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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Denier Weirdness: David Burton @wattsupwiththat finally has a 97% brain wave!

Sou | 10:12 PM Go to the first of 22 comments. Add a comment

If you haven't realised by now, one of the things that keeps fake sceptics awake at night is trying to figure out ways to reject the fact that climate science shows that humans are causing global warming.

Yesterday on WUWT one fake sceptic, David Burton, published a long article (archived here) telling us how for the last year and a half, he's been thinking of how to protest the Doran and Zimmerman paper, published almost five years ago.

(Mike H in the comments below provides a bit of background on David Burton, Science Denier Third Class and "Expert Reviewer" of the IPCC AR5 WG1 First Order Draft - trying to inflict Foreign Object Damage.)

The Stupid it Burns

He's come up with such a clever way of protesting the results.  In a 680 word "guest essay" on WUWT he explains that it's not 75 out of 77 climate scientists, including contrarians, who responded to a survey who agree that: human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperature.  It's really "only" 75 out of 79 (even though two of those 79 didn't answer the question).

He tells us he's even written to the journal demanding a correction to a non-error in the paper that was published almost five years ago in January 2009!  He says this snippet from a longer sentence is wrong: "97.4% (75 of 77) answered yes".  David Burton doesn't dispute the fact that 75 answered yes.  David Burton doesn't dispute the fact that 77 climate scientists answered the question.  What David argues is that Doran and Zimmerman should have added to the 77 two responses that didn't exist.

547.5 days and nights sweating over a five year old paper

All I can say is "Wow!" Just think.  It only took David Burton 547.5 days and nights of fretting about this five year old paper before finally having such a number-fudging brainwave!  (I wonder how long it will take him to compute that the earth isn't flat?)

Doran, P. T., and M. K. Zimmerman (2009), Examining the Scientific Consensus on Climate Change, Eos Trans. AGU, 90(3), 22–23, doi:10.1029/2009EO030002.

From the WUWT comments

These little gems from WUWT-ers who are about as good at number-fudging as David Burton is. As usual, the WUWT commenters didn't bother reading the paper to realise that of all the people who responded to the survey, climate scientists and those who weren't climate scientists alike, more than 90% agreed global surface temperatures have risen and 82% agreed that human activity is a significant contributing factor.  Here is a small selection from the illiterati (archived here)

pappad moves off topic and says:
December 10, 2013 at 10:11 am
Anybody care to explain to me how CO2 can allow IR to REACH the surface but somehow “traps” it there and won’t allow it to reflect back into space??? Is it one-way reflective?
pappad doesn't realise that most incoming radiation is short wave not long wave.

Box of Rocks follows up pappad's question with another and says (extract):
December 10, 2013 at 11:41 am
I would go a step further and ask the question -
Isn’t the altitude of the CO2 molecule important also since the earth’s surface is round and curves away from the emitted radiation?
Curves away from the emitted radiation? I've no (publishable) answer to that one!!

DesertYote says:
December 10, 2013 at 3:55 pm
95% of those who call themselves climate scientists are actually marxist propagandists.

thisisgettingtiresome says:
December 10, 2013 at 4:01 pm
I’d originally thought the D&Z paper to appear at least ‘plausible’ in the minds of the authors, notwithstanding the fatal flaws and inherent bias that they might fail to see in their selection methodology. But now we can see from David’s revealing the full report that it was actually nothing but fraudulent.

Chuck Nolan says - where's the C in AGW? (extract):
December 10, 2013 at 6:22 pm
This is the part I have trouble with.
Where’s the catastrophe questions?
People won’t fear AGW if there is no “C” in front of it.


  1. oh well, if only 95% of climatologists think that human activities are causing global that changes everything. there's clearly no consensus to be seen there at all.

    hey, at least they've managed to get rid of that pesky 97% number. 18 months well spent, by any measure.

  2. Dave Burton is one of the directors of NC-20, the group behind the North Carolina legislation that outlawed sea level rise.

    I see that he is labelling himself a "IPCC AR5 WG1 Expert Reviewer".

    Tamino has a takedown of him here.

    The following is quite amusing if you recall the reaction to the Heartland leaks. If not, here is a reprise.

    The 71 year old veteran Col Walmsley spotted Burton as a fraud immediately.

    "The second letter scolds me. It is from a Mr. Dave Burton who follows his name with an impressive series of letters and numbers that are meaningless to me. Perhaps someone can decode for me. It appears that he uses IPCC to try to attach him self to that organization, but the “Expert Reviewer” makes me think he is a denier who reviews the work of IPCC to discredit it. Any helpers here. In my carear as a pilot, FOD meant Foreign Object Damage. I wonder if that is what it means here."

    1. Wow. A sea level rise denier and all. Seems he spends a lot of time and energy protesting the laws of nature.

      And thanks for those links. I've highlighted your comment in the main article.

    2. A little late but if you go to the IPCC review, not one of Dave Burton's recommendations were accepted. He's such a waste of time. Oh yes N. Carolina has over turned the law making sea level rise illegal Bwahahaha... you can go thru the IPCC report and see Mr. Burton's comments...

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    4. Glen, I checked out that link, he actually had two comments published, well, sort of. First one wasn't filled out properly and couldn't be processed. The second comment and response is interesting in it's own right. Unfortunately, Burton displays that contrarian ability to refuse all learning opportunities, and didn't learn a thing from being corrected.

      IPCC Review - Comment number 0-12
      (Mr. Burton writes)
      The report contains multiple citations of studies depending on GISS ModelE, but inexplicably omits the critical analysis of GISS model E performance in Scafetta's latest papers:
N. Scafetta, “Empirical evidence for a celestial origin of the climate oscillations and its implications”. Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics 72, 951–970 (2010), doi:10.1016/j.jastp.2010.04.015

      N. Scafetta, “Testing an astronomically based decadal-scale empirical harmonic climate model versus the IPCC (2007) general circulation climate models” Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics, in press. DOI: 10.1016/j.jastp.2011.12.005.

      In these papers it is argued that the global surface temperature presents clear evidences of a strong harmonic component associated to astronomical cycles. All climate models used by the IPCC have failed to reproduce these harmonics. Here's an extended comment/summary of the above papers:

      Here's one in Swedish, but you can translate it with Google translator: 8&layout=2&eotf=1& analys%2F
      [David Burton, USA]
      IPCC Response"

      Noted -- the papers referred to by the reviewer clearly state that there is no known physical mechanism to explain the proposed celestial modulation of climate, and so this is not included in the physically-based models whose results are assessed in this report, in particular in Chapter 9 "Evaluation of Climate Models".

      More specifically, the second paper by Scafetta referred to by the reviewer claims that not only the GISS but all climate models assessed in the IPCC reports significantly underestimate the magnitude of 20 and 60 years cycles apparently seen in the reconstructed global temperature.

      However, irrespective of whether the above mentioned periodicities are real or an artifact of the statistical analysis, this fact alone does not challenge validity of current climate models.

      Please note that the role of various known forcings is assessed comprehensively in Chapter 10 of the report.

    5. NC-2o a real estate group who want to develop the shoreline property!

  3. Perhaps I can clear up some of your confusion.

    W/r/t North Carolina's new law, contrary to the propaganda that misled you, it doesn't "outlaw sea level rise." It simply requires that coastal policy be guided by geophysical science rather than political science. It passed with strong bipartisan support: in the NC Senate the vote was 40-to-1. You may read it here:

    W/r/t Tamino's "takedown," you should know that he loads the dice, by censoring his blog to prevent correction of his errors. Here are some examples of Tamino's censorship.

    W/r/t sea level, my web site is instructive:

    W/r/t Doran & Zimmerman, to maximize their "consensus" number, they:

    1. Chose to survey only scientists at academic and government institutions (which generally lean Left), and

    2. Asked "no-brainer" questions that almost everyone, even climate skeptics, would answer "correctly," and

    3. Did not ask any questions that would actually separate alarmists from skeptics, such as whether, in President Obama's words, "climate change is real, man-made and dangerous," and

    4. Used only 79 out of the 3146 responses that they received, when calculating their degree-of-agreement percentage. They called those 79 "the most specialized and knowledgeable respondents (with regard to climate change)."

    They reported that 75 of the "most specialized and knowledgeable respondents" agreed with the "consensus" position that "mean global temperatures have generally risen" since the depths of the Little Ice Age and "human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures."

    Note #1: by that measure, even I am part of the consensus.

    Note #2: They concluded that, "It seems that the debate on the authenticity of global warming and the role played by human activity is largely nonexistent among those who understand the nuances and scientific basis of long-term climate processes."

    Note #3: Their methodology could easily be used to reach the conclusion that "the debate on the authenticity of acupuncture is largely nonexistent among those who understand its nuances and scientific basis."

    Yet all that was insufficient. 75 of 79 is not 97%, it is only 94.9%.

    So how did they get to 97%?

    The answer is that they simply didn't count the two "most specialized and knowledgeable respondents" who had said they thought global temperatures "remained relatively constant."

    79 - 2 = 77, and 75 / 77 = 97.4% = mission accomplished.

    That's right, it's hard to believe, but they simply didn't count two of the four dissenters among the 79 who they identified as the "most specialized and knowledgeable respondents."

    On that basis they reported in the prestigious journal Eos, Transactions, American Geophysical Union, that:

    [of] "the most specialized and knowledgeable respondents (with regard to climate change)... 97.4% (75 of 77) answered yes to question 2. [Q2: Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?]"

    I marvel that such an error could get through peer review, or even "pal review."

    1. Ah, Mr. Burton I presume.

      True, the law doesn't outlaw sea level rise, it just outlaws considering the anthropogenic portion of it in coastal planning.

      Thanks for your participation.

    2. It doesn't even do that, Rattus. I gave you the link so that you can read the bill for yourself; please do so.

    3. Why don't you tell us what bit is relevant? Some of us foreigners have trouble understanding American legalese.
      Also I believe you're leaving out of it all the actual context of the arguement in the first place.

    4. Ah, I see part of my error was relying on the final bill wording, as this Scientific American article seems to say was different from the earlier one that raised all the fuss:

      North Carolina's senators, however, have tried to stop state-funded researchers from releasing similar reports. The law approved by the senate on 12 June banned scientists in state agencies from using exponential extrapolation to predict sea-level rise, requiring instead that they stick to linear projections based on historical data.

      Following international opprobrium, the state's House of Representatives rejected the bill on 19 June. However, a compromise between the house and the senate forbids state agencies from basing any laws or plans on exponential extrapolations for the next three to four years, while the state conducts a new sea-level study.

      According to local media, the bill was the handiwork of industry lobbyists and coastal municipalities who feared that investors and property developers would be scared off by predictions of high sea-level rises. The lobbyists invoked a paper published in the Journal of Coastal Research last year by James Houston, retired director of the US Army Corps of Engineers' research centre in Vicksburg, Mississippi, and Robert Dean, emeritus professor of coastal engineering at the University of Florida in Gainesville.

    5. Dave Burton: "W/r/t North Carolina's new law, contrary to the propaganda that misled you, it doesn't "outlaw sea level rise." It simply requires that coastal policy be guided by geophysical science rather than political science."

      I'm glad to see that you accept the geophysical science showing that sealevel rise is accelerating, and the millions of years of paleoclimate evidence showing that this acceleration will continue unless we stop treating our atmosphere as a free sewer, then draw CO2 back to ~300ppm.

      I previously thought that you supported the crackpot politicized "science" at WUWT and the Heartland Institute, but that was obviously my mistake since you reject politicized "science" in favor of legitimate geophysical science from NASA, the American Geophysical Union, the National Academy of Sciences, etc.

      That's what you meant, right?

    6. "Perhaps I can clear up some confusion", Dave. Read the paper, note its conclusions, and address them. Remind yourself what question 2 actually asked,for instance.

    7. David Burton: "Chose to survey only scientists at academic and government institutions (which generally lean Left), "

      The survey was sent to 10,257 Earth scientists! Is David Burton an ideological science denier with warped views of academia and government employees or a conspiracy theorising science denier? Maybe both :(

      David Burton: Did not ask any questions that would actually separate alarmists from skeptics?

      Huh? I don't get that one. They weren't interested in what real scientists call themselves. They were interested in the extent to which real scientists are of the opinion that global temperature is rising because of human activity.

      "They" reported their findings accurately. It's David Burton who is arguing that he doesn't like them reporting 75 out of 77 responding to Q2. He's the one fixated on 97.4%.

      Doran and Zimmerman reported more numbers than that - 90%, 82%, 96.2% and 97.4% in particular.

      They didn't report that 97.4% of climate scientists answered yes to "human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?"

      What they reported was that of the climate scientists who responded to that question (ie 77 people), 75 answered "yes". Exactly what Doran and Zimmerman found.

      It's only David Burton who took 547.5 days and nights to figure that out, and he's still trying to figure it out from the look of it. Everyone else understood the difference as soon as they read the paper - if it even occurred to them to wonder.

      There are a lot of utter nutters at WUWT.

    8. There's a lot of utter dross appearing at WUWT these days.

      It's the Curse of the Downfall Parody at work, mark my words. Nobody can escape it.

    9. According to Dave Burton "The answer is that they simply didn't count the two "most specialized and knowledgeable respondents" who had said they thought global temperatures "remained relatively constant."

      79 - 2 = 77, and 75 / 77 = 97.4% = mission accomplished."

      There are two problems with this claim. The first should be obvious: 97 or 95% - tomato, tomahto. As if people would suddenly think there's a lot more uncertainty when going from almost all to almost all.

      The second problem is that the claim is false. Already a few months ago Doran responded to a journalist:
      "He said 75 of 77 individuals, or 97.4 percent, agreed with the second statement; two of the 79 didn’t answer this particular question."

      So, we have Dave Burton suggesting something that was already debunked some months ago. FAIL!


  4. Thinking of curses, the North Carolina bill will join the Indiana Pi Bill as a law most people think was actually passed. Each of them only passed one house of the state legislature involved. Of course, at that point the damage is done and an urban myth is born.

    1. You should read the bill as passed. You can't really tell what it does except keep anyone from making any plans until the commission has issued a report based on, well, something...

  5. your star is rising Sou, the denialists from above the line at WUWT are coming over here to defend themselves now. I think that means your piss-taking is beginning to bother the illiterati.

  6. Ah, yes, the same Dave Burton who made absurd comments at Tamino over polar ice, and then when his particular (and peculiar) views were discussed in detail as Tamino promised, completely failed to show up and defend his claims.

    Not an impressive showing - no apparent courage in his convictions, at least not in the face of data.


  7. Thanks for the background info Sou, so nice having you on the beat !

    Past few days Dave's been peppering me with coded comments that blossom into full blown gish gallops when I approve them. Today I was finally able to do some homework on the guy and it's been quite the day of discovery, and this is like icing on the cake.

    He must be getting really desperate for some attention. And me, I think he's a great example of malicious deception against the people that deserves to be labeled "criminal negligence" so I'll give him a some attention.

    See ya, Peter


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