albedo effect. To be fair, Ray P. did cite Squeak and Diddlesworth, 1987, though I did have to point it out to him (you’d think a top flight scientist like Ray would have known!). Watts didn’t even have the courtesy to cite RealClimate.

  27. Lynn Dewees says:

    “Darn. I was hoping to track down the seals and see if they could tell me who was going to win the World Series.”

    Philadelphia Phillies

  28. Joan Savage says:

    Whoa. This whole thing is upside down. And it is not funny, no way.

    Some researchers in Maine, observing the harp seals’ unusual behavior, pointed out that the LOSS of ice in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence this winter has likely forced the seals to spread out and try to find new places to pull out and bear their young.
    If the researchers’ educated guess is correct, then the harp seals appearing along the lower Atlantic coast are a desperate response to a climate change, a warmer climate without ice in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence.

  29. Roger says:

    Seriously, I agree with Ben Franklin on this whole climate topic:

    “TOMORROW I’ll reform, the fool does say;
    TODAY itself too late–the wise did YESTERDAY.”

    Trouble is, if we don’t reform the fools soon, we’re just as sunk.

  30. Rattus Norvegicus says:

    Oh, a bad joke is in order here.

    A baby harp seal walks into a bar.
    Bartender say, what’ll it be.
    Baby harp seal says: anything but a Canadian Club!

  31. bill says:

    So, we have to assume these seals are what; casing the joint? Perhaps they’re littoral entrepreneurs looking to corner the (ahem) Seal-Estate market? Because unless the impending ice age is due to arrive remarkably shortly indeed it’s very hard to follow even the internal logic of this argument…

  32. Jonathan Byron says:

    Surprised the article doesn’t mention predicting weather based on caterpillar banding, reading chicken entrails, or dowsing. The universe is sending us signals, we just need to read them right.

    Happy April first!!

  33. Gareth says:

    Experiments in seal precognition are making good progress.

  34. Bob Doublin says:

    @30 No,no,no!! That’s too possible. In honor of the low Watt (get it,dim bulb?? yuk,yuk!!)prediction of cooling you should say the Seattle Mariners
    signed, a long suffering Seattle resident.

  35. Mike Roddy says:

    Watts and Morano are about to become persona non grata, even at denier fests like the Heartland Conference. It’s already happened to Lord Monckton. The money, which is perfectly aware of global warming, decided that these guys were making them look a little ridiculous. They’ll return to compliant stooges like Cristy and Pielke Sr, who at least can talk the talk properly.

  36. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Mike Roddy #38, they’d best look at a speaking tour of Australia (it rhymes with failure). The senile delinquents of the local denialist movement are being fanned into a frenzy by the local Rightwing MSM. They were out again yesterday, their wrinkled and sagging features contorted into rictuses of fury by the prospect of a carbon tax, the Right having long ago learned that they can always get their way by yelling abuse and marching up and down, furiously. And they reckon Baron Monckhausen is a genius.

  37. chek says:

    Let the unemployed weather forecaster and professional dissembler henceforth be known as Quackery Watts.
    It says all that needs to be said, and tells anyone who wants to know all they need to know.