Making Up Stuff

One of the most effective techniques by which deniers persuade people, especially policymakers, that it’s OK to do nothing about man-made climate change, is also one of the most reprehensible. To whit: just make up stuff.


A prime example is a paper about sea level rise by Albert Parker, M. Saad Saleema, and M. Lawson (2013, Sea-level trend analysis for coastal management, Ocean & Coastal Management, 73 63-81). You may recall Parker as one of those who submitted a comment criticizing perfecly valid research by Shepard et al. (we dissected another of his travesties here). You may even recall that he submitted two comments about that paper under different names. You see, Albert Parker also goes by the name Alberto Boretti. What do you think — is it reprehensible to play games with names just so you can get two comments published as though they were from independent sources? I think so.

But Parker et al’s 2013 paper absolutely takes the cake, because it’s a prime example of making stuff up. They got caught, which is why one of the authors (M. Lawson) has disavowed the paper and claimed his contribution was almost nil, certainly negligible. In other words, he threw his co-authors under the bus.

Parker et al. begin by claiming that


The sea-level scenarios of Ozcoasts (Australian Government/Geoscience Australia, 2012) translate into six greenhouse-gas emission ‘marker’ scenarios. Sea levels are supposed to follow over the period 1990-2100 an exponential curve:

y = y_o + A e^{R_o \cdot x} (1)

The problem is, they made that up.

In a response from J. R. Hunter it is pointed out that they just made that up. Nobody I know of has ever made such a claim, and certainly not Australian Government/Geoscience Australia in their “sea-level scenarios of Ozcoasts.” Not only do they not make that claim, Hunter proves that the actual scenarios don’t follow Parker et al.’s equation (1). It’s really not that hard. Because Parker et al. just made it up. Hunter states:


Contrary to the authors’ claim, none of these scenarios involves any assumption about exponential growth. Each scenario involves four points in time (including the starting point of zero rise in 1990), and Equation (1) contains three constants. If a scenario was indeed exponential, then any three points from the scenario could be used to fit an exponential (as in Equation (1)) and the fourth point should necessarily fall on that curve. This is clearly not the case, as shown in Fig. 1, which contains a panel for each scenario.

Yes, he proved it. They made it up.

Parker (but not his co-authors) actually wrote a reply to Hunter’s comment. And what does he say about this? You have to look carefully to find anything relevant because the first half of Parker’s reply doesn’t address the issues raised by Hunter at all. When he finally gets around to it, Parker says this:


As final remark about equation (1) of the paper, it seems that Mr. Hunter has some issues also with mathematics in addition to sea levels.

Then, he starts talking about the other thing in their paper which Hunter shows is just plain wrong. The brazenness is really quite impressive.

Note also that Parker addresses his critic as “Mr. Hunter” (which he does throughout) and soon thereafter refers to Stefan Rahmstorf as “Mr. Rahmstorf,” while referring to someone he seems to like as “Dr. Scafetta.” Hunter and Rahmstorf got Ph.D. degrees the old-fashioned way — they earned them — and it is disrespectful to address them as “Mr.” when using the correct title for others. My opinion: the disrespect was deliberate. Also my opinion: the editors of the journal Ocean & Coastal Management should never have permitted such blatantly snide treatment of respected researchers. Shame on them.

The other issue which Hunter’s comment points out (he only mentions two because, frankly, there are too many to deal with them all) is the claim that according to some models (specifically, that of Rahmstorf) the acceleration of sea level should be proportional to CO2 concentration:


The most popular models used to estimate the impacts of climate-change are based on very simplistic assumption, as for example Rahmstorf (2007):

{dSLR \over dt} = a {dCO_{2-a} \over dt} (2)

In this equation, t is the time, SLR the sea level rise and CO2-a the anthropogenic emission of carbon dioxide. Equation (2) (and more in general the assumption that the anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide are the only forcing of sea level rises) lack so far of validation.

Hunter points out:


In fact, Rahmstorf (2007) gave two equations:

{dH \over dt} = a (T - T_o)

and an integrated version of this equation.

So what is Parker’s defense of their faulty equation (2), which by the way he gives after mentioning equation (1) without saying anything about that? It’s this:


Mr. Rahmstorf (www.nature.com/scitable/knowledge/library/modeling-sea-level-rise-25857988), obviously a reference contributor to the IPCC AR4 (www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/syr/en/main.html), claims dH/dt = a \cdot (T(t)-T_o) where H is the sea level, t the time, T the temperature and a is a coefficient. To is a reference value of the temperature, selected as the temperature when the time t is equal to zero. The sea level rate of rise SLR is the sea level velocity dH/dt. Therefore, the sea level acceleration SLA = dSLR/dt = a ~ dT/dt. Considering the other authors of the IPCC AR4 claim that there is a perfect correlation between the atmospheric CO2 concentration and the surface temperature (www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/syr/en/main.html), then it is correct to write that according to Rahmstorf and the other authors of the IPCC AR4 is SLA = dSLR/dt = a ~ dT/dt = dCO_2/dt.

It’s not a minor mistake to claim that “other authors of the IPCC AR4 claim that there is a perfect correlation between the atmospheric CO2 concentration and the surface temperature.” He just made it up. It’s not just false, it’s ludicrous — even more ludicrous than Parker referring to “the assumption that the anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide are the only forcing of sea level rises” which exists only in his imagination.

The blatantly obvious falsehoods in Parker et al. make it one of the biggest embarrassments in modern science. It’s an embarrassment to the journal Ocean & Coastal Management that Parker et al. was published in their pages. It’s an embarrassment to the reviewers that they allowed this trash through. But most of all, it’s an embarrassment to the authors. Perhaps that’s why the third author, M. Lawson (a senior journalist for the Australian Financial Review) has tried to distance himself from the work that bears his own name. “Crikey” reports that Lawson wants none of the blame for this fiasco, saying


“I don’t think I actually saw the paper, to be honest,” Lawson said. “I think I contributed a paragraph … I was a bit surprised to see me listed as a joint author — my contribution was quite minimal. I’m a journalist, not a scientist.”

Evidently Lawson was also surprised to learn of Parker/Boretti’s dual identity, saying


“Is he the same guy? That’s what I was puzzling over … That’s why Parker was sending me emails — I had no idea who he was.”

Perhaps the most telling comment from Lawson was his endorsement of the paper’s main theme in spite of its lack of validity:


“I can’t comment on the details of the scientific analysis, but on a broader level it’s clear the increases to sea levels to date to not justify the responses we have seen from councils.”

It seems to me that the blame for just making up stuff belongs to Albert Parker. Or Alberto Boretti, depending on which day of the week it is. But before anyone lets Lawson off the hook, consider this: in spite of trying to abdicate responsibility stating “I’m a journalist, not a scientist” and “I can’t comment on the details of the scientific analysis,” he still insists that “it’s clear the increases to sea levels to date to not justify the responses we have seen from councils.”

As for the policy-relevant conclusions of Parker et al., I’ll agree with the final sentence of Hunter’s comment regarding their “advice”:


Given the errors noted above, these statements represent quite dangerous and foolhardy advice.

Dr. Hunter, you were far too kind.

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75 responses to “Making Up Stuff

  1. Re. “The blatantly obvious falsehoods in Parker et al. make it one of the biggest embarrassments in modern science.” I’d say this is a bit hyperbolic and gives this article, this journal, and these author’s far too much weight.

    It should very much be a deep embarrassment to the journal and by association to any honest researcher who has ever been published there. I do hope they raise a very, very large outcry with the editors/publishers of this journal as it very much reflects back on their own published work.

  2. It’s easier to do this when reality is subservient to the internal alternate of the seriously deluded.

    In THAT alternate reality, Dr Hunter probably did say something that Bert’s response was relevant to. It’s just that nobody else gets to see what Dr Hunter said in that internal and invisible reality.

    It only becomes hard if you have to occasionally come out to reality. Admittedly, Bert has to come to reality for meals because Tea Time in the Land of Tinkly Fairies is unreliable. But apart from minimal necesary trips to reality, it’s just easier to remain in the world of imagination.

    A bit like Willy Wonka without the chocolate.

  3. “When the going gets weird
    the weird turn pro.”

    attributed to a different Hunter. One that was a journalist.

    • One word: bats
      Hunter S. was one of the funniest writers out there. One of the usernames to access one of my websites is: gonzojourno, as a tribute to the man.

  4. “Also my opinion: the editors of the journal Ocean & Coastal Management should never have permitted such blatantly snide treatment of respected researchers. Shame on them.”

    Maybe. But at least this way, they allow another unsavory aspect of Mr. Boretti/Parker’s character to be seen for what it is–intentionally or otherwise.

    Personally, I’m always intentional about using correct titles where earned, whether it’s Dr. Michael Mann or Dr. Roy Spencer. So I agree with your larger point in this regard. It’s a rare (and rarely gifted) person for whom any doctoral degree comes easily. Mine certainly didn’t.

  5. This is a point that should be raised more often, and that in my opinion too many scientists and commenters still tend to overlook or minimize. I’m not sure if this is due to a sense of politeness, tolerance, a kind of stunned silence, or some other reasons.

    The large amount of time and energy spent carefully preparing arguments and presentations in which every fact, figure and statement is carefully checked can go to waste facing opponents who are perfectly happy to fabricate claims or deny facts on a moment’s notice.

    For an informed audience this is hardly a drawback, of course. For an uninformed one I suspect it can be disastrous. My own prescription, for whatever it’s worth, would be to sharply challenge false claims until they are supported (a difficult task) or dropped, however grudgingly. Climate debates and discussions now often occur outside of scientific and technical environments, and one’s tactics should adapt to suit. In a legal case, for example, lawyers rarely let dubious or self-serving statements by the opposing side stand unchallenged, and can be quite persistent on such points.

  6. So, is this otherwise considered a reputable science journal? Do they have any history? Have they retracted any papers in the past? Have any honest researchers been published there? Hmmmm ….

    Elsevier Boycott Gains Steam

    led me this quote from Scientific Community to Elsevier: Drop Dead

    Since learning that Elsevier had a business line in putting out publications designed to look like peer-reviewed journals, and calling themselves journals, but actually full of paid-for BS, I have had a form letter I use for declining requests to referee, letting editors know about this, and inviting them to switch to a publisher which doesn’t deliberately seek to profit by corrupting the process of scientific communication.

    So, good journal, or BS journal?

  7. I reviewed an earlier paper by Parker/Boretti which had the same made up formulae for the IPCC sea level projections and the Rahmstorf semi-empirical projections. I made the point strongly that these were fabrications and recommended outright rejection. The paper was rejected. Parker/Boretti can’t even claim that they haven’t been told before that this was just WRONG!

    Elsevier require copyright clearances from ALL authors of papers. How did Mark Lawson’s signed copyright form get into the system? Hmmmm!

    Neil White

    PS I think Parker/Boretti (or is it Boretti/Parker) recommends Nils-Axel Morner as a reviewer to publishers. Morner has certainly been used as a reviewer for some of his paper.

    [Response: They’ve even collaborated to co-author a paper. Now there’s a match made in …]

    • Neil, the corresponding author is allowed to sign on behalf of all co-authors, so there’s likely no signed individual copyright form from Mark Lawson.

  8. Did the sharp-eyed among you spot the claim that Alberto Boretti was now publishing under a different name – Albert Parker? This is where things become confusing, because it seems that Albert Parker has been using his current name and his former name at the same time. Dr Albert Parker is an automative engineer who used to work for Fiat. He has a long record of publishing scientific papers on engines. Many are listed on his page at the University of Ballarat where he used to work under the name Boretti.

    In January he joined RMIT university as an associate professor to lead a research group as part of a $10 million project to support “leading-edge experiments on alternative fuels for advanced and more efficient internal combustion engines” – so says the RMIT press release. A worthwhile endeavour, no doubt. The press release didn’t mention Dr Parker’s recent name change, but I understand they do know about it.

  9. If you fancy a change from climate change statistical nonsense, here’s some alchemical statistical nonsense:

    http://alchemy.ws/

    THe PDF of “Alchemy deciphered” is, I think (not being so good at stats) a good example of missing the point about sampling and comparing what you get from your samples, as well as claiming statistics backs you up when you haven’t actually done any real statistics.

  10. When I read the title “making things up” I thought that this must be about blogs or even blog commenters where “making things up” is a way of life along with saying “I’ve read that….” Trying to publish stuff that’s obviously made up in a scientific journal seems like a really stupid strategy. After all, the journals are mainly read by scientist and scientists would quickly catch onto stuff obviously made up. I would not think that this journal would be likely to attract high profile press releases. Are the main authors really that stupid or naive?

    • You mistake the purpose: The whole point is to say “a peer reviewed journal has accepted” the findings of [...fill in the blank...]. We’ve seen this with Fourier “fits”, “urban heat island”, an article or two by Dr. Spencer, and others.

  11. > stuff that’s made up
    This crazy world actually has people who believe that’s how it’s done, so they consider it right and proper to do it themselves.
    Op. cit.: Mirowski, Philip, “The Rise of the Dedicated Natural Science Think Tank” (New York: Social Science Research Council, July 2008).

  12. See also: http://blogs.nature.com/news/2010/10/scientists_accuse_think_tanks.html
    and Playing science? Environmentally focused think tanks and the new scientific paradigm
    Kimberly Douglass and Sarah Tanner
    First Monday, Volume 17, Number 10 – 1 October 2012

    http://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/4176/3327

    doi:10.5210/fm.v17i10.4176
    “… forcing the scientific community to contend with representatives of commercial interests masquerading as academics….”

  13. Boretti/Parker has been publishing a large number of papers with major flaws, no uncertainties, made up stuff and (in at least one case) duplication. Boretti/Parker suggesting particular referees combined with hands off editors (e.g., who allow the Mr / Dr idiocy) would explain how these papers ended up in the literature.

    Most of these papers don’t get significant press attention, although John Hunter & I did respond to one paper that did get such attention in Australia (see link below).

    Despite the Boretti/Parker papers being debunked in the literature (often for basic flaws like reporting 78 mm as 50 mm), they are still cited by the NIPCC, N-20 and The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity. I think that tells you something about these organisations approach to science.

    https://theconversation.com/peer-review-isnt-perfect-and-the-media-doesnt-always-help-11318

  14. He doesn’t always make stuff up. Sometimes he copies it verbatim from other work. Compare, e.g. from the first paragraph:

    “According to the reports, sea surface temperature, sea level and storm intensity are all due to increase; the increased sea surface temperature will produce increased stratification/changed circulation, reduced incidence of sea ice at higher latitudes, increased coral bleaching and mortality, pole ward species migration and increased algal blooms”

    with Table 6.2 of the IPCC 2007 assessment report:

    “Increased stratification/changed circulation; reduced incidence of sea ice at higher latitudes; increased coral bleaching and mortality (see Box 6.1); poleward species migration; increased algal blooms”

    There are other verbatim sentences as well.

    • Parker/Boretti also duplicates, and this was noted first by Shepard et al.. While Parker/Boretti usually self cites a lot, in Natural Hazards he did not cite his earlier Ocean & Coastal Management paper, from which he recycled text, figures and a table.

      An example of the duplicated text follows.

      Boretti in Ocean & Coastal Management

      Table 1 presents the result of the classic analysis of the data measured in the 85 stations of the 104 with data made available by the Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology (2012). The data downloaded cover the period up to December 2010 included. The average sea level rise (SLR) for all the stations with more than 40 years of recorded data is 1.17 mm/year (21 stations, average record length 52.5 years). The average SLR for all the stations with more than 30 years of recorded data is 0.96 mm/year (32 stations, average record length 46.9 years). The average SLR for stations with more than 25 years of recorded data is 1.18 mm/year (47 stations, average record length 40.4 years). The average SLR for stations with more than 20 years of recorded data is 1.29 mm/year (62 stations, average record length 36.3 years). Inclusion of stations with less than 20 years of records is not particularly meaningful, because it would magnify the positive or negative multi-decadal oscillations of the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) about the mean trend. For all the 85 stations, the average SLR is however a 1.02 mm/year (85 stations, average record length 30 years).
      The linear fitting of the measured monthly average data shows a fairly uniform geographical pattern of relative sea level trends around the Australian coastline.

      Boretti in Natural Hazards

      Table 2 presents the result of the more grounded classic analysis of the data measured in the 85 stations with data made available by the Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology (2012). Not neglecting the existence of other stations, and not neglecting the measurements collected in the ABSLMP stations before the start of the project even if with different techniques, the average sea level rise is better assessed to less than 20 % of the average sea level rise of Table 1. The data downloaded cover the period up to December 2010 included. The average sea level rise (SLR) for all the stations with more than 40 years of recorded data is 1.17 mm/year (21 stations, average record length 52.5 years). The average SLR for all the stations with more than 30 years of recorded data is 0.96 mm/ year (32 stations, average record length 46.9 years). The average SLR for stations with more than 25 years of recorded data is 1.18 mm/year (47 stations, average record length 40.4 years). The average SLR for stations with more than 20 years of recorded data is 1.29 mm/year (62 stations, average record length 36.3 years). Inclusion of stations with \20 years of records is not particularly meaningful, because it would magnify the positive or negative multi-decadal oscillations of the El Nino—Southern Oscillation (ENSO) about the mean trend. For all 85 stations, the average SLR is however 1.02 mm/year (85 stations, average record length 30 years). The linear fitting of the measured yearly averaged data shows a fairly uniform geographical pattern of relative sea level trends around the Australian coastline.

  15. Is this John Hunter the same one who did fine work debunking John Daly’s “Waiting for Greenhouse”, including provision of this useful document showing Daly to be a “scientific advisor” for the Western Fuels Association?

    Note that Daly was the first I found to directly compare the :Lamb(1965) sketch (as ,a href=”http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2012/10/10/adoration-of-the-lamb/”>Eternal Truth) with the hockey stick, but ascribed it to IPCC(1995), However, although curve is the same, fonts and title differ from IPCC(1990) FIg.7.1(c).
    So, at least the image and citation were “made up,” Since Daly is deceased, we can’t ask him where he got it.

    In 2005, Steve McIntyre used the ,same image and same (1995) false citation, making it almost certain that he didn’t look at either 1990 or 1995 (which did not go online until 2010). In 2012, Tom Curtis asked him where *he* got the image, but he said he didn’t remember. The 1995 date was crucial to make the Deming story have even a smidgeon of plausibility, as the Lamb graph was long gone by IPCC(1995).

    Of course, this exact image went on to greater fame in the Wall Street Journal, and many books, including Sen. Inhofe’s 2012 “The Greatest Hoax”. and other variants appeared elsewhere. it seems very likely that a digitized version of McIntyre’s version was used in the Wegman Report, as Wegman admitted in testimony that he had no access to IPCC(1990).

    Making things up is *so* much easier than doing real science.

    • John Mashey.

      Yes, that’s the same John Hunter. Although he doesn’t get as much credit for it as he should (compared with the Manns and Gleicks of the world), John Hunter is an active voice against denialism of all stripes. His low(ish) profile is such possibly because a lot of his work in this endeavour isn’t widely discussed the lay public domain.

      If you ever have the chance to meet him ask him what he thinks about the correspondence he receives from armchair experts trying to tell him why the climate scientists of the world have it wrong. His passion is inspiring…

    • Hi John – yes I am the author of “What’s Wrong With Still Waiting For Greenhouse” too – so thanks for the kind words. John Daly was the first contrarian I came across – it was 15 years ago, and I was a total novice in sea-level science at the time and, when I started looking at the Port Arthur sea-level mark, I hadn’t a clue what I’d find – so I was pretty astounded when John Daly effectively charged me with cooking the books! Unfortunalely, John Daly remained obsessed with our Port Arthur study until he died (it features prominently on his surviving web site (http://www.john-daly.com)).

      Both he and I spent a huge amount of time on the internet arguing about sea-level rise and climate change – overall, what a waste of time for both of us!

      Cheers,

      John

      • John…Dude, you’re my hero.

      • Maybe, maybe not … that WFA document was priceless as it in effect documents the earliest-known attack on the hockeystick, done by a nonscientist affiliated with coal companies, and his them was eventually picked up and broadcast widely…

  16. No surprises regarding Lawson. Besides his made up rot in the Australian Financial Review regarding climate science (you do wonder what else he just makes up in other disciplines). He also trolls the comments section of every climate article in TheCoversation when not flogging an economic liberal ideology https://theconversation.com/profiles/mark-lawson-19903/activities

  17. An analogy. Years of working in academia taught me that most academic administrators are less concerned with faculty providing actual instruction than they are with faculty offering a plausible appearance of instruction. Perhaps the same sort of thing here. The corporate directors of the denialist disniformation campaign do not demand science in defense of their position but rather something that will pass as science with the majority of people. Ok to make sh-t up, in other words, if the sh-t one makes up can fool most of the people most of the time.

  18. I may be naive, but why did Baretti make this up? To get ahead in the field? Because he is being paid off? I just don’t understand why there are sufficient incentives to be a climate change denier unless one owns a polluting industry, does not want to have any more expenses, and does not care about the well-being and survival of future generations.

    • Since arriving at RMIT to work in the “Green Engines” research lab, Parker has published a series of climate change denial papers in Non-Linear Engineering (http://www.degruyter.com/view/j/nleng). The editor of that journal is Gholamreza Nakahie Jazar, who is also the discipline head of the Mechanical and Automotive Engineering at RMIT.

  19. Well before the era of the diploma mill, graduate school and post doctoral slave labor and the state funded patent university, the old fashioned way of earning your doctorate was by coming up with a radically new hypothesis, posing it as a thesis and then defending it with the evidence. No thesis advisor was even required! My how the mighty have fallen.

    I’m just guessing people who go that route nowadays aren’t referred to as Doctor, whether right or wrong their hypothesis was, and don’t even care. I prefer the old fashioned way because the new fashioned way is just nasty.

  20. David B. Benson

    Where is Horatio when you need him?

    • Horatio Algeranon

      I already did one for Parkeretti

      Parker is also indexed under (Boretti: “see Parker”) for the Liebrary of Congreats

      Conjoined Twins”
      – by Horatio Algeranon

      Parker and Boretti
      Like meatballs and spaghetti
      They go together well
      Like farmer and the dell
      Abbot and Costello
      Oranges and jello
      Peanut butter and jelly
      Donuts and a belly
      “Skeptics” and denial
      Mendacity and guile
      Morner and his horses
      Fiddle dee-dee of courses
      Tony and his goofs
      Trzupek and his proofs
      McIntyre and McKitricks
      Mathwank and statistricks
      Curry and her pause
      Why? It’s “just because”

  21. Perhaps a new competition is in order. Something a few rungs lower than the Ig Nobels:
    Outstanding Creative Science

  22. They don’t need to provide accurate information.
    They don’t want people to have good information.
    Doubt is what keeps people away from the voting booth.

    http://pleasecutthecrap.com/republican-strategy-and-how-to-beat-it/

    in 1980, right wing pioneer Paul Weyrich confirmed this in a speech. And while Weyrich is less well-known than Saint Reagan, he’s actually held in higher esteem among the far right than even Reagan. He is a co-founder of the Heritage Foundation, and the founder of ALEC.

    In this infamous speech, Weyrich stated the following:

    “… I don’t want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of people. They never have been from the beginning of our country, and they are not now. As a matter of fact our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.”

  23. I’m unaccountably reminded of a trivial comedy for serious people…

    Boretti: Well, my name is Parker in town and Boretti in the country, and this paper was published in town.

    Algernon: Why are you Parker in town and Boretti in the country?

    Boretti: A high moral tone can hardly be said to conduce very much to either one’s health or one’s happiness, in order to get published I have always pretended to have a younger brother of the name of Parker, who works at RMIT, and produces the most dreadful papers. That, my dear Algy, is the whole truth pure and simple.

    Algernon: The truth is rarely pure and never simple…
    (sorry, Oscar)

    • Ah, good old Oscar “I have nothing to declare except my genius” Wilde. The same play has another of my favorite lines, “To lose one parent is understandable. Losing two is sheer carelessness!”

      • Ahem…
        Since the title of this post is ‘Making Up Stuff’, I feel impelled to point out that Wilde actually said,
        “To lose one parent, Mr Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.”
        Sorry. I couldn’t help it. I can resist everything except temptation.

      • Well-played, Slioch! (I’m tempted to play myself, but apparently am not sufficiently yielding.)

  24. From my experience as a scientist over the decades I’ve observed scientific fraud as spectrum from subtle (unrecognized bias) to bizarre (intentionally making up data). I think we’ve all run across people in our daily lives who interact with life inside similarly. Most of us are self-correcting, most of the rest of us accept correction even if eventually, the remainder, who are high-functioning in most other respects, are incapable of recognizing their issues with reality. The result is a bizarre behavior called fraud (as opposed to bizarre communications which I mentioned in response to a previous post). Researchers and scientists are humans first and not immune. How these individuals get to where they are may seem a mystery but the fact they do (the reality) is not. Just look around you and count the number of reality-challenged people in positions of wealth and power. There is no cure except the ever-vigilant search for, identification of and expose of these individuals and their public pronouncements of warped reality. The process of science intentionally routs out these false paths but the process takes years, even centuries. Tamino is to be congratulated for his (I assume his not her [Response: “Her” would be “Pamina”.]) efforts to expedite the process through severe, but evenhanded, fact-driven criticism. And, sarcasm and parody are useful tools in this respect. His approach to this problem will not change the thinking or behavior of these particular perpetrators but will positively influence those who happen to hear their claims. This audience is small and focused. I hope that besides participating in this discourse contributors participate in the broader scientific, local community and even political arenas to turn their thoughts and observations into positive action, whether it has to do with climate change or any other public display of cognition dissonance affecting the rest of us.

  25. Speaking of self-correcting, in my comment above please change (line 4) “…life inside similarly ” to “… life similarly.” And (2nd to last line) “cognition” to “cognitive”.

    [Response: I am not your editor, nor your copyreader.]

  26. This reminds me as a more elaborate case, of Ian Plimer’s zombie claim that volcanoes emit far more CO2 than humans do. It keeps popping up in comment threads and letters to the editor (recently in a response to an opinion piece of mine, where it was offered in a tone of offended irritation, as an obvious fact that obviously shows any worry about human emissions is pure nonsense). It continues to take people in– which makes the main point here very clear: making stuff up is extremely good business for these people.

  27. While not directly related to the shoddy or false scientific claims discussed by Tamino here, the latest meme being parroted by climate change deniers is a misquote by a very inexperienced junior reporter listening to a media conference call in which the White House’s Dr. John Holdren states: “First of all, we know that scientifically, no single episode of extreme weather, no storm, no flood, no drought can be said to have been caused by global climate change. But the global climate has now been so extensively impacted by the human-caused buildup of greenhouse gases that weather practically everywhere is being influenced by climate change.”

    The inaccurate transcript of the last sentence, as written by The Hill’s reporter and published in quotation marks, “Weather practically everywhere is being caused by climate change.” Naturally this is the version being brayed on the usual websites by the usual suspects. It will be interesting to see if Judith Curry repeats it as well.

  28. And if you go to the journal web site, you find that Dr. Hunter’s paper is behind the paywall and Parker/Boretti’s reply is not. They were rich enough to buy out. What does that tell you about what will be seen?

  29. > Dr. Hunter’s paper is behind the paywall and Parker/Boretti’s
    > reply is not. They were rich enough to buy out. What does
    > that tell you about what will be seen?

    Um, that someone needs to set up yet another damn donation button for science funding? Science held hostage, click to ransom this paper ….

  30. Possibly a bit OT, but not only did we just have our 4th warmest December in recorded history, but also our 4th warmest January. In la Nina conditions:

    http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/tabledata_v3/GLB.Ts+dSST.txt

    Behold the new normal. Also… have a look at the daily arctic sea ice extent:

    http://nsidc.org/data/seaice_index/

    Yeah, yeah it’s only coming into March where the sea ice extent is the greatest anyway, but its just gone into 2 STD below the 1981 – 2010 avg.

    • Max ice–coming up in a few weeks–is not normally the best time to make comparisons if you look at seasonal analyses over time. The Arctic basin freezes up in the winter and that’s that for a large part of the Arctic.

      On the Atlantic side the succession of one storm after another has to have had some effects on extent, though I don’t know what they are for sure. Possibly they have compacted it given the general prevalence of SW-S-SE flows in the North Atlantic bringing warm air and moisture north that have occurred.

      Where I live in eastern Newfoundland the strong westerlies/sou’westerlies (to 120kph on multiple occasions and 115kph as I type!) have taken the pack off shore. I did sight it once far to the east from a point 200 metres up.

      Don’t know about the Bering side.

      • Well, from the English side we’ve barely had a frost, let alone sea ice.. although we have broken rainfall records, had a conveyor belt of storms delivered, and the Somerset Levels (about 10 miles from where I live) have been under water for about 6 weeks.

        A lot of these storms must presumably have ended up delivering their heat to the Arctic, which is why the Barents sea has a very negative anomaly right now.

      • Yes, I’ve not found a relationship between sea ice area or extent at maximum and conditions at minimum. This makes sense because the maximum is set generally outside the Arctic Ocean, whereas the minimum is set by conditions within the Arctic Ocean. Maximum thickness of the pack within the Arctic ocean is a better predictor of minimum area or extent.

        Between 2000 and 2006 and 2007 and 2013, melt season losses have increased +17.5% for NSIDC extent and +12.5% for Cryosphere Today Area. While maximum extent (area) has changed +0.25% (-0,83%). Between the two periods the change of April volume has been -10.6%.

        This suggests that volume (i.e. thickness) is the main driver of melt season losses, other analysis confirms this.

        As for making stuff up, the denialists have to because they’ve lost the battle with reality. As for morals – what’s worse? Making stuff up or telling people there’s no reason for concern, as humanity pushes the planet into a new hyperthemal event (when the obfuscators clearly are not qualified to opine)?

      • Hmm, that poses an interesting question (well, to me, anyway): what makes a particular time of year ‘best’ to make comparisons?

        Consider this graph (JAXA):

        http://www.ijis.iarc.uaf.edu/en/home/seaice_extent.htm

        Or this one (Cryosphere Today):

        http://meteomodel.pl/index.php/arcticice

        You can see the degree of interannual variability characteristically changes throughout the year. It’s clearly the greatest for the annual minimum in September, and least around May and December, opening up slightly at maximum in March.

        People overwhelming favor the comparison at minimum. Is that because summer extent is related to ice-related feedbacks, like water vapor and albedo, and is therefore consequential for the actual forcings that result in a particular year? (If so, why not be more focussed on the summer solstice, when insolation is at its greatest? Or, for that matter, on the Arctic weather, which certainly affects the forcings greatly?)

        Or is it just that the variability ‘feels’ more informative?

      • KM–I can answer your question pretty exactly: May-Jun and a bit of Apr is the worst. Ice extent goes through a chokepoint there.

        How many times in the last 10 years have we seen the WUWT’s of the world trumpet “ice returns to ‘normal’ ” in that area only to remove said instrument from the Cherrypick Orchestra some months later? Both 2007 and 2012 saw this I remember quite well.

        There is always going to be some value to cherrypick, statistics assures us of that. But I think the spring period will remain the most fertile place to find them if I had to make a prediction.

    • Metz, did you mean this NSIDC page?

      http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/

      I’m glad either way, because I’d never happened upon the index page you linked to, and it’s pretty nifty.

    • Pete Dunkelberg

      Metz:La Niña conditions? I think it has been neutral for a long while. http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/search/enso-wrap-up.shtml?bookmark=no-rm

  31. would like to ask a question about use of information in your post: Global Temperature: the Post-1998 Surprise.

    supposedly my e-mail address is included as part of info for this comment. if not i can put in another comment.

    [Response: Please ask your question here in the comments.]

  32. If appropriately referenced, may I use information from the aforementioned post in a short newsletter article I am preparing on the supposed ‘pause’?

    If you want more info in the subject newsletter, would be pleased to provide.

    [Response: My policy is that others are free to quote extensively from my posts, and to reproduce graphs, so long as reference is made to the source.]

  33. Since the arctic came up…

    Let me first say that thanks to this blog, I’m not one of those people who sees trends everywhere just by eyeballing graphs and starts calling for explanations for short runs of data. I’ve learned discipline here, so I’m waiting at least two more weeks:

    http://ocean.dmi.dk/arctic/meant80n.uk.php

    • Yeah, I’ve been watching that, too. A bit reminiscent of 2006, and 2009, if you click back in the archives on that same page. And 2009 was a cold winter in NA, especially the US, as shown here:

      http://www.erh.noaa.gov/rnk/Newsletter/Spring_2010/winter_climate_summary.html

    • Pete Dunkelberg

      mgardner, click back through previous years to at least 1990.

      • Pete,
        I have–I find the DMI products interesting, especially their ice records. (Nice old-fashioned maps.)

        As I said, I am curious what the next couple of weeks will show. I was half-joking, but only half. Humans tend to see patterns all the time, and sometimes… there really is one. Linking the patterns with our known physical models is how science was done long before we could crunch huge data-sets. Sometimes we were wrong, and sometimes it led to an interesting investigation.
        The problem with going too far back in the record (to my mind) is that we ignore the changes we are already confident about.

  34. Anyone watching the wind patterns in the North Atlantic is utterly unsurprised that the Arctic on this side at least is warm. There has been a constant flow of equatorial air up into the Arctic through the mid Atlantic for months. Not all that hard to see why: As polar air goes south, something has to replace it after all.

    Svalbard at 78N and that area of the Barents has been near 0C for some time now while the sun isn’t even up yet, for example.

  35. This was the reply received by a colleague who inquired about the process behind the publication of Parker et al….

    Any reader/author who wishes to comment on the content being published in Ocean & Coastal Management is of course most welcome. If they have a different view or don’t agree with the content being published, they should indeed share their thoughts and participate in the scientific debate by submitting their material to the journal, either as a comment to the original manuscript in question, or as a new manuscript. In fact, Dr. Hunter was asked if he would submit a paper to the journal where he could state and defend his arguments and therefore contribute to the overall understanding of the topic.

    Scientific debate and different viewpoints is important and critical for scientific progress and therefore it is important that all researchers have the opportunity to submit their work for peer-review to be judged accordingly. If their work is deemed scientifically correct and acceptable it is published. This also allows other researchers to comment in a fair way and have the chance to present their results. This allows everyone a fair chance of defending their work and having their work independently reviewed by the peer review system.

    Furthermore, we take any authorship disputes very seriously, however, we have had no correspondence or complaints from any of the co-authors with regards to authorship issues on this paper. The copyright agreement of any accepted paper must be signed by the corresponding author of a manuscript, who is responsible for ensuring that all authors are aware of and have approved the publication.

    I trust this addresses your concerns?

    Needless to say his concerns were not really addressed.