Can Bastardi Learn?

Joe Bastardi was so kind as to grace us with a comment on a recent post. I congratulate him on an impressive achievement that few others could surpass: it would be difficult to squeeze more fallacies into a single comment even if you tried. Bastardi’s lack of comprehension shows such breadth and depth that it’s reminiscent of an elementary-school book report — from someone who didn’t read the book.

He closes by claiming to be in pursuit of a better world. That’s a lovely phrase. But it’s far too vague to identify his real motives or to know how far ideology may have poisoned his understanding. Could it be that Bastardi’s idea of a “better world” is one in which nobody threatens his God-given right to drive a “Hummer”? My idea of a “better world” is one in which everybody has food to eat. That includes (especially) our children and grandchildren.

Truth be told, I doubt Bastardi is capable of learning (perhaps I’m wrong; that would be a pleasant surprise). Much of his problem is that he seems compelled to take a simpleton’s view of just about everything. If reality is even the least bit complicated, if it can’t be summed up in a 10-second (or less) sound bite, if it involves any amount of “take some time and think about that before moving on” effort, it seems too much for him. He’ll substitute some idea which he can wrap his mind around without having to work so hard. Who cares whether it’s right or wrong?

Unfortunately for Bastardi, global warming cannot be learned, explained, or summarized through snappy one-liner comments. Yet it’s so simple, so comprehensible even to a 4-year-old, so persuasive to a lazy mentality to say things like “earths temps have leveled off the past 15 years” (that’s a quote from Bastardi). It’s just not true.

Worse yet for the weak-minded, if you really want to understand something — like, say, how earth’s temperature is changing — then there’s work involved. You need to do some actual statistics — not just eyeball a graph until you think you’ve seen what you want to see. You have to apply significance tests. You have to compensate for the noise in the data, in fact you have to compensate for autocorrelation in the noise. You should allow for the fact that a 130-year (or 160-year) record gives you lots of chances to see strange-looking behavior just by accident. You should take into account all the factors which we know affect global temperature, not just greenhouse gases, not just variations in the sun, and how they have changed over time. And that’s just to get a grip on temperature data! If you also want to understand why CO2 is increasing, where the extra is coming from, that takes more work.

If all that sounds like a lot of work, well it is. Alas, most people simply don’t have the skill to do it. But at least they could understand it if those who do have the skill invest the effort to explain it clearly, and those who want to know invest the effort to comprehend. Alack, far too many don’t even care to hear about it, and far too many others are tricked into misunderstanding when Joe Bastardi and his fellow fake skeptics offer them the cheap and easy chicken-McNugget version of global warming.

But there are people who do want to know the truth of the matter, and who are aware that not everything can be summed up by simplistic platitudes. There are even folks who are willing to work at it. The good news is that you really can understand the truth, you really can get it. It doesn’t take magic, it doesn’t require a Ph.D., but it does take work. This blog is for you.

53 responses to “Can Bastardi Learn?

  1. Most of 20th century science is counter-intuitive, or at least builds upon foundations which required a counter-intuitive leap. Most of the stuff that was intuitive was done in the 19th century. As a result at the end of the 19th century it was though that physics was just about finished (e.g. Lord Kelvin “Physics is nearly finished”, or von Jolly “in this field, almost everything is already discovered”). Joe makes intuitive arguments rather than evidence based arguments. Science on the other hand had to place evidence before intuition to get out of the 19th century.

    So you are spot on with the simplicity argument. Salby’s argument convinces, and Joe is taken in, precisely because it is so simple that it can be expressed in a single sentence and understood without any science background. No matter that it contradicts a century of other observations. No matter that the consensus view can explain far more of those observations, because the consensus view is not simple enough to explain in a soundbite. The possibility that surface temperatures might depend on greenhouse gases and albedo and the sun and aerosols and El Nino and ocean circulation and weather just isn’t simple enough for Joe, and therefore it must be wrong, irrespective of the data.

    • Kevin Stanley

      …but Salby’s argument isn’t even intuitive. If temperature rise drives atmospheric CO2 increase, then what happened to the CO2 that we put into the atmosphere, which more than accounts for the changes in the last century or two?

      To accept that idea you have to un-know stuff. You have to take any awareness you have about how much CO2 humans have been pumping out since the industrial revolution and wall it off in some corner of your mind while you think “ah, it’s the temperature increase that’s causing CO2 to rise.”

      If you allow those two thoughts to touch, it all falls apart. You can start rationalizing, to be sure, and I assume several (suspiciously incurious) “skeptics” who picked up on Salby have gotten to that point. But the rationales will always unravel unless you put up another wall of unknowing.

      “Hey, maybe it’s just that the CO2 sinks are less effective in response to higher temperatures, and the CO2 rise *is* largely from human emissions, but only because of the totally unrelated rise in temperature…otherwise natural sinks would have handled the increase. That means CO2 sinks in the past at lower temperatures would have been much more effective. Which means that ###WALL – NO THOUGHTS MAY PASS### it makes no sense that there was so much resident CO2 in the atmosphere prior to the industrial revolution. If the sinks had that kind of extra capacity, what was keeping them from using it?”

      Then if that wall fails:
      “There must have been huge sources of atmospheric CO2 before the industrial revolution that we don’t know about, which stopped as the industrial revolution started. But then ###WALL – NO THOUGHTS MAY PASS### that’s kind of a silly thing to think without any evidence, and in the face of the much simpler explanation that the rise is totally explained by the fact that humans have released more than enough extra CO2 through burning fossil fuel to account for the change.”

    • Unfortunately, Bastardi and Salby are taking issue with physics that has been known SINCE THE 19th CENTURY! To reach a time when their musings would have been acceptable as even scientific speculation you’d have to go back and revisit the debates on phlogiston! Bastardi is claiming that a scientific fact violates the First Law of Thermo when in fact that fact has been known since before there was (at least formally) a first law.

      This is the first time I’ve read anything written by JB. I’m not impressed.

  2. Excellent summary, Tamino. I suspect JB suffers from the delusion that all must be simple. He either cannot or refused to consider more than one influence on any phenomenon.

    I do have to wonder, though, how he cannot be influenced by the fact that most of the smart kids in the class (e.g. those publishing in climate science and the overwhelming majority of scientists in related fields such as physics, meteorology, chemistry…hell, even Petroleum Geology) have concluded that climate science is substantially correct. Certainly, it is a tiny minority of contrarians (at best) who would go so far as to question the existence of the greenhouse effect or the attribution of atmospheric CO2 increase anthropogenic activity. That takes either real stupidity or real self delusion.

  3. What I find the most ridiculous about the claims of people like Bastardi is, that their claims don’t even make sense with their made up “facts”. First he tells us that “it is the earths temperature which is driving the co2 release into the atmosphere”. A few sentences after this, he enlightens us that “earths temps have leveled off the past 15 years while co2 is rising.”

    What the f***??? Why does CO2 keep rising with the same rapid speed, when it is temperature driven and the temperatures are (as Bastardi claims) levelling off?

    This doesn’t even make sense, despite all the made-up bullshit, that doesn’t even come close to reality. It is really telling a lot, when so-called “skeptics” believe such nonsense, when even a child could spot those contradictions in a minute!

    The only good thing is, that nature couldn’t care less about those foolish claims of Bastardi & Co, so eventually even the dumbest person will realize, how wrong those deniers are. Let’s just hope, that it is not too late then.

    • Yeah, it rivals my favorite Dumb Denier Trick, which was the ‘no SUVs on Mars’ sequence:

      1) Earth isn’t warming;
      2) Mars, Jupiter and Uranus are warming at the same rate as the Earth;
      3) Ergo, all this warming is obviously due to the Sun, not CO2.

      • Most brillliantly in that ”evidence” list was Pluto, recently included in that same argument to ”proof” solar irradiance change… that one actually warms from 33 to 55 Kelvin, but given it’s on some 248 years revolution around the sun with a varying distance between 4.4 and 7.3 billion km, I’d think it’s that what caused it to ”warm”. Read that it’s just currently passed it’s perihelion (nearest).

      • Kevin

        Actually, Uranus is cooling (Young et al. 2001).

    • People like Bastardi should just be blasted with the fire hose of the depth and breadth of the science, on which he would instantly drown.

      People like him, Monckton, Plimer etc., aren’t the problem because the stupidity of their denial is too raw, too easily shot down. It’s people like Lindzen and Michaels who have the power to confuse policy makers and who thus do the real damage.

  4. Dikran Marsupial

    Of course it is merely coincidence that atmospheric CO2 has closely followed 0.45 times cumulative anthropogenic emissions since the industrial revolution. ;o)

  5. Daniel J. Andrews

    “For the sake of argument, lets assume you are correct, the co2 is adding energy to the system”– J.Bastardi

    That’s from Joe’s comment. What I’m wondering is if that is correct? Is CO2 adding energy to the system, or is it just capturing/retaining more energy from the sun when that energy is reflected as IR?


    • No, you are correct, and JB does not understand the science he believes he is rebutting.

      • Daniel J. Andrews

        Thank you. I keep questioning my assumptions (which i suppose is good, but too often leaves me wondering if I have indeed misunderstood something).

  6. But perhaps the question isn’t so much can Bastardi learn, as does he want to learn.

    The information is not hard to find, for those that do.

    OT, information on the history of the search for the ‘solar constant’ is now available in a new article I have up:

    (It’s the first of a series, setting up Part Two, which presents the more contentious question of ‘backradiation’–basically, putting up some of the observational research that G & T didn’t bother to read when they supposedly ‘falsified’ the GE. That part will be forthcoming some, probably next week.)

    Comments and corrections will be welcomed!

    • Kevin,

      The satellite-based measurements I’ve seen (Lean 2000, Svalgaard 2008) show TSI for the last 50 years averaging closer to 1366 W/m^2. Don’t know where the 1361 estimate came from. The discrepancy is only 0.4%, though.

  7. Let’s not lose an opportunity here. I don’t want to dismiss Bastardi as a robot or simpleton. I’d rather engage him as a human being fully capable of learning, changing, developing rather than a categorized lump whose fate is sealed. I suggest toning down the rhetoric and focusing on a few basic principles. If Bastardi can reveal himself to be human–willing to engage in dialogue about the science–then this would restore at least a splinter of my faith in the idea that we can build a better world.

    That’s my heart. My head is telling me that Bastardi is paid to express what he expresses and that he believes that money trumps all. His thoughts, feelings, and opinions have been erased, and he now simply performs like a ventriloquist’s dummy–an act that, if done well, is temporarily quite convincing.

  8. Rob Honeycutt

    Tamino… Bastardi’s post and your response here are a perfect illustration of exactly what we face with the climate change issue; a poignant portrait of the time in which we live.

    In his comments Bastardi reveals that he has done little real research on this issue for which he, in many ways, is entrusted with the nation’s well-being. I’m not a PhD but I have taken the time to try to understand the science of climate change to the best of my ability. I read through his comments, slack jawed, and can clearly see the litany of mistakes he makes and inaccurate information he purveys.

    I truly wish someone like Bastardi would invest the time to talk to someone like you who does have a strong grasp of the science. I wish he would take a crash course in the material. I wish someone would take his hand and walk him through the IPCC reports and the relevant published research. But I fear that will never happen because there is a political motivation behind his willful ignorance.

  9. “For after a prolonged period of LACK OF SUNSPOT ACTIVITY, the world was quite cold around 1800” says Bastardi.
    Fact is that temperatures were going down before the Dalton Minimum (1790-1830) started. So I guess this proves temperature on Earth is driving sunspot activity.

  10. David B. Benson

    I doubt JOe B. (or whoever was using his name) is bothering to read the follow-up.

    Looks to me to be a drive-by by somebody who is paid to makes such comments in order to waste ev4erybody’s time, yes?

  11. Anthropogenic climate change passenger

    You do realize that Joe intentionally post garbage like this where he can later go on FOX and claim he is the victim on how the left wing treats him.

    That’s why he does drive-by postings (ranting), he refuses to engage on one intellectual topic at a time or any true discussion of the topic.

    He should be treated differently than the average troll.

    Mr. Bastardi,
    I’m afraid you do not have a firm grasp of the topic would you please start over one point at a time where we can have an intelligent conversation. Your previous post is completely incoherent and needs to be restructured appropriately. Thank you very much for your patience.

    Anything short of that just feeds his PR campaign

  12. Well said, tamino. I’m planning on drafting up a detailed response to Bastardi’s Gish Gallop for Skeptical Science, and I’ll probably quote extensively from this post.

    Bastardi coming into the lion’s den to poke him with a stick – shows some serious balls, but also a serious lack of brains.

  13. As Ray Ladbury mentions above, I think the problem really is self delusion combined with arrogance. I don’t think Joe’s evil, lying, or motivated by money to say what he says. I think he truly believes that he’s right and many climate scientists are ignorant at best or corrupt at worst. It’s really sad to see the path he has followed.

    I started following his Accuweather column back in 2002 before I started grad school for meteorology. I loved weather, and his column provided forecast ideas I hadn’t seen before. Back then he expressed doubt about anthropogenic global warming, and I thought that he could be right. I didn’t know much about atmospheric science at the time, and his ideas seemed plausible. As I took many meteorology courses during graduate school, I continued to follow Joe’s column, but it quickly became apparent that the science of global warming was solid. My professors at Penn State never preached about global warming – they just taught the fundamentals, and the science stood on its own. As I was gaining knowledge and becoming more convinced of the science, Joe seemed to be heading the other direction. He always was disinclined to believe that humans have much impact, but he seemingly believed several years ago that climate scientists and even Al Gore had good intentions. Over the last few years he seems to have turned darker, putting more focus in debunking global warming, while questioning more the motives of scientists and even calling the science a “fraud.” He even devoted one of his columns last fall to criticize one of my papers that he obviously hadn’t read. By the next column he had turned his ire back to Mike Mann, so I was off the hook.

    Joe seems to have good intentions a lot of times, so I have been wondering how someone could go down a path like this. The only thing I could come up with is that we live in an age in which we can fuel our delusions by choosing the information we receive. Don’t believe in global warming? Get your news from Fox News or listen to Rush Limbaugh, and you’ll hear perspectives that support your belief. Want some actual science to support your views? Well, you won’t find much in the peer reviewed literature. But you can go to blogs now where people will post things that sound “sciencey” with at least a moderate degree of “truthiness” for the non-expert. You also can become part of community where beliefs are further reinforced through interaction. Joe has posted links to a bunch of “science” stories over the years, and they always have come from the usual disinformers like WUWT, Steven Goddard, Roy Spencer, etc.

    So I think the problem really is delusion. I think he truly believes what he says. He seems convinced that the earth is going to cool over the next 20 years. He seems convinced that climate scientists are too ignorant and/or corrupt to acknowledge that the PDO and AMO exist, or that it also was hot and dry in some parts of U.S. in the 1930s, or that ENSO has a strong impact on global temperatures on interannual timescales. I think he truly believes that it’s arrogant to think that humans can have a significant impact on global climate, but it’s not arrogant to think his opinion on climate is worth spreading to the world even though he probably hasn’t even read an IPCC report or any of the articles he criticizes. He probably believes that all the valid rebuttals raised by Joe Romm, Media Matters, Tamino, etc. are just some left-wing agenda-driven drivel, but I hope he will take the time to consider them seriously. Based on his column, it’s clear that he truly thinks that climate scientists are the closed-minded idealogues, whereas he is the open-minded seeker of truth.

    In the end, I know that Joe most importantly wants to get the forecast right. Although his forecast of 2011 being the coldest year since the late 1990s and that Arctic sea ice will return to pre-2006 levels doesn’t look too good right now, his ultimate forecast is that the earth’s temperature will return to late 1970s levels by 2030. I am confident that he will know that his forecast will not verify within the next 10 years. My hope is that once he does realize this (and hopefully much sooner), he will take the time to learn the errors of his thinking about global warming and then to spread the word. He has quite a few people who respect and follow him but who have similar beliefs about global warming as he does, so I think he can have some positive influence.

    (Oh, and the author of my graduate intro meteorology textbook was… Salby.)

    [Response: Thanks for the perspective.]

    • I suspect that you are correct about self-delusion being a large part of America’s–and much of the world’s–problem right now. Our public discourse is fragmented, and too much of it is marked by an utter lack of respect for the truth and a concomitant lack of ability to recognize the truth.

      (I’m thinking about certain claims made in connection with the budget debacle, uncritically made and repeated without refutation or comment, although objective information to the contrary was easily available to all concerned. I won’t go into detail–don’t want to create an OT rabbit-hole–but for me it seemed very reminiscent of issues we deal with constantly.)

      We have many problems, and high among them, IMO, is practical epistemology.

  14. David B. Benson

    There seems to be a propensity for (some) meteologists not to get it, alnong with (some) geologists and a few physicists. All ought to know enough to go study the applicable geophysics before commenting, but some seem to think that becasue they know their specialty thoroughly than they can instantly understand climatology without so much as cracking an elementary text.

  15. Nat J:
    You seem hopeful for recovery: have you (or anyone else here) seen anyone who has been this intense and vocal recover?
    I’m hard-pressed to name an example, but I would lover some.

    PSU and other Big Ten schools are hardly noted for being radical left-wing establishments, and of course, land-grant institutions have often been the ag-extension centers in their states, hence actually care about things like climactic influences on agriculture. As one amusing example, simply:
    Google: creamery
    and see if PSU shows up.

    • Yeah, I have, actually. Not a prominent spokesperson, but a local ‘debater.’ He was one of two who pushed me to learn the science in much more depth, so I could 1) evaluate if there was anything to what they were claiming, and 2) reply if that was indicated. . . and it turned out that it sure was.

      Our debating had cooled out, but I’m in some Facebook circles with him, and I always post my article releases on my wall, of course. A few months back, some of his comments in response led me to say, “W–, it sure sounds like you’ve changed your mind on this issue.”

      Last week he and I were talking about visiting our local Congresscritter to lobby for climate sanity!

    • Hi John,

      Sadly, I cannot think of any examples. The reasons that I have a modicum of hope are: 1) Joe has been vocal and adamant about the earth cooling over the next 20 years; 2) he thinks the players for global cooling (e.g., low solar activity, cold PDO, perhaps cold AMO) are lining up now; 3) he trusts the global temperature record of Roy Spencer, which is in broad agreement with all other temperature records; and 4) while we acknowledge natural variability in short-term trends, there’s basically no way that Joe’s prediction will come true. So Joe cannot run from this prediction, and he’ll have to come to terms with reality in some way. He’s even made brief comments along the lines that if the globe doesn’t start cooling over the next 20 years, then he’ll have to reconsider, or something like that.

      Basically, he’s convinced that he’s right, climate scientists are convinced that he’s wrong, and the data will speak for themselves (even if Joe rejects most of the station data trends). That’s why I have a little hope for recovery, though it’s not great. When the forecast doesn’t work out as planned, he could discover some other natural cycle that caused the warming that he did not take into consideration. I’m not really sure how these so-called skeptics will react when ideas like the global warming stopped, Arctic sea ice will recover, low solar activity will lead to cooling, etc. are all proved false even to the statistically challenged.

      Oh, and thanks for the creamery example. :-)

  16. Nat J.,

    Well if you look at it in a Bayesian sense, perhaps JB started out with a Prior probability of zero for anthropogenic climate change. If so, then no amount of evidence could ever make the posterior possible. And the answer to Tamino’s question of the previous post would be no, JB cannot learn.

    It is very clear that Joe has no comprehension of any of the science. It just “sounds wrong” to him, so he grasps at any straw he thinks he might be able to hang his argument on. And since he has no evidence, all he can do is try to discredit those who have gathered the evidence against his position.

    That’s just the problem. Science vs. anti-science of necessity must always get really nasty. Science works. Anti-science doesn’t . The only way the anti-science types can win is to attack the scientists directly.

    • Hi Ray,

      Perhaps I’m not thinking about it correctly, but I tend to think of Joe as the kind of person who had a prior of ~0.1 but then chose to gather all his evidence from WUWT, Lord Monckton, Roy Spencer, Bill Gray, etc., and so his posterior probability is now ~0.01 or maybe 0.001. Maybe I’m optimistic, but I think his new prior is close to 0 but not quite. What evidence could possibly bring his posterior probability up? As I mention above, I think the obvious failure of a prediction of global cooling that he’s been so vocal about is the only possibility. Also, he’s in the business of making predictions, and I wonder if his bias is going to start hurting his business even on the short timescales of greatest interest to him. His 2011 forecast for global temps and Arctic ice have not been good, and now he predicts that global temps in January-March of 2012 will be -0.25C below average – not impossible but seems pretty unlikely to me. His seasonal forecasts are based on past cycles, and he doesn’t seem willing to acknowledge that we are seeing some unprecedented changes.

      But overall, I think you’re right. I sometimes venture over to WUWT, and the stories and comments section just depress me. I wonder how we’ll ever break the inertia to address this problem on a large scale.

      • Nat J, I think that if one chooses to gather data only from certain sources–and very questionable sources at that–then the only possible explanations are that one is insane or that one is dishonest.

        I think that human reasoning can often be understood in terms of a Bayesian paradigm. However, we often start out with really poor Priors–including Priors that are zero for some possibilities. What happens when such a person is confronted with incontrovertible evidence is that they either make up excuses to discard the evidence or they discard their original Prior and reinterpret all the evidence in light of a new Prior. It’s not strictly Bayesian, but it corresponds to how I see people reasoning (those few who bother anyway.

      • Igor Samoylenko

        Nat J,

        Actually, using Bayesian approach one can show formally that, generally, new information can have any effect on the prior state of belief. That is, you don’t need to filter the data on where it is coming from to account for the desired effect on the prior (in this case to reduce it), though some of that is almost certainly taking place. Folks like Bastardi can actually interpret any new information as to support and reinforce their initial beliefs, including that coming from the mainstream sources. The key here is the perceived trustworthiness of the source of the new info.

        Edwin T Janes showed it very clearly in his book “Probability theory: the logic of science” (see Chapter 5 “Queer Uses For Probability Theory”, section “Converging and diverging views” – though the whole chapter is well worth a read). In this section on converging and diverging views, Janes uses Bayesian framework as a theory of logic to show that the views do not have to converge generally as more and more information is available. See specifically p.509.

        Janes then follows this up on p.510 with another interesting example where he shows that even when the priors are the same and the new information is the same, two people (in Janes’ example they are Mr A and Mr C) can still wind end with sharply different posterior probabilities. The key difference is their interpretation of P(D|SI), which relates to their assessment of the trustworthiness of the source of this new piece of information D.

        This of course applies to all of us, not just climate denialists, scientific cranks and other nut jobs. The key difference in my mind is that while most denialists focus on just a few individuals (like Michael Mann, Gavin Schmidt and Phil Jones); they in reality dismiss the whole field of science. That in itself is very implausible and requires them to resort to outlandish claims of fraud, conspiracy or incompetence on a grand scale. On the other hand, for us to dismiss Bastardi (or Watts, or Goddard, or even most of what McIntyre says) is very easy to justify given the history of their past claims and their lack of expertise in the field (i.e. it is inherently much less likely that an outsider will know better than all the experts in the field collectively), regardless of the reasons for why they say what they say and when they say it.

        The general lack of convergence of views even given the same prior probabilities and the same new information is also consistent with the widely reported differences in views on AGW between political parties in the US. It also shows that it is not just about better education either…

      • Hi Igor,
        In a strictly Bayesian framework, the reliability of the information probably shouldn’t enter the discussion, should it? I mean, there it seems you are almost putting in a second Prior, doesn’t it? I’ve played around a little bit with giving weights to different data in the likelihood, but I haven’t found it all that satisfying.

    • Horatio Algeranon

      Let’s see if Horatio has the statistics straight:

      He doesn’t have a prior so he doesn’t have a prayer?

  17. And speaking of attacking the scientists directly, did you hear what just happened in Alaska?

    • David B. Benson

      Barton Paul Levenson | August 13, 2011 at 3:56 pm — No, what happened?

      • David,

        Alaska BuLandMgt just fired a prominent climate scientist–the one who found the dead polar bears.

      • I know Charles Monnet was suspended, but has he been fired?

      • Robert Murphy

        “Alaska BuLandMgt just fired a prominent climate scientist–the one who found the dead polar bears.”

        Monnett? He was suspended by BOEMRE, not fired. And he’s a biologist, not climate scientist. The whole thing does smell really fishy, from what I have read. The transcript of him with his interrogators would be comical if it weren’t such a serious issue.

      • Apparently, this is taking a turn to the weird. After saying that this trouble had to do with Monnet’s administrative tasks, the auditors focused more on his article. Robert Murphy’s description sounds apt.

      • The ScienceInsider article says that Monnett was re-interviewed again yesterday, and that the transcript will be released in a matter of weeks. It will be most interesting reading, I’m sure.

        Guesswork is dangerous, but candidly, I expect a lot of coincidental BS and innuendo around same–“Dr. Monnett, do you expect us to believe that it’s coincidence that finalizing the U of A contract and the peer-review for your polar bear note were going on at the *same time?*” (Which would likely leave the door open for Dr. Monnett to list everything *else* that was open on his desk at the same time.)

    • Thought he [Monnett] was till now only under [frivolous] investigation?

      According an article 2 days ago, he’s filed a complaint:

      • This is the most recent update I can find from those representing Monnett:

        In a nutshell:

        Monnett et al see dead polar bears and write up a technical note for publication. Before sending it to a journal, the technical note is sent to a number of experts for review including one biology professor and polar bear specialist at the University of Alberta, Dr. Andrew Derocher. The paper was then sent to the journal Polar Biology who then had their own (anonymous) peer review process. Paper gets published and instigates a media frenzy …

        Later, Monnett, as part of his job to award research contracts, recommends to sole-source the US portion of a joint US-Canada polar bear study lead by the same Dr. Derocher. It’s sole-sourced because the Canadian’s have already committed their 40% share of the funds of the study to Derocher’s group. Monnett doesn’t have the final say but others accept his recommendation and give final approval.

        Eventually the Inspector General investigates a complaint about the original technical note. In the process of the investigation they discover the “link” to Derocher. They seem to think that Derocher shouldn’t have been given the contract (or perhaps that Monnett should have excused himself from the process) because Monnett had earlier asked him to review his paper.

        Apparently, you are not allowed to work with the same expert twice, no matter how small the field of experts may be.

      • Thanks for the links. I doubt Monnet did anything truly wrong here and he should be cleared. For a sole-source contract, the intent to award is posted publicly and any other potential Offerors have the opportunity to call for a fair and open competition. All of the Project Officier’s actions have to be cleared by any number of authorities – supervisors, directors as well as the contracting office, which has the ultimate signatory authority.

        Also, the Contractor was not a co-author on the paper in question, so there should be no conflict of interest to manage. In a small field, it is almost impossible to not know the players, and any program officer who knows his salt will have some relationships with major players in the field – his or her scientific expertise and judgment is a reason to have a PhD-level person in such a position. I would image that if he had excused himself, his duties would have to have been assumed by someone with less scientific expertise.

        The main thing to remember is that the award of a research contract is determined by the best value to the government, and the performance of the contract ultimately reflects on the agency’s choice.

      • From the PEER site, the IG forced a stop work order on the contract to the Canadian contractor (the University of Alberta). Interior rescinded the stop work order two weeks later. So not only did Justice refuse to file charges over this, despite prodding by the IG, Interior decided there was nothing wrong with the awarded contract and ordered U of Alberta to get back to work. Two weeks to grind through the system means that the legal beagle assigned by Interior’s contract office to look into this probably just said “stupid shitheaded people at the IG’s office” after a five-minute glance and OK’d the rescind order.

        Good grief.

      • arch stanton

        Good grief is right.

        A witch hunt as fodder for the denialiati.

        They could do all this investigating without relieving Monnet of any duties (but that would not garner any propaganda value news story).

        No charges, vague accusations, just enough fishing activity to keep it in the news for the likes of Inhofe.

      • Vague and shifting accusations. I will look forward to the transcript.

  18. Robert Murphy

    Bastardi is going to have to stop fabricating graphs as a first step to enlightenment. Take a look at his graph at WUWT where he tries to show that temps have gone down in the last 15 years – he shows Hadcrut data from 1996 to May of this year, and he has a curved arrow that goes up a little and then goes down. That line has nothing to do with the data- the trend is actually positive over the period in question and the warming according to Hadcrut over said period is about .12C. Yet Bastardi has a downward arrow. Now how did he come up with that?

    That the trend is not negative is actually acknowledged by the note on the graph that says that the Hadcrut linear trend = .53C increase by 2100 (this calculation is wrong at any rate because over the remaining 90 years, if the same .008/yr rise continued the increase by 2100 would be .72C. Obviously the number is far too small, but he can’t even calculate it correctly).

    So intellectual honesty will be needed before we can expect any change in his position.

  19. Robert Murphy, you wrote: “So intellectual honesty will be needed before we can expect any change in his position.” After reading what Bastardi wrote over at WUWT, I have to agree. The curve he derived from the HadCRUT data is laughable. Doubt he got that from Woodfortrees (which, as we all know, shows an increase in temps). It seems he doesn’t want anything to be too complex and he seems to want to interpret physics (e.g., the first law of thermodynamics) as he sees fit. His claim of “let’s see what the next 30 years bring us” is convenient for him, since he’ll be long-gone from the scene by that time.

    His arguments can be easily refuted by those who know the science. Sadly, though, he either doesn’t care or doesn’t want to hear those arguments, as he is so wedded to his own POV.

    What is not so easily refuted, though, is the effect he has on the public. People are obviously willing to swallow this stuff.

  20. Susan Anderson

    You guys are always assuming one has to know the science to spot a phony. Actually, it just needs a bit of true skepticism, google, and a predisposition to listen carefully. You know the old saying:
    Fool me once, the fault is thine,
    Food me twice, the fault is mine.
    [Wanna guess how long it will be before the bunkosphere has this one backwards? I give it 24 hours though perhaps with this comment it might be delayed a few days.]
    Once you’ve spotted the basic dishonesty at the heart of all these tactics, and checked out some of the history, it’s not hard to guess what’s going on.
    God help us all!