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Friday, October 11, 2013

Wondering Willis Eschenbach's Thunderstorm at WUWT

Sou | 8:55 AM 28 Comments - leave a comment

After a dull patch, Anthony Watts decided to liven up his blog by handing it over to Wondering Willis Eschenbach to say a few words to another WUWT regular, Roy Spencer - who maintains the UAH record of satellite data (of atmospheric temperature).

I'll just pick up on a couple of things in this "Willis blows his top" episode and post links to archived versions for their entertainment value.  You could say that Willis is acting out his Thunderstorm hypothesis.  No sign yet that his heat is dissipating or his governor is kicking in :)

Roy Spencer wrote an article in response to Willis Eschenbach's wonderings on clouds (archived here and here and here), which Willis thought he made up all by himself with data that scientists collected but never used (so Willis seems to think).  Roy says in part (see full archived version here - updated here):
The reason I am picking on Willis a little bit here is that his posts sometimes lead to comments like this:
“Geez – if I was one of the hoard of IPCC enthusiastic fools, this would be downright embarrassing. I sure wouldn’t want my mom to know I was so ineffective that some guy named Willis sits in his den and does more and better work than my entire IPCC crowd of hundreds of scientists, economists, psychologists, train engineers, tree surgeons, etc does in 4-5 years.”
C’mon, folks! Do you really think that of the billions of dollars spent on designing, launching, and keeping these satellite instruments going, that no one thought to analyze the data? Really? That’s why hundreds of scientists and engineers collaborated on such projects in the first place!
Just because you can’t find some technical issue described in blogs doesn’t mean it hasn’t been addressed. It’s in the scientific literature, and in workshop reports, conference proceedings, etc.

Willis doesn't like it and replies, apparently in all seriousness (see full archived version here):
Dr. Roy, the citizen climate scientists are the ones who have made the overwhelming majority of the gains in the struggle against rampant climate alarmism. It is people like Steve McIntyre and Anthony Watts and Donna LaFramboise and myself and Joanne Nova and Warwick Hughes and the late John Daly, citizen climate scientists all, who did the work that your fellow mainstream climate scientists either neglected or refused to do. You should be showering us with thanks for doing the work your peers didn’t get done, not speciously claiming that we are likeable idiots like Homer Simpson.
Seriously?  Does Willis seriously think that climate scientists all around the world stop what they are doing to read pearls of wisdom dripping from denier blogs?  How many climate scientists have ever heard of anyone in Willis' list of science deniers?  Maybe a dozen?  Two dozen?  Maybe as many as fifty.  The scientists who blog and tweet may have come across some of the names in passing.  Apart from the handful of prominent scientists who've been attacked by these deniers (and maybe not all of them, at that), I'd guess that the vast majority of scientists who study any part of the earth system have never heard of this lot.  They are too busy doing scientific research. They'd know there are people who are 'deniers' who write letters to the paper but most scientists wouldn't bother with the active science-denying sub-culture on blogs.

Where's the spoon?

Willis goes further and doesn't just want the scientists to give him their data to play with (which they do freely), he wants them to give him a list of scientific papers.  Hasn't he heard of Google Scholar (the layperson's Web of Science)?  Willis writes at WUWT:
So, Roy’s claim seems to be that my work couldn’t possibly be original, because all conceivable analyses of the data have already been done. Now that’s a curious claim in any case … but in this case, somehow, he seems to have omitted the links to the work he says antedates mine.
When someone starts making unreferenced, uncited, unsupported accusations about me like that, there’s only one thing to say … Where’s the beef? Where’s the study? Where’s the data?
In fact, I know of no one who has done a number of the things that I’ve done with the CERES data. If Dr. Roy thinks so, then he needs to provide evidence of that. He needs to show, for example, that someone has analyzed the data in this fashion:
Willis isn't just upset that he's been challenged to do what any student would do first, let alone any scientist - a review of the literature, a check to see what's been done already - before trying to reinvent the wheel.  He demands that someone else spoonfeed him the literature as well.

Willis' dummy spit has provided entertainment to "warmists" and fake sceptics alike. In case there is anyone who wants to wade through it all but doesn't want to have to go to WUWT or Roy Spencers' blogs, here are the archived threads.

From the WUWT comments

Some people are using Roy's post as an opportunity to let off steam about Willis' generally bad behaviour.  Others have dreamt up reasons they think will explain Roy's original article.  How to explain the inexplicable - two sceptics having a disagreement!  Lots are sticking up for Willis against the big bad scientist.  Others are acting as peacemakers. I've just picked out a few - not a representative sample.

M Courtney (and Joe Crawford) think that Roy Spencer is feeling threatened by the brilliance of citizen scientist Wondering Willis Eschenbach and says:
October 9, 2013 at 1:38 pm
Joe Crawford says at October 9, 2013 at 1:30 pm 
Don’t quite know how, Willis, but it sure looks like you unintentionally stepped on someone’s toes. “Maybe you’re getting too close to an area Dr. Roy or one of his grads is researching.”
That has the ring of truth. There are commitments made in academia that cannot be ignored, rightly.

Ronald "OMG it's insects" Voisin says:
October 9, 2013 at 1:21 pm
Willis, you’re way overreacting.

thisisnotgoodtogo only gets a mention because I'm mentioned in the same breath as (Flattery will get you everywhere - haha. The other day in his Hot Sheet Anthony raised me to the status of Michael Mann. Just goes to show how little fake sceptics know!):
October 9, 2013 at 1:42 pm
““Career scientists like myself have not done enough public outreach to describe what they have done. And when we do such outreach, it is usually too technical to understand. We are too busy publishing-or-perishing.”
This sounds plagiarized. From RealClimate. Or Mrs Hot Whopper?

Fieldos says what probably quite a few are thinking:
October 9, 2013 at 1:58 pm
I used to enjoy Willis’ posts, but it’s getting too much. This blog is getting to be less of Watts Up With That? and too much of What’s up with Willis !…

Jeremy gives Willis a backhanded compliment and doesn't understand what Roy Spencer wrote when he says:
October 9, 2013 at 2:27 pm
Roy is wrong to slander anyone not doing “novel” work. There’s plenty of scientists who never do an original piece of work in their lives, their work and expertise have great value.

Dave says:
October 9, 2013 at 1:59 pm
What you talking about Willis -
Dr. Roy’s article is not a hatchet job, it is a cautionary tale and a reminder to cite precedent. All he is doing is advocating good science. Don’t be so thin skinned.

pokerguy says:
October 9, 2013 at 2:05 pm
Willis, you’re way overreacting.”
He always does. PLus, I don’t think this is the place. Willis, you’re just not as important as you obviously think you are.
So tiresome.

Bruce says:
October 9, 2013 at 9:21 pm
Stop bleating, Roy is right and Watts is is more than indulgent.

Mark Bofill says:
October 10, 2013 at 12:36 pm
The most regrettable thing about this whole affair is the publicizing of fights among skeptics. While everyone may have different views about exactly how much or how little man’s activities or CO2 affect climate, I think there is general agreement that the effect is nugatory, and it does not serve our “cause” (to borrow the alarmists’ term) to disagree in this manner.
Yeah, in one sense. In another it’s reassuring. I don’t want skeptics to start worrying about the “cause”; look what it did to the Team. So long as we squabble publicly, it’s easier to believe that when we don’t squabble it’s not a show for company.
Update: And with a hat tip to William Connolley, this one's priceless - from Wondering Willis "I'm Wonderful" Eschenbach, who says he almost single-handedly revealed - ummm, I'd disagree with Willis.  They revealed nothing but what one would expect.  What the emails showed was that scientists do good science, and just like the rest of the normal population, scientists get mighty sick and tired of the tiny percentage of the population who are the illiterati that refuse to accept reality  (extract - from updated archive here).

Willis Eschenbach says:
October 10, 2013 at 9:26 am
Steve Garcia says: October 10, 2013 at 12:31 am
… Nope. The ONLY person who really made a difference was Mr Climategate himself. And we don’t know if he (she?) was a climatologist or a citizen climatologist. It seems virtually certain to ME that he/she could not have had access without being an inside climate person.
...Well, I’m the guy who filed the very first FOIA request to the UEA folks, an act that was the unwitting genesis of the actions described in the Climategate emails.
So while you are right that Mr. Climategate did a great thing by revealing how the UEA folks and the rest lied, cheated and broke the law in response to my FOIA request and others as well … you’re misunderstanding the causality here. Without Warwick Hughes and me and Steve McIntyre and all the others putting the pressure on Phil Jones and the rest of the un-indicted co-conspirators, there would have been nothing for Mr. Climategate to reveal.
Mr. Climategate was just the reporter, Steve. All he did was let people know how the UEA folks were responding to our FOIA requests, with lies and trickery.
You’re mistaking the finger pointing at the moon for the moon itself. The reporter that broke the story is important, sure … but the participants in the story, the actual actors, are the reason that the story exists to be revealed.

From the Roy Spencer comments

Don Monfort says (excerpt - click here for the archived copy):
October 10, 2013 at 1:19 PM
Anybody remember the stoopid, vicious and personal attack from Willis against Judith Curry on her blog:

Stephen Wilde says:
October 10, 2013 at 1:38 PM
I’ve personally endured offensive diatribes from Willis far worse than Roy’s measured comments.

I'm guessing Don Monfort and Willis don't see eye to eye, he's back again and this time paints a picture that I figure more than one person will think is on the money:
October 10, 2013 at 9:36 AM
Oh, a lot of the legendary DIY climate science blogger’s sycophants have shown up to defend their hero. You should have known better, Dr. Roy. That Homer Simpson thing really got under Willis’s thin translucent skin. His image of himself is the dude in the Dos Equis ‘most interesting man in the world’ commercial.

I had no idea who Dos Equis "most interesting man in the world" is and maybe you don't either.  It's an advertising gimmick.  Here's an image I found on this site:


Here's Willis, he even got a mention on DeSmog Blog, so I guess he's been noticed somewhere outside of his wonderings at WUWT.

Source: DeSmogBlog

There are hundreds more comments if you have the stamina and interest.  It gets boring very quickly.


Cugel said...

How delicious. Denier scientists are discovering that anti-science sweeps them up along with the majority.

Spencer claims to have been "disowned" by most climate scientists, but I rather doubt any care about him that much.

Anonymous said...


Yep... the "cumulonumbskull" clouds are thick in this discussion.

bill said...

Anyone who thinks the world stands to benefit from the lumpen-populism of the activist anti-science, anti-elitist crowd - e.g. the Tea Party, UKIP - need only read these exchanges. Mencken's warning about 'unadorned morons' comes to mind...

Anonymous said...

I love that Willis doesn't understand what plagiarism is.

I also love the way these guys make it out like debunking "alarmism" is their mission, that it's crucial for the future of humanity, and they're really pro-science, but then they can't be arsed forking out the money for a subscription to Nature - or even just the $30 a pop required for the articles they want to critique. I mean, how many articles does Watts put up every week - 2 or 3? Surely he can afford the odd $100 to actually read them ... but it's clear in this case that Willis hasn't read past the abstract of the paper Spencer is talking about.

I love the guy in comments - jj? - saying "how can Willis have plagiarized an article he hasn't even read?" Delicious!

Anonymous said...

Of course Anthony Watts just loves this. More revenue for him from the hits on his website. It's obvious that is the only reason he lets Eschenbach have free access to post whatever crap he wants.

William Connolley said...

Its such fun. I enjoyed posting a couple of comments at Dr Spencer's blog, but I was censored after a while (amusingly, just after being accused of it myself).

You missed (probably because its waay) down a great one where WE claims that all "climategate" belong to him.

Sou said...

That's priceless, William. Not only has Wondering "I'm Wonderful" Willis single-handedly re-invented the entire field of climate science with his wonderings, he single-handedly discovered that scientists do science by email!

(See updated comment.)

Anonymous said...

There should be an annual award - the Stunning Huger Dunning-Kruger - for works of superlative staggering self-confidence in one's own self-ignorance.

Eschenbach would win it hands-down.

Bernard J.

Victor Venema said...

Somehow this does not happen. There was a small peak on the Friday the IPCC SPM was published. Otherwise nothing is happening.

Interesting in the weekly cycle. WUWT is mainly read by people bored at work. In their precious free time in the weekend much less people are interested in all that nonsense.

bill said...

I just have to share this gem -

“Willis fanboys… no one takes him or what he posts here seriously”

This forum IS peer review and debate, unlike whatever echo chamber your mind lives in.

I repeat, it is impossible to satirize these people; no level of overweening, feckless, obtuse grandiosity could ever hope to exceed the reality.

These are the same cast people to whom it's 'obvious' that the Grand Canyon was carved by Noah's Flood, or that the Ancient Minoans were speaking a dialect of Polynesian. The woods - and the cultural equivalent, the internet - are full of them. Their bubble simply cannot be pricked. Sane societies never let them anywhere near the levers of policy...

Sou said...

You are right, Bill. It's not just impossible to satirise this crowd, it's impossible to communicate with them because they are not rational or logical.

I don't seem to come across people like this in real life or if I do they don't display their oddity to me. The internet gives people the opportunity to meet other people like them who have a most unusual way of processing information. It makes kings out of cranks.

Anonymous said...

That's how you know WUWT is not fossil fuel funded.

Anonymous said...

Noah! Here is the very Dr. Roy Spencer himself.

"In relation to the basic claims of Christianity, do what I did! Read the Bible. Judge it for itself. Put it to the test. I am confident that you too will find the Bible not only to be in agreement with proven facts of science, but also to be the book which will lead you to a personal faith in God the creator of all things."

It's not so easy when someone enters your echo chamber. Good night.

Anonymous said...

It's turned very toxic over there ... poptech is going to town on Willis's dishonesty and lack of credentials in a very petty way, and threatening to employ "the nuclear option" if he is banned. Willis is refusing to admit he wasn't accused of plagiarism, isn't addressing any of the central criticisms and is leaving it to his fanboys to defend him. Someone has already managed to defend his claim that he has a "peer-reviewed" publication in Nature Communications. There is no level of stupid they won't jump to!

It is interesting to read the large number of commenters who don't like Willis. And he really is quite vicious when cornered!

Bwana_Mkubwa said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sou said...

Oops. I'm sorry Bwana_Mkubwa. I clicked the wrong button and accidentally deleted your comment. I'll post it again below, but it will be from "Anon". I don't have as much control of blogger as I'd sometimes like to have.

Anonymous said...

Love the irony that poptech is asking for Willis's computer codes and Willis is ignoring the request.


Sou said...

I noticed that, Bwana. Plus the fact that quite a few WUWT-ers lined up against Willis, others were "pro" Willis, some trying to make peace, and some just sitting on the sidelines.

I think Willis got a bit of a wake up call, finding out that he's not adored by everyone at WUWT. If Willis was hoping for support from Anthony Watts he didn't get it either, with Anthony writing on Roy Spencer's blog:

I see this little tiff as a bump. No worries from my end.

In the "sceptic" hierarchy, it looks as if Roy Spencer ranks more highly than Willis Eschenbach!

Catmando said...

Of course Spencer ranks more highly. He is a proper scientist and a denier. Scores more highly than a masseur.

Anonymous said...

You may find this interesting,

Who is Willis Eschenbach?

As of 2012 Mr. Eschenbach has been employed as a House Carpenter.

He is not a “computer modeler”, he is not an “engineer” and he is certainly not a “scientist” (despite all ridiculous claims to the contrary).

“A final question, one asked on Judith Curry’s blog a year ago by a real scientist, Willis Eschenbach…”

Victor Venema said...

PopTech also complains about Willis being called a scientist.

Well Willis does have some scientific publications. One of which is actually cited: Historical bird and terrestrial mammal extinction rates and causes by Craig Loehle and Willis Eschenbach. (3 times).

I am not sure whether a publication in E&E counts:

The introduction of Eschenbach at the Heartland conference (ICCC7), which "reveals" that he is a carpenter, also states that the has published in Nature. This is a comment on a research article. Not every comment is published by Nature, so it is worth something. And you can put your comments in your publication list. Still I would personally not claim to have published in Nature, if I only had a comment. Such a claim would suggest an original research article.

Thus he contributed to the scientific literature. I feel this is sufficient to call Willis Eschenbach a scientist. Amateur scientist would be more accurate, but not necessary, especially as being an amateur is perfectly fine. In the 19th century this was the norm and people were worrying about the quality of the work of professional scientists.

WebHubTelescope said...

Skeptics are starting to eat their own?

Anonymous said...

Having a published paper does not make one a scientist. A comment in Nature is not remotely the same as an original research paper. By making this claim he is trying to inflate his credentials which he does not have.

There is a big difference between being an amateur scientist and a scientist.

Anonymous said...

No one except the fanboys at WUWT take Willis seriously. Dr. Spencer is just saying what most of the credentialed scientists in the skeptic community were thinking.

Victor Venema said...

What should someone do to be a scientist in your eyes? Please try to find some objective general definition, not one aimed at keeping Eschenbach out. Think of all the young scientists, which may not have a lot of papers, but are doing serious good work.

I do not want to claim that Eschenback contributes much to our understanding. I hope that that was clear from my previous comment.

What is he big difference between an amateur and a professional. Except for being paid. I admit that there is a correlation in climatology, but that is no causation. Zeke Hausfather is doing a great job as an amateur scientist and contributes a lot. Many professionals do not contribute much. My first paper on homogenization was written in my free time, while being funded to work on clouds. Thus you could state that that was hobby, the work of an amateur in homogenization.

Anonymous said...

Here you go,

A scientist is "a person who is trained in a science and whose job involves doing scientific research or solving scientific problems."

Willis has no educational background or any professional experience as a scientist. The only thing he can be considered is an amateur scientist.

Victor Venema said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Victor Venema said...

Okay, you win.

Personally I find the definition too restrictive. When Einstein wrote his paper on special relativity he was working as a patent clerk. Thus he was not a scientist at the time according to Webster.

I looked at Wikipedia, they have a completely different definition, that does not discriminate against amateurs: "A scientist, in a broad sense, is one engaging in a systematic activity to acquire knowledge. In a more restricted sense, a scientist is an individual who uses the scientific method."

But also according to this definition, Eschenbach would not be a scientist.

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