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« Moderation in all things | Main | My response to Bob Ward »

Bob's response

Here's Bob Ward's quickfire response from the previous thread, interspersed with my comments

So you have responded to my critique of your book with an ‘ad hominem’ attack on me – how very hilarious and predictable. You obviously cannot rebut or justify the inaccuracies that I have drawn attention to, so you resort to desperate tactics instead.

Well, I actually posted a pretty detailed rebuttal to each point you made and I provided a link in the Guardian piece to the blog post in which I did so. How unfortunate that you missed it!

What a shame - you could have explained how the errors occurred, or apologised for them. Or you could even have come clean about the other errors in your book. For instance, I pointed out that you falsely claimed that a paper by Shaopeng Huang and colleagues “never appeared in print”.

Well this is very interesting, because in fact it is not me that claims this, but David Deming. I would have thought it impossible to read the book without taking this on board - it's a blockquote, after all. What an unfortunate mistake you have made there (another one!).

What I did not have space to mention was that the alleged source of this inaccurate claim, a paper by David Deming, actually acknowledged that the paper by Huang and co-authors was published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Hold on, I thought you said I made the claim. It's excellent that you now say that it was Deming who said this, but I must say you seem a little unclear about all this.

But you decided not to quote the relevant part of Professor Deming’s paper which contained this information, hence giving a misleading impression of his views. You attempt to portray these multiple errors as “peripheral to the Hockey Stick story”.

Your answer on these two sentences lies in the fact that they are related - I didn't mention the fact that Deming said that Huang got his findings into print elsewhere because I was merely trying to illustrate the point that sceptics said it was difficult to get into the scientific literature. (see the extract from the book here). You keep (accidentally) telling everyone that I'm trying to prove a case of journal bullying re Huang, but as I don't actually say this, imply it or believe it...well, people can draw their own conclusions.

Yet your book’s erroneous account of the fate of the Huang et al paper invites readers to “compare it to later events in this story” and makes explicit reference to it elsewhere in his tale.

Correct! I do say this. I think the similarity of Huang's handling by Nature is very similar to what happened to McIntyre and McKitrick. The story of the M&M submission to Nature is presumably the other "explicit reference to it elsewhere in [the] tale" that you mention, isn't that right? It is, after all, the only other reference to Huang in the book, as I'm sure you know.

Which is very odd, because there is no mention of journal bullying when I discuss the M&M Nature submission either.  And you must have known this, because you have read the book, right? How on earth are you managing to connect both the M&M and the Huang Nature submissions to journal bullying when I suggest nothing of the sort on either occasion? What an unfortunate series of errors you have made, Bob!

In the concluding paragraph of his book, you warn readers of “the powerful, relentless forces of corrupted science”,


but the fundamental problem with your account is that it displays clear evidence throughout of confirmation bias – however, I am happy to accept that this was completely unintentional rather than deliberate.

You'll need to explain.

It remains to be seen whether your report for the Global Warming Policy Foundation also suffers from the same fundamental flaw.

The problem with claiming flaws without any evidence is that we're all none the wiser.

Is there anything else?

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Reader Comments (16)

I read your response without following the link back here, and felt it was rather lacking in substance (although also rather weak on the accused ad hom. too)

Reading the post you link to, it is clear that Ward is either too strongly focused on the emails, or is proposing his criticisms as a straw man, since they are truly side issues to the main discussion in the book (so the detail is bordering on irrelevant).

I feel the emails may be overplayed by some - they are not the proof, that is in the things which went before in the science and replication. All the emails did was to confirm some of the detail, and prompt the enquiries which themselves seem to have attracted more interest than was anticipated. (through an analysis if the process, rather than the end result)

Sep 10, 2010 at 7:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterSean Houlihane

A PR man, whose career and salary are based on his confirmation bias, accuses you, an amateur blogger (apart from the no doubt stupendous rewards from your book), of confirmation bias! He is truly a joker of monumental proportions or he suffers from chronic cognitive dissonance (I'm sure I've said that before).

Sep 10, 2010 at 7:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Bishop --

I think you are finally learning that you are not on the playing fields of Eaton -- or wherever you went to school. But on the other hand, you must learn to fight with your mind, not your heart. You are losing it on this particular post. You did much better on the Guardian posting. Perhaps it was because you took the time to reflect on it? Write, put away for a day, read. It's amazing what you will see.

Now back to my fairy tales, in case any of you have been wondering. I went back to the real world of fiction, instead of the fictional world of reality.

Sep 10, 2010 at 8:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

This is very funny and actually think you have got the tone just right.

Once again we have a critique of the book that seems to flail at air and come up with no real counter arguement.

Sep 10, 2010 at 10:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterJosh

The slips cordon is never out of the game when Bob is batting.

Sep 11, 2010 at 12:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterTony Hansen

I guess Bob Ward was forewarned by the Guardian and had this piece ready for pasting.

Sep 11, 2010 at 5:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterAntonyIndia

It will avail a serial-killer's defence team not a whit to point out all the people he hasn't murdered. If you will pardon my hyperbolic analogy.

Sep 11, 2010 at 12:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterBob Layson

OK, after going back through the tit & tat of Bob Ward's attempt to disprove evidence of malfeasance by ignoring said evidence and remaining focused elsewhere (Haung), I think there may be another explanation for Ward's obsession worth investigating.

Maybe he so fixated on the Haung struggle because he knows those struggles WERE acts of journal bullying. Just because Monckton doesn't make the connection doesn't mean there was one.

Either way, Ward is barking up a useless tree.

Sep 11, 2010 at 7:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterAJStrata

AJ Strata

Monckton? Don't tell me you are mistaking me for the noble lord too?

Sep 11, 2010 at 7:34 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

Maurizio has a link here
to a conference of psychoanalysts on how to counter climate denialism. Guest “discussant” - you guessed - Bob “say-the-first-thing-that-comes-into-your-mind” Ward.

Sep 11, 2010 at 7:39 PM | Unregistered Commentergeoffchambers


Did you notice the conference programme includes "1700 - Breakout Groups"? I expect some of the audience will start digging the escape tunnel long before then.

Sep 11, 2010 at 8:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterDreadnought

Geoff, Dreadnought, I find the topics up for discussion in the "Engaging with Climate Change" event rather intriguing. “Great Expectations: some psychic consequences of the discovery of personal ecological debt" for instance. Almost worth the price of admission, just to find out what on earth it means.

Sep 11, 2010 at 9:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlex Cull


Have you come across the postmodern essay generator?

Jusi keep refreshing the page.

Sep 11, 2010 at 9:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterDreadnought

Dreadnought, that's a great link. Eerily brilliant.

Sep 11, 2010 at 10:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlex Cull

Geoff - "Engaging with Climate Change: Psychoanalytic Perspectives" looks an absolute must! I think the Bishop should drop them a line to see if they want a balancing voice for Bob W. It'd be a terrible wasted opportunity for advancement of knowledge if the event were dominated by unrecognised, unconscious templates brought by participants: Could the Bishop's presence be a therapeutic intervention reducing psychic consequences for all concerned?!

Sep 11, 2010 at 11:57 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

"Have you come across the postmodern essay generator?"

Fascinating -- But what does the peer reviewing? Perhaps I need to download an app for my computer to judge? And if that is the case, why doesn't the computer app simply read the article and not bother me?

All very confusing. Are humans superfluous? If they computers can write, peer review, read, and then judge the value of an article, what is left for us? Do we become mere flashlight batteries as suggested in "The Matrix"?

The really scary part is that some of the articles make more sense that the garbage written for "Nature". Or Bob Ward, for that matter.

Sep 12, 2010 at 2:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterRomeo

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