Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Leopards and spots - a warning to climate scientists

Sou | 7:20 PM Go to the first of 24 comments. Add a comment
A short while ago, Reginal Perrin commented about Anthony Watts moderating out a fairly ordinary conspiracy theory as far as WUWT goes. The theory put forward by WUWT regular Charles Nelson, and embellished by dbstealey (aka ex-WUWT moderator Smokey, dbs, DBoehm etc) was that scientists are fraudulently changing data to suit some agenda of the US government. That's a theory that Anthony Watts has posited in the past himself, so it raises the question of why he decided to moderate out and delete these comments.

There are three possibilities I can think of. One is that Anthony is getting a bit twitchy because denier antics are under the spotlight. Anthony Watts might be afraid of repercussions from the war he's been waging against science and scientists for the past several years. On the one hand he is posting a lot of "breaking news" about CEI and the preliminary investigation in ExxonMobil and how CEI is being prevented from speaking freely (as if). At the same time he is posting "breaking news" about CEI's FOI campaigns against scientists, trying to stop them from "speaking freely". Anthony might be worried that he'll get hauled into court himself.

Another more remote possibility is that he is wanting to get on the good side of scientists. In a recent article he wrote about "peer review" on his blog, as if he was flagging a shift away from his usual pseudoscience. He might be able to con some gullible scientists into "peer review". If he does, let's hope they understand that they are setting themselves up for harassment and lynching, and are unlikely to make a dent in the "beliefs" of Anthony's conspiracy theorising readers.

Still another possibility is that he has decided to tone down the conspiracy theorising. The last couple of articles from Tim Ball have barely alluded to his One World Government conspiracy theory, if at all. (They've still got conspiracy theories about the IPCC.) He'll have a battle on his hands, trying to juggle his contention that scientists are fudging data with a ban on conspiracy theories. His readers will end up a tad confused about what versions of the "climate hoax" conspiracy theory are allowable at WUWT and what are not.

What comments are okay at WUWT?

Anthony is struggling with who to let comment on his blog, and what comments to complain about. He said he wanted to keep WUWT "clean and orderly", but is incapable of maintaining a civil demeanour himself.  That's probably because he regards any comment that protests the nonsense at WUWT as spewing "invective, hate, and rants".

Here are some examples of how WUWT treats anyone who doesn't toe the "climate hoax" line. In this first example, Wagen comments on the fact that Anthony Watts campaigns on behalf of the disinformation lobby group, CEI, which has received substantial funds from ExxonMobil:
May 23, 2016 at 2:16 pm
“The world’s most viewed site on global warming and climate change” is actually a site that pushes the CEI view (which we all know was fueled by fossil fuel interests).
Anthony Watts replied in a less than civil and rather vulgar manner:
[There’s nothing untrue about my masthead statement, and despite your hateful views often exponded on here, I don’take any money from CEI, Exxon, or anybody else to publish these news items. If the fact that I do publish factual court documents upsets your one-side world view, then that’s just too bad. As far as I’m concerned, you can take your opinion stated from behind the protection of anonymity and shove it up the bodily orifice of your choice – Anthony Watts]

In this second example, Spaatch wrote an innocuous and factual comment, just a straight quote from another website, without invective:
May 23, 2016 at 10:57 pm
Founded in 1984, CEI is a Washington – based conservative think tank.
CEI is at the center of the global warming misinformation campaign.
With more than a $3 million annual budget, CEI is supported by both conservative foundations and corporate funding. Known corporate funders in addition to ExxonMobil include the American Petroleum Institute, Cigna Corporation, Dow Chemical, EBCO Corp, General Motors, and IBM. One of CEI’s prominent funders is conservative Richard Scaife who has provided money through the Carthage and Sara Scaife Foundations. CEI is also heavily supported by the various Koch brother foundations.
In this case, the response was from "mod", who said it didn't matter, implying that it's okay for CEI to be at the centre of a global warming misinformation campaign. The "mod" decided that copying and pasting the above was spouting "hate", writing:
[and none of this matters, its what is being done in court that matters, but go ahead, spout hate -mod

It looks as if Anthony might have banned another thorn in his side, Steven Mosher. He hasn't been seen at WUWT since Anthony Watts closed a thread [Update: Steven Mosher is back after a short absence. He said he's now been "unbanned"], writing:
May 20, 2016 at 12:27 pm
OK thanks to Mr. Mosher, this thread is getting out of hand and over the top. Expect a phone call, Steven. 

Steven Mosher's crimes were like this comment, where he pointed out how the UAH satellite temperature data have gone through multiple changes over the years:
May 20, 2016 at 10:34 am
Here is a challenge Bob.
Go Ask Roy Spencer for his first version of UAH
[Go ask Gavin Schmidt for the code to GISS, ditto for Tom Karl and his unreplicable outside of NOAA data processing – Anthony
That comment from Anthony was an example of how he makes up stuff. You can download GISS code here. And the data processing for NOAA is described in various papers.

Another example of Steven Mosher annoying Anthony was his comment suggesting how to compare a 1981 dataset of temperature with CMIP5 model outputs:
May 20, 2016 at 10:55 am
you cannot simply compare them.
They right way to do it would be to mask the CMIP5 using the locations from the 1987 data.
Or maybe it was his response to Walter Sobchak, who falsely alleged that scientists are lying, which seems to be okay in WUWT-land:
May 20, 2016 at 8:04 am
It is not the earth that is being cooked, it is the data.
Figures don’t lie. Liars figure.

Steven Mosher replied:
May 20, 2016 at 10:57 am
Arrest them all,, its the new WUWT motto

Although it could have been this one that got Anthony all riled up. Steven Mosher was replying to a comment by TA, who falsely alleged nefarious activity on the part of scientists. In this case, both the mod and Anthony Watts didn't object to the false allegations, but they both objected to objections to the false allegations:
May 20, 2016 at 11:02 am
None of the charts show the 1930’s as hotter than 1998, so Hansen’s 1987 model must be using bastardized data, too. Am I wrong?
Note how anthony lets any speculation slide by moderation..
[Reply: Do you prefer censorship? -mod]
Speculations and assertions that fit his bias.
you might as well invite Goddard back to post, you let him sock puppet with impunity
is it any wonder that people dont take this seriously any more?
is it any wonder that serious discussion goes to places like Judith’s
No. its pretty clear.
Of course in the old days rank speculation about crimes and fraud would not get past moderation.
never at a place like climate audit and rarely at WUWT..
but now… ya.. we didnt land on the moon and all the data is cooked.
Oh wait… Watts 2010 used cooked data.. will watts 2016(7)(8)(??) use the data that WUWT readers swear is cooked?
[Oh jeez Mosher, moon landing? cooked data? Goddard is sock-puppeting? You are off your nut. You’ve just shot your own credibility to hell. -Anthony
That exchange might explain why Anthony is making a weak show of objecting to conspiracy theories, while promoting conspiracy theories on his "climate hoax" blog.

Deniers are in the doldrums

What is evident is that deniers are in a tough spot at the moment. They will most likely start "ice age cometh" comments again when the global temperatures drop again next year, after this year's most likely third in a row "hottest ever". The next few months will be difficult for them. They will make the most of drops in the monthly anomalies in the meantime, however their cries will seem hollow. They won't be helped if Arctic sea ice continues to plunge:

Arctic sea ice to date. Source: NSIDC

Scientists beware: Leopards don't change their spots

The main point I want to make is that leopards don't change their spots. Anthony Watts earns a decent income from advertising revenue, donations and the occasional fund drive. His audience wants and expects WUWT to defame and vilify scientists and their work, and would soon depart if Anthony Watts shifted to writing proper science articles. He won't, so they've no need to worry on that score. He's recently said that "climate has become mostly political now", and he wears his politics on his sleeve. The last time that I can recall an article by climate scientists was the one by Richard Betts and Tamsin Edwards in November 2014, which was bare-faced opportunism from Anthony Watts, setting them up for his WUWT lynch mob.

If any scientist is taken in by him in the future, don't say you've not been warned.

References and further reading

CEI and ExxonMobil funding - from ExxonSecrets.org

Exxon the road not taken - articles by Inside Climate News

Disgusting Deniers: Anthony Watts exploits the publicity he got from Tim Ball - HotWhopper article about the treatment dished out to Richard Betts and Tamsin Edwards at WUWT

An economist should know better, maybe ...but what about Anthony Watts? - HotWhopper article listing some of the pseudo-science typical of WUWT

More perversity from Anthony Watts @wattsupwiththat - HotWhopper article about the spin Anthony Watts put on things, when he falsely accused Dr Tom Peterson and NOAA scientists of fraud


  1. Apparently I overstepped a line. Follow-up comments do not make it through.


    1. And yet there are people (and mods) who promote the wrong idea that there's no censorship at WUWT :(

    2. This was my (Wagen's) reply to Anthony which did not appear (replies to other commenters did not appear either; don't know if I'm truely banned, need to try out on some other thread soon):

      "There's nothing untrue about my masthead statement"

      Did I say there was?

      "and despite your hateful views often exponded on here"

      Oh! Do tell me where I was more hateful than "shove it up the bodily orifice of your choice"?

      "I don'take any money from CEI, Exxon, or anybody else to publish these news items."

      This might be true. But you feed off them, allowing the CEI people to do several pieces on you blog (without critical commentary).

      "If the fact that I do publish factual court documents upsets your one-side world view, then that's just too bad. "

      Upset? Where did you get that idea. Court documents in favor of CEI are just that. Nothing more. Most of the arguments are drivel anyway. Let's see what the judge says ;)

      "As far as I'm concerned, you can take your opinion stated from behind the protection of anonymity and shove it up the bodily orifice of your choice - Anthony Watts"

      I love it when when you want to put your [some hard evidence] in my [all too welcoming ignorance].


    3. Anthony Watts himself claimed to me there was no censorship. I bet he was prepared to use the "but that is not my dog" defense if cornered.

    4. WUWT may claim they are not getting any money from Exxon etc.

      But what if they get money from a lobby group that has fossil fuel companies as customers? And what about anonymous donations and "tip jar" contributions?

      I so want to see some of this get put to the test in a court of law, it may be subpoenaed one day with a bit of luck.

    5. I doubt he gets money from lobby groups or Donors Trust or anyone else like that. He's too small time, plus why pay for what you can get for free?

      Anthony doesn't pay his writers AFAIK. I don't think he pays his blog moderators. And I doubt CEI would bother to pay him. Heartland pays him to talk at their conferences, when he does, but not for blogging. His one grant from a donor he snaffled via Heartland dried up with only half the promised payment IIRC, which was big enough (around $40k of around $80k I think).

      (He should rake in a fair amount from advertising, given his readership plus quite a few people make regular donations. I think he relies on that more than he intended, and doesn't earn much from anything else these days. I don't know if it's enough to pay the bills. Probably not, going by his occasional fund drives and other attempts like his OAS. He often cries poor.)

    6. Comment on another blog post doesn't come through either (2 hours). Seems I am banned :D

      No message on my outlook.com mail address either that WUWT knows about. Shut down without warning! :D

  2. spaatch you still out there friend?

    1. Yeah mate. I also post as CeeBee and a few other names here and there..

    2. lots of fun at facebook climate change discussion group, shit fight, glad you are still going strong

  3. La Nina is coming, like the fish in Finding Nemo that gets excited when bubbles appear, the deniers will proclaim a new ice age in a few months as temperatures stop breaking records.

    1. Yes, they will have another satellite temperature spike to play games with.

    2. I don't think that's going to be a problem somehow. It's an uneven distribution, and meanwhile we'll probably have a few US East Coast hurricanes, which always disturbs the dovecotes.

      The Arctic and Greenland are so off the charts, that will be disruptive as well.

  4. Even if Watts is receiving money to peddle his crud, he won't have violated any U.S. laws. Although he and his contributors step close to the line with respect to libel, and many Wattites go far beyond it, the as yet hypothetical prosecution of oil companies like ExxonMobil is based on the claim that senior executives knowingly misled shareholders and investors regarding the future business risks posed by climate change and reduction methods such as carbon taxes, or the risk of stranded assets.

    Small fry like Watts would be at most called to testify about quid pro quos, what he was expected to deliver in return for funding (if he was funded).

    1. I am hoping the Panama leaks might highlight a money trail or two that could be interesting.

  5. A couple weeks ago Willard attacked Richard Betts based on the college dropout's misunderstanding of the Twitter timeline which everyone but Watts knows shows the most recent tweet first. Even though the error was pointed out to Willard almost immediately, it took a week for Watt's to acknowledge his mistake and of course he blamed Twitter for confusing him. What happened a week later that convinced the intellectual midget to correct his mistake? It might have something to do with comments from Eli Rabbit and Saul.


    FYI Mosher posted at WUWT on May 25.

    1. It's happened before - with a tweet from Steve Goddard, and again when he wrongly thought Bill McKibben had blocked him on Twitter.

      Anthony claims to be tech-savvy. I've not seen any evidence of that.

  6. Sou, it appears that one of your tweets may be responsible for the correction made to the USGS post at WUWT two weeks ago. I was shocked to see that the Mods let your tweet be posted.


    1. Yes, I sent an email to USGS as well as tweeting. They responded quite quickly with info.


    2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    3. Wrong speculation, RP. (It was an ailment from childhood.)

    4. That is good to know, thank you for setting me straight. As much as I dislike him, I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy.

  7. wow.. shut the thread down with a couple of innocent observations and a couple of sarcastic remarks.. jeez

    1. Anthony's been having a lot of bad hair days lately. So he takes it out on his blog by shutting off comments (aka packing up his toys and waltzing off in a huff).


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