Scroll To Top

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Has a "climate journalist" discovered a major blunder?

Sou | 1:04 PM Go to the first of 12 comments. Add a comment

Update 2: I've written two more articles about this. The main one is about the paper itself and points out some of the errors made at WUWT. The other was an interim follow up to the release of the paper.

Update: the Risbey paper is out (h/t Steve Bloom) and can be accessed here at Nature Climate Change, but you'll need a subscription. Stephan Lewandowsky has been good enough to write about it on his blog.

Sou 3:53 am AEST 21 July 2014

We'll have to wait and see. Anthony Watts thinks he has found a "major blunder" in a new paper (archived here). This is the same Anthony Watts who was described by his good friend, Willis Eschenbach, as (paraphrased):
Even if Anthony had a year to analyze and dissect each piece...(he publishes on his blog, he couldn't tell if it would)... stand the harsh light of public exposure. 

This same Anthony Watts writes:
As a climate journalist running the most viewed blog on climate, I have been graciously provided an advance copy of the press release and paper Risbey et al. (2014) that is being held under embargo until Sunday, July 20th. I am in the process of helping to co-author a rebuttal to Risbey et al. (2014) I think we’ve spotted a major blunder, but I want to check with a team member first. 

If Anthony Watts is a climate journalist he hides it well. Anthony is hopeless at the job. He posed as a journalist to get a free press pass to AGU13, but the most interesting thing he "reported" was that he could hear the sound of smirks. The rest could not be described as "journalism" by any stretch of the imagination.

This is the same Anthony Watts who had so much difficulty Googling "James Risbey, CSIRO" and clicking on the first item in the list, writing:
Hello Dr. Risbey,
At first I had trouble finding your email, which is why I sent it to Ms.Oreskes first. I dare not send it to professor Lewandowsky, since as we have seen by example, all he does is taunt people who have legitimate questions.

This is the same Anthony Watts who thinks dumb questions are "legitimate".  Anthony doesn't like being "taunted".

Clarification: In case you thought Anthony had been "graciously provided" with a copy of the paper by the journal Nature or one of the authors, you'd be wrong. He said he was emailed a copy by a "journalist". (My guess is the so-called "journalist" is someone like Steve Milloy who blogs junk science.) Sou: 7:45 pm AEST 20/7/14

If you're interested, the question that Anthony posed was related to climate models and the simulation of "spatial patterns of the warming and cooling trends in sea surface temperatures during the hiatus period". There was a special issue of Nature Geoscience this March, which had a number of articles relating to global warming over the past few years. And there've been other papers, such as this one by Yu Kosaka and Shang-Ping Xie in Nature.

Getting back to Anthony's question - he said he wants to "check with a team member first".  But that claim is contradicted by the fact that he was so excited that he might have found "something wrong" that he preempted any reply by writing about it on his blog.

True to form, Anthony doesn't wait for the answer, but posts about his "cleverness" on his blog. That's the point. He doesn't care about the answer. All he cares about is that a question at WUWT, any question, no matter if it's dumb or on the ball, is fodder for dumb deniers to claim AGW is a hoax.

We'll have to wait and see if Anthony Watts and perennially puzzled Bob Tisdale have accidentally been right this time. Since we don't yet know what the paper is about (though we can take a stab at guessing the general topic), there is insufficient data to come to any conclusion.

From the WUWT comments

Brad says:
July 19, 2014 at 9:58 am
Very well written!! Nothing “extra” added, simply asking a question.
It will be interesting to see if you get a response, or the release gets pushed back.

Anthony's response to Verity Jones is more evidence that he is not a climate journalist. Otherwise he'd be well aware of the fact that Stephan Lewandowsky and Naomi Oreskes are not climate modellers. Verity says:
July 19, 2014 at 10:06 am
I was going to ask if you were sent the supplementary data that so often accompanies papers published in Nature, but it is unusual for papers relying on separate supplements to refer the reader to them, so I am supposing this is not an oversight of the sender in this case. Very well handled.
REPLY: I asked the journalist if an SI was included, and none was listed. Still such an important label of the best and worst models, central to the claim of the paper, surely would not be relegated to the depths of an SI. – Anthony 

At the time of archiving there were 130 comments. So many strong opinions about a paper that has not yet been released from the embargo. About a paper of which no-one but Anthony and Bob Tisdale know the subject. About the authors of the paper, and about Anthony's cleverness and astuteness as a "climate journalist".

Whether the Weather

I hope James Risbey doesn't mind my copying his little rhyme, which most internet sources attribute to John Ruskin:

Whether the weather be fine 
Or whether the weather be not 
Whether the weather be cold 
Or whether the weather be hot, 
We'll weather the weather 
Whatever the weather 
Whether we like it or not.

And I've got my own version: 
Some of us will weather the weather, 
some of us will end up under the weather, 
some of us are totally over the weather and, 
whether we like it or not, 
some of us won't weather the weather at all.

Sou 4:29 pm AEST 20 July 2014


  1. One wonders if Monckton will tell Watts off for not following proper academic processes as he did when Abraham found more holes in Monckton's slide show than there are in a Swiss cheese.

    1. I think he's been a bit too busy here.

    2. I wasn't aware of that thread. It's kindergarten stuff with Monckton dreaming about Evans's future publications of his idea and Monckton still making threats to sue on behalf of others. Truly recursive behaviour.

  2. I think I may have found a major blunder in Einstein's Theory of Relativity. Applause please.

    1. Clap! Clap! Clap! Very well written. Nothing "extra" added, simply asking the question, "Did you blunder on your theory of relativity when you married your cousin, Elsa Lowenthal. (I'm guessing about your question, but my guess has a certain Wattsian logic.)
      When you get Albert's email address, could you forward it to Anthony? He'll most likely publish it as part of a new post.

    2. I debunked that theory years ago Millicent so no applause. I didn't understand all that mathsy stuff so I just used my commonsense. I mean! How could something increase in mass when it goes a bit faster? Where would all the extra stuff come from? So my belief and opinion are it is wrong.

  3. I notice that one thing Watts expects to elicit a friendly answer is to email the lead author and insult one of the co-authors. And Naomi Oreskes will know that climate journalist stretches the description to its very limit. Surprised if Watts gets much of an answer beyond a polite thanks Knut no thanks.

  4. Et voila. I can't see the article, but based on the abstract didn't we already know this? Some models suck, and are kept in the ensemble for political purposes.

  5. On a second reading, I retract that. Some models do suck, but the test they seem to be applying isn't necessarily relevant to that point.

    1. Thanks, Steve. Stephan Lewandowsky has also written about it on his website.

      It's a fairly short article and easy to follow, as usual (for Stephan).

  6. I wonder why Anthony would refer to Naomi as "Ms. Oreskes" instead of "Dr. Oreskes."


Instead of commenting as "Anonymous", please comment using "Name/URL" and your name, initials or pseudonym or whatever. You can leave the "URL" box blank. This isn't mandatory. You can also sign in using your Google ID, Wordpress ID etc as indicated. NOTE: Some Wordpress users are having trouble signing in. If that's you, try signing in using Name/URL or OpenID. Details here.

Click here to read the HotWhopper comment policy.