Monday, March 30, 2015

The Evolution of a 97% Conspiracy Theory - The Case of the Abstract IDs

Update: OMG! If you can believe it, even after all this, Richard Tol, in the comments below, is still indulging in a Recursive Fury of Gish gallops. He's taken the new (to him) facts and, instead of letting go of his wacky ideas as he should, he's gone and woven still more new conspiracy theories. (Has Richard not got any friends to have a quiet word in his ear? No-one who cares for him? How sad.)
[Sou 6:17 pm 31 March 2015 AEDT]

If you've been following this blog for the past few days, you'll have noticed the fine illustration of denier-weird in action, including a Gish gallop evolving live (here and here).

This article is more by way of a post-script. An extraordinarily long post-script. As you probably know, I don't normally repeat a theme over consecutive days. The reason I'm writing this up as a separate article is because it is a wonderful chance to see how a conspiratorial notion was developed over a few short hours, at the tail end of a Gish gallop.

It's a conspiracy. I just know it!

The What: The case of the Abstract IDs

Before I show how the conspiratorial thinking evolved, let me fill you in on the background. Richard Tol raised the issue initially under another guise, what turned out to be "the case of the missing Abstract IDs" in the Cook13 data.

Cook13 is the famous paper that documented the 97% consensus. A team of researchers examined 11,944 abstracts of peer-reviewed papers relating to climate - a collation of twenty years of research papers from 1991 to 2011. They found that 97% of the papers that attributed a cause to recent warming, attributed it to human activity.

After trying on various conspiracy ideations and implying nefarious intent or at least incompetence on the part of the Cook13 research team, Richard Tol pointed to missing "data". Well, as you'll soon see that's not what it was. However by a bit of detective work, I was able to figure out that what Richard was referring to.

I soon worked out that Richard's "missing data" wasn't data at all. It was that there were 411 extra Article IDs (unique identifier numbers) than were accounted for by the papers in the Cook13 research. I figured the missing IDs were related to automatic numbering and removal of some abstracts for one reason or another, It turns out that was correct.

The How: The Uniqueness of Identifiers

After a bit of digging, I discovered that there were three main sequences of ID numbers that had no matching abstracts. In other words, there were gaps in the sequence of ID numbers. I looked at the gaps themselves. There were three lots of sequential numbers, all of which were in the first couple of thousand IDs. Adding them together accounted for all but two of the "missing numbers". This to me was a signal that the sequences represented duplicate entries that had been deleted, or perhaps abstracts from a journal that should have been excluded from the search.

I wasn't too wide of the mark.

I did what any reasonable person would do and I asked John Cook about how there came to be gaps. John Cook kindly got back to me fairly quickly. He said that he downloaded the abstracts for the Cook13 study from the main repository, the Web of Science (WoS). He downloaded the records in smallish batches and loaded them into his own database. In doing so, he inadvertently entered some of them into his database twice.

The database assigned IDs automatically to each new record (abstract), so when John deleted the duplicates, the IDs disappeared too, leaving gaps in the numbering. (Anyone who's worked with an SQL database knows this is normal when you assign automatic unique identifiers to individual records.)

As John Cook said to me - and I'm paraphrasing here (John's language was a tad more colourful):
What programmer would bother filling gaps? Who on earth would obsess about unique identifiers?

And he's right. Unique identifiers are, well, unique. There is one for every record and no two are the same. That's all you need to build relationships and construct queries. They serve no other purpose.

The When: Well Before any Rating Commenced

I've since got back to John and asked him to clarify when this happened. It turns out it all took place several weeks before the research proper began. He had deleted the duplicate entries and had the full database set up well before the researchers began to categorise the abstracts. All the abstracts were in the database before the ratings commenced, except for the late additions to the Web of Science database itself. (WoS continues to add papers over time, sometimes going back to prior years.) The final additions were made to the database in May 2012 - as described in the Cook13 paper.

This was consistent with the highest number of sequential missing IDs being 2128, which is low and indicates it was in one of the earlier of the smallish batches he imported into his database. (The highest Abstract ID number is 12876).

The Evolution of a Wild Conspiracy Theory

Which leads me to the evolution of the smear/conspiratorial ideation. The evolution took place over a few hours. It's classic Recursive Fury: as new facts emerged, rather than discard the conspiracy, it was adapted. It evolved.

As I indicated above, John Cook has clarified that the 411 duplicates were removed well before the researchers began to categorise ratings. This is as I thought, and as the numbers suggest. Richard Tol took my investigative skills, that resolved one of his insinuating questions, and turned it into another of his Gish gallops. It's hard to believe that he would do this, all over 411 missing Abstract IDs.  A mere 3% of the total number of abstracts.

Below is a list of the main stages in the development of Richard's conspiracy theory.

In the Beginning: A "Minority" Consensus

As a precursor to the evolution, there was this comment from Richard Tol, which he used as a lead in. Richard wrote in an early comment, talking about his WoS search purportedly yielding 1500 more papers than did Cook13, for which he refused to provide any evidence (which is another story, already told):
The number of papers omitted is sufficiently high to reduce the consensus (as defined by Cook) to a minority.:

Step 1: "Cooks' papers"

While HotWhopper readers were variously picking themselves up off the floor and wiping tears of laughter from their eyes, or cleaning their keyboards, trying to explain to their families, between guffaws, what ailed them so, Richard wrote another comment:
Sou, really.
Repeating their query, I found 13,458 papers. Repeating their historical query, I found 13,431 papers.
Cook's data have 12,876 papers. Cook's paper mentions 12,465 papers, of which 11,944 were used.
That is, up to 11% of Cook's observations are unaccounted for.

11% unaccounted for? This provoked further gales of mirth all over. Animals around the world, from the Emperor Penguins down south to the polar bears up north, pricked up their ears in wonder at the sound of so much earthly laughter. (You didn't know that ears of Emperor Penguins and polar bears can prick?)

If you do the sums, you'll see Richard is claiming that between his own "search" and Richard's alleged "Cook's data", there would be 1377 "observations unaccounted for". (Remember that number.)

What a let down. This grand conspiracy that began with the consensus being reduced to a minority, was quickly reduced to eleven per cent of papers "missing". (How often can a minority be classed as a consensus, I wonder?)

Step 2: A conspiratorial suggestion

Richard expanded further, with a hint that "something was wrong", inexplicably increasing his 1377 to 1500 and saying:
There are some 1500 missing abstracts. This is a large number relative to
Cat 1: 64
Cat 2: 922
Cat 5: 54
Cat 6: 15
Cat 7: 9
It is middling number relative to
Cat 3: 2910
It is a small number relative to
Cat 4: 7970
Now I don't know what those 1500 papers said. I just know they're missing.

See what he has casually done? First he dipped into his magician's hat and magically produced an extra 123 more papers out of thin air. Secondly, he's not assumed that additional papers would be apportioned across categories in the same manner as all the other papers. He's hinting that maybe they are all in one or two categories.

There followed more to-ing and fro-ing, with Richard finally agreeing to let go of his "search" conspiracy - at least for the time being. He wrote:
You're welcome to disregard my search.
That still leaves the 12,876 papers in Cook's data versus the 12,465 papers in Cook's paper versus the 11,944 papers that were used in Cook's analysis.
Of the 1500 missing papers, 900 (60%) are missing in Cook's account.
As you can see, he still claimed that there were "12,876 papers in Cook's data".

Report 1 from The HotWhopper Detective Agency

Well, I disregarded Richard's "search" for reasons described elsewhere, and focused on his "12,876 papers". The number rang a bell. I'd come across that number before and remembered that it had something to do with the unique identifiers assigned to abstracts.

So I went back to the table I recalled having Abstract IDs. There was only one file available that included Abstract IDs, and it was hiding in plain sight on the SkepticalScience (SkS) web page for The Consensus Project. It was the file listed as: "All the articles listed by Id number (Article Id #, Year of Publication and Paper Title).

I wrote a comment to Richard, letting him know where his number came from, and that although the file had Abstract ID's going to 12,876, there were only 11,944 unique abstracts in the file itself:
Now all he has left is his 12,876 number. That probably came from a text file on the SkS page. The downloadable file described as: All the articles listed by Id number (Article Id #, Year of Publication and Paper Title), has some sort of article ID. It doesn't seem to mean anything. The difference could be journals removed from the search as being irrelevant (eg social science journals). There are only the 11,944 unique abstracts listed in the file.

I also quoted from Cook13, demonstrating Richard was mistaken. The paper showed that there weren't, as he claimed, 12,876 papers. The full data set used in the research comprised 12,465 papers, some of which were eliminated:
The ISI search generated 12 465 papers. Eliminating papers that were not peer-reviewed (186), not climate-related (288) or without an abstract (47) reduced the analysis to 11 944 papers written by 29 083 authors and published in 1980 journals. 

Step 3: Ignoring the evidence

Richard ignored what I wrote about his number only relating to ID's not papers, and repeated what he'd said earlier, leaving out anything about his "search". He wrote:
Marco, Sou
Again, there are 12,876 paper in Cook's data.
There are 12,465 papers in Cook's paper.

He continue to ignore the link to the file that did contain Article IDs, and sent HW readers off on a wild goose chase, wrongly claiming his 12,876 number was provided as supplementary data on the journal's website. It wasn't. He wrote:
The 12,876 is from Cook's data. You can get the file here:

Step 4: A small step back

Finally, Richard appeared to backtrack, and for the first time started talking about IDs, instead of "papers", and wrote (my emphasis):
Yes, the number of lines is 11,944. Paper IDs run up to 12,876, however, rather than 12,465 as suggested by Cook.
If the max ID would have been 12,576 the number in the paper may have been a typo, but 12,876 is unlikely.

Report 2 from the HotWhopper Detective Agency

Some time later I provided more results from my detective work, and explained that all that had happened was some records had inadvertently been duplicated, and subsequently deleted. I wrote it out in some detail:
I asked John Cook himself about the numbering. He let me know that I wasn't far off track. 
Turns out the IDs were assigned sequentially automatically, as expected. Some duplicates were accidentally added when John re-imported to his database from WoS, so he deleted them. This meant there were gaps in the article IDs.
My own digging supports this. Richard could have done the same if he'd been interested in finding out, instead of just wanting to imply nefarious activity.
I was able to account for all but two of the Abstract IDs in three lots of sequential IDs that have no abstracts attached. This indicates the removal of duplicates, inserted then removed in a batch. It's highly unlikely that there would have been this many sequential non-peer reviewed, for example, or anything else. So that leaves duplicate entries. Here are the numbers of sequential IDs:
  • IDs 5 to 346 inclusive = 342
  • IDs 1001 to 1004 inclusive = 4
  • IDs 2066 to 2128 inclusive. = 63
  • Total = 409 - the other two are probably isolated somewhere.
Bang goes the last of Richard's gish gallop of protests. 

Step 5: A new conspiracy theory is born

You'd think that would have put an end to the matter. The mystery of the missing IDs was solved.

Not on your life. Richard got up a new head of steam. He manufactured a new conspiracy. He manufactured more than that. On his own blog, he documented it in an article, and misrepresented what I wrote. Here is what he wrote at HotWhopper:
That may be the explanation. The paper indeed speaks of two data downloads. If you are correct, then Cook did not just remove duplicate abstracts. He removed duplicate abstracts that had already been rated -- thus denying himself another opportunity to test inter-rater reliability.
Furthermore, if you are right, Cook replaced ratings from the earlier rating period with ratings from the later rating period. The two periods are markedly and significantly different.

As you can see, he's merged his new conspiracy theory into an old meme of his, that "something must be wrong". He also reckons that ratings changed in some manner over the course of the exercise. Given Richard's known difficulty with numbers, the chances are extremely likely that he got that part wrong as well. That's neither here nor there. The point is that in true recursive fury style, Richard took new information and wove it into a reshaped conspiracy theory.

You could hardly find a better example of Recursive Fury in a single discussion thread, could you.

Saved by the bell - not!

It develops from there. This is how Richard saw it. He refused to accept that the duplicate records were deleted way back when (which they were). He decided that it could only have happened after later records had been added. In other words, He was convinced that 411 abstracts had been rated twice. He wrote:
Cook added abstracts later; see his paper and data.
Later abstracts have higher IDs.
Cook told Sou that there was overlap between the earlier and later set of abstracts.
Sou finds that the abstract with lower IDs were removed from the data. Lowest IDs were removed disproportionally. The default data dump from WoS is latest first. Cook's second data dump focused on recent papers.
The date stamps show that the second data dump was done after first and second ratings were completed for the first data dump.

Now "Cook told Sou" nothing of the sort. He didn't say that there was overlap between earlier and later sets of abstracts. What John Cook said was that he inadvertently added duplicate entries when he added the Web of Science data to his own data base.  And that he subsequently deleted these entries.

When he answered my first query, John made no comment about exactly when this took place. It was Richard, no-one else, who decided it must have been after the cataloguing had proceeded after the first and second ratings had been completed. He was wrong.

Richard's interpretation fitted his two years smear campaign of flawed methodology (as if) and nefarious intent (as if). Richard was heavily invested in finding "something wrong". Having lost on every point so far, he was determined to find something, anything. He must have thought to himself "saved by the bell".

Richard didn't ask anyone, he proceeded to weave an ever more intricate conspiracy web. He wrote, arguing with one of the people who worked on Cook13:
Here's the timeline:
Download first batch of abstracts
Rate abstracts from first batch
Download second batch of abstracts
Remove duplicates from FIRST batch
Rate abstracts from second batch

No last chances

But that's not at all how it went down. As John Cook explained to me initially, he downloaded the first full set of abstracts and then, in a second step, proceeded to load them into his database. In smaller batches. That was when the duplication occurred. I didn't bother trying to explain all that initially. Why would I? Surely it was sufficient to explain that in the process of building the SQL database, duplicate entries were inadvertently added and then deleted.

But I didn't count on an uber conspiracy theorist, Richard Tol. Someone who has invested a huge amount of time and energy over two years, trying to find "something wrong". Anything at all. And failing dismally. This was a survey with whose results Richard agreed, mind you.

Richard had run out of options and must have seen this as his last chance at redemption.

Admitting to being a receiver of stolen property

Richard was so desperate that he finally admitted where he got his 12,876 number from. It wasn't from the only file released by Cook13 that had Abstract ID's listed. No. Why would Richard look at official material when there was stolen information he could play with?

The comment below explains why Richard wasn't previously able to say where he got his number from. He was understandably reluctant to admit he was unethical. (It's not a good look for an academic to say they are relying on misinterpretations of stolen snippets to build a smear campaign.) Richard wrote:
Recall that the date stamps were released.

I quickly responded, letting everyone, including Richard, know that there were no files with date stamps released. And for very good reasons (see here).  And that I noted his admission. (Richard was referring to files he got from some script kiddie who hacked SkS.)

The inevitable (?) smear

Richard kept reaching beyond the information available to him, to try to justify his increasingly complex conspiracy theory. He finally presented his "theory" in all its glory, smear and all. I relegated it to the HotWhoppery for obvious reasons. He wrote:
Removing data is always bad, and removing data without telling is worse.
In this case, data from the first round of rating seem to have been replaced by data from the second round of rating. Ratings were materially and significantly different between the two rounds, so the final results are affected.

So all his conspiracy theorising was leading to that one point. Smear. Unadulterated, unjustified smear.

The real story is quite a let down, after all that

For all you conspiracy theorists out there, you are going to be sadly disappointed. Richard's theory is without any foundation whatever.

Here again are the simple facts. Just a repeat of what I've already written. Since I've lead you through all of Richard's conspiratorial hoops, your mind is probably reeling. So here is the prosaic tale once more.

It turns out that all the abstracts available at the time were loaded into the SQL database several weeks before the start of the Cook13 categorisations. After getting the data from WoS, John Cook loaded it into his SQL data base in batches. In the first few batches he accidentally added some duplicate abstracts, and so he deleted them.

All this took place well before the research proper began. The full SQL database was prepared in advance of the categorisation. Well, that's sensible, I hear you saying. You wouldn't ask people to rate non-existent abstracts in an empty database, would you. You'd set it up and make sure it's all working first.

So it was some weeks before the exercise began that John deleted the duplicate entries. All the abstracts were in the database long before the ratings commenced, except for the late additions to the Web of Science database itself. (WoS continues to add papers over time, sometimes going back to prior years.) The final additions were made to the database in May 2012 - as described in the Cook13 paper.

A final word

You may recall the number of duplicated abstract IDs - it's a mere 411. It's only three per cent of all the 11,944 abstracts in the final set. If they hadn't been picked up by the astute project leader, they would scarcely have made a difference to the main result, even were the sample skewed slightly one way or another.

Being astute, you'll have noticed the downs and downs of Richard's conspiracy, that he couldn't quite let go altogether.
  • It started with his "minority" comment - that he could show that more than half of all papers that attributed a cause to global warming, would attribute it to anything but human causes. He let that notion drop without a word.
  • This quickly shrank to eleven per cent of "papers" were missing - and by Richard's conspiratorial thinking, meant the consensus was less than 97%.
  • It soon shrank again, to just 3% - in Richard's weird mind, this represented papers that were "missing".
  • Finally it all but disappeared altogether as Richard accepted the 3% were duplicate papers. That there were no "missing" papers at all.
  • He wasn't willing to let it go quite as far as zero, however, He decided that the duplicate IDs meant that the ratings were skewed somehow (though he didn't say how).

What a strange tale.

The fuss that university professor, Richard Tol, made about this would not be believed if the evidence wasn't here in black and white. You wouldn't credit it, but Richard Tol isn't just a run of the mill denier at WUWT, he actually holds down a job at The University of Sussex. He is a Professor of Economics. Hard to accept, I know. He's even been a lead author in one of the working groups (not the physical science one) of the latest IPCC report, until he quit - mostly. He's also on the advisory board, with a whole bunch of ratbags, of the UK denier organisation, the Global Warming Policy Foundation.

The First Law of Tol:

“However poor you expect Tol’s behaviour to be, he will promptly fail to meet even that level”


  1. Great work sou. For sure, if Cook had reconciled the IDs with the number of papers and any denier had found out, they would have taken that as evidence he deleted papers. With "reasoning" like Tol's there's no escaping the conspiracy claims...

  2. (Anyone who's worked with an SQL database knows this is normal when you assign automatic unique identifiers to individual records.)

    In my life as a software developer/consultant I've had to deal with people who didn't get this and were dead certain we were cheating them out of money because of it. More than a decade ago I was working on a ecommerce system that created the order record (with its unique identifier) before it went out and attempted to charge the credit card. (It did that because it needed to assign the order number to the payment record.) Sure enough, if the card was declined for whatever reason, the whole thing was rolled back and the order number discarded. The client saw these gaps in the order numbers and complained, and didn't trust our answer We had to go out and show them in debug mode via the test system how an order was "created" before the payment was declined and you got a gap in numbers. I hope Tol gets this concept now.



  3. From Tol's blog:
    "However, if Sou is to be believed, duplicates were removed from the FIRST batch, already rated ..."

    He is still pushing this. And trying to imply this is what Sou said.

    1. It's weird, Jammy. I certainly never said that the deleted duplicates had already been rated. On the contrary.

      It could just be a case of confirmation bias. Reading what he wanted to read and ignoring what was written. Richard, despite what he may have claimed, had no evidence to suggest otherwise. The evidence pointed to the deletions happening before rating commenced.

    2. I'm flabbergasted that someone who holds an academic position at the University of Sussex is insufficiently able to parse basic descriptions of a study that he presumes to criticise such that he misunderstood that the duplicated entries were not rated. When it first came up I reread and reread again the various explanations given by all involved and/or commenting and I could not fathom how Tol was getting it wrong. Of course, I was naïvely assuming that it wasn't a deliberate misapprehension...

      Seriously, if one is going to construct a rebuttal to a high-profile paper that every professional scientist understands closely reflects the actual status quo, one would normally be scrupulously methodical, cautious, and transparent in one's process as one could possibly be. Tol's playing at a rebuttal is everything that is roundly pulled up when exhibited by a first year undergrad: it's atrocious behaviour in one who pretends at respectable professorship.

      So, plain incompetence or mendaciously poor behaviour, I can see no way that Tol's crusade against the Cook et al consensus paper is not a death blow to whatever vestige of credibility he might retain with academics who have heretofor given him the benefit of the doubt. I hope that this persistence of his raises this aspect of his nature in high profile in every political, economic and media corner where it matters, and that any future pronouncements of his on climate science are dealt with the swift contempt that they deserve.

      And Richard Tol, if you don't like the choice of "plain incompetence or mendaciously poor behaviour" (and they're not necessarily mutually exclusive) be my guest and explain any alternative conduct in this saga that explains why you were unable to grok what every intelligent person was able to. I'll even accept a claim that you are in fact hobbled by your citizenship of an alien world - there's nothing on Earth that would appear to cast your behaviour in anything like a positive light.

    3. As so many have now exhorted of Tol, he should stop, just stop.

      Richard, put the pen down and step away from the keyboard... Put your brain where everyone can see it and make no sudden moves with your mouth...

      The world has a serious problem to address. You are not helping it, or yourself, by performing like a clown.

    4. He links to some graph of dates and "Contributions to consensus" index. It does not add any clarity as it is.

      He also quotes (with no reference) that Cook writes that "[t]he search was updated in May 2012".

      However there is not enough or even any supporting information to give this any context.

    5. :)

      The graph is called "bias2". Clearly "bias1" has been deleted because , er, because ...

    6. The full quote (from the Cook paper) is :
      "The search was updated in May 2012 with papers added to the Web of Science up to that date"

      Not quite so conspiratorial with the full quote is it?

    7. JD - The May 2012 update was to get as many more papers as possible from 1991 to 2011, before closing off the list. It's mentioned in the paper.

      Richard mistakenly said that was when the duplications occurred. He's wrong. That was just getting the final few files on WoS to be rated, before their deadline for closing off the list of abstracts..

      The vast bulk of the papers were downloaded from WoS in batches, several weeks before the ratings exercise started. And that was when John accidentally doubled up on some entries, and promptly deleted the duplicates.

  4. I just learned how to build and use SQL databases last year. It's nice when you can verify something for yourself (e.g. unique identifiers). If Richard isn't wanting to do his own analysis, maybe he can take some time to learn how SQL databases work?

    Incidentally, I see Nova said there's no point in redoing the analysis to show the consensus is wrong because only the pro-AGW papers are let in, therefore, of course it'll show a high consensus. This reason doesn't apply to Richard because he is arguing there's actual problems with the rating of the papers regardless of whether or not the "gatekeepers" only let in in pro-AGW papers.

    Actually, I've seen Nova repeat some of Tol's points so essentially her original argument is invalid--or more likely justification after the fact.

    But it strikes me if a reanalysis is done no matter the result it'll disprove one of their ideas: If analysis indicates a 97% agreement, then Cook's analysis was right (disproving Richard and like-minded conspiracy folks). If the analysis indicates, say, 70-60% or lower agreement, then the "gatekeeper hypothesis" is disproven, thereby removing a lynchpin from those who claim there'd be lots of anti-AGW papers except the scientists can't get those papers published (or are being repressed).

    1. I just pulled down the downloadable file of all the article titles from SkS and discovered that it doesn't lend itself to easy sorting because it appears to be missing the return characters at the end of the titles, which makes it cumbersome to load into something like a spreadsheet or database. Still, it's a valid file that anyone with skill and time can examine and get all the answers from. -- Dennis

    2. Open the data file from the Supplemental Info, copy the content and paste it into something like NotePad. Replace All to convert comma "," to tab, then you can copy the document contents and paste them directly into Excel for further analysis.

      All 11,944 lines of abstracts, once you delete the initial header information.

    3. Dennis, that particular file is really difficult. I ended up just importing it into Excel and getting rid of all the stray rows, not worrying about the tail end of abstract titles. That way you still get the Article ID and the Year of publication, plus a bit of the title.

      To find the missing abstract IDs, I just imported it into an Access database, ran up a sequence of numbers in another table, and then ran a "find no-match" query. Took about five minutes all up - from cleaning up the text file to getting the missing sequences.

      All the other files are fine. They import into Excel without any fuss. It's just the one with the Article IDs that's difficult.

    4. Whoops, I had been looking at a different file. I agree, that one with the article IDs is a bit of a pain to analyze. Looks like it went through a word processor at some point that inserted line wraps.

    5. KR I'd have said something, but figured I'd pestered John C. enough for a few weeks :)

      It was fine for the purpose.

    6. What we are all driving at is that this is how you replicate scientific studies, not by publicly accusing the author of making mistakes (or worse, malfeasance). The file text from seems much easier to work with. -- Dennis

    7. I figured the problem is the length of the article titles. They are getting cut off at a character limit, and wrapping to the first column of the next line. I haven't figured out how to overcome that (yet).

    8. KR was correct. There are extra line wraps in the file. It's not any excel character limit.

    9. Using Microsoft Word (generally available) and regular expressions, the file can be reformatted.

      Copy the file, paste into a new Word document. Open the Find/Replace dialog, press "More", and check "Use wildcards".

      First remove all line breaks (both desired and undesired) - use the 'Special' dropdown to find 'Manual line break' and replace with nothing.

      Next break on the article ID's - find the expression for a space, a series of numbers, a comma, a 4-digit number, and another comma:
      ([ ][0-9]{1,5}[,][0-9]{4}[,])

      and replace with:
      ^l \1

      That's an inserted 'Manual line break' plus '\1', which says to insert the first item (marked with parentheses) found in the search expression.

    10. Interestingly enough, the fact that these were assembled from different batches is quite evident from looking at the abstract ID's (from the collecting database) versus the publication dates - which are grouped, but not strictly sequential.

    11. Thanks, KR. That worked perfectly.

      I imported the data into excel using the comma delimiter, which meant I had to write a formula to concatenate the titles that had commas. Only took a few seconds. (Some titles had a lot of commas :D)

  5. Great analysis of an addled mind, desperately trying to 'Cook' up a conspiracy from nothing in order to endear himself to the Dark Lord of Blaby and his mysterious backers

    If only anyone actually gave a toss what Richard Tol had to say about anything.


  6. 2 days ago when Toll was making a complete spectacle of himself on these pages, Judith Curry linked and recommended

    Richard Tol’s Excellent Summary of the Flaws in Cook et al. (2013) – The Infamous 97% Consensus Paper (link)

    1. Some rats on that sinking ship are a bit slow on the uptake.

    2. Cugel, Curry is apparently not interested in accuracy, she seems to be there for the bums on seats.

      Curry says "A few things that caught my eye this past week." Just a "few", huh? Strange how she's emulating a clearing-house for all the latest denialist memes as if she's being fed releases by a paid obfuscator, or as if she is perhaps being paid herself to obfuscate.

      It must be just an amazing coincidence.

  7. Important TrousersMarch 31, 2015 at 8:28 AM

    It would be nice if this article could be published in "The Australian" so its readers could see how the War on Science works.

  8. Until recently I'd never given the University of Sussex a moment's thought. Now I'm working it into jokes.

    Just thought I'd mention that. Obscurity would be preferable to association with such a flaccid sack.

    Great work, Sou. Can you help it if you love it? :)

  9. As of today, 31 April 2015 the manner in which Richard Toll conducts himself will be inconsequential to climate science, emission policy and all discussions surrounding it.

    What may be consequential is if contrarian scientists, policy makers and Murdoch publications continue to cite Toll post Sou. Could they be that stupid?

    1. Clarification: Consequential to their reputations.

    2. As of today, 31 April 2015

      You've moved ahead of the rest of us, PG :)

      Yes, the press will continue to post "opinion" pieces by Christopher Booker, Richard Tol, Maurice Newman, Cardinal George Pell etc - who are not climate scientists, writing why they think the earth is flat (or the climate equivalent). They mainly speak to the converted from what I can see.

  10. It felt like April in Sydney this morning.

    Toll had some standing as a serious contributor to the debate and he was still influential until today.
    Yes the nutty right will always cling to their guns and climate denial but Cook 13 is a powerful document and just like Obamacare it had to destroyed it before it became too accepted. The guy in the vanguard of that destructive mission was Toll and he's now stranded naked in the middle of a field with a shitload of 'splainin to do.

    Pell will not go against his Pope who is on the threshold of issuing a fatwa against deniers..oh alright then, a Papal Encyclical.

    Murdoch is old and he will soon die or step down in favour of Lachlan who unlike his dad, is not a closet human being).

    1. PG

      Toll had some standing as a serious contributor to the debate and he was still influential until today.

      While in no way diminishing the work done here by Sou and commenters, I wonder if RT's career suicide didn't occur a while back. Specifically, in October of last year, when the IPCC was obliged to correct the erroneous claim (inserted by Tol, a CLA) that moderate climate change would bring economic benefits.

      I think that got noticed.

    2. Yes BBD but Sou is the first to show us Richard Tol the man .

      Even amongst real climate skeptics he was able to maintain some sort of stature following his deceptive re-write but I can't see how he can remediate Sou's revelation (and buying a new set of clothes is not gunna help).

  11. I sometimes wonder when these really silly denier articles and follow ups come out - perhaps that is the whole point. It certainly did tie up a lot of attention and time. The thread at ATTP is still going last time I checked.

    Did anything else happen in the Climate Change world that we are being distracted from? Just a thought.

  12. Yes Harry, it just became slightly more rational and honest.

  13. I've updated my blog post, referring to the discussion here.

    Sou's story about downloading the WoS data in chunks would explain why my historic query returns 13,431 papers, but Cook has only 12,465 papers: He simply forgot to upload some data.

    However, for Sou's story to hold, we have to believe that Cook downloaded the data in chunks of uneven size, some as small as 342 or even 63 papers. Or indeed 4.

    I can imagine that Cook tested his procedure with a small amount of data. Why 4? 20 is the WoS default.

    I can imagine that Cook uploaded his second download twice - it's an index initialization gone wrong. But why 342? And why are there 4 more overlaps between 1001 and 1004? That's a mirror image of the problems with the first upload. And why 63 between 2066 and 2128?

    1. "Sou's story about downloading the WoS data in chunks would explain why my historic query returns 13,431 papers, but Cook has only 12,465 papers..."

      Why? How? There is no link between those events. Are you just having a laugh?

      Have you just gished again?

    2. Even after all this, Richard is continuing to indulge in Recursive Fury, adapting his conspiracy theories beyond the changed facts. "He forgot to upload some data". Bullshit!

      Now I'm part of his conspiracy ("for Sou's story to hold").
      It's not my story, Richard. Them's the facts. Accept it.

      I won't accuse you of having no imagination - that's clearly not the case. I will accuse you of having a very warped imagination. A limited imagination.

      Can you not envisage, for example, that there was different data included if he downloaded, say, 500 articles a second time? That it wouldn't necessarily be exactly the same 500 as the first time? And why wouldn't he have downloaded by, say, date rather than number? Why wouldn't he have downloaded 342 or whatever at a time?

      John Cook has explained what he did. You are just posting what-ifs to suit your own vanity. In other words, you are calling John Cook and myself liars. I won't stand for it.

      Your search was obviously not the same as John Cook's search, otherwise you would have got the same number of articles as he did. ATTP's search got a similar result to John Cooks, and later a different result to his and yours.

      As for your "why, why, why" - what's the point in your speculations? What the heck do you think you are achieving apart from looking like a right lunatic? Remember, you're not even talking about an issue that would affect the result one iota.

      All the papers in the sample of 11,944 were categorised. They result was reported. Prove the result wrong by doing the exercise yourself with a similar sized (or even smaller) sample. Quit trying to find "something wrong". You are only making yourself look even more of an nut-case than you already have.

    3. @Jammy
      Sou suggests that the creation of the database was done manually. Cook had just started his PhD then, and this is a typical rookie thing to do. See

      If Cook duplicated tasks, he also may have missed some.

    4. Captain FlashheartMarch 31, 2015 at 7:05 PM

      Richard, can you post your search string, Cook's search string, your evidence that they are the same, your evidence that yours replicates his search at the date he did it, and evidence that searches do not differ between institutions and accounts? I've been waiting for a while for you to answer basic questions about your method ... until you do, why should we care whether you got 13431 papers or 4 million?

    5. Richard once again you build a fabrication out of your own limited imagination. I suggested no such thing. I said nothing at all about the creation of the database. You just made that up.

      Give it a rest. Further nutty speculations you fabricate, will be moved to more appropriate location on HotWhopper.

      You truly are full of Recursive Fury conspiratorial thinking, aren't you.

    6. Captain FlashheartMarch 31, 2015 at 7:19 PM

      Also Richard, talking about "rookie" mistakes when you can't manually type 20 numbers correctly for a basic review paper makes you look really petty and nasty.

    7. CF - you know why Richard refuses to give us his data and code, don't you.

      Tell you what, Richard. You upload and make available your list of publications PLUS your search parameters sufficient to replicate your WoS search, then I will (since you won't) take it on myself to:

      - post the publications in your list that aren't in the Cook13 study and vice versa.

      - categorise the papers, sorting them into those that attribute a cause to warming.

      It will be a big exercise if I do it on my own, but I'm happy to do it. If you show us your data and search parameters, as asked repetitively by CF, I'll seek help from others, too.

      Note that you have to do both for me to take on this work. (I am confident that I can find someone who has access to WoS to replicate your search using your search parameters.)

      I'll even amend your search parameters and add in 2012, 2013 and 2014 to your list of publications.

    8. This comment has been removed by the author.

    9. BTW - what the heck does Richard mean by "manually constructed a database"? It's a really simple database. It's just a list of publications with abstracts, crosstabbed with ratings. Sheesh. It's not rocket science.

    10. Richard, your latest is an attempt to denigrate John Cook is noted. John Cook runs rings around you in every respect.

      Is that just sour grapes because he commands respect and you don't? Is it because he's exposed all your errors (24 major blunders plus a myriad of others.)

      Do you honestly think that a stage in a PhD is a mark of a person's competence. What about 50-year old CEOs who take on a PhD? What about pimply youths who take on a PhD?

      Heck, I hear you might have even got a PhD at some stage, which only goes to show how you can't judge a person by their PhD.

      Can you sink any lower? Come on, I bet you can.

    11. @Sou
      This is not an attack on Cook. On the contrary.

      These aspects of research methods (database handling, automation, replication) are typically taught during the first year of a PhD, at least in the social sciences. Cook cannot be expected to have known these things, and we cannot hold it against him.

    12. Captain FlashheartMarch 31, 2015 at 7:39 PM

      Really tricky dickie? That's your response to being told to be polite, doubling down and calling Cook "cookie"? You really are petty and nasty - and your refusal to present your search string or the other requested evidence here is noted.

    13. @Flashheart
      Sorry if I caused offense. "rookie" is not offensive in my version of English. Apologies if it is in other versions.

    14. Richard - don't pretend. It was another of your personal attacks on John Cook. You were trying to belittle him and the study. You've run out of options (though each time I think that you come up with another weird angle - even more nonsensical).

      What it demonstrates to me is that it's you who lack any understanding of databases, not John Cook. The database is about as simple as a database could possibly be.

      If there is anyone here who doesn't know what flimsy ground Richard is embarking upon, I suggest they read up on his mistakes - too numerous to mention here but they have been well documented elsewhere.

      (Do a search for Richard Tol - and pair it variously with gremlins, IPCC, Bob Ward, Frank Ackerman, Andrew Gelman).

      And here's what Nicholas Stern had to say about Richard - irrelevant and inconsequential. I suppose Richard can be grateful Lord Stern knows who Richard is (if he didn't live in the same country, he probably wouldn't):

      He's an outlier really and I think his departure won't make much difference.

    15. Richard - your use of both "rookie" and "Cookie" are attempts to denigrate John Cook. It's pretty obvious now that jealousy of his success is part of what's driving you. The "why" leaves most of us baffled.

    16. Sou, please don't move or delete his posts. Other people need to see the petulant childishness and deliberate dishonesty of this 'professor' for themselves to believe it. Why would any rational person seek his opinion on anything?

    17. Captain FlashheartMarch 31, 2015 at 8:11 PM

      Richard, it's these lapses in ability to read which make people wonder if you actually understand Cook's paper at all. I was pointing out that it is rude to say "Cookie," not "rookie" (although from you the latter is pretty laughable).

      You need to learn some manners. Your behavior is deplorable.

      Also, still waiting for that search string ...

    18. @Richard Tol

      You still do not answer my question. You just offer a load of gishes and gallops again. Let's try again?

      You say:
      "... downloading the WoS data in chunks would explain why my historic query returns 13,431 papers, but Cook has only 12,465 papers ..."

      I asked how and why this explains anything, as the two events are independent. Without any more information you cannot even start to make this claim.

      If you want to offer more information you could try by offering your search string and evidence it returned the number of papers you claim. Even if you did this it is still unclear what you are trying to show. Or is it you just want to throw allegations around to give the impression there is a problem?

      Rookie is insulting in standard English - depending on how it is used and the context. Clearly you were trying to pour scorn on Cook's competence here so adopting a passive aggressive stance on this looks quite er. Well, I try not to be personal on blogs like this but it does look a little bit playground.

    19. If you need a hand Sou, database and sql query development are part of my day job.

      I do not see the need however. You and the other commenters have pretty much covered it. There is no issue with what John Cook has done.

      Tol is trying to manufacture a controversy where none exists. Standard climate "skeptic" methodology - when the main argument is unassailable, try and manufacture doubt by focusing on the minutiae.

      Tol is making a fool of himself. It appears that he is very good at that.

    20. From the horse's mouth:

      "I indeed do not have the luxury of hiding behind inexperience."

      Which is exactly why your multiple, multiple errors and stupid pronouncements on these matters make you one of the biggest fools to ever step out onto the climate change denialist stage.

    21. Thanks, Mike. I'll bear that in mind if Richard ever takes me up on my offer and delivers the goods. So far he's done nothing to demonstrate that he ever did a search of WoS. For all we know, he just made that up.

      Which would not surprise anyone, given everything else he's manufactured from thin air.

      For those new to this discussion, It's now four days since Richard first made his claim, here, that he did a search of WoS. He's been asked multiple times for his search parameters and a list of the papers that resulted and he's refused to deliver either.

      Anyone who said straight out "I don't believe you, Richard", would be well within their rights.

    22. "He simply forgot to upload some data."

      Huh? How did you arrive at that conclusion? Evidence? Alternative explanations?


      "However, for Sou's story to hold, we have to believe that Cook downloaded the data in chunks of uneven size, some as small as 342 or even 63 papers. Or indeed 4."

      Erm, There's a difference between exporting a WoS search result and transferring the papers to a database set up for a particular study. The former takes a couple of clicks of a mouse, the second a 'little' more than that...

      Perhaps this is your rookie mistake.

      "I can imagine that Cook tested his procedure with a small amount of data. Why 4? 20 is the WoS default."

      This is the trouble with your approach to the whole issue, Richard Tol. You spend all of your time imagining.

      "I can imagine that Cook uploaded his second download twice..." See, there you go again.

      "- it's an index initialization gone wrong."

      Argument by assertion. Evidence? Analysis?

      For your information Richard Tol, you were the subject of laughter to the extent of tears in our tea room today. It's not often that an academic's 'professional' behaviour results in that outcome where I work...

    23. Sorry. Slip of the keyboard. I never meant to write "Cookie". It's Cook.

    24. There is nothing that warrants Richard's talk of "an index initialisation gone wrong". Makes me wonder if he even knows how automatic indexing works when you create and populate a table.

      He's trying to sound knowledgeable - and failing.

    25. This comment has been removed by the author.

    26. "It's pretty obvious now that jealousy of his success is part of what's driving you.", no, the climate revisionist doesn't give a damn. He is paid to do this and he is certainly attracting a lot of attention with it which serves only the thing he is here for: sowing doubt.

      The right thing to do would be to write about this climate revisionist, but to block him from responding, just as is done with criminals.

      There is no ethical problem in wishing a typhoon Maysak (the system that is absolutely smashing the records in het WPac basin as we speak now) on his roof. Go, Maysak. Better the world.

    27. "There is nothing that warrants Richard's talk of "an index initialisation gone wrong". Makes me wonder if he even knows how automatic indexing works when you create and populate a table."

      To be fair, it has nothing to do with indexing at all. Try "automatic primary key generation" or the like ... this is often implemented by populating a unique index, but not always, and strictly speaking indexes aren't even part of standard SQL ...

      But the fact that Richard further mangles already mangled terminology doesn't increase my confidence that he knows SQL from shinola ...

    28. Richard Tol said

      "These aspects of research methods (database handling, automation, replication) are typically taught during the first year of a PhD, at least in the social sciences. Cook cannot be expected to have known these things, and we cannot hold it against him."

      Then in the social sciences, basic database techniques are obviously taught VERY VERY LATE in their training. In contrast database methods are part of standard UNDERGRADUATE training in IT professions. As with many aspects of the social sciences and economics, their practitioners often spend part of their careers playing catch-up to people from more technical disciplines.

      It may have missed your attention Richard but John Cook has been running a website called SkepticalScience (SkS) for nearly 10 years.

      A website that requires substantial database usage for everything it does. Every post, comment etc is stored in a database.

      And most of the SkS site was written by John Cook, including al the database development. Unlike many websites that are hosted on platforms such as Wordpress, SkS was developed from scratch by John Cook.

      John Cook has worked for many years in the past as a web-site developer, running a private business doing that. So he is no Rookie.

      Richard Tol on the other hand has demonstrated by his comments here that he actually is a total Rookie. Perhaps Richard actually missed the 'Introduction to databases' unit in his PhD.

      Richard, you might like to consider that the best thing you can do in this situation is to regard your self as a student who needs to learn from people who know more than you.

      Because your comments here suggest you have a lot to learn. If you were a candidate for a Bachelor's degree in Information Technology your lack of understanding demonstrated here would have resulted in you failing badly.

      Richard, you are the student, not the teacher. Close your mouth, open your ears and actually learn something. All you are doing at present is embarrassing the Universities you work for.

    29. Hope everyone reads your comment, Glenn. It's the complete and utter demolition of Richard's final Recursive Fury.

      I must say, though, that given his past behaviour, Richard may well take what you've written and somehow try to spin it into a ridiculous Gish that he'll take a gallop at :(

      BTW - sorry for the delay - Google blogger choked.

    30. Captain FlashheartApril 1, 2015 at 11:47 PM

      In my experience most people in social science research (undergrad or postgrad) don't learn database skills. For what it's worth, I did a highly mathematically demanding undergrad and never touched such esoterics. I imagine that very few economists do either, and Tricky Dickie here certainly hasn't. John Cook clearly brought some pre-existing skills to his PhD and used them well, and to see Tricky Dickie deriding him as a "rookie" while showing his own ignorance, then calling John Cook "Cookie" just to be a knob really shows you what a complete bell end Richard is.

      At least Watts, Eisenbach and their lot are not scientists or published academics. They are standing on the outside screaming in. Richard is just a despicable piece of work, in comparison.

    31. "In my experience most people in social science research (undergrad or postgrad) don't learn database skills."

      Not to detract from the overall lessons of this thread (which are outstanding), but to somebody who teaches survey research and advanced statistics to social-science grad students, this doesn't work as a generalization. In many areas social scientists work with complex data structures and analytical methods. Tol's mistakes and misdirection using much simpler methods could be cited as bad examples.

  14. This comment has been removed by the author.

  15. Richard for your own sake

  16. BTW - I was going to shift more of Richard's silly comments to the HotWhoppery but I'm entranced by how a person's behaviour can devolve in this way and while he's still going, let's let him. (I may end up copying, rather than moving.) Words like implosion come to mind.

    Anyway, I'll leave them here for the moment - they'll no doubt surprise and bemuse even denier-hardened HotWhopperians. (And the Emperor Penguins and polar bears love to hear people laughing, it distracts them from the dilemma they face.)

    1. Sou, I would beg and beseech you to leave Tol's postings on these threads.

      It's one thing when you're trolled by an everyday ignorant basement numpty, but entirely another when it's a Tol rather than a troll. An academic who willingly and spectacularly shows the world how little he knows about a subject in which he pretends to have expertise deserves to be as brightly lit by the limelight as is possible - don't hide his under a bushel.

    2. Second. Let the record be clear and unbroken.

    3. Bernard J, you are underestimating Tol. He is not here to convince you or me of anything. He is not here about reality or truth. He is working on an electorate that will vote for the likes of Rick Scott, Inhofe, Cruz en he is the one who is laughing his ass of here.

      When tf will you learn what climate revisionism is about!

    4. What he is doing is laying a revisionist paper trail so he can pass himself off as reasonable when dragged before the Academic Review Panel at Sussex.

    5. He is working on an electorate that will vote for the likes of Rick Scott, Inhofe, Cruz en he is the one who is laughing his ass of here.

      Indeed. This article linked to by the rabett explains why any kind of disinformation is uncritically lapped up by the US Republican electorate base, as long as it's mixed in with the proper amount of anti-liberal sentiment:

      And it also makes the middle man an *awful* lot of money.

    6. cRR, if that really is Tol's raison d'être then I weep for his soul.

      If I could stop laughing at his accumulating silliness over the last few days I could probably weep for his academic standing too, but chortles just won't stop...

    7. The verdict can be layed down for different reasons (constant repetition of shown fallacious arguments make the case for me fast), but really association with the GWPF will do just fine.
      Don't weep, there are much more valuable things to cry over than someone who sold his soul if any was there at all. In fact this is the time to whip. It is the time to wish for reality to strike real fast and hard. Or perhaps it is too late and we are left with the satisfaction, a little while later, of kicking back into the floods those climate revisionists crying for help when reality hits them.

    8. metzomagic, thanks, though revolting stuff of course. My problem is there's simply nothing to laugh at. There is and always has been just too much of thuggery playing on dumbing down a completely willing public. It gets majorities all the time. Even the worst clowns, laughed at for a decennium, get chosen into power, the 19thirties sport two particular examples.
      Ridicule Inhofe's snowballing what we want, the man is firmly chair of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works and remains. That is no laughing matter and it is the main thing that mattes.

    9. I agree that it really isn't funny, but giggleshits are good therapy.

  17. The first Law of Tol is

    “However poor you expect Tol’s behaviour to be, he will promptly fail to meet even that level”

    (cross posted from ATTPs)

    An excellent exemplification provided here by Richard.

  18. If Rick isn't just 'avin' a larf, he's setting the International Standard for a new metric known as a 'confusion of idiocy'. No disrespect intended.

  19. It is becoming increasingly difficult to reject the conjecture that Richard Tol is really a Green sleeper agent who has infiltrated the UK climate denial groups and has now been 'activated'. So at great personal cost to his reputation and dignity he is ensuring that the Cook 97% paper continues to get exposure and discredits the climate denial camp by exhibiting the most awful ignorance and idiocy in his attempts to attack it.

    Every credit to Sou for this forensic, ferocious and full Fisking if Tol, it is a masterful bit of work. But tol has certainly cooperated in his own degridation to the extent that you have to wonder whether such devaluing of the 'brand' he represents is intentional!

  20. Richard: "Repeating their query, I found 13,458 papers. Repeating their historical query, I found 13,431 papers." - Yet you have completely neglected providing any data to support this. Are you (perhaps) 'hiding something'?

    Document this. Please provide your search parameters. At this point you have accused Cook et al of incompetence, scientific malfeasance, and stupidity, based on apparently nothing whatsoever but feverish and unbased speculation.

    If you cannot document your WOS search parameters, I'm going to (generously) assume that the numbers you provided are due to rookie mistakes and bad data handling. Which at this point is a far more supported conclusion than _anything_ you've spun regarding Cook et al.

    1. Of interest is that when Richard first made this claim, others (most notably ATTP) repeated the search and actually got more or less the same result as Cook did.

      Considering the many incompetent errors made by Richard so far, and the gremlins investing his computer(s), we simply cannot believe anything Richard says.

    2. The less generous interpretation is that Richard Tol is simply making things up in his ongoing (and vain) attempts to dismiss a paper that is clear, understandable, and presents the scientific consensus on AGW in a manner relevant to public policy. Attempts that are laughingly bad, as Tol paints himself into a smaller and smaller corner with each failed speculation...

      Note that denying the consensus on AGW is rated the 4th most popular climate denial myth by SkS.

    3. An even less generous interpretation is that he is not really trying to dismiss a paper at all - his only aim is to whip up a dust-storm for a denier audience who will uncritically accept whatever he says. Giving an illusion there is lots of debate and dissension ...

  21. @Sou: Around Christmas I voted for "more science, less snark". I was wrong, sorry. This documentation of Tol is fantastic. What a sorry little creature: Gollum with the Smeagol.

  22. George and izen, as FrankD so deliciously said over at Deltoid:

    "It’s a real watch-between-your-fingers horror show, but if you’ve a taste for the macabre spectacle, then Richard’s Artaudian theatre-of-cruelty performance piece has all the hallmarks of postmodernist genius."

    It's hard to beat that assessment!

  23. Isn’t it more like the anatomy of a Libertarian brain though? I’ve been discussing economics with these guys on various blogs for about a decade, and it’s always a cart-before-the-horse issue. That is, come up with the conclusions first, then scramble to find the “evidence” in support of it. Regardless of which you view it, and whatever topic is at hand, it’s always logic done completely arse-backwards.

    My all-time favorite Tol quote will still be this one. Making a feeble attempt at geopolitical analysis:

    “Poor and exhausted people are unlikely to take up arms, and if they do, they are probably not very effective.”

  24. "He [cook] downloaded the records in smallish batches and loaded them into his own database. In doing so, he inadvertently entered some of them into his database twice."

    Ah, passing it off as incompetence certainly has the ring of truth about it.

    Seriously though, the whole article reads as if it were written by a psychotic. Hell hath no fury like a mad old biddy scorned, eh?

    1. KBO

      And what kind of personality feels the need to resort to the characterisation in your final sentence?

    2. KBO you have just had the privilege of commenting on a site run by a brilliant woman who, over the last 3 days has employed superb surgical skills to lay bare one of the major pathologies that is driving you and your fellow travellers off the cliff.

      I can understand why you hate her.

    3. Oh, I see. I was wondering why KBO was calling Tol a "mad old biddy scorned".

      I had not twigged he was a chauvinist, sexist denier with nothing sensible to say.

    4. Sheesh, KBO, were you born in the 1920s? BBD sums it up well.

      And downloading records twice isn't incompetence. It's a typical mistake. And it was caught and corrected.

      I regularly download zip files, which are available on a weekly basis, with 2000 to 4000 rows of data, and paste it into a single database for the year. I've been doing this for 8 years, and I still occasionally try and paste duplicates into the yearly database especially when I need to download and unzip 3 months worth of zip files.

      Mistakes like this happen even when you're very careful---all it takes is a moment's distraction or minor brain burp. It is why we proof our data and cross-check and double and triple-check it, and even run various filters and small tests to detect mistakes/duplications/data entry errors.

      But, that's all irrelevant because Tol will soon give us his search parameters so we can verify his claims. That's what serious academics and researchers do. Any time now Tol will demonstrate he was right and everyone here and at ATTP were wrong in doubting him. Any time now....

    5. @BBD
      "And what kind of personality feels the need to resort to the characterisation in your final sentence?"

      One that got most of the way thru the article and was wondering "my god, what the hell is wrong with you?"

      "I can understand why you hate her."

      I don't hate her, I just think the rant article would make a good "Exhibit A".

      "Mistakes like this happen even when you're very careful---all it takes is a moment's distraction or minor brain burp."

      Well exactly, and it's not remiss judge the quality of piece of work by the care authors take handling the data. Your brain burp about covers it I think.

    6. "...judge the quality of piece of work by the care authors take handling the data."

      So, you are taken in by the idea it affected the quality of the work? You are easily influenced.

    7. KBO I sincerely want to congratulate you on your first comment above.

      You did not conceal your true nature and this is rare amongst your fellow travellers. Usually their desperate vileness is partially concealed behind a diaphanous cloak of scientific concern. Well done for ditching the cloak mate.

    8. KBO thinks I'm a "batshit crazy old woman", not just a "psychotic mad old biddy". Whereas Professor Lewandowsky is merely a (gender-neutral) "wackadoodle".

      (Any guesses as to whether KBO is a male or female? Any guesses as to age? No need to guess if KBO is a climate science denying sexist. George has him sussed :D)

    9. There are two fundamental motivations that underpin the behaviour of internet trolls: a desire for a response, and the attention of the target.

      My advice for the vacuously substanceless pap of such as the troll above it to simply delete the posts altogether. They add nothing to the discussion, not even in the sense of providing a denialist opinion, and responses are just giving him his jollies.

    10. KBO:

      "...judge the quality of piece of work by the care authors take handling the data."

      I'm sure KBO means the care that Cook took to ensure that no papers were duplicated in the database.


    11. That's how I read it. I thought he was admitting he'd been too harsh in his judgement (but it's late so maybe I misread).

    12. KBO

      One that got most of the way thru the article and was wondering "my god, what the hell is wrong with you?"

      Your reading comprehension is on a par with your general socialisation.

    13. Well look, another climate revisionist troll. Same old pathetic. Remove that dirt.

  25. This comment has been removed by the author.

  26. For those who strayed into this slightly bizarre thread looking to buy a Hotwhopper Toasted Sandwich Maker (c) this is not a pointless point-scoring game.

    It's a stab at staving off starvation, war and extinction.

  27. @-Sang Som
    " I’ve been discussing economics with these guys on various blogs for about a decade, and it’s always a cart-before-the-horse issue. That is, come up with the conclusions first, then scramble to find the “evidence” in support of it. Regardless of which you view it, and whatever topic is at hand, it’s always logic done completely arse-backwards."

    Agreed, the confirmation bias is very strong, any evidence that can be cherry-mangled into a semblance of support for the preferred and a priori chosen position is eagerly promoted.
    To be fair, such confirmation bias is an error both sides can be prone too. But I have extreme difficulty in thinking of an example where a believer in climate catastrophe showed anything like the dedication to finding evidence, or a conspiracy and nefarious intent to UNDERplay the seriousness of the science, or the strength of the consensus.

    But there is another aspect to the backward logic, the look-for-evidence to support the chosen/preferred conclusion. It is why I do not seriously suggest that Tol is some kind of complex Poe. The other characteristic of the climate rejectionist and minimising groups is an acceptance of the convenient lie.

    On this thread and at ATTP Tol acts in ways that appall many and offend the norms of acceptable argument, in THIS context.
    But one of the most obvious and remarkable aspects of the climate denial groups, along with the whole Tea-Party context, is the ready acceptance of established falsehoods long after everybody else has accepted they are discredited BECAUSE they support the chosen dogma.

    Tol shows an example of this in his perserveration on trying to show something... ANYTHING wrong with Cook13.

    While the errors and arguments in bad faith are obvious and viewed as disreputable behavior in THIS context, in the world of libertarian dogma, (and WUWT?) such exposed duplicity is irrelevant. Only the assertion that the Cook13 paper is dubious counts.

    He accepts that it is a fact that around 97% of science agrees about the reality and dominant cause of AGW. But persists in trying to find a methodological error that would enable the study to be rejected as probably factual, but not trustworthy as 'true'.
    It is a position that seems to make a distinction between real facts, >97% of the science agrees on the warming and the cause; and 'true' facts. A methodological mistake, however tendentious and spuriously allocated to the Cook13 paper enables Tol to claim that while the consensus may be a real fact, the Cook paper has flaws that discredit it and therefore it fails to validate the consensus as a 'TRUE' or 'ACCURATE' fact.

    True facts of course are only those that support the pre-existing conclusion.

    No matter how flimsy, confirmation bias will enable Tol, and those like-minded who share his a priori conclusions, to assert that there is SOME methodological flaw that allows them to escape accepting that the 97% consensus is TRUE, even if they will grudgingly allow that it is probably real.

    1. Heck, I would hold that ALL research is always wrong, all of the time, merely because future research will have learned from previous papers, improve on them and get better results (or at very least, better constrained results).

      Could Cook13 have been done better? Sure! That applies to every single piece of research ever done! So, if there are better ways to do the research, it is incumbent on other researchers (ahem, Tol) to come up with better methods and show us the results.

      It's almost uncanny how similar the attacks on Cook13 have been to the attacks on MBH98/99. They claim the methods are horribly flawed! But then never are they capable of producing any research that shows results that are any different.

    2. I was about to make the very same comparison of Cook13 with MBH98 that Rob made. The denialist brigades that are so offended by these two papers are desperate to find methodoligal flaws that render the results apparently completely ignorable, but they ignore the fact that many pioneering papers are necessarily unrefined in their execution because little work has gone before. By their logic any study that it not asymptotically optimised should be erased from the scientific literature - do so would remove essentially all of the scientific literature and there would be no "shoulders of giants"...

      Further, these denialists also ignore the fact that many such pioneering studies are extremely robust to any shortcomings that may actually exist. The consensus study is a classic example, and the small margin of error inherent does nothing to change the fact that its results closely mirror the experience and understandings of most scientists who are familiar with climate change matters. Anyone who tries to claim otherwise is simply demonstrating that they are ignorant of the work and the workers in the discipline.

      But one thing is guaranteed. These folk will continue to promulgate their misrepresentations of the science even long after the temperature of the planet has consigned cohesive global society and ecosystem function to the annals of history.

    3. Cook13 is only a few years old.
      Fred Singer Recalls Silly Attack On Consensus And Naomi Oreskes By Klaus-Martin Schulte, Lord Monckton's Endocrinologist Front Man.

      That was a 2007/2008 attack on Oreskes(2004), partly based on material from Benny Peiser's 2005 attack, which he was forced to withdraw entirely by 2006 ... thanks to Tim Lambert and others. Singer still thought it was relevant ... in 2014.

    4. MBH98 is about 17 years old, has been replicated over and over, and is still a target.

      Creationists are still attacking Darwin's original work from the 19th century, using similar tactics.

      There's clearly no statute of limitations.

    5. Yes, but the attack on MBH is a whole separate topic :-)
      Whenever I unstack the current set of interrupts, I'll get back to the history started with MedievalDeception 2015: Inhofe Drags Senate Back To Dark Ages, which I think has one of the more detailed histories of an infamous graph that climate flat-earthers cling to, including a map of the 20x30 mile piece of England represented.

    6. izen, you been taking Willard pills?

    7. @-EliRabett
      "izen, you been taking Willard pills?"

      I suspect we have a similar source! -grin-

  28. I am truly amazed, that anyone would continue to fight Cook13. Of what value to RT could it be? Paid to fight it? Hubris? Looking for someone to get mad enough to threaten him so he can take it denialist blog for profit? Perhaps I'm wrong, he keeps FTC because he get off on public humiliation. Long time lurker, first time poster.

  29. I have consumed 97.1% of my popcorn while watching this thread. Do I need to buy more or use a better method of measuring my consumed/remaining popcorn? Bert

  30. Sou has shown yet again her surgical precision in dissecting the projections of an ignorant denialist. Rather than working on a cadaver, She got to work on a live one in real time. With every cut he complained and remonstrated. His serial sequential bleating led to the real cause of his ills or malfeasance for all to see. It was not a pretty sight. I am sure after his 'operation' he will go home and complain how they did it all wrong. The peanut gallery of denialists with a combined IQ of less than 97 would all agree without any real evidence. I have run out of popcorn! Bert

  31. By now many dozens of commenters have devoted many tens of thousands of words to rebutting Tol.

    I'm non sure he or his work is really worth the effort, really.

  32. For a guy doing research and presumably teaching others in a profession where numbers are really kind of important, Tol's apparent innumeracy is quite staggering (and makes one wonder what a full scale "auditing" of his past papers would turn up - McIntyre will be on it any minute, I'm sure). His apparent towering incompetence in basic data matters - and in the kind of SQL considerations that he himself implies are taught to first year PhD students - casts almost as large a shadow.

    Or maybe he's just innumerate and data-incompetent when it comes to discussions of climate science...perhaps for reasons some commenters have outlined above?

    It is conceivable that this commenter Tol is not the real Tol - but since this commenter Tol appears to be much the same as the commenter Tol that has appeared on many other sites, you'd think the real Tol would have figured out by now that an impostor was busily trashing his professional reputation and kicked up a big stink, so that hypothesis is pretty unlikely.

  33. Does Richard now accept that the 'errors' in Cook's paper are not errors. The criticism were based on false assumptions and assigning of motivated thinking to Cook.
    Richard, are you going to post a retraction of your previous statements.

    1. Richard says that the errors are nor errors but he does not accept that the errors are not errors


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