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« Time to Mann up – Part 2 | Main | Time to Mann up »

The Cook timeline

John Cook says:

... 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.

Fine. I see that. The original article was written in December 2007, but attracted no comments until March 2008, including the one from AnthonySG1, which first appears in the page capture in July 2008. A non-committal ("stay tuned") response from Skeptical Science was already in place.  PaulM's comment came some months later at the start of September 2008 and was captured at the end of that month. However, there was no reply at this point.

Six months later, the article was rewritten, with its new focus on a distinct treatment for land and sea ice. Although no date appears to have been given for the rewrite, it was captured on 14 April 2009. At this point AnthonySG1's comment still had the original noncommittal response and PaulM was unanswered. This meant that Skeptical Science had an article that said that land ice was falling and sea ice was growing, but had two old comments that disputed an entirely different claim - that Antarctica was losing ice overall. The result was confusion: a comment in June 2009 told PaulM to chill out:

Chill, amigo (no pun intended).

The article makes the distinction right off the bat between land ice and sea ice. Your two links discuss SEA ICE. We know there's been an increase in sea ice.

It wasn't until January 2010 that the comment thread was adjusted. Here's John Cook's take on what happened.

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.

I see two problems with this explanation. Firstly, not only were the comments not new, but the article was not new either. The comments were a year and a half old, and the article itself had been revised nearly a year earlier. I have cast my eye over the April 2008 2009 version of the article and the one at January 2010 and they don't appear to be materially different to me. Perhaps someone with more time than me can check this out in more detail.

The second problem is the suggestion that Cook erroneously thought the commenters hadn't read the article, forgetting he had rewritten it several months before. However, he did know that he had responded before - he could read what he had said to AnthonySG1 back in 2008. His explanation doesn't cover the question of what he was thinking about his earlier response. We are presumably asked to believe that he deleted it without thinking and inserted the new "erroneous" ones, ridiculing AnthonySG1 and PaulM.

It's a stretch, in my opinion.

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Reader Comments (128)

"... SkS's main commitment is to maintain fidelity to the peer-reviewed literature."

And never to display even the tiniest trace of skepticism.

Sep 22, 2011 at 8:28 AM | Unregistered Commenterjorgekafkazar

'This information is accurate, derived from peer-reviewed research'

Bit of a non sequitur, I think. Pal review proves nothing.

Sep 22, 2011 at 8:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhil D

It's a stretch, in my opinion.

It's a stretcher, in my opinion.

Sep 22, 2011 at 8:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterRick Bradford

It would be interesting for AnthonySG1 or PaulM's take on the whole mess.

Sep 22, 2011 at 9:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterPete H

The search for good, honourable, honest, and impressive prominent proponents and publicists of climate alarmism goes on. Where, oh where, are they to be found?

Sep 22, 2011 at 9:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

"... SkS's main commitment is to maintain fidelity to the peer-reviewed literature."

If that truly was the case, wouldn't you maintain a clear historical record of the evolution of the blogs or "rebuttals" are posted and subsequently amended (presumably because the original "rebuttals" were in fact, ironically, erroneous in some way)???

Does someone need to draw you a picture about how science is properly practiced??

Or should I say draw a cartoon Mr Cook?

Sep 22, 2011 at 9:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterGeckko

SS is a pro-AGW marketing site that makes claims to being honest about the science but in practice is selective and is happy to indulge the 'Team' in what ever way it can , which is why its cited by them as go to site . Its actual fact its little more an a Realclimate MKII

So the fact Cook indulges in some very 1984 history manipulations is hardly a surprise as his just following the pattern laid down by those his keen to follow down the path to 'self righteous fame '

Treat it as you would any advocates web site , due no more respect nor concern than nay other place that is happy to allow truth to be sacrificed on the alter on cause .

Sep 22, 2011 at 9:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterKnR

Interesting, but no doubt the thread will gravitate towards deep and meaningful discussions around a plethora of land/sea ice extent links.

If it moved towards Nanking and its place in Japanese school history books we would stay closer to the original content of the post.

Sep 22, 2011 at 9:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterGrantB

Godrin's Law

Sep 22, 2011 at 9:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterGrantB

Did you clear this post with Dana?

Sep 22, 2011 at 9:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterGeoff Cruickshank

Pete H, I put a comment on page 5 of the earlier thread. I agree with the helpful followups on that page from bernie and Brendan H, and Bish's comments above.
But there is a typo, towards the end, "April 2008 version" should be 2009.

Sep 22, 2011 at 9:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterPaulM

Rather than revision (that leads to revisionism) SkS should enact some form of version control that allows the retention of original rebuttal arguements and comments. That way you create a thread.

Sep 22, 2011 at 9:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterMac

SS is a security blanket for environmental activists - being an activist means others much suffer for your cause. And of course it is a point of reference for lazy journalists (prefixing "lazy" is unnecessary I know, but best to be explicit.)

I dipped in a few times in the past and followed the recent threads. People try to rationalise and investigate and discover issues with how they run their site.

For me I can some up my overall impression with the following deeply analytical and rational thought...

Who the **** are they? It is just propaganda site.

And our friend Dana? Well the sceptic movement needs more people like him. Long may he continue in his own embracing, tolerant, totally non-condescending and humble style. Please contribute more mate... the sceptic cause needs you.

Sep 22, 2011 at 9:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterJiminy Cricket


Real name: Dana Nuccitelli

Location: West Sacramento, CA, USA

Age: 30

Gender: male

About me: I'm an environmental scientist and have researched climate science as a hobby for the past 5 years. I'm a writer for John Cook's Skeptical Science climate blog.

Quote: "Skepticism, in its true sense, means examining all evidence with an equally critical eye. A true skeptic should also look for mistakes made by those on his side; and if he encounters them, he should acknowledge and correct them." - Dana Nuccitelli

Does dana1981 practice what he preaches and is he a 'true' or a 'fake' skeptic?

Sep 22, 2011 at 10:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterMac

In other words, one and the same person who wrote a one star review for the Hockey Stick Illusion on the US website, and was forced to confess in the comments below it that he didnt actually read it. And now that book review has curiously vanished into the ether. (See my Jan 30, 2011 at 12:02 AM and other comments) at

Sep 22, 2011 at 10:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterPharos

Let me repeat here my take of the events...

At some point, John Cook takes on the initial criticisms (without admitting it openly, but still). After a few months, working in his spare time he updates the post but leaves the comments untouched. Still more time passes, dana1981 is given more control of the site, so he scours it for opportunities to make evil skeptics look like fools. And when the opportunity is too tempting, he cannot resist the urge to rewrite history. When he's found out, an emergency War Cabinet sees John volunteer to take full blame with an excuse that is 90% good (he can afford it, he's just won an Award). Serial character assassin dana1981 is privately told off and immediately starts a search on how to remove pages from Waybackmachine.

This is perfectly compatible with the timeline reconstructed by the Bish.

Sep 22, 2011 at 10:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterMaurizio Morabito

My God.

I've just waded through the entire collossal previous thread about this, and see you're still harping on about it in a new one?

Those involved had the courtesy and integrity to come onto this (somewhat rabid) blog, explain, and apologise. Most commentors here, including Andrew Montford, seemed rather graceless about the apology, and just continued to make thinly veiled calls of 'liar'.

Do you really all lack the perspective to see how desperate and childish this makes you look? If you had science on your side, if the World took you seriously, if you weren't marginalised and fighting a losing battle, then you wouldn't obsess over little things like this. You still, even now, all bang on about how fast someone did or didn't type in a Guardian article lord knows how long ago.

It's desperate, churlish and childish.

Just get over it, and perhaps start thinking about a real issue, like why virtually none of the studies produced lend support for your bizarre views, and that maybe, just maybe, most of you might actually be wrong....

Sep 22, 2011 at 10:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterZedsDeadBed

'This information is accurate, derived from peer-reviewed research'

How did anybody ever get the notion that the mere fact that a paper has been read and commented on by approximately two people working in a similar field means that the paper becomes unchallengeable fact?

This is such a gross misunderstanding of the scientific process that it effectively disqualifies the proponent as a credible commentator. Peer review is in simple terms a laugh test - i.e. "do the contents have sufficient credibility to bother discussing?"

Nothing more, and in corrupt warmist journals, not even this.

Sep 22, 2011 at 10:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterSayNoToFearmongers

ZedsDeadBed - you've got a new name but the same trite, empty argument. It is empty because it could be used without much of an edit to answer any blog post or comment written anywhere about any topic.

Grow up yourself.

Sep 22, 2011 at 10:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterMaurizio Morabito


Top right, red box with a white cross in it!

Sep 22, 2011 at 10:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterPete H

Sep 22, 2011 at 10:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterSayNoToFearmongers

Actually it's you who doesn't seem to understand the scientific process. Something which is confirmed by paranoid frothing-at-the-mouth phrases like 'corrupt warmist journals'.

Sep 22, 2011 at 10:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterZedsDeadBed

Zed. Follow the timeline. I for one appreciated John Cook's engagement, but there are still some strange issues here. The most important of which relate to the anxious need to ridicule comment that differs from the strict consensus view.

And when it comes to terms such as desperate, just be very careful: glass houses etc.

Sep 22, 2011 at 10:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterGixxerboy

Pete H, I put a comment on page 5 of the earlier thread.
Sep 22, 2011 at 9:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterPaulM

Thanks Paul. Looking.

Sep 22, 2011 at 10:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterPete H

Sep 22, 2011 at 10:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterPete H

Also known as, those at Bishop Hill fear dissent and hate having how ridiculous they are pointed out.

Sep 22, 2011 at 10:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterZedsDeadBed

ZDB if you want to see "graceless" have a look at SkS or Real Climate. They are the ones whose posts routinely abuse anyone and everyone who disagrees with the "team" message, rather than questioning them as AM does.
Do go and read "1984" as well, where you can see the rewriting of history in similar manner to the activities at SkS, RC and most spectacularly on Wikipedia by Team member William Connolley. It might give you an idea why it is matters that a site that you and others try to use as a reference point behaves in this fashion.

Sep 22, 2011 at 11:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterDavid S

I believe ZDB is here so the SS can collect evidence about what a bunch of graceless losers the readers of the Bishop (and the Bishop himself) are. This will greatly help in writing an upcoming SS blog post to counterpoint the "rewriting of history" accusation and reinvigorate the SS sympathisers whose faith has suffered a significant dent.

Expect a paroxysm of wild accusations on the part of ZDB, most of them OT, for the only reason of eliciting harsh responses. Like a BBD squared.

Sep 22, 2011 at 11:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterMaurizio Morabito

Wrist slap! Note to self...Do not feed the Troll!

Sep 22, 2011 at 11:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterPete H

ZDB wrote:

Actually it's you who doesn't seem to understand the scientific process.

Have you redefined peer review too? It must be catching.

Something which is confirmed by paranoid frothing-at-the-mouth phrases like 'corrupt warmist journals'.

No, anybody with a single week of statistical training will know about coefficients of determination - also known as R2 values. Warmist journals countinue to publish papers with graphs showing regression lines with R2 values of 0.02 (Dessler's recent 'rebuttal' of Spencer springs to mind). A coefficient of 1 shows perfect fit - 100% of variation accounted for. Values of 0.02 are worthless - any line drawn through a shotgun plot must achieve this, and to assert 'confidence intervals' on such a line is little short of insane.

Therefore any journal that publishes such drivel (with the connivance of assorted peer reviewers) can only be (a) utterly incompetent and of similar scientific merit to say, the Daily Star, or (b) wilfully misleading - i.e. corrupt.

Sep 22, 2011 at 11:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterSayNoToFearmongers

ZDB wrote

Also known as, those at Bishop Hill fear dissent and hate having how ridiculous they are pointed out.

Hey Zed, try Googling psychological projection, then have a crack as cognitive dissonance.

Sep 22, 2011 at 11:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterSayNoToFearmongers

Dear Bish
Please examine the Pat Michaels article quoted by SkepticalScience

John Cook misrepresents what Pat Michaels said in his article.

In his Cato article, Michaels wrote:


So it's not warming up, and the snowfall data are equivocal, yet the continent is experiencing a net loss of ice. How can this be, and is it even important? The current hypothesis is that warmer waters beneath the surface are somehow loosening the ice. That's plausible, but again, there's precious little proof of it.

And further, the bottom line is that there is more ice than ever surrounding Antarctica.

John Cook says Michaels wrote:

"The amount of ice surrounding Antarctica is now at the highest level since satellites began to monitor it almost 30 years ago. It’s simply too cold for rain in Antarctica and it'll stay that way for a very long time. The bottom line is there is more ice than ever surrounding Antarctica."

Cook makes Michaels look like an ignorant stereotypical 'denier' who says that ice cannot melt because it is too cold to rain.

Micheals did not say anything like that at all! It is a cooked-up, strung-up quotation that doesn't exist in the article in that form.

Indeed Michaels in the conclusion of his article says:

One of the tired tropes that reverberate throughout global warming reporting is that inconvenient facts get left out. In this case, it's blatant. Midway through the Post's page-long article comes a statement that "these new findings come as the Arctic is losing ice at a dramatic rate." Wouldn't that have been an appropriate place to note that, despite a small recent loss of ice from the Antarctic landmass, the ice field surrounding Antarctica is now larger than ever measured?

In other words, exactly what Cook is saying !! - "The Antarctic landmass has seen a small loss of ice while the ice field surrounding Antarctica is increasing".

Only he said it two years before Cook/Skepticalscience did.

In other words, skepticalscience created an artificial skeptical talking point, by completely making it up, and then proceeded to provide a "rebuttal". And along the way, added helpful comments like "Please, people, pay attention! Sea ice is increasing. Land ice is decreasing."

I feel sorry for, and angry at people like Simon Singh, Leo Hickman, Keith Kloor and whoever else is patiently reading SkepticalScience articles, in good faith.

/smacks self on the head

Sep 22, 2011 at 11:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterShub

I suggest adding your names to the following discussion so you remind yourselves,

Not to Feed the Troll from Truro !!!!!!!

Sep 22, 2011 at 12:00 PM | Unregistered Commenterbreath of fresh

Shub, in academic circles, those that quote from Wikipedia are treated wth contempt and ridicule.

In the AGW debate, those that quote from Skunk Science should be treated with contempt and ridicule.

Those that have quoted Skunk Science at this blog, have routinely been treated with contempt and ridicule.

Normal service should continue.

Sep 22, 2011 at 12:08 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charley


See how Cook begins his article

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

Read that article and see where Michaels makes that "error of omission". Mindboggling really.

P.S: Spelt Michaels as 'Micheals' above Yeech!

Sep 22, 2011 at 12:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterShub

I wandered over to SkS to see what their take on this topic was and apart from the 10 or so minutes of my life I can't get back, I spotted this post from our friend dana181

"A bit off topic, but a few of us SkSers had some interaction on the comments at the Bishop Hill "skeptic" blog the past couple of days. Every single comment on that site was more offensive than every single comment on SkS. Basically nonstop insults and personal attacks.

Really, climate blog comments don't get much more civil than at SkS. If Dr. Pielke can't handle comments here, it's certainly a good thing he doesn't allow comments on his own blog."

Every single comment ???? Non stop insults and personal attacks?

And they wonder why people call them alarmists.

Sep 22, 2011 at 12:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrendan

What do you expect Brendan...dana1981 is rewriting history once again.

Methinks this episode is hurting the SS a lot.

Sep 22, 2011 at 12:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterMaurizio Morabito


Your notion is absolutely true, SS uses strawmen in this case trying to ridicule PM although SS in the end is forced to use his arguement (and of course conceals it). This shows the depth of dishonesty of the SS and their true function as a propaganda machine. On the funny side, their less than honest quote adresses sea ice surrounding Antartica, making their "debunk" look childish since they end up in agreement that sea ice is increasing.

Sep 22, 2011 at 12:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterPethefin

"Every single comment on that site was more offensive than every single comment on SkS."

Quite an achievement, fellow-BH-ers. Our Bishop must be proud of us. I guess offensive-ness is partly in the eye of the beholder, and I can imagine that in the mind of people like dana1981, comments here really are very offensive, and SkS is sweetness and light, above and below the line. This goes back to the issue of (perceived) legitimacy of certain views. Subscribing to the consensus - scientific but also policy - means that one has legitimate views, that can be aired in public. Not subscribing to such views, even for a fairly small part, is so morally transgressive that right-minded people view it as irretrievably offensive. This way of thinking is not unheard of, but it is not exactly scientific, nor skeptical.

Sep 22, 2011 at 12:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterJeremy Harvey

I see SkS describes their recent award as 'Just Deserts' . The effects of CAGW must be really troubling them!

Sep 22, 2011 at 1:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

Thanks Bish, another case of Cook'in the books!

Sep 22, 2011 at 1:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterMarcH

"Every single comment on that site was more offensive than every single comment on SkS. Basically nonstop insults and personal attacks."
Pmsl so I take that means they "Basically" lost the argument then? lol
Hmm see the other trolls back again !

Sep 22, 2011 at 1:33 PM | Unregistered Commenterzx


“I've just waded through the entire collossal [sic] previous thread about this”

So you’ve read all 247 comments, including a detailed exchange with the SkS site owner and his acolytes, and all you can come up with is your usual woolly bile about how this site is so irrelevant? Amazing.

Sep 22, 2011 at 1:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

Noting that John Cook (Australia) and Dana1981 (West Coast America) have reasonable coverage of the worlds time zones, but a glaring omission for western europe, I offer the following proposal.

That ZDB should apply to become a Skunk Science moderator, with full support from all at this blog.

She has repeatedly demonstrated a level of scientific knowledge and integrity that more than qualifies her for the role, indeed John and Dana may actually learn from her.

This will also give her a purpose in life, something she clearly lacks, and will give her a prime position in the good ship AGW as it either gets trapped in ice or sinks in falling sea levels.

This is NOT feeding the troll, merely encouraging her to do the noble thing.

Sep 22, 2011 at 1:45 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charley

So does Dana really believe that in which case he's deceived, or does he not believe it in which case he's the deceiver. In the first case, mad; in the second, beyond the pale.

Sep 22, 2011 at 1:48 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

I cannot discern any clear purpose in Cook's management of his site. If everything went according to his plan, what would the result be? There seems to be no connection between his policies on comments and his policies on revising old posts.

Sep 22, 2011 at 1:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheo Goodwin

Kim, it matters not, what Dana believes, when his belief is, that he is always right

Sep 22, 2011 at 1:54 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charley

Mac's info above led me to the fact that dana1981 or Dana Nuccitelli works for Tetra Tech.

... a leading provider of consulting, engineering, program management, construction, and technical services. The Company supports government and commercial clients by providing innovative solutions to complex problems focused on water, environment, energy, infrastructure, and natural resources. Tetra Tech currently has more than 13,000 employees located in more than 330 offices worldwide. The firm is headquartered in Pasadena, California

This $2 billion company appears to depend heavily on government spend on environment related projects.

I suspect that dana1981's work at SkS is more than just a hobby.

Sep 22, 2011 at 2:04 PM | Unregistered Commenterbernie

"Every single comment on that site was more offensive than every single comment on SkS. Basically nonstop insults and personal attacks."
Pmsl so I take that means they "Basically" lost the argument then? lol
Hmm see the other trolls back again !
Sep 22, 2011 at 1:33 PM | zx

Either that, or it means that the people on this website are offensive. Bear in mind, that the community here is so extreme, that when Don Pablo de la Sierra (who still posts here regularly) threatened a website with intimidation through terrorist connections, there was only one person who thought that behaviour like that might be a little off and commented to that effect.

Sep 22, 2011 at 2:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterZedsDeadBed

"I suspect that dana1981's work at SkS is more than just a hobby."
Sep 22, 2011 at 2:04 PM | rbernie

Are you explicitly suggesting that dana1981 is paid for the work done on Skeptical Science and/or other online work elsewhere? If you're going to make an accusation, come right out and say it, or don't make it all.

Insinuation is how playground gossip is transferred, it's not how adults debate.

Sep 22, 2011 at 2:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterZedsDeadBed

Lunchtime in Truro

Sep 22, 2011 at 2:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterMaurizio Morabito

Hey, Zed, is that my tax money going beyond the pale or to the mists of madness?

Sep 22, 2011 at 2:33 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

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