Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Denier weirdness: Deniers call fraud therefore fraud, right? Wrong!

Sou | 3:32 PM Go to the first of 7 comments. Add a comment

I started to write an article about the GWPF's latest denier pitch but I see that And Then There's Physics has already written about it, and done a better job than I could. I'll add my two bob's worth anyway.

Andrew Montford, who's a brit who runs a science denying blog, together with the science denial lobby group, the GWPF, is claiming "fraud". Anthony Watts decided to promote it (archived here).

So what's new about that? Deniers shriek "fraud" at every opportunity. You're right. There's nothing new about that. It's an example of the techniques used by the people who are in the business of disinformation propaganda about climate. Write a paper about blog articles by conspiracy theorising deniers somewhere on the internet, claiming "climate science is a hoax", which is meant to prove that climate science is a hoax.

I mean if a climate science denier somewhere on the internet says "climate science is a scam", then 200 years of physics, chemistry, geology and biology must be a scam, right?

Actually, Andrew Montford seems to be arguing that climate science is a hoax because fake sceptics agree that the increase in CO2 is causing global warming. Or something like that. Which is pretty weird.

He's also claiming that Richard Tol hasn't been able to get some non-existent time stamps therefore 97% of climate science papers don't agree that increased CO2 causes global warming. Or something like that. Except that Richard Tol agrees that the preponderance of scientific papers show that human activity is what is causing global warming. And this is the same Richard Tol about whose own research Bob Ward wrote last May, when getting him to correct errors in his work:
The response of the journals has been very variable and has revealed a surprising lack of commitment to basic transparency. A number of the data points in the papers were derived by Professor Tol aggregating the results of other studies. Despite numerous requests, Professor Tol has so far failed to make available the details of these aggregations so that I might check them for further errors. The journals have also failed to make the calculations available.. 

What's that? Richard Tol isn't making available details needed to check his work for errors? That's quite different to Cook and co, who've made every bit of information available that would be needed to check their work for errors.

It's impossible for deniers to come up with any evidence that refutes the consensus that humans are causing global warming. It doesn't exist. Maybe that's why Andrew Montford fell back on denier bloggers and other miscellany. This is the muddled argument that Andrew Montford uses to claim that the Cook paper is suspect:

  • Most fake sceptics and contrarians agree that human activity is causing an increase in CO2 which is causing global warming
  • President Obama tweeted about the Cook study
  • Ed Davey referred to the Cook study
  • Richard Tol couldn't get non-existent time stamps irrelevant to the study
  • Christopher Monckton weirdly figures that (3896  ÷  4014)*100 doesn't equal 97%
  • An utter nutter nonentity of a Libertarian blogger cried "fraud" 

The Global Warming Policy Foundation saw fit to "publish" this bit of idiocy. They really are hard up aren't they.


  1. It is not a particularly powerful argument is it? somebody has publically (translation: posted on an internet backwater) alleged fraud and has not been rebutted.

    I left this at Montford's place:

    "Counting papers was never going to do anything but confirm what anyone who reads the science already knew, viz, to use Richard Tol's response:

    "There is no doubt in my mind that the literature on climate change overwhelmingly supports the hypothesis that climate change is caused by humans. I have very little reason to doubt that the consensus is indeed correct"

    So the exact percentage is moot. But Duarte needs to switch to decaff:-, the few minor deviations from strict research protocol discussed in the leaked forum could never affect the arithmetic much, any more than the handful of disgruntled sceptics moaning about being miscategorised were more than a flea-bite on the mountain of evidence collected.

    The shrill response to the paper has been quite a bit more interesting than the paper itself; remember that it had two main parts, this 'note' is all about the rating of abstracts by volunteers, the other half was rating of whole papers by their authors. By this method the number of studies that endorsed the consensus? Oh it was 97%.

    The abstracts and the ratings are online at SkS; it would be the work of a few mandays to re-rate a statistically significant sample using a 'pristine' rating method and show the 97 number is bunk. Something Watts or Steve 'FOI' McIntyre could easily crowdsource in a week or less. Of course they won't and we know why they won't.

    Hmmm. That makes me think - if ratings collected by poorly supervised and unqualified volunteers organised by a website with a particular position are unacceptable in the literature, indeed amount to fraud, what does that mean for surfacestations.org? ;-) "

    1. Phil, I will say here what I have been saying elsewhere: Duarte is an idiot.

      He may well be shooting himself in the foot if he considers a career in academia, since few people will appreciate his continuous cry of "fraud" whenever he doesn't like the choices made by others. In fact, his own work might well be scrutinized a lot more, because it would not be the first time someone who is screaming so loud is projecting his own willingness to bend the rules in his favor.

      I do hope he tries to get some of his criticism published, and in particular his complaint about the raters and their supposed "radical" bias. The only way he can make their potential bias into a really problematic issue is by not mentioning that Cook et al *explicitly acknowledged* this possibility, and tested it by comparing to the author ratings. And by not mentioning this...well...it isn't too hard for some people to claim he committed fraud (leaving out inconvenient data).

    2. Indeed. Duarte seems to have written a piece arguing the paper should be ignored followed by a massive 17,000 word screed against it, long on polemic, rather light on evidence. In Cook's shoes I would be delighted by the extra publicity - not that he needs it. Fellow obssessive Brandon pulled a similar trick of quoting from the leaked forum, without pointing out the relevant parts from the methodology of the paper.

      Duarte thinks some papers shouldn't have been included and tells us which ones. Twelve, at the last count. Duarte is incensed that raters discussed the rating process and asked for clarification of the guidelines as the study progressed. This, he claims, is evidence that they were neither independent nor anonymised as the paper described. But all he had to do was READ THE PAPER to discover that .

      '...some subjectivity is inherent in the abstract rating process. While criteria for determining ratings were defined prior to the rating period, some clarifications and amendments were required as specific situations presented themselves'

      How on earth did he think this occurred if the researchers did not communicate and discuss cases?

      The design of the study could have been better, undoubtedly, and there's one incident of a researcher conceding that she broke the protocol by looking at the whole paper rather than just the abstract (one, out of 12,000). Calling this fraud - an extremely grave accusation - just makes Duarte look very, very silly.

    3. "Duarte is incensed that raters discussed the rating process and asked for clarification of the guidelines as the study progressed."

      I keep coming back to the marking of exam papers whenever I read some of the idiocy of the deniers over Cook2013. Having examined for twelve years, I have lost count of the emails and phone calls I have made to my team leader asking for clarification on marking points. In fact, it is encouraged because it means that consistency is maintained. As points get raised by the examiners, further guidance is usually emailed to everyone marking the papers. It's not rocket science but to the deniers it seems to be a sign of weakness when actually it is a clear sign of strength.

  2. Slight typo:

    (3896 ÷ 4014)/100 should be (3896 ÷ 4014)*100

    1. Oh dear. I'm not on top of my game this week, am I? Still, what's 10,000 x between friends :)


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