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Behold, a Gordian - Josh 261

If you read the comment threads at Climate Audit then you will be familiar with a character called Nick Stokes who argues the impossible and indefensible with great tenacity. Steve's patience with him is exemplary and this thread, in particular, prompted the cartoon.

Cartoons by Josh

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Reader Comments (49)

I love the three hands. I guess that's what you get for being very very very thick-skinned.

Mar 3, 2014 at 10:07 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

I'd like to say exactly what I think of nicky stokes, but my blood pressure begins to rise and I start hitting the keys harder.... so I won't.

Came across someone sort of similar yesterday, though. He tried to tell me that the average temperature of the Earth has gone up 2C since 2000. Stupid like that makes me want to scream in frustration. Cudos to Steve for putting up with it from nicky.

Mar 3, 2014 at 10:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterOtter

Personally, as much as I found myself getting really p*ssed off with NS as he continued to ignore reasoned argument, I have to say that a close second for knot-tying has to be Mosher. He seems to take delight in prodding Steve Mc and goading Willis.

Mar 3, 2014 at 10:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Passfield

Charcters like Nick Stokes fit perfectly into the "AGW is a religion and all religions have their zealots".

The kind of debate that Nick Stokes engages in reminds me of the "how many Angels can dance on the head of a pin?"

Mar 3, 2014 at 11:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

When I think of Nick Stokes I think 'bless'

Bet his mother loves him

Mar 3, 2014 at 11:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterHeadless Chicken

Why the American spelling of defence?

[Drawn for Steve at Climate Audit so I thought a US spelling was more appropriate ;-)]

Mar 3, 2014 at 11:52 AM | Unregistered Commentermike fowle

Mike Fowl~ Because nicky has long since fallen off de fence.

Mar 3, 2014 at 11:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterOtter

@Harry - was Mosher always like that ? In the old pre-2008 years I had the impression he was as sceptical as Steve McIntyre but since he has been working on BEST he seems to be a warmist. Or was I wrong ?

Mar 3, 2014 at 12:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterFred

Good answer re defense!

Fred, I find Mosher's drive by cryptic comments especially on WUWT rather a pain.

Mar 3, 2014 at 1:04 PM | Unregistered Commentermike fowle

Mike Fowle,

+1, highly irritating and very patronising

Mar 3, 2014 at 1:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterThinkingScientist

Nick is the sort of true believer who would be put in charge of the koolaid, with the cult leader knowing it would be in reliable hands.

Mar 3, 2014 at 1:28 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

Josh: "[Drawn for Steve at Climate Audit so I thought a US spelling was more appropriate ;-)]"
But Steve McIntyre is Canadian; he follows British orthography.

E.g. here: " Mann’s act of forwarding Jones’ deletion request to Wahl was such evidence and the Inquiry Committee ought to have forwarded this question to the Investigation Committee, where Mann could have presented his defence, such as it was."

[or here confusing or what! ;-)]

Mar 3, 2014 at 2:11 PM | Registered CommenterHaroldW

Josh's cartoon again brings into sharp focus the photo of POTUS on the blower to Moscow. The Peter Principle personified.

Dialogue overheard in Oval Office:

"Yo Vlad wassup? Look Vlad, I gotta get back to the TV. It's the weak end here & Michele has told me it's my turn to choose the channel. Nick Stokes? Who he? That's why your're invading the Ukraine! You figured that if the character of Nick Stokes is indicative of western thought processes, then Kiev is your's for the taking? Uhu, uhu uhu. Yeah well, I Cain 't argue that. Guess you're right. Chat next week?? Bye."

Mar 3, 2014 at 2:15 PM | Registered Commenterperry

I think Josh completely misinterpreted Nick Stokes.

Nick Stokes was exonerated.

Nick Stokes has been vindicated by other cartoonists.

Who's Nick Stokes? ;)


Mar 3, 2014 at 3:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterBad Andrew

Oddly, I don't mind Nick Stokes (and others of his ilk) at all.

If you are interested in getting at the truth, it is REALLY USEFUL to have someone throwing themselves heart and soul into proving you wrong. That way, you really get to test your data and arguments.

Everybody makes errors at some point. If Nick Stokes picks up on them and corrects us, it improves and polishes our position no end. Thanks, Nick...

Mar 3, 2014 at 3:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterDodgy Geezer

Nick bangs the table like a master wood craftsman.

Mar 3, 2014 at 3:17 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

The discussion about U.S. versus British spelling is misleading.

As a former British colony and a Commonwealth member Canada has in the main retained British spelling.

You'll recall that Steve M. noticed the U.S. 'rigor' spelling - I'm pretty sure Steve would write 'rigour.'

Mar 3, 2014 at 3:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterPolitical Junkie

I agree. Nick frequently alerts us to the possibility that the situation under discussion offers other interpretations. He also hosts a really interesting Blog, Moyhu.

Mar 3, 2014 at 3:49 PM | Registered Commenterjferguson

Nick, Boris over at Lucia's, EM on a good day, and so many others infected with theclimate obsession provide us with amazing demonstrations of mental gymnastics on a regular basis.
Perhaps we could start awarding medals and prizes for various demonstrations of mental gymanstics?
- Most convolutions in a legible post
- Best topic diversion
- Most sincere obfuscation
- Best evasive techniques
- Must subtle goal post moving

Mar 3, 2014 at 4:09 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

The reason people like Stokes and Mosher are so irritating is because it is obvious that they know nature contradicts the models and that the hockey-stick graphs are all bogus but they argue black is white anyway, probably just to wind people up. Chandra, EM etc by contrast really think black is white.

Mar 3, 2014 at 4:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

It looks to me as though his left hand doesn't know what his other two left hands are doing.

Mar 3, 2014 at 4:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Spilligan

I see Nick Stokes has his defenders here at least for his politeness. At WUWT on the equivalent thread the same is true.

I wonder whether any of us would be treated the same at a CAGW-supporting site? Am I wrong, is there civility on the other side?

Mar 3, 2014 at 5:13 PM | Unregistered Commenterrhoda

Mar 3, 2014 at 4:09 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

Very good! Add one more: Successful Thread Hijacking.

Mar 3, 2014 at 5:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheo Goodwin

You may add me to the list of supporters of Nick Stokes. He is unfailingly polite, and has provided software (at his blog) which I've found very helpful. And as noted above, he challenges our interpretations of results and events, which can be reflexive rather than reflective.

Unfortunately, his "Racehorse" nickname is well-deserved. This latest thread is a good example.

Mar 3, 2014 at 5:44 PM | Registered CommenterHaroldW

Nick Stokes latest post is an interesting read for anyone who wonders why SM would obsess about four missing years in the Gaspe series. Those of you who think SM can do no wrong and that the sun shines from his trousers will dismiss it, but some might be brave enough to read it.

Mar 3, 2014 at 5:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterChandra

De cow jumped over de fense, first met de feat and den met de tail.

Mar 3, 2014 at 5:55 PM | Unregistered Commentermikeworst

Thanks Chandra. We can all do with more polarizing comments.

Mar 3, 2014 at 6:00 PM | Registered CommenterHaroldW

Stokes is extraordinarily annoying. He isn't a troll, as he does demonstrate math skills and does bring valuable knowledge and skepticism (of skeptics) at times... he just needs to leave the lost causes behind and stick with what points he can actually make.

Not sure why Mosher is being mentioned at all... he does good work, don't be hating because he doesn't always give the answer you like. That he began as skeptical and has found that much of climate science is reasonable should not surprise you, as that is the same position that Steve Mc and others hold. Paleoclimate, GCM tuning, and unethical/despicable practices by climate scientists in media/journals/IPCC are areas that most skeptics agree are rubbish; surface temperature records, the general sense that CO2 will increase temperature, etc., are areas that most knowledgeable skeptics agree are reasonably correct. I don't think Mosher defies that characterization at all.

Mar 3, 2014 at 6:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterCG

Nick Stokes argues like a lawyer, nit picks and avoids the the cartoon holds true, mainly, I think. However, he is indeed very polite and I've never seen him lose his cool. Still annoying though. But....its good to have opposite opinion and he usually backs it up with data (even if its the wrong stuff initially and you have to ask him 5 times for the relevant one). Mosher comes over like he is a bit up himself....I think I prefer Gavin!

Mar 3, 2014 at 6:14 PM | Unregistered Commentermikef2

I too, have oft times observed the Stokes-shift.

But he is also unfailingly not too personally abusive, and clearly has a much thicker skin than I do.

Compliments over, the worst insult I can throw at him is that, from a [caricatured] skeptic's point of view, he is useful.

n.b. While these sordid things are being discussed, I actually think Josh's cartoons mostly suck.
There, I said it. I'll go away and try to make friends with Entropic Man.

The FenBeagle draws cartoons so good, they are almost pornographic.

Mar 3, 2014 at 6:22 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Sorry CG.....Mosher keeps defending Best....nuff said.

Mar 3, 2014 at 6:23 PM | Unregistered Commentermikef2

Michael Hart is not an admirer of Josh's cartoons. Well, humour is a very subjective thing. I can only say I find them a delight (and I wouldn't have forked out for the calendar last year and this, if I didn't). They have a zest and a verve which I find great fun. And Fenbeagle is excellent too, though sometimes I find the references more obscure.

Mar 3, 2014 at 7:20 PM | Unregistered Commentermike fowle

I too find Mosher's drive-by comments on WUWT to be sneering, ever-so-superior and, frequently, obscure to the point of being nonsensical, but his expanded commentaries are usually well-reasoned and moderate in tone, if a little bent toward the Best modes of thought.
As a student of cartoons and cartoonists down through history, I am a fan of Josh's work and am amazed by his voluminous output and see him as a proper inheritor of the mantle of Daumier and other superbly aware cartoonists who had a very accurate perception of their times. I admire Fenbeagle's superb drawing skills, but (probably because I am not an Englishman) find his humour a little obscure.

Mar 3, 2014 at 7:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlexander K

I think you might want to read Nick's commentary on ClimateAudit post on "Mann Misrepresents NoAA . . . ." and the detailed discussion of what Nick thinks he's doing, and what everyone else has to point out that he's not paying attention to. The Josh cartoon is indeed very apt.

Mar 3, 2014 at 8:18 PM | Unregistered Commentermikegeo

That is a great cartoon, but Nick and other climate alarmists are not IMHO to blame for following instructions after WWII to hide information about energy in cores of heavy atoms and stars that might endanger the survival of mankind:

The last paragraph of Aston’s 1922 Nobel lecture apparently scared world leaders into taking totalitarian control at the end of WWII when they discovered Japan had developed the atomic bomb:

“Should the research worker of the future discover some means of releasing this energy in a form which could be employed, the human race will have at its command powers beyond the dreams of scientific fiction; but the remote possibility must always be considered that the energy once liberated will be completely uncontrollable and by its intense violence detonate all neighbouring substances. In this event the whole of the hydrogen on the earth might be transformed at once and the success of the experiment published at large to the universe as a new star.”

With kind regards,
- Oliver K. Manuel
Former NASA Principal
Investigator for Apollo

PS – The above link is correct, but sometimes fails to work for unknown reasons.

Mar 3, 2014 at 8:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterOliver K. Manuel

I don't pretend to be able to follow the intricacies of the scientific and statistical debates, but I think Nick Stokes (and EM) seem/s very 'useful' in forcing varieties of skeptics to sharpen arguments, re-examine data, improve critiques etc.

I don't doubt that both NS and EM can be frustrating to all who think they should have yielded on this or that point (many points ha ha), but I do think they both seem to argue with much sincerity, knowledge (if highly selective), and (generally) civility.

i.e., I haven't seen either to have trollish characteristics of arguing in bad faith, but rather an obstinate devotion to arguing sincerely held lost causes ha ha. Of course they and many climate scientists would say the same (and worse) of skeptics.....

Mar 3, 2014 at 8:36 PM | Registered CommenterSkiphil

That heated debate continues unabated on Lucia's Blackboard blog, under the title SteynMann Steamroller II ? - (Good name for a band, but also reminds me of geology lectures 50 years ago, from which I still recall the evocatively named 'Steinmann Trinity' which can be summarised as the natural assemblage of spilites with serpentinite and radiolarian chert, an association indicative of formation in a bathyal environment first noted by G. Steinmann in 1905.)

Mar 3, 2014 at 11:15 PM | Registered CommenterPharos

We shouldn't knock Chandra - the post linked to on Stokes' blog is a perfect example of Stokesian racehorse gibberish.

The issue with infilling the Gaspe Cedar was that it is an ad hoc change to a series applied in a statistical methodology that is not robust. As the Gaspe Cedar series has a hockey stick shape, its inclusion can have be used to force a "good" spurious RE score for the 1400 step reconstruction. (It cannot be used to "get" a good R^2 score since it is not well correlated with temperature, showing the spurious nature of the relationship).

Yet Nick's analysis completely ignores the actual point being made about the Gaspe Cedar series... and instead looks at the consequence of different infill values, *completely* missing the point of the original criticism.

So we should thank Chandra for a perfect example of Stokesian side-stepping the actual point while tying himself in knots with irrelevances.

Mar 3, 2014 at 11:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterSpence_UK

Nick has always reminded me more of the Black ("it's only a flesh wound") Knight in his stubborn adherence to utterly untenable propositions.

But, I must agree that he is a very polite Black Knight.

Mar 3, 2014 at 11:55 PM | Registered Commenterjohanna

Two questions.

1. Does Nick ever get out of the basement?

2. Do his parents know he is down there?

Mar 4, 2014 at 1:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterFred

I should qualify my remark above by noting that I can't recall ever seeing Nick admit error or acknowledge any real failing in climate science.

This implies impossible levels of perfection and (also) a perverse unwillingness to apply critical standards to oneself and one's preferred allies.

So despite his outward calm and civility, there is a serious question of whether he is truly engaged in a forthright, dispassionate search for knowledge and understanding.

Mar 4, 2014 at 1:29 AM | Registered CommenterSkiphil


So despite his outward calm and civility, there is a serious question of whether he is truly engaged in a forthright, dispassionate search for knowledge and understanding.

I hope this does not demean the man, but I think his interest must be in ferreting out the weaknesses and inaccuracies in posts and comments in the blogs which interest him, and maybe nothing more exalted. And I think that could be a worthy activity without the higher calling you suggest. A sort of auditor of the auditor. This is without reference to just how difficult it often is for me to understand what he is getting at.

I'm glad he devotes the time he does to these things, aren't you?

Mar 4, 2014 at 3:56 AM | Registered Commenterjferguson

Fred, Nick is a real person who uses his real name. He is in fact a retiree who lives in Victoria, Australia.

Mar 4, 2014 at 4:15 AM | Registered Commenterjohanna

When out of arguments and What active engaged erratic handwaving can lead to? The erratic handwaving knot syndrome?

Mar 4, 2014 at 5:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterJon

ALL (100%, no exceptions) those who believe/promote cAGW theories are either dishonest or stupid, I don't think Stokes is stupid, he's just a completely and utterly dishonest liar.

ALL of the people running the environmentalist show are either making a living / profit from it and/or it's aligned with some other personal view (which they conceal because it's unpopular) like extreme socialism / communism or anti-capitalism or population reduction. The other followers are just useful idiots who think Greenpeace is about being green and having peace, many of our politicians fall into this category because we elect fools.

Mar 4, 2014 at 1:08 PM | Unregistered Commenterjaffa

Gee, jaffa, reverse the labels and you could epitomise everything we don't like about the nastiest elements of the alarmists.

Wipe the spittle off the screen and get a grip.

Mar 4, 2014 at 1:13 PM | Registered Commenterjohanna

Thanks Johanna.

Mar 4, 2014 at 3:52 PM | Registered CommenterHaroldW

jferguson writes:

I hope this does not demean the man, but I think his interest must be in ferreting out the weaknesses and inaccuracies in posts and comments in the blogs which interest him, and maybe nothing more exalted. And I think that could be a worthy activity without the higher calling you suggest. A sort of auditor of the auditor. This is without reference to just how difficult it often is for me to understand what he is getting at.

I'm glad he devotes the time he does to these things, aren't you?

I think you should read the first part of Skiphil's comment.

Some people in this comment section probably don't read Stokes comments regularly, because if they did, they wouldn't be so sympathetic. Let he speak, of course, but don't think Stokes is the nice guy who corrects others mistakes.

Mar 4, 2014 at 7:32 PM | Registered CommenterDaniel G.

Daniel G.
It could be that i didn't understand what I wrote either, but...

I was trying to suggest that Nick was a bit like a proofreader (editor?) who detects weaknesses in the copy and challenges them. I don't expect more philosophical observations/admissions from him. That isn't what he does. Since the warmists appear not to be the only group which has problems with imprecision in their posts and publications, I'm glad that he probes and challenges at the sceptic blogs. Is "nice" a requirement for this activity?

Mar 5, 2014 at 1:16 PM | Registered Commenterjferguson

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