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James Padgett on Wikipedia and Soon

James Padgett and I have both been pestering Fred Pearce about the claim he makes in The Climate Files about the Soon and Baliunas paper, namely that all four of the peer reviewers of the paper recommended rejection.

Fred, to his credit, has checked his records. He says he can't locate his source and he therefore concludes that he has got it wrong.

I agree with you, Andrew, that my statement that four reviewers recommended rejection of the original paper is almost certainly wrong. I have searched my files for any statement from any of the parties making that claim, and can find none. (The reviewers asked for revisions, but that would be normal.)... I cannot be sure, but it is certainly possible that I simply misread Clare Goodess's November 2003 statement that the paper had "gone to four reviewers none of whom had recommended rejection".

James has written up the story at WUWT, and notes how Fred's book - a single secondary source that supports the AGW narrative - has been used by Wikipedia rather than the account of Clare Goodess - a primary source that doesn't.

My children tell me that they are taught at school that "Wiki always lies". This is probably going too far, but on climate change matters, it's probably best avoided.

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  • Response
    Response: sbobet
    [...]- Bishop Hill blog - James Padgett on Wikipedia and Soon[...]

Reader Comments (29)

It is standard policy, where I teach, that students who use Wikipedia as a reference will have marks deducted.

Jan 10, 2012 at 9:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

What about referencing the references that Wiki uses? You still get the same problem in this case...

Jan 10, 2012 at 9:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterThe Pedant-General


The William Connelly scandal springs to mind - not a source to be trusted particulary on AGW.

Jan 10, 2012 at 9:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterJack Cowper



On second thoughts, let's not or we'll be talking about Polar bears....

Jan 10, 2012 at 10:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterGixxerboy

With Wikipedia it is important to remember that the core rule there is "Verifiability, not truth". It doesn't matter what Fred Pearce says in an email; you have to get him to say it somewhere public, preferably in print. While I despair of the attitudes of some of the more activist Wiki editors, the ones who are successful in controlling particular articles achieve this by a deep knowledge of Wikipedia standards and conventions. If you want to take them on you absolutely must know the rules and stick to them.

Jan 10, 2012 at 10:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterJonathan Jones

Fred in flagrante post facto. The damage has been done and he will not be able to make amends. But at least we inch a little further forward in clarifying how on earth the fog of climate-alarm misinformation grew so thick so quickly.

There are signs that the fog is thinning. Your book, the HSI, has long been a beacon. The sunlight on CG1 and CG2 has been helping too, as has the exposure of the corruption of Wikipedia by Connolley (

What tawdriness is being revealed!

The above-linked Padgett piece for example.

Or see this report today on Jo Nova's site:

Or these reports showing 'they knew they didn't know':

#1 ‘Wow: In email 3423 (year 2001), UEA warmist Mike Hulme said that the evidence was NOT sufficiently strong to start reducing emissions’ (
#2 ‘If anything, I would like to see the climate change happen, so the science could be proved right, regardless of the consequences.’ Jones in 2005

Their careers were too important to them. Regardless of the consequences.

My search for anyone admirable on the alarmist side in all this foggy gloom continues.

Jan 10, 2012 at 10:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

If there's good evidence for the Global Warmongering cause, why do its advocates so often resort to incompetence and lies?

Jan 10, 2012 at 10:33 AM | Unregistered Commenterdearieme



Jan 10, 2012 at 10:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Stoat rote don't float my boat.

Jan 10, 2012 at 10:48 AM | Unregistered Commenterkim

I'm astonished by the ongoing attempts to defend Soon & Baliunas (2003) on this blog.

Since we should properly be concerned with primary sources, here are some more:

Hans von Storch in a WSJ opinion piece from 2009:

And what of the alarmists' kin, the skeptics? They say these words show that everything was a hoax—not just the historical temperature results in question, but also the warming documented by different groups using thermometer data. They conclude I must have been forced out of my position as chief editor of the journal Climate Research back in 2003 for my allegiance to science over politics. In fact, I left this post on my own, with no outside pressure, because of insufficient quality control on a bad paper—a skeptic's paper, at that.

Otto Kiner, publisher of Climate Research, issued a statement singling out the core problem with S&B (2003). It is a simple one (emphasis mine):

The paper that caused the storms (Soon & Baliunas, Clim Res 2003, 23:89–110) evoked heavy criticism, not least in EOS 2003 (84, No 27, 256). Major conclusions of Soon & Baliunas are: ‘Across the world, many records reveal that the 20th century is probably not the warmest nor a uniquely extreme climatic period of the last millenium.’ (p. 89) and ‘Overall, the 20th century does not contain the warmest anomaly of the past millenium
in most of the proxy records which have been sampled world-wide’ (p. 104). While these statements may be true, the critics point out that they cannot be concluded convincingly from the evidence provided in the paper.

von Storch confirms this:

After a conflict with the publisher Otto Kinne of Inter-Research I stepped down on 28. July 2003 as Editor-in-Chief of Climate Research; the reason was that I as newly appointed Editor-in-Chief wanted to make public that the publication of the Soon & Baliunas article was an error, and that the review process at Climate Research would be changed in order to avoid similar failures. The review process had utterly failed; important questions have not been asked, as was documented by a comment in EOS by Mann and several coauthors. (The problem is not whether the Medieval Warm Period was warmer than the 20th century, or if Mann's hockey stick is realistic; the problem is that the methodological basis for such a conclusion was simply not given.)

Jan 10, 2012 at 10:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

There is a topic on the discussion forum for consideration of the science of the S&B paper. This thread is about the peer review of that paper and about Wikipedia.

Jan 10, 2012 at 11:05 AM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

I don't think James Padgett and the Bishop are defending S and B (2003), they are criticising the gate keepers at Wikipedia.

Jan 10, 2012 at 11:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterEddieO

It's standard Leftist agit-prop behaviour, of which Pearce is certainly aware, to get the Big Lie out there first and on the board, because the lame retraction ('Gee, maybe I got it wrong') is always less noticed.

The damage is done; the Cause is served.

Jan 10, 2012 at 11:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterRick Bradford

O/T but unmissable...Tom Nelson has found a potential "smoking gun" in email 1683. The BBC shows its true colours, this time in its own words.

Jan 10, 2012 at 11:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterMaurizio Morabito

How many know that there is a discussion tab on Wiki articles? Most here I presume, but how many others? I often get sent Wiki links as a CAGW QED. I reply by asking them to look at the discussion (dominated by WMC and KDP et al). Some have been astonished by the vitriol and a few have changed their views.

Kim - nice line
BBD - nice unicorn

Jan 10, 2012 at 12:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterGrantB

Maurizio Morabito at 11:49

Can you give a link for this?

Jan 10, 2012 at 12:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterHuhneMustGo

My 1210

ok, got it

Jan 10, 2012 at 12:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterHuhneMustGo

sorry to continue the OT, but here are the words from the email:

2) Your essential job is to "prove" to Paul that what we're experiencing now is NOT just another of those natural fluctuations we've seen in the past. The hockey stick curve is a crucial piece of evidence because it shows how abnormal the present period is - the present warming is unprecedented in speed and amplitude, something like that. This is a very big moment in the film when Paul is finally convinced of the reality of man made global warming.

So that's the BBC's understanding of impartiality then. (Ho ho). The BBC has always been a (mostly benign) state broadcaster, but this exemplifies nothing but pure propaganda. I want my license fee money back.

Full context:email 1683 - date: Wed, 7 Sep 2005 13:56:57 +0100 from: "Jonathan Renouf" subject: Final thoughts to: "Keith Briffa"

Jan 10, 2012 at 12:15 PM | Unregistered Commenterlapogus

[Snip - manners]

In Collide-a-scape about a year back (late 2010), I got into a back-and-forth with commenters Lazar and NewYorkJ over Soon and Baliunas. (this thread) I wrote that there is no reason to believe the official storyline as 'peddled' by Monastersky, von Storch, Andrew Revkin, Mann et al, since we have the emails that went around behind the scenes.

At the time, I pointed out the contradiction between Wikipedia's Fred Pearce referenced claim that reviewers had rejected the article and Chris de Freitas' email in the Climategate 1 set.

This time around with BBD, I pointed out the same thing. The Bish picked it up, pinged Pearce a handful of times and James Padgett writes it up at WUWT. The NZ blog (name escapes me now) wrote up a bit of the story a while ago. I asked BBD to bring any new information about the story/science to the topic when I posted this information on the discussion thread. He had essentially no reply. Now, he is here trying to convert this thread into a discussion of the science, i.e., 'the methodological claims of S&B, when it is patently clear that the focus is on Wikipedia and how Pearce has conveniently become a source for a dubious claim.

Pearce is freelance. (So is Kloor). Presumably he can dig further than most, on this account.

There are more interesting threads to follow which contradict in parts or in whole, the official S&B story.

When von Storch wrote his editorial to be published in time for the Senate hearing, he passed it around his editors (he being the editor-in-chief) asking for their opinion. Three of them wrote in the most polite of tones recommending that he *not* publish the editorial. Does von Storch publicly admit this? No.

Jan 10, 2012 at 12:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterShub

I've created a separate thread for discussion of the Renouf/Briffa thing.

Jan 10, 2012 at 12:59 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

Re: Jonathan Jones

They redefine what is a reliable source whenever they want to.

This is from the talk page and is a comment by Dave Souza claiming The Climate Wars is a reliable source.

Stephan has it rght,[16] a reliable secondary source is needed if we show anything contradicting the reliably sourced statement by Pearce,

This is from the talk page of the Hockey Stick Controversy by the same wiki editor Dave Souza.

Most of the reviewers may be proponents of Montford's fringe views, but the book itself shows clear misrepresentation and is not a reliable source.

What is it that makes one in print book reliable as a source and another in print book unreliable?

Jan 10, 2012 at 1:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

"a reliable secondary source is needed if we show anything contradicting the reliably sourced statement by Pearce,"

How about de Freitas' own words (i.e., the horse's mouth)?

Would that be 'reliable' enough for these people?

Jan 10, 2012 at 2:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterShub

In Fred Pearce's Guardian article there is a hint at what may have lead to his confusion:

Persuaded that the paper could not be ignored, Mann assembled a group of colleagues to review it. The group included regular CRU emailers Jones, Dr Keith Briffa, Dr Tom Wigley and Dr Kevin Trenberth. They sent their findings to the journal's editorial board...
He may have confused Mann's Team 'review' with the previous journal review. It's clear from the Pearce article that he had talked to Mann, who may have helped create this confusion (and has form for feeding misinformation to journalists).

Let's not be too critical of wikipedia - like RC, it is good for climate sceptic recruitment. My own rapid conversion from ignorance to scepticism in 2007 was thanks to Connolley and his cronies.

Jan 10, 2012 at 2:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterPaul Matthews


Elsewhere in his email to me, Fred says that there is nothing in his records to suggest this came from Mann.

Jan 10, 2012 at 2:56 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

"Elsewhere in his email to me, Fred says that there is nothing in his records to suggest this came from Mann."

He would say that wouldn't he. (h/t to Mandy Rice Davies

Jan 10, 2012 at 4:27 PM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

Speaking of whom, where's Mandy when we need her?

Jan 10, 2012 at 4:41 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

It's been updated and corrected.

Jan 11, 2012 at 1:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterCarrick

Wiki is generally very good where the information is either not something people have very strong feeling (aside from fanaticism) about or where it is mindlessly dull. Both, often. If I want to find out about the minutia of various series of TV programmes, or extract some basic science that is beyond my memories or training, then it is a good source (although I'd rarely quote it.) The only mention of me in whole dumping ground wiki is as one of the early people putatively to use a wikipedia reference in a peer-reviewed academic paper. As usual, it was half true - the paper was in an academic but not peer reviewed journal and the reference was in a clearly humorously disparaging footnote. As stated above, wiki is a reasonable source for information on "platform games" :)

I'd not trust wikipedia about any matters of controversy or strong feeling - whether it is the Armenian genocide; Falun Gong; recent politicians, live or dead; or climate science.

Jan 11, 2012 at 10:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterMatthew Pemble

Very great topic sbobet . I wonderful that I found this sbo post.

Jan 12, 2012 at 5:47 AM | Unregistered Commenterpoad

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