Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Anthony Watts @wattsupwiththat must thank his lucky stars that Brandon Shollenberger is a science denier

Sou | 10:36 PM Go to the first of 11 comments. Add a comment

Update: See below for typical denier double standards. Brandon Shollenberger says his own misquoting is merely "awkward" and "embarrassing" and "understandable" whereas he calls John Cook's "mind-boggling" and "fabricated".

I expect everyone who visits WUWT today, except the utter nutters, will be bemused by what they read.

Today at WUWT, Anthony Watts allows Brandon Shollenberger to post an obsessive pedantic and vitriolic venting of spleen at John Cook of skepticalscience.com - over nothing at all as it turns out - archived here.  I bet Anthony is thanking his lucky stars that Brandon is one of the bad guys like him and isn't an editor at HotWhopper:)

How Brandon Shollenberger gets a quote wrong while accusing John Cook of doing the same

The gist of Brandon's wailing and gnashing of teeth is that John Cook had these words in a small box in a diagram of one of his papers, attributing it to Western Fuels Association as guiding their $510,000 climate science obfuscation campaign:
"reposition fact as theory"
Which Brandon himself messes up and misquotes, writing:
“This quote is apparently a bastardization of an actual quote which suggested people "reposition global warming as theory (rather than fact).” ”
Would you believe it.  For all his ranting and raving about "mind-boggling" and "fabrication" and "bastardization" - Brandon himself has bastardised the actual quote, which in the actual source document, as presented by Naomi Oreskes, the words were:
1. Reposition global warming as theory (not fact). 

Here is what I understand to be the original document in context.

Source: Naomi Oreskes' Presentation

Here is the source of the above, which is on the left hand side of Naomi Oreskes' MS PowerPoint slide below. Click the image to enlarge it.

Source: Naomi Oreskes' PowerPoint Presentation

 Here's the diagram from John Cook's paper, which Brandon is mindlessly obsessing over:

Yes, you have to look hard to find the bit that so enraged Brandon Shollenberger.  Its on the left hand side second from the bottom just above the mention of the faked Oregon Petition and just below the mention of the deniers' false SEPP statement.  If it didn't have quotation marks, Brandon would have nothing to complain about.  What an obsessive Brandon must be.  Poring over every word ever written by John and some John didn't write himself.  Picking each phrase to pieces and cross-checking.

The diagram is Figure 2 in a three page paper entitled "Combating a two-decade campaign attacking the scientific consensus on climate change".

Brandon finds John Cook's misquote "mind-boggling".  I find Brandon's over-reaction mind-boggling.  Brandon has put his own spin on his own misquote.  He reckons what Western Fuels Association meant was:
And this isn’t a trivial matter like Cook claimed his last misquotation was. The difference between the quotes is enormous. Many people don’t believe global warming is a fact (by definition, it isn’t one). If they’re right, repositioning global warming as a theory rather than fact is a good thing because its true. Even if one doesn’t agree with those people, their behavior is still honest and well-intentioned.
John Cook’s quote requires the opposite. A person cannot seek to “reposition fact as theory” without seeking to intentionally mislead people. That means Cook accuses those people of being lying bastards by making **** up.

Well, as you can see, Western Fuels Association can chalk up at least one success from their disinformation campaign :) (Does Brandon really think it's possible that the world isn't warming?)

Brandon's entitled to his interpretation but neither his interpretation, nor his over-reaction make me think Brandon is "honest or well-intentioned".  The fact that Brandon himself misquoted the line doesn't give me any confidence either.

Naomi Oreskes interprets the line differently, based on her power point slide (see above), which puts it into some context. I'm with her when she interpreted it as intending that global warming be downplayed as "just a theory".  Take particular note of the word "reposition".  In other words, the campaign recognises it as fact but their PR strategy is to "reposition" it in the mind of the general public, to shift the perception away from "global warming is real and happening now" to that of being a "theory".  Most people don't understand that a scientific theory is as good as fact.  I find John's misquote a lot closer to that interpretation than Brandon's interpretation of Brandon's misquote. (I hope you're following all that.  I don't blame you if you're getting tangled in quotes, misquotes and meanings :D)

Added for clarification for people like Brandon Shollenberger, who thinks global warming is "just a theory". You can nitpick and say that RSS and UAH aren't completely global and aren't strictly comparable to GISTemp and HadCRUT, but you've got to admit, all the data series - all surface and lower tropospheric temperatures, they all show the globe is warming. [Sou: 8:02 am 19 Dec 2013 AEDST]

Data Sources: NASA, RSS, Hadley Centre, UAH

There's more misplaced vitriol from Brandon

What else is Brandon obsessing over?  Well, he's really got his knickers in a twist. So much so that some of his links are broken.  As far as I can tell, he's foaming at the mouth because John Cook, in a short article on a website, quoted John Howard.  John Cook wrote:
Last week, former Australian Prime Minister John Howard gave a speech on climate change for the Global Warming Policy Foundation, a conservative think-tank opposed to policies that mitigate climate change. Howard characterised scientists who accept the evidence that humans are disrupting climate as “religious zealots”. Consequently, he is not so convinced of the scientific evidence. On what does he base his views? Howard states that “…I instinctively feel that some of the claims are exaggerated.”
Brandon wasn't happy.  He was most upset that John didn't link to the source of the last quote in the paragraph.   The bit where John Howard said: "...I instinctively feel that some of the claims are exaggerated".

Brandon went further than that.  He has accused John Cook of "of lying about evidence....and fabricating a quote".  This is after John Cook responded to a query from Brandon in the comments to that very same article, linking to the source of his quote in The Australian - which I've archived here.  Here is the quote in context:
"I've always been agnostic about it (climate change)," Mr Howard told reporters in London before his address.
"I don't completely dismiss the more dire warnings but I instinctively feel that some of the claims are exaggerated.
"I don't accept all of the alarmist conclusions."

But Brandon is like a denier with a bone to pick.  He doesn't care for explanations or rectification.  He insists that John Cook is making "fabrications".  He's not.

Sheesh.  John Cook may be human after all and not always dot all his i's and cross all his t's when he's blogging.  He might even miss verifying the exact words of a quote in a diagram someone else made for him. Nevertheless, he doesn't make a habit of making stuff up.  His quote was real.  John Cook didn't claim the quote was from the speech itself, he provided it as evidence of what Howard bases his view upon.  Something John Howard said immediately before making his silly speech to the silly disinformation lobby group, the GWPF.

The fact is that while he didn't put a link to the Australian in the blog article, or if he did it fell off when climasphere.org posted it, John Cook was quick to provide it when Brandon asked about it.  Was Brandon polite and appreciative? Not on your nelly. Brandon wrote about another quote that got him riled up:
To this day, that fabricated quote remains in the piece. John cook has made no indication he thinks it needs to be changed (though he has fixed the quote elsewhere). 
Brandon is telling fibs.  In fact, John Cook replied to Brandon explaining that he did change the quote where he was able to do so but that he isn't able to edit the climasphere blog article:
Finally, I have made one change to the version of the article hosted at skepticalscience.com (that I have the ability to edit, unlike this blog) 

John's polite reply is still there for all the world to see what sort of a drongo Brandon Shollenberger is.  In fact I've archived the blog and comments for posterity.  It shows remarkable restraint on the part of John Cook, plus the fact that while he didn't have access to the climasphere post, he did amend the skepticalscience.com version of his article in line with Brandon's nit-pickery - or the part that made sense at any rate.

But that's not good enough for Brandon Shollenberger.  Brandon has his own private vendetta against John Cook.  Vendetta is not quite the right word, because a vendetta implies that John Cook did something to Brandon and as far as I'm aware, John Cook has never done Brandon any harm.  That doesn't stop an obsessive denier who doesn't need any excuse to rant and rave at imagined wrong-doings.  Brandon ventures further into la la land than does your typical denier.

I know what you're thinking :)

Now I bet you are thinking along the lines I was, when I read Brandon's "mind-boggling" hyperbole and false accusations.

You'll be asking:
  • Why does Brandon Shollenberger focus on (mis)correcting that snippet in the diagram above, when there are much more glaring issues in the article that are worthy of comment.  Even in the diagram there are more glaring issues, like the fake Oregon Petition.  Why isn't Brandon Shollenberger foaming at the mouth in protest at someone "fabricating" a petition - deliberately setting out to deceive people that it came from the National Academy of Sciences.  Why isn't Brandon Shollenberger up in arms at all the disinformation in the NIPCC "report"
  • Why does Brandon Shollenberger go bananas because a quote in a blog article didn't have a link to the source, even though John Cook provided the link as soon as he was asked for it?  Why instead isn't he doing something as a result of what John Cook wrote about.  Why isn't Brandon Shollenberger urging everyone to write to ex-PM Howard telling him to read science?  Why isn't Brandon Shollenberger strongly criticising Tony Abbott and John Howard for misleading the Australian public about global warming?  Why isn't he irate at the government for absconding their responsibilities to Australians and the world at large, and steering Australia towards a four degree plus future?
  • Why does Brandon Shollenberger nitpick and misrepresent John Cook and not rant and rave at all the misleading articles, the pseudo-science and disinformation peddled at anti-science websites like WUWT?  

Well, I won't claim to understand disturbed minds.  I don't believe there is any rational explanation. However he could be encouraged by the reaction of some WUWT readers, although it's a tepid reaction overall to a WUWT rant. Especially for a rant directed at John Cook, who deniers love to hate.  I guess it'll heat up when North Americans wake up. (Archived here.)

gopal panicker says:
December 18, 2013 at 12:13 am
best way to deal with Cook is to ignore him…..very few people read his blog

Henry Galt. who is convinced that all the science is wrong and all the world is conspiring against him or some such nonsense and says:
December 18, 2013 at 2:45 am
Must agree with Brandon and most comments so far (esp CtM).
This very much needs to be done because the web is polluted beyond imagining by links to the SS idiots and their idiocy. Quoted by every activist, deluded dramagreen and vested interest as gospel. 
“It’s on SS … it must be true … those guys wouldn’t lie to us … would they?”
It appears they have and do. They will continue to do so for many non-scientific, psychological reasons.

PS Why the asterisks in the headline?

Does anyone know why Brandon wrote the headline as:
"Skeptical Science’s John Cook – Making **** Up" 
...which I took to mean "Skeptical Science’s John Cook – Making Stuff Up"? although it's missing an asterisk.  Brandon explains it as:
David, UK, I did that because I don’t feel comfortable cursing. When I use that phrase out loud, I censor the word as well. (December 18, 2013 at 12:28 am)

If he means "stuff" is a curse then he's really nuts.  Stuff is a perfectly acceptable word in that context.  It's a synonym for "things" or "matter" or "substance".

If he is hiding the F-word then it doesn't make sense.  It's got the right number of asterisks but the word usage is wrong.  At least it's not in any context I've ever heard it. I've heard of "F*** all", but not "making f*** up".  I'd have thought he would have had to write something like  "Skeptical Science’s John Cook – Making a **** Up", adding an "a".  Or maybe "Skeptical Science’s John Cook – ****s Up".

Am I missing something?  Maybe it's another swear word that I'm too ladylike to have ever heard?  It's possible I guess, but I doubt it.  Or maybe it's a common expression in some countries or social circles unfamiliar to me.


1. Apparently **** means shit.  Well, no shit! Isn't Brandon quaint.

2. Brandon may have come here already.  He maintains that his misquote is merely "awkward" and "embarrassing" and "understandable", whereas John Cook's misquote is "mind-boggling" and "fabrication".  See the comments below that point out that when Anthony Watts misquotes it's called "acceptable paraphrasing" even though Anthony changed the meaning in his misquote. John Cook didn't.  Brandon Shollenberger invented his own unique and wrong meaning to his quote and his misquote and it's perfectly fine or merely awkward and embarassing.  Deniers are nothing if not inconsistent.  From Brandon:

Brandon Shollenberger says:
December 18, 2013 at 7:12 am
Welp, this is awkward. It turns out while criticizing Cook for getting the quotation wrong, I got it wrong too. The parenthetical should say “not fact” instead of “rather than fact.” A little time with Google shows this is a common mistake, and it’s even made in Al Gore’s, An Inconvenient Truth. I saw the phrasing I used on Wikipedia (which has had that phrasing for six years), used Google to search for it, found dozens of sources using it (including Al Gore’s), and copied and pasted.
This doesn’t change anything I said, and it is certainly understandable how I made the mistake. Still, it’s embarrassing.

3. At WUWT, Izen points out that to say global warming is a theory not a fact shows complete blindness to all the world's temperature records. Well, that's par for the course with some deniers.

4. Click here for the latest updated archive of the WUWT article and comments.

Sou 7:10 am Thursday 19 December 2013 (AEDST)


Almost six weeks have elapsed and misguided Brandon Shollengberger is still stewing over this.  Given his obsession over a couple of misplaced quotation marks (though the meaning was intact), how the hell he copes with all the mistakes in the daily newspaper or the zillions of misquotes and fabrications at WUWT and Bishop Hill and every other denier blog we may never know.  They don't seem to bother him in the slightest, which suggests, maybe, a pathology? Sou 30 January 2014.


  1. Probably appropriate to use quote marks there. But then he whose name shall not be mentioned, lest he show up here, often gets his panties in a wad over nothing.

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks, unknown. Brandon is very coy, isn't he.

    2. Thought I'd bop in here, since Sou thinks I'm blissfully unaware of HW content. Score a brownie point for yourselves on showing Shollenberger doesn't have the first clue what the total context of the "reposition global warming" phrase is, but in case you missed it, I beat you to that punch in a more subtle way with my comments at WUWT http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/12/18/skeptical-sciences-john-cook-making-up/#comment-1505822 and at Shollenberger's own blog a day later: http://hiizuru.wordpress.com/2013/12/17/making-up/comment-page-1/#comment-39

      While you fellows patted yourselves on the back for 'discovering' Oreskes' single page from those supposedly 'Western Fuels' leaked memos, going so far as to claim you saw "the original document in context", did you stop to ask yourselves what the surrounding pages of memos were "in context", or why it is that neither Oreskes nor the people she got the memo from ever bother to show the whole world what the complete collection looks like "in context"?

      Yep, Shollenberger didn't have the first clue what he was doing when he launched into his diatribe. But you collective AGW believers didn't and still don't have the first clue what you are talking about when you glorify Oreskes, Gore, Lew ( http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/09/11/the-other-problem-with-the-lewandowsky-paper-and-similar-skeptic-motivation-analysis-core-premise-off-the-rails-about-fossil-fuel-industry-corruption-accusation/ ) and all the rest for their work exposing the 'industry corruption' of skeptic climate scientists. The entire accusation stems from just one source, one basket (for lack of a better term), and you've put all your eggs in that basket which now has every potential of imploding. What I found hilarious over the last several years is how Oreskes and Mashey just can't keep their mouths shut over particular details of the accusation.

      Next time you see that pair, you might ask 'em if they even bothered to make certain the set with the "reposition global warming" page among them was ever actually seen and approved by all the top administrators of the Western Fuels ICE campaign. Watch Oreskes turn white as a ghost when you ask that question……

  3. I think Watts just had a post on the misquote "we have to get rid of the mwp' in which he says a paraphrase of a quote is just as good as the real thing. I hope Watts educated Brandon on this otherwise another example of Watts's hypocrisy.

    1. Indeed:

      "As to this being a fabrication (as Robert claims), no, it’s a summation or a paraphrase of a long quote, something that happens a lot in history. Monckton and Montford aren’t specifically at fault in this, as the summed up quote has been around for a long, long, time and it appears to have originated with Dr. David Deming’s statement to the Senate. (see update, it goes back further than that- Anthony)

      The conversion to a paraphrase maintains the meaning. “Mortal blow” certainly equates to “get rid of” (as it is often said) or “abolish” as you (and Monckton/Montford) state it, and “we” equates to “I’m not the only one”."
      - A. Watts

      So apparently paraphrasing is just ducky for Watts and Monckton? But not for Cook? Even though (unlike Watts and Monckton) the paraphrasing Cook uses doesn't change the meaning of the statement? Oh well, far be it from me to expect consistency from the 'skeptics'...


    2. As it happens, Watts has trouble with chronology, as do the inhabitants of WUWT.

      a) Deming's quote first appeared on Fred Singer's website in March 2005, from which McIntyre picked it up. Somewhat violating publication rules, that was 3 months before the essay's actual publication in JSE, my favorite dog astrology journal. Well, they also cover UFOs, ESP, reincarnation, and weight loss when suffocating sheep ... and published Deming.

      Deming and Singer were already in contact in 2004/2005, and this was Deming talking in 2005 about something that supposedly happened in 2005/2006. However, anyone who knows anything about IPCC (1990) knows that Fig 7.1(c) was derived from a sketch of Lamb(1965), surrounded by caveats, Serious reconstructions got going, started to be published in 1993, and by IPCC SAR (1995/1996), that was long gone, and the modern hockey stick had started to emerge. See Stoat's Adoration of the Lamb and its various links.

      b) McIntyre then took the Deming quote from Singer (not yet published in JSE), added the IPCC(1990) Fig. 7.1(c), but ascribed it to 1995, necesary for this whole story to make even cursory sense. The actual image he used did not come from IPCC(1990)< but was identical to one used by John Daly years before at Waiting for Greenhouse. So, this was a *clear* false citation to make his story work and it seems very likely that he had *neither 1990 nor 1995 IPCC reports. later, he said he'd forgotten where he got the image.
      McIntyre then embarked on a rumor campaign to claim Overpeck did this,
      later picked by Lindzen (who wrote a falsehood that Deming's essay fingered Overpeck.)
      Then Montford, in HSI expanded Lindzen's falsehood to claim that Lindzen had confirmed Deming. See Wikipedia talk page
      That was amusing: Montford supporters kept trying to *delete* my comment from a *talk* page, a Wiki no-no. Stoat kept reverting it. No one ever addressed the issues, they just kept trying to delete the comment.

      Bottom line: in 2005, Deming made a claim of something that happened in 1995/1996 that was absurd then, in fact, actually doubtful even in 1990. Overpeck's comment in ~2005 was in response to the misuse of the MWP
      A whole bunch of people rely utterly on Lamb(1965) as eternal truth, along with a dog astrology journal.

      I foresee that thread at WUWT as one I will have to WebCite to add to a certain report I've mostly written, after the SalbyStorm report is done.

  4. All this, not so long after the Heartland Institute went to such lengths to misrepresent themselves over the AMS study, where they: a) used the AMS logo as a header, b) created a fake email account to look like it came from the AMS, and c) presented the study in complete contradiction to what the authors themselves stated.

    Why was Brandon's mind NOT boggled by this? Where was his gnashing of teeth over these fabrications?

    Where was Anthony's indignation over what the Heartland Institute perpetrated? Where was the repost from someone shocked at their methods?

    This is such hypocrisy straight down the line from the denier set.

    The indignant gnashing of teeth, apparently, is strictly reserved for situation that are ideologically convenient.

  5. Brandon S. = drongo: Check.
    John Cook = maybe human? Struth!!!! I've seen'im, and he's as human as one can expect an ocker to be...;)

    Well-done, Sou! so much better that you keep track of these 'drongos,' than me. My blood pressure can't take it!

  6. Indication is that Brandon graduated from the prestigious ITT Technical Institute of Tulsa, OK.

    Solid scientific cred, that.


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