Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Denier Weirdness: Wildely Wrong (behaviour) at WUWT

Sou | 4:34 AM Go to the first of 25 comments. Add a comment

There's an update below.

This is an article that goes to the character of Anthony Watts, or his lack of.  He has posted an article by one of his faithful fans, Stephen Wilde.  I'll be kind and suggest that Anthony didn't read it before he put it up.  That happens quite a lot.

Here is a link to the archived original version, courtesy of one who joined in the general guffawing that went on in Twitter.  I've taken a snapshot of the original then the attempt at face-saving.  Spot the difference.

Anthony belatedly tried to save face by adding some time later:
Note: I’m glad to see a number of people pointing out how flawed the argument is. Every once in awhile we need to take a look at the ‘Slayer’ mentality of thinking about radiative balance, just to keep sharp on the topic. At first I thought this should go straight into the hopper, and then I thought it might make some good target practice, so I published it without any caveat.
Readers did not disappoint.

You may have spotted something else.  Not only is Anthony happy to expose his faithful fan to public ridicule, he didn't even have the courtesy to spell Stephen's name correctly as you'll see below.  And there's more in the comments, where Anthony tries to wriggle out of his lack of judgement:
REPLY: the journey to a right or wrong answer is just as important. This was good practice in seeing how well people can sort out the answer. -

 And in response to dp, Anthony talks about using Stephen Wilde for target practice:
April 8, 2014 at 9:05 am
This post comes 7 days too late. It is a joke, right?
REPLY: yep, just some fun target practice – Anthony

Stephen Wilde has good reason to object. Not only did Anthony spell his name wrongly, Stephen has learnt a hard lesson in how Anthony treats his "friends". He says (excerpt):
April 8, 2014 at 9:09 am
All posts here are good target practice for someone.
If you thought it was only good for the hopper then I would have preferred you had said so and not bothered to use it....
REPLY: My opinion on the backradiation and lapse rate silliness is well known, you should have known better than to submit it. If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen. Hopefully you’ll learn something from the comments. – Anthony

Just like he did with Nicola Scafetta recently, Anthony tossed his faithful fan, Stephen Wilde, to the dogs. Anthony acts as if he's caught between a rock and a hard place. He can't accept the science or he'll lose all his fans. Yet he wants to appear to be knowledgeable. His character is such that he'll sacrifice the odd loyal follower when it suits him.

Which is the worse indictment on Anthony? That he might not have realised that the article was dumb when he posted it? Or he did know it was dumb but was happy to ridicule a fan rather than shelve the article.  I think the latter is worse, but Anthony doesn't agree or he would have acted differently.  It goes to character.

I guess this article is more about bad blog behaviour than about the article.  But since you're probably curious - Stephen decided that Kevin Trenberth's energy balance diagram is wrong. What's wrong with Stephen Wilde's article?  Practically everything.  Even the diagram he used is 17 years old.  It's from Kiehl and Trenberth (1997). There have been lots of updates since then.

I don't have the time or the inclination to go through the article itself.  Much of what was wrong was picked up in the WUWT comments.  Stephen Wilde makes a lot of comments trying to justify his stance.  Another comment that you might like is this one, from Anthony Watts' guard dog, sock puppeteer and favoured mod, dbstealey aka Smokey aka dbs aka D Boehm aka who knows what else.  dbstealey admits that he's a greenhouse effect denier and says:
April 8, 2014 at 10:30 am
Duster says: … the inward or down-welling LIR is never 50% of the reradiated IR…
That has been my understanding for a long time now. Greenhouse gases radiate in all directions, therefore a CO2 molecule at, for example, a 20 km altitude would re-radiate an IR photon that it absorbed from the surface in all directions, therefore far less than 50% of the re-radiated photons would return to heat the earth. Most would proceed into outer space. It is only at the surface that a photon has a 50% chance of warming the planet. The rest of the photons radiate into space, cooling the planet.
That is just one of several arguments falsifying the greenhouse gas conjecture.

That's enough from me. I've a busy day ahead.  I'll just let you enjoy the reaction on Twitter.



After writing this article there were quite a few more comments plus Anthony added more to his note at the bottom of his article (latest archive) In his note he wrote:
Update: Let me add that the author assuredly should have included a link to the underlying document, Earth’s Global Energy Budget by Kiehl and Trenberth 

Go on, try out his link.  It's dead. Not only that but going by the doi (and date) in the link, Anthony meant the link to go to this 2009 paper.
Trenberth, Kevin E., John T. Fasullo, and Jeffrey Kiehl. "Earth's global energy budget." Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 90, no. 3 (2009): 311-323.

But the diagram Stephen used was from this 1997 paper:
Kiehl, J. T., and Kevin E. Trenberth. "Earth's annual global mean energy budget." Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 78, no. 2 (1997): 197-208.

First stone-caster Anthony Watts:- put up a dead link to the wrong paper. He mixed up the right authors with the wrong title (and paper and year of publication). 

In the more recent comments you'll come across a few people who are feeling uncomfortable about WUWT turning on one of their own and chastising Anthony Watts, as if they accept his line that he knew the article was wrong when he put it up. They also know it could have been any one of them to be humiliated.  There are also more comments from people who are busy claiming that the energy diagram is all wrong because their particular brand of pseudophysics "proves" it.


  1. I don't think Anthony bothers to read these things when they come in, or if he does he scans them. If they fit his general scheme of things then on the blog they go. Most of the time the faithful don't point out the flaws. When they do, Anthony chucks his friends away. Eventually he'll be left with a hardcore of nutters, sorry fake skeptics, and reduced to Monckton's it hasn't warmed for x years and little else. The denier problem is always the same - they don't make any progress, just get left further and further behind. Same has happened in the creationist/intelligent design arena. Just keep repeating the same old same old while real scientists keep making new discoveries. I shall shed no tears for Anthony when the day arrives that he's chucked all his supporters overboard.

    1. That is another riddle. Why did the WUWT fans complain about this post? The others are also wrong, but accepted. Is Stephen Wilde too low in the pecking order?

    2. They've been trained by Anthony. Or, more precisely, Anthony has weeded out his readers pretty well so that there aren't too many sciency types. He's retained a few who know a bit about thermodynamics and the greenhouse effect. They pop up when it's useful. They disappear when he posts a silly Monckton article. They know Tim Ball's wacky ideas are permitted at WUWT so they leave him alone (he's a "slayer" author and Agenda21 conspiracy nutter).

      Other guest authors at WUWT are allowed to say they reject the greenhouse effect as long as they don't talk about the physics or pseudophysics of why they reject it. (eg Bob Tisdale)

    3. "They've been trained by Anthony."
      "They disappear when he posts a silly Monckton article."

      That is well trained. It must take quite a balancing act of suspended belief to carry that off.

      Frankly, I was quite surprised to see any critical ability in the WUWT comments.

    4. Very well trained, for libertarians that cry freedom every day, for people that voluntarily come to WUWT. I would even find that hard to believe for hierarchy loving right-wing authoritarians. But maybe that is because I am an natural contrarian sceptic, in the original meaning of the word.

  2. Stephen Wilde gets another kick in the stomach while lying on the ground. Anthony Watts' note now has an update.

    Update: Let me add that the author assuredly should have included a link to the underlying document, Earth’s Global Energy Budget by Kiehl and Trenberth …

    As if Mr Watts always includes links to his scientific articles under "discussion". Quite often he just copies a press release without being troubled to add a link to the study.

    1. Anthony often / usually doesn't even link to the press releases he copies and pastes.

      I don't know why he said that he should have provided a link. I doubt he himself knew where the diagram came from. If Anthony chose the headline then why did he write Trenberth instead of Kiehl? Or Kiehl and Trenberth?

      Also, Anthony's link is dead. Not only that but he got the title of the paper wrong - and going by doi reference in his dead link, he points to a different paper. What he's done is put the right authors with the wrong paper. The paper the diagram came from is:

      Kiehl, J. T., and Kevin E. Trenberth. "Earth's annual global mean energy budget." Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 78, no. 2 (1997): 197-208.

      The paper with the title "Earth's global energy budget." is by Trenberth, Kevin E., John T. Fasullo, and Jeffrey Kiehl. (in Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 90, no. 3 (2009): 311-323.)

      Anthony really messed up this one.

    2. This will sap what's left of his stamina. Even some of his followers are going to be turned off by this behaviour.

      Anthony's going to throw his hand in soon, mark my words. Quite likely by the end of the year. The torch will pass. Perhaps (in his dreams) to a certain Eric of recent prominence?

  3. This reminds me of the WUWT post last summer which claimed that the Greenland ice sheet was no more than 650 years old.

    1. There are some classics. And every time Watts just gets up, adjusts his tie, and carries on regardless.

  4. Watts' behaviour is truly grotesque.

    Loved this comment:

    Roy Spencer says:
    April 8, 2014 at 5:57 am

    Sigh. :-(

  5. People wonder why Watts put up Wilde's piece in the first place - well, I am going to go with Ockham's razor and suggest that it is because Watts just doesn't have the nous to spot the deficiencies in the claims.

    The rest is, as Sou and others have noted, back-pedalling once the FUBER was pointed out.

    As to why other WUWT offerings aren't similarly recognised by the cannon fodder as also being invalid, I think that it's just a threshold issue. If the audience there could be simultaneously educated and ideology-ectomised their stinkometers would fire much more consistently, but as it is only the most egregious efforts are recognised.

    1. ...FUBAR...


    2. I raise you one D Archibald...

      R the anon

  6. If I may hijack this blog as a place to securely park comments submitted to WUWT (why do I bother?), Dave the Mod asked this question in comments to the most recent emission from Tim Ball:

    "But, exactly which of the 1,245,867 replies posted to date contain obvious misstatements that require correction?"

    To which I replied ...

    Oh, you don't have to go to the comments. As the good professor has dropped by to point out, the very opening sentence of the article is not particularly accurate, nor did Houghton ever say the 'Unless we announce disasters'.

    You could start there. Shame that it doesn't seem possible to write an article like this without 'making stuff up', but there it is. Perhaps you could belatedly add a 'not to be taken seriously' disclaimer as you did with poor old Stephen Wilde's article ....


    Perhaps other readers could help Dave the Mod with examples of WUWT not telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but, as he seems so keen to ensure his site is both informative and accurate.... HA HA HA HA HA ....

  7. If WUWT did not exist, it would be necessary for Kurt Weill to write an opera about it- like the original Bedlam, it is nothing less than one of the cautionary Wonders of the Age.

    1. From Voltaire, "Si Dieu n'existait pas, il faudrait l'inventer" ("If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him").

      Coincidentally, our Attorney General, George Brandis in an interview given apparently over too much wine "compared himself to Voltaire and derided proponents of climate change action as "believers" who do not listen to opposing views and have reduced debate to a mediaeval and ignorant level."

      "Senator Brandis also defended comments he made in the Senate, where he argued for the right of Australians to be bigots as justification for changes to section 18C and 18D of the racial discrimination act.
      “I don’t regret saying that because in this debate, sooner or later – and better sooner than later – somebody had to make the Voltaire point; somebody had to make the point [about] defending the right to free speech of people with whom you profoundly disagree.”


      Except of course that Voltaire did not say that. It was written by his biographer Evelyn Hall.

      Voltaire wished far less pleasant things on slanderers and liars.

    2. I may disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death my right to tell you so.

    3. And everyone is entitled to my opinion!

  8. Ok guys.

    You and Anthony Watts have had your fun.

    Now, consider that at any given moment 50% of the atmosphere is descending and in the process it warms at a rate determined by the dry adiabatic lapse rate.

    When you have grocked the significance of that simple scientific fact feel free to get back to me :)

    Stephen Wilde.

    1. Stephen Wilde, the dry adiabatic lapse rate only determines the change of the temperature with height. In other words, it only determines the temperature difference of one height to another one. To get to actual temperatures, you still need to know the absolute temperature at one height. That temperature is determined by greenhouse gases.

    2. Now that you are here, what do you think of Anthony Watts using you for "good target practice"? Is that what a good moral conservative Christian does? To me it sounds rather despicable to publish something with the aim to ridicule, but maybe my moral values are different.

  9. Victor,

    I share your opinion about Anthony Watts's behaviour.

    As regars the starting surface temperature for the dry adiabatic lapse rate we must continue to disagree.

    That is set by insolation, the mass of the atmosphere and the strength of the gravitational field.

    That was the consensus science prior to the radiative theory coming to the fore.

    1. That was the consensus science prior to the radiative theory coming to the fore.

      Science has progressed since the 1700s, wouldn't you agree Stephen?

    2. The radiative theory was not progress, it was an error.


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