Thursday, March 13, 2014

Anthony Watts throws Nicola Scafetta to the wolves

Sou | 2:16 AM Go to the first of 19 comments. Add a comment

UPDATED - see below for comments from Nicola Scafetta and responses from Anthony Watts.

Today Anthony Watts from wattupwiththat tossed Nicola Scafetta to the wolves.  He's got an article at WUWT (archived here):

Death blow to Barycentrism: ‘On the alleged coherence between the global temperature and the sun’s movement’Posted on March 11, 2014 by Anthony Watts
People send me stuff.
Tonight I got an email that contained a link to a paper that takes on the wonky claims related to barycentrism and Earth’s climate, specifically as it relates to Nicola Scafetta’s 2010 and 2012 papers. This new paper taking on the Scafetta claims will be published in the Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics, April 2014. The author is Sverre Holm Department of Informatics, University of Oslo, Norway.

Here's a link to it in the Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics and, since you probably don't have access to the journal, here's the paper itself.

Anthony had better watch it. At the rate he's going he won't have any scientists to argue that the world is cooling or not heating or whatever he wants to argue.  He'll have to turn to climate scientists and accept global warming.  Thing is, he's tossed out climate science too, writing (my bold):
REPLY: Oh, people will still debate it I’m sure. Tallbloke and his group of cyclists will try to prop it up, but I’d say it pretty much has reached the end of credulity as a workable theory.
Some years ago I thought the theory had some merit, and I dabbled with it a bit, but then just like with CAGW, things didn’t quite add up. Now I’m quite convinced it’s junk. – Anthony

It looks as if Anthony Watts, after blogging endlessly about how despite all the changes in climate of the past few decades, he doesn't believe his eyes that this is happening:

Why doesn't Anthony just shut down his blog?  What's left for him to write about attack?  Maybe when California runs out of water he'll move on to some cooler, more water-filled place.  He could try Greenland.  Although given his ultra-conservatism, that might be a bit too racy for him.

Anyway, about Scafetta's patterns.  Remember Anthony's "as close to royalty as he'll get" idol, Christopher Monckton of Brenchley, offered to take over the pattern journal that featured Nicola Scafetta as equal top contributor (in terms of number of papers).  I don't know if he did have a hand in it's "relaunch".  (It's new Editor-in-Chief is Dr Sid-Ali Ouadfeul of the Algerian Petroleum Institute, IAP, Algeria and the co-editor in chief is Nils-Axel Morner, while Nicola Scafetta is on the editorial board!)

Monckton couldn't let this one pass.  He is doing a bit of a dance on Anthony's blog about all this, writing lots of comments, for example (extracts):
It is not improper to look for patterns in physical observations, for they may (or may not) reveal a physical law....I do not say that these cycles – if they are more than mere coincidences – must be caused by the infinitesimal gravitational influence of the planets on the Sun. However, that the planets are capable of influencing each other gravitationally if the influence is exerted for long enough is suggested by the coplanarity of nearly all the planetary orbits....In short, both theory and observation indicate that it is not impossible for the planets to influence the Sun and, via the Sun, the Earth/Moon system. However, merely because it is not impossible, it ain’t necessarily so.

And there's more.  The mad physicist must have taken a shot at Christopher :D
Lubos Motl makes the mistake of assuming that someone with no piece of paper to say he is a scientist knows nothing about science. ... And I am also well aware of the laws of gravitation. That is why I was cautious in my approach, and I did not say, as Lubos Motl seems to imagine, that there is a detectable influence on the Earth’s climate arising from the influence of the planets on the Sun. I raised a not uninteresting question about the cause of the ocean oscillations and of the apparently-associated cycles in global temperature. I often raise such questions here, not because I wish to make a point but because I want to know the answer.

While this is hypocrisy at its finest, coming from the potty peer:
Let us be gentler with one another, and not be too harsh with those who advance theories that appear incompatible with what we think we know. The stifling of intellectual enquiry that the New Religion seeks to impose is bad enough. We must not be corrupted by it. In science, an open mind is of near-infinitely greater value than an open mouth.

A lot of people have chimed in, for example:

Paul Vaughan says:
March 12, 2014 at 3:28 am
It was pointed out countless times in the past that the lines are time-varying. Now the message suddenly sinks in? Also, I would hardly call Scafetta’s views “barycentrism”. His approach might better be described as eccentrism, as it used any and all cycles, well beyond just the traditional barycentric ones. Leveling valid criticism at Scafetta’s work would be child’s play, but at wuwt we’ve seen time and time again attacks on Scafetta from people who don’t even understand what he has done. Sensible discussion just won’t happen here.

beng says to Christopher - you're out of your league, mate:
March 12, 2014 at 4:54 am
Monckton of Brenchley says: March 12, 2014 at 2:42 am
I’m an admirer of your courage, but when arguing physics w/Motl, you’re out of your league. Read and understand his link. 

pochas says:
March 12, 2014 at 6:27 am
Isn’t FUD wonderful? It creates so many opportunities!

I'll let dikranmarsupial have the last word, because it stands out from all the others and is a rarity at WUWT.  It's a "rare as hens' teeth" sensible comment.  Also because it's the last comment in the archive.  He says:
March 12, 2014 at 6:52 am
RichardLH, it appears that you did not understand the point I was making. The climate responds to changes in the forcings, if TSI goes up, then global temperatures will follow; if we have more volcanos, the resulting aerosols cause a bit of global dimming and the earth cools. Increase GHGs and temperatures will rise. The basic physics of these things are rather well understood.
If you look for cycles in the data BEFORE properly controlling for these known forcings, then your model is implicitly assuming that the effects of these forcings are precisely zero. If the net effect of these changes in individual forcings happens to be correllated with some cycle that can be fitted to the data, the effects will be attributed to this cycle, rather than to the effects of changes in forcings which actually caused them.
In statistics this is called “omitted variable bias” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omitted-variable_bias). If you don’t include the forcings in your model, you run the risk of overestimating the effect of these nebulous cycles. 


Anthony has closed the thread to comments for some reason that he hasn't given.  The following comments, with Anthony's replies, were close to the last in the thread (latest archive here).  Nicola is echoing the sentiments I expressed above - that Anthony is busy alienating all the contrarians - perhaps in order to find favour with ... who? There's no-one much left.
[Sou 15 March 2014]

Nicola Scafetta says:
March 12, 2014 at 10:05 pm
hunter says: March 12, 2014 at 8:53 pm Anthony, I agree there is probably very little to barycentric work. But for you to treat people who have been your friends and who largely agree with you on most issues the way you do on this is ironic.
My work is complex and based on multiple effects.
There are two possible forces: Gravity and Electromagnetism.
Gravity acts mostly through tidal forces, Electromagnetism through the relative speed movement between the sun and the planets which is approximately described by the barycentric speed of the sun. The two effects are coupled and superimposed.
Those who like Anthony oppose barycentrism are arguing having in mind the gravitational forces alone but they are ignoring the existence of Electromagnetism.
Anthony is making a mess due to his ignorance in physics.
Moreover, many times I told Anthony that when I refer to gravitational forces I am thinking to the tides. My papers on the tides are quite explicit in this but Anthony never got it and misleads himself and the readers of this blog .
REPLY: Well that’s your opinion, and you are welcome to it, even though it is rooted in your own inability to see that the theory, even if true, is inconsequential. As Mosher predicted, you are doing everything but questioning your own work.
@ Hunter, I am privy to some things that you are not, and thus that forms part of the basis of my change in opinion. For Nicola’s benefit I’ll leave that issue alone, but please note that while I’m calling Nicola’s paper into question with this post, he’s getting personal, essentially calling me too stupid to understand his work. That’s a difference worth noting. With this new Holm paper, he should be questioning whether his work is correct or not, instead of asserting it is. Per Feynman, always question yourself first as you are the easiest person to fool.
- Anthony

Nicola Scafetta says:
March 12, 2014 at 10:35 pm
REPLY: Well that’s your opinion, and you are welcome to it, even though it is rooted in your own inability to see that the theory, even if true, is inconsequential. – Anthony
Anthony, I miss the logic of your argument. Expand your argument or acknowledge your errors.
Moreover I have not yet listen from you your reaction to the confirmation of my calculations by Holm, a fact that demonstrates the argument by Mosher (that is “Scafetta’s calculations can not be reproduced”) repeated again and again on your blog and on other blogs for years to be only a slander of a charlatan taking advantage of the lack of scientific knowledge of your readers and of yourself.
What do you have to say about this?
Are you understanding that during the last 2 years you have pushed away real friends and give credit to questionable individuals?
REPLY: Science is not friendship Nicola. Look, we’ll go round and round for days, so I’ll just make this the last comment on the issue. My position has been that Barycentrism/solar motion influences on Earth’s climate is falsified, and Holm has done a good job of showing why. You’ve done nothing to change that other than to claim everyone but you is wrong. That’s not science, but vanity.
BTW, to address your claim of ignorance, I’ll paraphrase a famous character: “I may not be a smart man, but I know what B.S. is”. – Anthony 

Update 2

Anthony has explained in another in-line comment on another thread, why he shut down this particular discussion:
I closed the thread because Nicola won’t address the paper itself, but instead insists everyone else is just too stupid (especially me) to understand his brilliant theory that was just falsified by Holm. 


  1. Finally, a single sentence from Monckton with which I thoroughly agree...

    "In science, an open mind is of near-infinitely greater value than an open mouth."

    Quite so...


    Tamino will be pleased.

  2. Like most of Monckton's emissions, 'near-infinitely' is meaningless.

  3. Pretentious guff, very much Monckton's forte. His rhetoric is straight out of the classical handbook, and why not? The plebs lapped it up then and they lap it up now. "Ooh, dunn 'e sound clever? And he'll stop them carbon taxes, he says."

    Despair of the species, look to your family and friends, that's my take on things. I want my nepots to have every advantage, fair or unfair, when it comes to coping with AGW and all the other disruptions that are coming in their lifetimes.

    Also I try not to be part of the problem. I'm not having the finger pointed at me when everything goes to pot.

  4. See Scafetta @ Duke U
    Duke must be proud to have such an active researcher.

    Dikean of course is exactly right, but but more: as per Bill Ruddiman's Earth Transformed(2013):

    CO2 (CH4) patterns stopped being entirely natural ~8000 (5000) years ago; the higher CO2/CH4 of the MWP was at least part human-caused, and most of the 9ppm CO2 drop into 1600CE was human-caused: add volcanoes and Maunder: LIA.

    1. A truly magnificent CV there, John.

      I think my favourites are the multi and non extensive diffusion entropy analysis investigations into Texas teen pregnancies in the period around 2003/4. The highlight being that Afro-Americans are less likely to give birth on a weekday than Hispanics and whites thus affecting health outcomes... Beats dog astrology any day..

      R the Anon.

  5. UK readers - finally **at last** Earth Transformed gets released here, as of yesterday.


    [Sou - hope you don't mind the amazonUK link - I have nothing to do with this commercially in any way at all - but kill the link if you don't want it here]

    1. That's fine by me. Some time ago I thought I might try to cover some costs by using the Amazon affiliate program. I've put a test in the sidebar, with a link to Amazon's US site for William Ruddiman's book.

      I was going to write occasional reviews of climate books. Still might do that, figuring it's inoffensive, not "in your face" and might help out the authors as well. If anyone has strong views about this one way or another let me know.

    2. That's OK for recommending books, but could you add a note suggesting people might like to go straight to the suppliers rather than using Amazon to buy? Their ethical track record is rather dubious! http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-25034598 - it sometimes takes a little more effort to click through to the supplier but they can usually be found, eg. the Mann book is actually from http://www.betterworldbooks.co.uk/the-hockey-stick-and-the-climate-wars-dispatches-from-the-front-lines-id-9780231152549.aspx

    3. I believe that - for UK residents - the WH Smiths website offers similar prices on books and takes the unusual approach of paying UK taxes.

    4. Sou, I'd welcome any reviews you find time to write.

      Katy D - link to Ruddiman's publisher's website for Earth Transformed


    5. Thanks for your thoughts.

      Katy D - fair point, though it's a long way from being slave labour :) I have mixed feelings about Amazon myself for a different reason, but like it that they often offer an electronic version.

      (I don't know the work practices of all the various publishers and booksellers or from where they get their paper :-o.)

  6. Regardless of how bought, I cannot recommend Earth Transformed strongly enough. It makes sense of the Holocene, although most turns out to really be the Anthropocene.

  7. Its ironic that omitted variable bias has been mentioned at WUWT: the entire history of climate change denial is omitted variable bias writ large: the omitted variable being CO2 sensitivity, something too inconvenient for fossil fuel profits for it to be allowed to exist.

    I am surprised that dbstealey did not perform a drone strike on the errant dikranmarsupial in retaliation for such boldness.

  8. My personal interpretation is that Watts feels he has to burn all bridges with Scafetta since the Pattern Recognition fiasco. After all the diatribes about "pal review", "the Team", etc., he could not allow to seem friendly with someone who really did that sort of things. Therefore, crucifixion of Scafetta - not that hard, the level in wackiness was very strong in this one.

    Notice however that his choice of terms shows that he is kinda embarassed : on one end, use of derogative terms like "wonky" and the not too nice description of Tallbloke's group ; on the other end, this gem "Some years ago I thought the theory had some merit"
    Seriously. Climastrology. Some merit. Either he's very dense, or this is a way for him not to cut ties with the most delirious part of his fanbase. I would think it's more the latter.


    1. Watts once declared anathema on the Sky Dragons and denial of the greenhouse effect, but he backtracked fairly rapidly. We may see much the same here. Could WUWT really cope with a full-on faction fight? I doubt it, and I'm pretty sure Watts himself couldn't. Those things get ugly. Or hilarious, depending on one's perspective.

      I suspect Watts could be about ready to bail. Advancing years, fading sight, creaking joints and the unkindness of Sou - it must all be getting a bit much.

  9. Do people still remember Kremlin watchers?

    This Scafetta post got 3.5 stars (from 5 stars; 22 votes), 170 comments and 8 bloggers like it.

    The current most read post on Steyn has a solid 5 stars, 99 stars and 15 bloggers like it.

    Looks like the Death blow to Barycentrism is not yet settled science according to the average WUWT reader.

    Maybe Watts was thinking a bit of controversy is good for the number of readers. And he can still make up again and have another emotional post. His comments about stuff going on in the background suggest that maybe people were simply not sufficiently respectful to him, the Biggest Blogger on Climate. At least I would be surprised if scientific merit was the real reason. That would be untypical.

  10. I was directed to the Infowars video page, and a recent interview with Monckton. He kind of looks ill ...


    1. He really does. Doesn't he.

      And..doing an interview at Infowars? What's that about judging people by the company they keep?


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