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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?

The Arctic doesn't seem to be doing so bad anymore, also:

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,
by NCDC,
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.

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Reader Comments (253)

John Cook
Recently I visited the SS site after a blogger/troll on Joanne Nova's site provided a link to content claiming to refute David Evans' 4 points. One of the 4 points was the absent 'hot spoi' in the tropical troposphere. SS claimed that such a hot spot would not be unique to CO2/GHG but would occur with warming from ANY cause. Does this mean that SS interpretation of the 'hot spot' differs from that of the IPCC (see page 574 of AR4 WG1)?
PS The reason I posted here rather than at SS is because I have seen so much chicanery from the AGW team that I have no confidence that my enquiry would see the light of day at SS.

Sep 24, 2011 at 5:11 AM | Unregistered Commentergyptis

correction 674
That will teach me to turn the light on while typing

Sep 24, 2011 at 5:12 AM | Unregistered Commentergyptis

I think the most important facet of Cook's identity theft is in the area of the UWA comment quotas. Based on these apparent comments, and the fact that Cook is admitting to posting as Lubos Motl, I find it highly probable that the Lewandowsky surveys that generated the Moon Hoax paper were based substantively on ginned up responses by Cook himself, and possibly some of his friends who seem to know about his identity theft, who may have posed as and pretended to be skeptics for the purpose of those surveys! When Steve McIntyre brought up the issue of spoof answers in his original analysis, he mentioned this possibility in his original analysis of the Moon Hoax paper. In response, I believe Cook and Lewandowsky poo-poohed that notion, saying they had "controlled" for obviously faked responses based on IP address analysis. But did they control for their own faked survey results, posted under sock puppet names and as Lubos Motl? Can we now be sure that they themselves weren't posting some responses that were fake but "more plausible" sounding in their own minds? And what of their role as impartial judges of that question as experimental controllers of the analysis? This is beyond the pale. The Moon Hoax paper and any other papers based on John Cook controlled surveys must be retracted immediately.

And of course, we can't mention climate alarmism and identity theft without once again noting Peter Gleick's theft of a Heartland Institute board member identity in order to obtain Heartland's annual financial documents, nor his bizarre forgery of the infamous "Internal Strategy Memo" in which he flattered himself as a warrior in the CAGW climate fight.

Ah, fanaticism, there's no end to the interesting places it takes you...

Jul 25, 2015 at 4:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterMickey Reno

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