Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Denier Weirdness: Why won't Anthony Watts release his data and code for the 97%?

Sou | 4:17 PM Go to the first of 16 comments. Add a comment

Anthony Watts has an article today about reproducibility of scientific experiments (archived here). It's mainly about medical and pharmacological research. It's not at all about climate science.

However I noticed that Anthony himself, in the opening paragraph, snuck in an example of what he reckoned couldn't be reproduced - it was Cook13, the research that examined the nearly 12,000 papers that were retrieved from a Web of Science search of scientific papers on global warming. That study in itself could be regarded as a reproduction and validation of other similar studies, which all found that going back over the past 20 years or so, around 97% of science on the subject supports the fact that humans are causing global warming.

So I was intrigued to find Anthony had written (my bold italics):
Reproducibility — the ability to redo an experiment and get the same results — is a cornerstone of science, but it has been the subject of some troubling news lately. In recent years, researchers have reported that they could not reproduce the results from many studies, including research in oncology, drug-target validation, and sex differences in disease (and climate with Cook et al. ).

What is Anthony Watts hiding? I wondered. Does that mean that he or someone else has tried to reproduce Cook13 and been unable to do so? If so, why is he hiding his working, results and code? Why hasn't he shouted to the world his effort to reproduce the study?

Of course, I thought, it could be that because he doesn't understand much science his failure to reproduce the results is simply incompetence on his part.

Replicating research vs replicating researchers

Anyway, Anthony provided a link - so I followed it. It turns out that it's got nothing at all to do with the research itself. Anthony didn't redo the work. He didn't even try to reproduce the results. All he did was link to a dumb letter from an idiot denier complaining that he can't get confidential information about the people who did do the research.

It looks as if Anthony Watts thinks that redoing research and reproducing results means that you have to replicate the researchers! What a nutter.

File this one under "Denier Weirdness".

PS The latest "reproduction" of this research is by James Powell, who's been checking the science for some time now. His latest analysis is from last year. What he found is illustrated below:

Cook, John, Dana Nuccitelli, Sarah A. Green, Mark Richardson, Bärbel Winkler, Rob Painting, Robert Way, Peter Jacobs, and Andrew Skuce. "Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature." Environmental Research Letters 8, no. 2 (2013): 024024. doi:10.1088/1748-9326/8/2/024024


  1. Powell has since expanded his study by adding an additional search term, climate change. For 2013 he found 10,885 peer-reviewed climate papers of which 2 rejected man-made global warming. In all, he writes that he has reviewed 25,182 papers and of these 26 rejected the consensus view. What's especially interesting about Powell's results is that they not only show the strength of the consensus, but that it has gotten stronger over time.

    I may be wrong, but it is my impression that Powell and Cook are asking two different questions. Powell is looking into the number of papers that reject ACC. Cook is focusing on the papers that accept it.


  2. Of course Watt's hasn't reproduced C13. He's already got his lackey Eric beavering away on his other bugbear, the US temperature record. And of course one only has to read the journals in question for themselves to see the consensus.(But does a denier ever read scientific journals. No, they might actually learn something, and that would be appalling) If there wasn't a consensus, and the journals continually published anti-consesnus papers, Watt's would be the first to be crowing all over the place. The fact that he doesn't, is proof enough that the consensus exists.

    But to the denier, with an overweight Morton's daemon, all it takes is one or two papers, in some unrelated field, by any obscure scientist, that may be unreproducable, and now all of a sudden, it's climate science, or evolution science, or whatever science one has an ideological reason not to accept, that can't be trusted.

    Of course we know that Sou is being facetious. Watt's isn't actually hiding any new study that counters Cook13, or the other previous studies. The problem with deniers is that they can't get their act together to do any real science. They're just happy to whine away.

    1. What's it been now, two years since the "earthshaking" announcement? I guess they still haven't been able to torture the data enough to get it to admit what he knows just has to be true.

  3. James Powell must have been utterly exhausted after reviewing 25,182 papers so obviously this effort can be dismissed out-of-hand ;)

    I'm not sure it's really worth looking for contrarian papers since they'd be headlined at WUWT when they were published (if not before, as in the case of Watts's magnum opus on the Surface Stations project which he's been too tired to finish for years).

  4. The fact remains that Cook has not released all data from his study. We still need to know what type of chair the researchers were sitting on when they compiled their results. Comfy chairs are known to facilitate drowsiness. Also what beverages were consumed. Hot chocolate perhaps?

    1. And paracetemol? How many of them were taking paracetemol? It's got, like, side-effects - New Scientist says so!

      Not only is it necessary to clearly identify individual raters AND their furnishings, in the interest of full-disclosure I believe we're also entitled to their medical records. Science demands it!...

  5. The simple fact is that no one from the Denialati - not Tol, not Watts, nor any of Watts' lackeys - has been able to follow Cook's et al straightforward protocol and produce independent results that contract the original paper. The methodology is there, the abstracts are there - why can no one contradict the study?

    Is it because any competently-conducted reanalysis would come up with essentially the same result, and any significantly different result would inevitably open up the authors to profound humiliation and debunking?

    1. Yes, but some (e.g. Tol) seem to be immune to humiliation even after a very detailed debunking. I guess the fact that he arrived at the correct % accidentally makes things all right in his world.

    2. Looks like ligne got tired, which invalidates the entire poll.

  6. The Cook paper shows that the 'controversy' about the basics of climate change is fake. So the deniers respond by trying to create a fake controversy about the results of the Cook paper.

    It would be funny but we heard the same joke played out with the Lewandowsky paper - conspiracy theories concocted around a paper about conspiracy theorists. Can't these clowns even be original?


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