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Thursday, March 28, 2013

On Plain Denial: Watts Dismisses His Own Evidence That is Counter to His Viewpoint

MobyT | 5:20 PM Go to the first of 2 comments. Add a comment

Blogger Anthony Watts is boasting that his denial shenanigans finally got some attention from normal people who aim to educate others about climate change. For some unknown reason he was interviewed by James Stafford for  There have been a number of articles commenting about that interview, so I'll just post some links rather than repeat the points:

Plain Denial: How Anthony Watts Smears Himself

What I'm writing about is how Anthony subsequently proves that what he regards as a 'smear' is spot on.

Anthony is particularly thrilled because not only did he (briefly) feature on RealityDrops for spreading disinformation, he managed to catch the attention of Professor John Abraham, who with  Professor Scott Mandia and Dr Ray Weymann set up the Climate Science Rapid Response Team.

In James Stafford's follow up interview for, John Abraham mentioned Watts more than once - he mentioned him many times.

Anthony was incensed as well as thrilled to be noticed, and seems to think he is posting a rebuttal to Abraham's take-down.  He quotes this passage from the Abraham interview (my bold):
The fact is that Mr. Watts is not a pragmatic sceptic. Real scientists are sceptical by nature. We don’t believe what our colleagues tell us until we verify it for ourselves. Scientists honestly develop views of how the world works and they test those views by experimentation. As a result of approximately 150 years of climate science, the vast majority of scientists are convinced that humans are a major cause of climate change. Mr. Watts, on the other hand, dismisses evidence that is counter to his viewpoint. That is not scepticism–that is plain denial.
Anthony says the above statement is a smear.  Then proceeds to do exactly that - dismissing evidence that is counter to his viewpoint.

How Anthony Watts Dismisses Evidence that is Counter to His Viewpoint - Even His Own Evidence

Look at the part I've highlighted in bold, which is probably the bit that Anthony objected to the most.  Now consider what Anthony does next in his own article.

What he does next, in the very same blog article, is "dismiss evidence that is counter to his viewpoint" Not only that, the evidence he dismisses is from his very own research, a paper on which he is listed as co-author, Fall et al (2011).

 Fall et al (2011) looked at whether siting of weather stations in the USA introduces a bias in the temperature record.  The paper suggests there is a measurable difference in diurnal variation but that station siting has no impact on the trend of average temperatures.  Other published research, by Menne et al (2010) also found that station siting does not introduce any warming bias in the temperature record.  A different but somewhat related more recent study found that the effect of urban heat islands has been factored into the US temperature record and does not distort the trend.

Anthony then goes on to explain that he dismisses his own findings reported in Fall et al and is working on finding a way to get a different result - one presumably that will not be "counter to his viewpoint".  He writes:
We know why the first effort (Fall et al) didn’t see much of a siting signal, so the second effort used a different method endorsed by the WMO, and found a strong signal. We built on the flaws of the first work, and we are preparing a paper for submission that includes dealing with the useful criticisms we learned from the discussion of the preliminary release. 

(I couldn't see Anthony getting his next paper published if he really had identified flaws and is "building on the flaws of the first work"!)

Denial by Omission

In addition, Watts selectively quotes from the abstract of Fall et al, leaving out the fact that the research found no impact on average temperature trends in his effort to dismiss evidence (even his own) that is counter to his viewpoint:

Here is Watts excerpt from the abstract, which Anthony chose to feature in his blog article:
Comparison of observed temperatures with NARR shows that the most poorly sited stations are warmer compared to NARR than are other stations, and a major portion of this bias is associated with the siting classification rather than the geographical distribution of stations. According to the best‐sited stations, the diurnal temperature range in the lower 48 states has no century‐scale trend. 
What Watts omitted was this part of the abstract, that states quite clearly that station siting in the USA doesn't affect the average temperature trends, the pluses are balanced by the minuses (my bold):
The opposite‐signed differences of maximum and minimum temperature trends are similar in magnitude, so that the overall mean temperature trends are nearly identical across site classifications.

Rebutting Watts Rebutting Watts

Deniers are still waiting with bated breath for the Watts rebuttal of Watts after it's shock and awe announcement in July last year.  (Nine months is a long time in denierland, probably requiring nebulisers).

Among the blog rebuttals of the Watts rebuttal of Watts, one comes from disinformer Steve McIntyre, who seemed a tad surprised to be listed as co-author of the Watts rebutting Watts draft paper.  Other blog rebuttals can be found below:

(It's probably not a good idea to hold your breath waiting for the publication of Watts rebuts Watts.)


  1. It was a good thing, I wasn't just drinking my tea. I would have destroyed my keyboard laughing, when the zombie manuscript can back from the undead. Made my day.

    WUWT is best endured by seeing it as a comedy blog.

    1. Victor, Eli alerted us to the fact that Anthony apparently has Evan Jones squirreling away on his draft.

      Also, I expect my endurance to have it's limits, even as comedy :D


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