Seen elsewhere
The calendar

Click to buy!

Support

 

Twitter
Buy

Click images for more details

Recent posts
Recent comments
Currently discussing
Links

A few sites I've stumbled across recently....

Powered by Squarespace
« Matt massacres Malthusians | Main | Atlas mounting »
Tuesday
Sep202011

Cooking the books

Skeptical Science and its host, John Cook, have been much commented upon recently, the site's grubby treatment of Roger Pielke Snr having caused considerable disquiet. I'm grateful to reader PaulM for pointing me to another example of the way things are done on John Cook's watch.

Take a look at this page on the site. It's an older article, dating back to 2008, and it covers the vexed question of whether Antarctica is gaining or losing ice.

Skeptic arguments that Antarctica is gaining ice frequently hinge on an error of omission, namely ignoring the difference between land ice and sea ice.

This is not a straightforward area of science. As the article goes on to explain,

One must also be careful how you interpret trends in Antarctic sea ice. Currently this ice is increasing and has been for years but is this the smoking gun against climate change? Not quite.

and then expands on this by pointing out that in Antarctica,

sea ice is not the most important thing to measure. In Antarctica, the most important ice mass is the land ice sitting on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet and the East Antarctic Ice Sheet.

...which of course is shrinking, we are told.

So there you go, simple enough even for a sceptic to follow. Or perhaps not simple enough - take a look at comment #3 from AnthonySG1:

OK smarties. If Antarctica is overall losing ice, then how do you explain the data?
http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/current.area.south.jpg

The Arctic doesn't seem to be doing so bad anymore, also:
http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/current.area.jpg

This particular scurvy sceptic is sent packing with a rapier-like thrust:

Response: It's somewhat discouraging that the first point I make is that people often fail to distinguish between sea ice and land ice. They are two separate phenomena. And yet you repeat the error. To clarify, Antarctica is losing land ice at an accelerating rate. Sea ice around Antarctica is increasing. The reasons for sea ice increasing in a warming Southern Ocean are complex and described in detail above.

And then there's comment #5 from PaulM himself:

The misinformation on this site is astonishing. Antarctic ice is increasing.
In addition to the cryosphere link provided Anthony,
This is confirmed by NSIDC,
http://nsidc.org/data/smmr_ssmi_ancillary/regions/total_antarctic.html
by NCDC,
http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/research/2008/apr/global.html#seaice
and by numerous scientific papers, including
Cavalieri and Parkinson, J. Geophys. Res. 113, C07004 (2008),
Comiso and Nishio, J. Geophys. Res. 113, CO2S07 (2008).

You have managed to find one paper that finds a decrease - but that only covers a 3 year period! Obviously you cannot get a significant trend from 3 years data.

These sceptics! How do you get through to them? Send 'em packing again:

Response: Please, people, pay attention! Sea ice is increasing. Land ice is decreasing. Read and reread the post above  until you realise they are two separate phenomena.

The exchange is, apparently at least, a damning indictment of the behaviour of what are sometimes referred to as "so-called sceptics".

Well, damning of the sceptics, that is, until you examine the same page on the Wayback Machine. The archive version is dated 3 February 2009, nearly six months after the comments were posted.

And its completely different!

While East Antartica is gaining ice due to increased precipitation, Antartica is overall losing ice. This is mostly due to melting in West Antarctica which recently featured the largest melting observed by satellites in the last 30 years. As well as melting, Antartic glaciers are accelerating further adding to sea level rise.

Astonishingly, more than six months after having their errors pointed out to them, the denizens of Skeptical Science rewrote the article and then inserted comments suggesting that their commenters hadn't read the article properly.

I'm simply flabbergasted.

And it's even more amazing when one recalls that Skeptical Science was recently the recipient of an award from the Australian Museum for services to climate science.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

Reader Comments (252)

Well, he is only a cartoonist (sorry Josh!)

I like to think of them all as cartoon characters - who've just reached the classic scenario where they've run over the cliff without quite realising, and their little legs are running like mad to try and escape the inevitable effect of gravity.

Sep 20, 2011 at 9:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterFoxgoose

Talk about the (dishonest) games people play. And the very sad thing is that - at this point - it is not in the least surprising.

Sep 20, 2011 at 9:22 PM | Unregistered Commenterhro001


“Those who control the present, control the past and those who control the past control the future.”

Or so they want to believe

Only that you need to be a bit more grown up to try

Sep 20, 2011 at 9:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterPatagon

'Waiting for Godot'

Sep 20, 2011 at 9:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterPharos

Skeptical Science is Crook, John

Sep 20, 2011 at 9:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterGras Albert

Skeptical Science 'quality' can be judge by the fact the 'Team' recommend it as go to web site to gain information . How you can actual have skepticism when everything that can support AGW is automatically consider valid and anything the Team say is treated like its written in words of fire on tablets of stone and comes straight from god, is a mystery.

Sep 20, 2011 at 9:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterKnR

The Michaels quote is curiously different between the two as well. I had a look for the original and found a near match in this Michaels article

http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=9136

It looks clear that Skeptical Science just mushed different parts of Michaels article into one apparent statement in the first example, then simplified it even further for the second version - pretty shoddy even if you can argue the meaning is intact. I wouldn't trust a site that was this cavalier with quotes and content, let alone the science.

Sep 20, 2011 at 9:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

The saddest part is that they do so with intent. This means that Cook knew he was wrong yet did so anyway. It also implies, somewhat indirectly, that he is harboring doubts in his own mind (why lie otherwise?) Cognitive dissonance: the ability to hold two contradictory ideas simultaneously.

Mark

Sep 20, 2011 at 9:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterMark T

"The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you've got it made. " - Groucho Marx

Sep 20, 2011 at 10:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac

John Cook - Faux Skeptic

Sep 20, 2011 at 10:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac

You failed to note that there has been a major restructuring of SkS since that article was first written and most of the original rebuttals have since been rewritten in the familiar (to North American skiers, at least) green, blue, black levels of scientific detail. The rewritten (in 2010) article has a response updated to reflect the new content of the article. Moles must be whacked.

Sep 20, 2011 at 10:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterRattus Norvegicus

Cooking the books.

Sep 20, 2011 at 10:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterFrederick Bloggsworth

Rattus

You are not seriously defending what they did?

Seriously?

Sep 20, 2011 at 10:16 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

Well when there's a whole planet to defend, the Protection Squadron can't waste time in subtleties like behaving ethically to fellow human beings, can they?

Sep 20, 2011 at 10:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterMaurizio Morabito

Just posted at SS inviting them to comment.

We'll see.

Sep 20, 2011 at 10:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterFoxgoose

rattus

is there a clear audit trail? Otherwise people who dip in and out would easily consider that , if there has been a change of view, then the site is unreliable. However, a clear trail showing the changes from month to month would build credibility.

Sep 20, 2011 at 10:28 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

Realclimate is also part of the Guardian Environment Network..

At The Airvent they noticed a RC comment, which suggested that links to Climate Audit, Pielke Snr and Lucia's Balckboard, be included in the Other Opinions section of the blog roll..

The RC incomment reply that upset 1 or 2 people was from Dr Eric Steig (Antartica Nature cover fame)

was that RealClimate considered those Mcintyre, Lucia & Pilke Snr DISHONEST and would not link...


They then deleted all further comments from that person, whilst allowing the regulars to pile on (ie Ray, etc) How do I know further comments were deleted, because it was, yours truly, and I posted my 'missing Realclimate comments' into the comments at the AirVent.

Is this the conduct that the Guardians Environment Network aspires to:

http://noconsensus.wordpress.com/2010/07/01/extreme-climate/

RC extract:...
"Being not-listed could mean that a) we haven't heard of the site, b) that it is uninteresting or unimportant, or c) that we consider it dishonest or disingenuous with respect to the science. Pielke Jr, Blackboard, and ClimateAudit all fall squarely into the latter category.--eric]

Sep 20, 2011 at 10:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Doesn't this set a record? How bad off can you be that you take the time to revisit archived debates on your blog so that you sound better and your opponents sound worse? I don't think I have ever known of another person who placed so little value on his own time.

Think about it. Why would you do if you visited an archived debate here involving you and the Bish and found that he had written brilliant new responses to you. In the case of the Bish certainly, and maybe in the case of any sane person, it is unthinkable.

Sep 20, 2011 at 10:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheo Goodwin

While East Antartica is gaining ice due to increased precipitation, Antartica is overall losing ice.

Assuming this statement is correct, is the loss due to melting or sublimation? They are not the same at all. And if it were due to melting, why does the increase in precipitation (snow) cause a increase, while there is a decrease where there is less precipitation. This phenomenon, if as reported, can only be explained by relative rates of precipitation and sublimation as melting, had it occurred, would have melted the new precipitation as well.

Pretty sad -- and disingenuous

Sep 20, 2011 at 10:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra.

disinenuous....a word written on John Cook's teddy bear, Don Pablo!

Sep 20, 2011 at 10:35 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

Sceptical Science 'Argument' articles are regularly updated, mainly in response to reader feedback or new research.

Sep 20, 2011 at 10:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterMark S

At the time Steve Mcintyre said this (at the Air Vent)

4.Steve McIntyre said
July 1, 2010 at 7:57 pm
Steig has made a number of comments about me that are untrue and defamatory. I regard his comments as very offensive. Whether it’s worthwhile doing anything about them is another matter entirely.

http://noconsensus.wordpress.com/2010/07/01/extreme-climate/#comment-30909

Lucia:
http://noconsensus.wordpress.com/2010/07/01/extreme-climate/#comment-30949

Me, (deleted at RC)suggesting linking to a journalist with a Deniars Hall of Fame(monbiot) but not Pielke, didn't help RC:
http://noconsensus.wordpress.com/2010/07/01/extreme-climate/#comment-30966

Deleted at RC again:
http://noconsensus.wordpress.com/2010/07/01/extreme-climate/#comment-30983

It was discussed at Collide a Scape:
and Gavin Schmidt gave his view (off topic deleted, then why not RAY?)
http://noconsensus.wordpress.com/2010/07/01/extreme-climate/#comment-30984

Sep 20, 2011 at 10:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

The SS mods have spoken -

Moderator Response: The Bishop Hill post is being reviewed by the SkS author team as we speak.

But where exactly on the space-time continuum does "as we speak" sit ?

Maybe we'll find they've responded to Bish's post before he wrote it.

Sep 20, 2011 at 10:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterFoxgoose

Sceptical Science 'Argument' articles are regularly updated, mainly in response to reader feedback or new research
Sep 20, 2011 at 10:38 PM Mark S

....or the very natural human desire to avoid ridicule

Sep 20, 2011 at 10:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterFoxgoose

Foxgoose: "Maybe we'll find they've responded to Bish's post before he wrote it."

That was the next step, wasn't it?

Doubtless, they will maintain that they have improved their representation of the science as their understanding has deepened. I still think it is a golf rule 13 violation; improving one's lie.

Sep 20, 2011 at 10:58 PM | Unregistered Commenterj ferguson

There is no honesty in climatology.

Sep 20, 2011 at 10:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterZT

The degree of dishonesty at SS can only be appreciated by closely following the postings in real time to understand the degree to which the moderators abuse their powers by removing posts by those making sensible arguments against the established "truth", often without explanation leaving no trace, yet allow the SS team players infinite latitude in abusing or denigrating those who bring original thinking to a table dominated by contributors who merely present parrot fashion, the work of those who they consider to be the holders of the truth.

Sep 20, 2011 at 11:01 PM | Unregistered Commenterjohnd

I think if you look deep enough you will find Skeptical Science's position has been consistent all along.

Land ice is and has been increasing, although east antarctic land ice may be increasing, but at a lower rate than the west antarctic is decreasing.

And the antarctic sea ice has been increasing.

And antarctic sea ice is problematic as a metric for AGW anyway. If the major Antarctic ice sheet were disintegrating, I would not be surprised to see sea ice streching all the way to Hobart.

Sep 20, 2011 at 11:14 PM | Unregistered Commenterbob droege

Quite Orwellian. Miniskep?

Sep 20, 2011 at 11:15 PM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth

@Mark S

"Sceptical Science 'Argument' articles are regularly updated, mainly in response to reader feedback or new research."

Respectable blogs use a strikeout of the old text so that the reader can see the edit. Such a change informs the reader. They do not add a comment suggesting that the edited version was "the first point I make". Such changes are intended to disinform the reader.

Sep 20, 2011 at 11:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterGeoff Cruickshank

Quite Orwellian. Miniskep?

Sep 20, 2011 at 11:15 PM simpleseekeraftertruth


Or Miniclim?

Sep 20, 2011 at 11:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterFoxgoose

Certain trolls on this blog use SKunk Science for their "research",

However, when Dana 1981 and John Cook made an appearance here, they also had to refer to stuff they had written themselves, because there was no other supporting evidence.

A bit like some IPCC authors really.

Sep 20, 2011 at 11:35 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charley

Let's take rattus at his word. And lets assume that SS does improve its articles over time.

I would say they owe the people who comment an acknowledgement at least.

It is not unprecedented for an author, even the author of a scientific paper to acknowledge the help, even criticism of blog players.

Sep 20, 2011 at 11:44 PM | Unregistered Commentersteven mosher

Great work in exposing this disingenuous rewriting of history.

Good title too, although you could have called it "COOK'S CROCKS"

Sep 20, 2011 at 11:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterP. Solar

The 'army of ones' continues the march for the truth. It's grassroots and unstoppable. Carry on, the cat's out of the bag!

Sep 20, 2011 at 11:53 PM | Unregistered Commentereyesonu

Mark S, Dana1981, John Cook and other SKS acolytes

Is there anything stated by Al Gore, James Hansen, the IPCC and Hockey Team, that you would like to admit was not entirely correct?

Do you still stand by everything claimed in "An Inconvenient Truth"?

Rising sea levels?

Rising temperatures?

Falling/rising rainfall?

Loss of snow cover?

Sep 21, 2011 at 12:02 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charley

P. Solar

Cook's Crock of Crooked Croneyism?

Sep 21, 2011 at 12:05 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charley

Perhaps it is the -- somewhat Jesuit/illuminist/... -- credo of financiers, politicians, "scientists", media, ... in the field of AGW(c)(TM):

The end justifies the means.

?

Sep 21, 2011 at 12:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterSeptember 2011

I do not think Rattus or Mark S have dared to open the Wayback Machine link, showing how the SS team didn't just "update" a blog post.

Having rewritten the "argument", SS could have removed the old comments; or leave them with a note saying they had become out-of-date; or a different note specifying that the new version of the page addressed the issue highlighted by the commenter, eg AnthonySG1's.

Instead, the SS team decided to rewrite history (the Ahnenerbe would have been proud). SS opted for tampering with the contribution of commenters such as AnthonySG1 and PaulM (members of us skeptical and therefore inferior race), transforming them into total trolls in a way that that shows not a jot of attempt of respecting fellow human beings.

Why would the SS do that? Total disregard for skeptical visitors of course means SS is completely focused on indoctrinating the believing masses, and especially the scientifically-illiterate journalists visiting the site. Therefore the SS "narrative" has to be linear, clean to the point of being spotless, with not a single error or omission, and not a meaningful point by any skeptic in a million years.

All together now...Wenn alle untreu werden, so bleiben wir doch treu...

Sep 21, 2011 at 12:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterMaurizio Morabito

Moderator Response: The Bishop Hill post is being reviewed by the SkS author team as we speak.

I really don't know how to take this. Are they
1) going to censor what we say?
2) sending black helicopters to punish us?
3) using this blog to learn a bit about science?

Clearly they are now very careful to differentiate floating ice from non-floating ice. You don't suppose that they learned that floating ice when it melts doesn't increase the level of the surrounding water from reading this blog?

Perhaps we should send them a bill for tuition. Or at least wave the tip jar under their nose.

Josh a potential cartoon about them using BH as an educational resource might be buried in this.

I do hope they look up "sublimation" and learn why ice can disappear even when frozen solid.

Sep 21, 2011 at 12:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra.

"As well as melting, Antartic glaciers are accelerating further adding to sea level rise."
Hate to break it to ya, but the sea level is actually DROPPING, see here http://climate4you.com/images/UnivColorado%20MeanSeaLevelSince1992%20With1yrRunningAverage.gif
This "sea level rise" is thus seen as nothing more than a bald faced lie.
Since the Sceptical Science site is advocating that we spend billions, nay, trillions of (insert currency here) , as well as basically shutting down the world economy, thus doing great harm to every country, can they be sued (by everyone everywhere) for their willfull and deliberate false imformation? They should be.
You can do it right after you sue them for libel for the above bald faced lie, where we can see that they willfully lied, changing the article in a deleberate attempt to libel the commentators. Go for it, be ruthless. If they lie this blatently, they cannot be convinced by reason, however, they can be punished to stop them, and anyone else who tries this sort of thing, from ever even thinking of doing it again.
Go ahead, bring it to a lawyer, this one is so clear cut his 30% cut will having him slavering to get on with it.

Sep 21, 2011 at 12:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterLegatus

BH, no, I don't cook any books. How SkS works is that the rebuttals to climate myths are organized as an encyclopedic reference, as opposed to blog posts which are more like snapshots in time. This means I regularly update old rebuttals when new data is released or when new papers are published. In this case, I updated my original rebuttal of the "Antarctica is gaining ice" myth with the latest GRACE data from Velicogna 2009 and while I was at it, also incorporated references to a number of other papers, trying to give a broad overview of what the peer-reviewed science had to say about what was happening in Antarctica.

When I posted the responses to those particular comments, I mistakenly thought they were comments to the updated post (SkS is a big site so I don't keep track of all the comments as they come in). So in responding to the commenters, thinking they hadn't read the updated article, I was unfair to them. It was an honest mistake but I'm a little annoyed with myself for making it because the focus on the timing of comments and responses distracts attention from the science discussed: Antarctic land ice is shrinking at an accelerating rate but Antarctic sea ice is increasing despite the fact that the Southern Ocean is warming faster than the rest of the world's oceans. This information is accurate, derived from peer-reviewed research, as SkS's main commitment is to maintain fidelity to the peer-reviewed literature.

Sep 21, 2011 at 12:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Cook

j ferguson: "I still think it is a golf rule 13 violation; improving one's lie."

An improved lie is still a lie. ;)

Sep 21, 2011 at 12:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterHaroldW

John Cook explanation translation...

And it would have worked too except for that meddling wayback machine!

-J

Sep 21, 2011 at 12:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterJames

A picture is worth 1,000 words:
http://lh5.ggpht.com/_gmR8fkmAnjw/S6mEPUJG0xI/AAAAAAAAAw4/mGNeSNCJQ1Q/JohnCookSkep190.jpg

Now you know what you are talking about.

Sep 21, 2011 at 1:01 AM | Unregistered Commentergallopingcamel

Mr Cook,

Any branch of 'science' that allows regression lines (Dessler) or model verifications (Mann et al) with R2 coefficients of 0.02 to pass peer review has no credibility whatsoever. It is dead in the water, corrupt and worthless. If your grasp of statistics is insufficient to understand this, which is clearly the case, you have no role to play in pretending to educate anybody or anything.

Simple as that.

My credentials? PhD in statistical modelling for a start, fully peer-reviewed (not just a viva) in a field that actually knows how to use stats and isn't a toxic swamp of dissemblers.

Sep 21, 2011 at 1:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterSayNoToFearmongers

This means I regularly update old rebuttals when new data is released or when new papers are published.

When you update your old rebuttals, how is it that you wrote responses to commenters that makes it appear as though they don't know what they are talking about,and you do?

Sep 21, 2011 at 1:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterShub

I think it would be good grace to accept John Cook's admission of an error. At least he had the integrity to come on this blog and offer a plausible explanation for what happened. I would hope that he would flag this error on the page of skepticalscience so readers know that the comments and moderation are actually at odds in relation to the article content.

Of course whether the 'rebuttal' is correct is another matter, and the issue of relative growth/loss of land ice vs sea ice/ east vs west Antarctica remains moot. For John's sake, I do hope the 'rebuttal' is not in any way founded on Steig's paper.

Sep 21, 2011 at 1:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterGixxerboy

Like the cold inducing "Gore Effect" there must be an almost one hundred percent strike rate between the presenting of some supposedly prestigious award to a "warmista / consensus" individual, site or organisation and the rapid uncovering of some serious and deliberately misleading distortions and corruption of the data and the science underpinning that warmista's CAGW claims.

The Catastrophic Climate Change Believer's Award syndrome;
Win a [ formerly] prestigious award and have it publicly confirmed that your climate science is distorted and corrupted and your tolerance of any contrarian views is non existent.

Sep 21, 2011 at 1:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterROM

John Cook, you wrote

"that the rebuttals to climate myths are organized as an encyclopedic reference".

• Where are SS' rebuttals to (climate/elitist) myths like: "peer review is inspiring confidence" (or: "IPCC-reports rely solely on peer-reviewed literature") or "just a single and minor Himalaya mistake" )?

• What do you think is "encyclopedic" about SS?

Sep 21, 2011 at 1:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterSeptember 2011

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Post:
 
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>