How Fake Skeptics Fool Themselves

Anthony Watts has another post claiming that sea ice isn’t really doing anything worth worrying about. He includes much of the usual stuff, including a picture of the U.S.S. Skate which he originally stated was surfacing at the North Pole in March of 1959 to find lots of open water. But one of his readers pointed out that the photo wasn’t from 1959 and it wasn’t at the North Pole, so he changed his post (see the end of this for some interesting information). But that’s a minor point, what’s interesting is that he finishes by stating that “Global sea ice hasn’t varied all that much in 30 years, and I for one, am just not all that worried about it.” The claim is based on this post by Jeff Condon which Watts calls an “excellent essay.”

What Condon’s essay really illustrates is how fake skeptics fool themselves into thinking they have real evidence.

The gist is a re-definition of sea ice area to include only what Condon calls “annual” or “single-year” ice area. This isn’t done by determining which ice is really 1st-year and which isn’t — it’s done by noting that every year, almost all of the Arctic sea ice south of latitude 72N melts away, so the new definition is “sea ice south of latitude 72N.” That’s for the northern hemisphere, for the southern the definition of “annual” is: all the sea ice.

That enables Condon to compute this trend for Arctic “annual” sea ice:

It has declined strongly, but not as strongly as the real Arctic sea ice area. But by combining this rather odd and incorrect definition of “annual” Arctic sea ice with Antarctic sea ice (all of it), Condon gets what he calls “global annual” sea ice. Here’s his graph of same:

It too has declined! But — and this is what Condon was really looking for all along — the decline just barely misses statistical significance. Just barely.

Condon’s closer is “… isn’t it interesting that global single-year sea ice has not shown a trend which is easily differentiable from noise in the past 34 years?”

The interesting thing is that Condon actually believes he has formed a useful definition of “single-year” sea ice by doing nothing other than ignoring most of the Arctic sea ice. He further thinks that this would be a relevant metric for sea ice behavior. And he thinks that just barely missing statistical significance for an artificial metric which is designed to ignore the bulk of sea ice in the Arctic while including all of it from the Antarctic is “interesting.”

Yes, in my opinion the really interesting thing is that Condon actually believes he has found real evidence that sea ice decline isn’t as bad as the experts are telling us. Forget about most of the Arctic, forget about multi-year ice, Condon was looking for a metric he could believe wasn’t so bad, and of course he found what he was looking for.

But it gets even better. Anthony Watts doesn’t just hint at “… isn’t it interesting?” He doesn’t even mention that it’s an artificial (and frankly, incorrect) definition of a quantity which isn’t the relevant metric for sea ice anyway. He just refers to it as “Global sea ice,” states that it “hasn’t varied all that much in 30 years,” and yes folks he actually believes it when he says, “Sea ice is a complex problem, and my personal view is that we simply don’t know enough about its behavior in the larger context to demonstrate a causal relationship with the recent global temperature increases.”

Perhaps I should inform Watts and Condon that they missed their chance. We can do better than that! Let’s take a look at sea ice extent data from the Arctic (all of it):

Note that it has declined throughout the year, although the summer/fall decline has been faster than the winter/spring decline. Let’s define the “sea ice re-freeze” or simply “annual re-freeze” as the increase in extent from one summer/fall minimum to the following winter/spring maximum. That gives us this:

Wow! The “annual refreeze” has been increasing! We can even fit a straight line by linear regression and it’s statistically significant! And we didn’t even have to leave the Arctic at all!!!

Perhaps Watts will refer to this graph as reinforcing his lack of concern about sea ice loss.

100 responses to “How Fake Skeptics Fool Themselves

  1. I think the key is that Condon gets to rename his new metric ‘Global sea ice’, which then allows Watts to post about ‘Gloabl sea ice’.
    It’s simple bootstrapping – it’s deliberate misinformation.

  2. I cannot read much of Watts and other deniers – because too quickly I realize I am arguing with idiots.

    And when one engages in a repetitive interchange with a crazy man, – from the outside it is most difficult to determine which one is insanely deluded about the subject matter, and which holds a deluded notion that the other has any intention of learning or changing.

    But this great article helps me stay sane, thanks.

    • You mean “Who is the greater fool, the fool, or the one who [argues] with him?”
      Think about it this way: There may be no hope that you will change the mind of the person you are arguing with, but there is a chance you might prevent him from infecting other minds with his disease. So while it is exhausting, there may still be value in it.

  3. We know Antarctic sea ice has been increasing, so obviously there must be a northern latitude where the negative trend in sea ice area is approximately equal to the Antarctic positive trend. So, there will also be latitude at which the sum of the two will be barely statistically insignificant.

    I guess that latitude is 72N. The real question is, “So what?”. Nothing in Condon’s essay give any reason to believe that this latitude is a key to anything. It just is what it is.

    • To take this one step further, no matter what the arctic and antarctic sea ice trends are (positive or negative) there will always exist a range of latitudes between which the “global sea ice trend” is statistically insignificant. Condon has shown that this range includes any combination of a northern latitude of 72N or less and a southern latitude of 78S or less.

      But again, given that this range must always exist somewhere, why should we care that it happens to be where it is?

      • Sorry about the multiple posts, but that should have read, “Condon has shown that this range includes any combination of a northern latitude of 72N or less and a southern latitude of 78S or MORE”.

      • “. . .why should we care that it happens to be where it is?”

        Well, my thought on that is that it will be quite ‘inconvenient’ when that range hits 90 N. Well, except for wannabe Arctic wildcatters, of course.

  4. TrueSceptic


    You quoted Watts as saying

    recent global temperature increases

    Can this be genuine? I had to check, and it is. This is really weird, because I thought that when we say “global temperature” any or all of the following are true:-

    1. it’s a meaningless concept;
    2. it’s corrupted by bad station siting;
    3. it’s corrupted by warmist corrections;
    4. it shows no warming since year x;
    5. it shows cooling since year y;
    6. it shows it was warmer in the MWP.

    I must be as confused as Anthony is!

    • Maybe Watts is finally moving from “it’s not happening” to “it’s not bad”.

      • W Scott Lincoln

        What an improvement… one step of denial to the next!

      • Yes, the Gish (slow motion) gallop seems to be advancing to another stage. I’ve been seeing a whole lot of “well, no-one is arguing that it’s not warming,” and “of course, we’re still recovering from the last Ice Age,” which leads into variants of “it won’t be bad,” and/or “we’re not doing it.”

      • don’t try to make sense of this. Watts and his fellow “skeptics” regularly switch between denying things and accepting them on a per argument basis. One minute hadcrut is a fraudulent record of “adjustments” at the heart of “climategate”, the next minute they are citing it as evidence of finely drawn sine-wave like cycles.

      • True. But I think the balance of which tactic is most convenient when has shifted a bit.

  5. Thanks very much for exposing this breathtaking piece of idiocy.

    Every time I think I’ve finally become cynical enough to no longer be surprised by denier lies, something like this comes along and proves me wrong.

  6. I guess the only question that remains is whether or not Jeff Condon will attempt to defend his miserable piece of “if by whiskey” or if one of Watts’ stooges will come over and perform the dance of silliness to cover for Condon. Watts’ comment was obvious. After all, he’s paid to say he’s not concerned. What kind of defense mechanism has his psyche constructed over the years to cover for the persistent and often flat obvious abuse of his readers’ gullibility? At this point, he knows his function in the rhetorical game, and so how does he think of the people he has convinced? Fools? Children? A means to an end? And no one who has publicly praised the garbage posted on WUWT wants to believe they have been fooled. This Condon bit should be an excellent test for assessing (and perhaps typing if someone wanted to perform a little dark humor) the critical thinking skill of Watts’ minions (or minion with a thousand usernames).

  7. So the more sea ice that melts each summer, the more open sea there is available to re-freeze every winter!

    It’s a bit like claiming that the more water you pour out of a bucket, the more water the bucket can hold.

  8. The Arctic sea ice is really bothersome for fake skeptics. The more it melts, the harder it is to deny. I hope for their sake, and for the sake of humanity, that the trend stops falling off the cliff.

    • It would take some amazing opposite forcing to reverse the trend. The arctic sea decline is most closely associated with ocean heat content, and that has continued to rise unabated during the past decade when skeptics would tell you the “warming has stopped”. The global ocean has added at least 10 x 10^22 joules of heat down to 2000m this past decade, and with the North Atlantic getting a good portion of this, there’s been a lot of heat flux into Arctic waters. This fact doesn’t sit well with skeptics.

  9. This is typical of deniers. You start with the answer you want and then torture the data until you get enough evidence to believe it.

  10. I look forward to a further study by Condon/Watts showing a statistically significant confirmation that the amount of sea-ice in the Mediterranean Sea has not changes AT ALL in the last few decades… .

    • jasonpettitt

      I was thinking a comparison of sea ice in Afghanistan and at the Antarctic should prove ‘instructive’

      Oh those phony skeptics, what will they do next!

  11. Jeff Condon’s “analysis” proves the point that certain so-called skeptics will pick as many cherries as they need to in order to fill up their bellies and feel satiated and comfortable with their beliefs. There is absolutely nothing justifiable from a scientific perspective in the ways Condon slices and dices the data, and a true skeptic would be asking why such unusual data sets were chosen and recombined. The answer of course is because a certain result and conclusion was desired, and hence the term “denier” rather than skeptic is more than appropriate in this case for Mr. Condon as he cherry picks his data and distorts the science, to reach the only conclusion acceptable to his paradigm.

  12. This comes less than a week since Watts’ major and reckless gaff on the state of the antarctic ice sheet.

    • lolwot,
      Great post about the incompetence and hypocrisy of Watts. The stupid it hurts.

  13. What a riot. You guys are a lot of fun.

    The 72 degree mark was the northernmost divider for non-annual ice. It was identified by using data. Shame that. As you know, but managed to fail to point out, the Antarctic ice melts almost completely every year. Adding them together shows a picture of how regions which don’t support multi-year ice are reacting to global warming. In other words – Most of the ice on Earth. I found it interesting to see a minimal trend and concluded nothing much from it. As I told Nathan, nobody is taking away your end-of-the-world sandwich boards gentlemen.

    I already believe the ice melt is vastly over-hyped and this didn’t change my opinions at all. Like warming, it hurts nothing. Unlike this group, I’m not an extremist bent on shutting down capitalism in a fake effort to change the weather.

    Recently Comiso came out with a paper which manages to divide multi-year ice out by itself. Considering that this is a very small fraction of Earth’s average ice, I wonder if that somehow makes sense to you?

    I thought so.

    • “I already believe the ice melt is vastly over-hyped and this didn’t change my opinions at all. Like warming, it hurts nothing.”

      So you’ve made up your mind about something you can’t possibly know.

      “Unlike this group, I’m not an extremist bent on shutting down capitalism in a fake effort to change the weather.”

      I wonder if this is projection. Given you’ve made up your mind so easily and tritely on such a serious subject, I wonder if your approach to science is biased by an ill-thought out effort to “save capitalism” from an imagined threat.

      • Given you’ve made up your mind so easily and tritely on such a serious subject, I wonder if your approach to science is biased by an ill-thought out effort to “save capitalism” from an imagined threat.

        If you were more familiar with JeffID Condon you wouldn’t be asking that question …

        He’s hinted at his political beliefs by claiming we want to “shut down capitalism”. Believe me, this is just the iceberg of his delusionist extremist political beliefs, and it appears they color his opinion about just about everything.

    • “Unlike this group, I’m not an extremist bent on shutting down capitalism…”

      Who mentioned an attack on capitalism? Oh, Jeff did. As usual. Quite telling.

    • jasonpettitt

      “What a riot. You guys are a lot of fun. ”


      As almost certainly the least educated and ill-qualified person here, can I ask you to comment on whether discounting ice more Northerly than 72 degrees might exclude new areas of ‘annual ice’? Is it important when considering areas of single year ice that it’s been that way for 30+ years? Why not 20? or 10? or, I dunno, a single year?

      • Jeff Condon


        If I had chosen the ice north of 72 degrees, Tamino’s critique would have been accurate because the ice north of 72has both single and multi-year components. Since this area mostly replaces itself every year you would see an uptrend. There is nothing wrong with doing that by itself, but if you interpreted it incorrectly as ‘more ice’, then there would be a problem. Any way you cut it, I didn’t do what he said above. By choosing areas with minimal perennial ice, I avoided the problem. Nicely I thought.

        I was curious as to what trend the single-year ice showed in general, ran the data, got the answer. I haven’t seen it anywhere else so it seemed worthwhile. I guess it didn’t have enough trend for these guys.

        Sometimes the name is enough to garner the critique.

      • jasonpettitt


        Thanks for the reply.

        You say in your original blog post that you’re trying to tease out the decline in the annual refreeze. I’m not sure why it wouldn’t be ever so much simpler to look at a time series for sea ice extent for the winter months. The data is easily available from NSIDC and it avoids, nicely I think, any need to mask anything.

        Perhaps I’m missing something.

        But given as you’ve masked a significant proportion of single year ice in the Northern Hemisphere, I’m not sure it’s proper to draw conclusions about the global picture or that not using a comparable method to also mask the Southern Hemisphere wouldn’t lead to a bias.

        I had a quick look at the areas for summer sea ice extent. We’ve just past the summer minimum in the Antarctic with about 3.5 million sq km of sea ice. The September Arctic minimum had about 4.5 million sq km.

      • OK, I,like take a stab at this.

        Jeff, I have number of concerns with your approach.

        First, it doesn’t really measure what you say it does because there is a lot of single year ice north of 72N and a fair amount of multi year ice south of 72N. Remember that sea ice moves so just because a certain area was ice free in the summer of 2011 you can’t assume that the I expect at the same location later on is less than a year old.

        So what are you measuring then? Basically just the total area of sea ice between 72N and about 78 S (there’s no sea south of 78S). Now you find that this area doesn’t quite achieve statistical significance and think this is “interesting”. Why is it interesting? You’ve basically just arbitrarily sliced off a large chunk of the active area of ice depletion, so of course what’s left over is going to show a smaller trend.

        Your best hope now would be to explain why the ice area between 72N and 78S is an important quantity, but as far as I can tell you don’t have one other than this “single year sea ice” misnomer.

        Finally, just because you didn’t deliberately design this as a cherry pick you can’t escape the critique that your methodology is arbitrary, so it might as well be a cherry pick.

      • I blame all the above typos on auto-correct.

      • Jeff Condon


        The thread is too deep so I’ll reply here.

        I didn’t attempt to use the sea ice north of 72 for the reasons Tamino critiqued above. I found a reasonable latitude below which the earth supports very little multi-year ice and plotted that. Had I attempted to use all of it, it would have introduced an uptrend which would have little meaning in a global warming context.

        Tamino isn’t the first to think of plotting polar refreeze, although I think he may be the first to waste his time actually doing it.

      • jasonpettitt

        “I found a reasonable latitude below which the earth supports very little multi-year ice and plotted that.” ~ Jeff Condon

        That’s not the globe though is it.
        Nor is that + the Southern Hemisphere = to the globe. That’s S.H. (which is shielded from warming by the ozone hole) + a little bit.

        Ultimately science is a robust philosophy with checks and counter checks at every stage. That is what gives science its value. When you publish in science your immediate audience is not just knowledgeable, but also critical. They have to use your research as a basis for their own – so it had better be good.

        Blog science and phony skepticism is not a robust philosophy. Presenting it as such, as though blog posts with graphs on are equivalent to science proper, is doing a great deal of harm to public understanding and the public debate.

    • Jeff,

      Two things:

      1) Why would you not want to take the most broad data set possible in determining what is happening to a whole region? Cherry picking data to come to a conclusion the you already believed to be true, is the prime example of being a denier and not an honest skeptic. Mind you, a person can be an honest skeptic about whether or not anthopogenic greenhouse gas increases are affecting sea ice extents, but not in the rather dishonest and self-prescribed cherry picking way you’ve done it.

      2) The combination of NH and SH sea ice data (restricted to whatever latitude) is only an interesting statistical excercise, as they have such vastly different dynamics that drive their extents, areas, and volumes. You could only want to do this to satisfy your prescribed paradigm.

      • Jeff Condon

        R gates,
        First, it is hard to call plotting most of the ‘globe’ cherry picking. Comiso just published on multi-year ice only. Is that cherry picking? This was the only way I could think of to see the trend without cherry picking. Perhaps you haven’t read what I actually did. If you did read, can you suggest a better way?

        Second, it didn’t support any conclusion. There was a near significant negative trend, from which I concluded nothing – except that I was a little surprised it wasn’t stronger.

        “he combination of NH and SH sea ice data (restricted to whatever latitude) is only an interesting statistical excercise, as they have such vastly different dynamics that drive their extents, areas, ”

        I don’t agree and neither does UIUC cryosphere. Tis ‘global’ climate change after all.

      • Jeff,

        As as measure of energy imbalance in the total Earth system (which ultimately is the true result of greenhouse gas increases), if you really want to see what the total portion of that energy imbalance that belongs to the cryosphere, you want to include the total volume of all sea ice, glacial ice, and permafrost on the planet without restrictions. The change in this total figure gives you an idea of how much energy is going into (or coming out of, if it was expanding) the melting of the cryosphere. Looking at some predefined region of the cryosphere only is much the same as trying to see how much energy is going into the ocean by looking only at sea surface temperatures. Such a narrow restriction of data tells you nothing about the total change in ocean heat content, and in fact at times, sea surface temperatures could move in opposite direction to overall ocean heat content. So too, the energy required for melting across the entire global cryosphere is the only valid number that might say something meaningful about that segment’s contribution to the change in Earth’s energy balance.

    • JC: , the Antarctic ice melts almost completely every year.

      BPL: Huh? What? Come again? You’re not referring to the Antarctic ice cap, are you? Because that’s millions of years old.

    • Jeff Condon:

      Unlike this group, I’m not an extremist bent on shutting down capitalism in a fake effort to change the weather.

      The delusion in this statement is awesome to behold. I personally hold equity and bond funds to the tune of six figures (and not just barely), shutting down capitalism would ruin me. Recognition of reality doesn’t threaten capitalism.

      Fake skepticism just might, though, by helping to delay effective mitigation against climate change. We’ve seen what turmoil in Greece has done to world markets. Climate change will change agricultural patterns, lead to loss of low-lying land, etc. More than enough to cause economic turmoil in a dozen Greeces.

    • Jeff,

      Like warming, it hurts nothing

      Nothing? Really, nothing at all? And, BTW, what “warming” is that exactly? I thought we were supposed to be entering a new ice age any time soon.

      Unlike this group, I’m not an extremist bent on shutting down capitalism in a fake effort to change the weather.

      You are better at satire than I suspected. I like the idea of this being a “group” and that we are “an extremist”. ;)

    • Jeff, even ignoring the fact that there is ice movement across the 72n latitude line, I think there’s a problem with your rationale for using only ice below 72n.

      Let’s imagine that, in fact, the ice above 72n is almost entirely multi-year ice. In this case, including it in the data-set should have a minimal impact on trends. By definition, multi-year ice isn’t melting and refreezing each year. Thus, you would lose little by including it.

      The fact that we are getting substantial melt and refreeze above 72n means that this area is increasingly characterized by annual ice and thus should be included in your analysis of annual ice. In fact, I would say that the dramatic decline in Arctic multi-year ice is remarkably important, given that winter temps are still cold enough to re-freeze almost everything each year. But, of course, that would ruin your convenient little story.

      –MartinJB (resident financier and capitalist)

      • Layman Lurker

        The point is not to sum the annual ice. The point is to look at the area which the satellite record shows does not support multi year ice. It would be a mistake to include annual ice north of 72N and suggest that your figures represent the area which does not support annual ice througout the satellite record. Furthermore, including the north 72N annual ice would dampen the downward trend and mislead readers.

        As you suggest the changing proportions of multi year ice vs annual ice north north of 72N is obviously important – but it is a seperate question. Does that sound reasonable?

      • But, Mr. Lurker, Jeff makes claims about “global single-year sea ice” using his metric. So, no, I do not consider it reasonable. And given what I’ve seen and heard from him, I don’t think he was worried about misleading readers…. But that’s just my personal judgement.

    • “Unlike this group, I’m not an extremist bent on shutting down capitalism in a fake effort to change the weather.”

      I read Tamino several times a week, and I can’t remember the last anti-capitalist or shut-down-capitalism post from Tamino. Much less a whole general consensus thing. Refresh my memory.

      It sounds like you believe that the economic interests of the carbon kings is the sum and substance of capitalism. Which would put you somewhere on the continuum between water carrier and toady, Might I suggest a little refresher reading of Adam Smith?

    • Climate Ferret

      Unlike this group, I’m not an extremist bent on shutting down capitalism in a fake effort to change the weather
      So Jeff has a theory but no evidence. Just one data point Jeff as I can’t speak for the others here.

      I want to avoid shutting down capitalism by destroying the long term economy through crop failures, a higher frequency of severe weather disasters and over dependence on short term fuel supplies.

      Oops. So Jeff why not collect some evidence instead of making stuff up, or is that a threat to your god complex.

  14. On the photo of the USS SKate surfaced in the Arctic, it may have been taken in a polnya during an August rendezvous with Drifting Station Alpha, which drifted in an area 500km north then east of Barrow, Alaska.

  15. I’ve reently been examining the climate pronouncements of Lord Nigel Lawson, the bouncing Baron Blaby who founded GWPF. Wonderfully, Blaby dismisses the loss of Arctic sea ice by simply branding it a “regional change” rather than something of global importance. He does however get selective in Antarctica where, if you ignore the ice loss in Western Antarctica the ice volumes are increasing. Honest, guv!
    Then, putting all this along side the denialist belief that almost the entire scientific community is involved in a massive conspiracy that only they have the common sense to be able to indentify, their dismissing of evidence that contradicts their delusions needs little explanation.

  16. Uh-oh. I flatly predict that your re-freeze graph will show up on a denier blog within a year or less.

  17. > Skate

    Sure enough, good pointer.

    “On the 15th of August, suddenly and seemingly out of nowhere this ominous object appeared in the wide lead next to our camp. …
    Our visitor was the second ship of its kind, named SKATE.

    IGY 1957-1958: Drifting Station Alpha Transcript

    Click to access Narrationformatted_final.pdf

  18. But no:
    Beaufort Gyre Exploration Project | History | Submarines …
    The same year, the nuclear powered submarine Skate visited drifting ice station Alpha, and six months later became the first vessel to surface at the Pole.

    • US Skate, March 17th, 1959 photo.

      “On March 17th 1959, the USS Skate reached the North Pole. The American submarine broke through the pack ice into the perpetual arctic dusk. A storm was blowing as 2 dozen men gathered, by torchlight, and scattered the mortal remains of the legendary Australian explorer Sir George Hubert Wilkins.”

  19. Condon rants:
    “I already believe the ice melt is vastly over-hyped and this didn’t change my opinions at all. Like warming, it hurts nothing. Unlike this group, I’m not an extremist bent on shutting down capitalism in a fake effort to change the weather.”

    I just love it when fake skeptics reveal their extreme bias and destroy their own credibility :) Each sentence above contains either an error or a strawman.

    Revealing too that Condon does not understand the difference between weather and climate, and apparently neither does Watts.

    What the fake skeptics also do not seem to understand is that it is the sea ice extent at the time of year when the albedo feedbacks can kick in is what is important (not the only player, but certainly a primary player). Skeptical Science explains it here.

    In the Antarctic, the sea ice extent during the austral summer has been slowly increasing, but at a statistically insignificant rate. In contrast, the Arctic ice extent during the boreal summer has been decreasing at an accelerating rate.

    Just a side note– looking at the cryosphere today data, there seems to be an inflection point around 2001 when global sea ice cover started to decline, before that it was relatively stable. So of course calculating the trend in global ice for all years in the satellite record will not reflect the dramatic changes observed in the last decade or so.

    And some not encouraging news from NASA concerning the loss of multi-year ice in the Arctic.

  20. In about, what, 20 years it’ll all be seasonal ice. The effects of AGW at that time will be more obviously deleterious, ecosystem services will be more constrained, folks will be more freaked out and eager to restrict freedoms, and Jeff Condon will probably still argue that it’s a fake crisis conjured up by anti-capitalists. It’s my opinion that most of us now just want a price on Carbon to help the market to efficiently solve the problem before it becomes too great. It’s my opinion that people like Jeff Condon are actually enemies of liberty.

    • Steve,

      You are out of line.

      Taking liberty in the name of saving liberty is an old concept my jackbooted friend. You have projected the future, decided for me my own thoughts, and declared me the enemy. All for plotting annually melting sea ice from government data.

      Think rationally. We are all human. We all have family, my six year old boy is standing next to me. We all want the best. I don’t agree with your assessment and have spent a lot more time with the data than you ever will. Are you sure that you are right, and I am wrong?

      [Response: Nobody here has ever suggested, hinted at, or even mentioned “shutting down capitalism.” You did. In fact you referred to this group as “extremist bent on shutting down capitalism in a fake effort to change the weather.” That’s an ugly lie which summons the spectre of political ideology and ascribes motives to others with absolutely no foundation. Now it looks like you can dish it out, but you can’t take it. I’d say you are the one who is out of line.]

      • I don’t agree with your assessment and have spent a lot more time with the data than you ever will.”

        If this is true, it speaks volumes. If this kind of analysis is what you turn out after exhaustively looking over the data I strongly suspect a variation of the “Texas Sharp Shooter” fallacy is at work here.

      • TrueSceptic


        have spent a lot more time with the data than you ever will. Are you sure that you are right, and I am wrong?

        It might be true that you have spent a lot of time with the data but how can you make this claim, especially the “ever will” bit? Can you see the future, or is this is just supposed to be an insult?

      • Rob Honeycutt

        Problem there, Jeff, is no one is looking at taking liberty away from anyone. The right of the government to regulate interstate commerce is written into the US Constitution. The only thing anyone is suggesting is to use proven market tools to advance solutions to what is clearly shown by science to be a critical issue for the planet. The bizarre paranoia that people like you exhibit is beyond amazement. It’s downright destructive to the liberty you profess to love.

        It’s also presumptuous to think that your time spent on the data has any value at all. If you don’t process the data correctly it doesn’t matter how much time you’ve spent on it, you just wasted a lot of time getting the wrong answer. If you have that much time to spend you should spend it getting a better education in the subject matter you care about.

      • Jeff Condon

        Doc, I’ve read your political opinions under your actual name on different blogs a couple of years ago. Open mind is the light version of what I read and this ain’t too light from my view. You may have changed your opinions since then, in which case I apologize in advance of your clarification. We’ve both been around long enough to ‘take it’.

        When a lightweight starts frothing over someone plotting data, sometimes they need a little reality. Your post misrepresents what I wrote and concluded. You did it because of an emotional reaction to my name and the fact that Anthony Watts carried it rather than what I wrote. Steve is so worked up over it, that I’m now the enemy.

        Nice work.

        So what do we do, pistols at 20 paces? or do we discuss with reason? Perhaps you would consider correcting your post above to represent what I actually did?

      • Rob Honeycutt

        Jeff said… “Are you sure that you are right, and I am wrong?”

        You know, as a layman I’ve read close to 2000 papers on global warming and climate change over the past 3 years. I’m not an expert in the field by any means. I’ve also tried to read as many “skeptical” papers as I can, and it’s still completely overwhelming that the position of people who ARE experts in the field clearly believe this is real and a very serious concern.

        Then on top of that we have every National Academy of Science on the planet and nearly every scientific organization on the planet saying the same thing as climate scientists.

        Could they all be wrong? Sure, they could be… but the chances of that are so astronomically small as to be completely absurd. I have kids too, kids who will inherit the repercussions of our actions today. Am I going to bet their future on the insanely small chance that YOU are right? No, I’m not. I’m going to throw my lot in with the scientists of the world.

        On top of that, your notion that anyone is even close to considering “shutting down capitalism” is equally insane. It is our judicious application of capitalism that is going to save our sorry butts. The real figures are currently about 2% of global GDP. Yes, that’s a lot of money. It’s not going to send us back to the stone age. And yes, oil company profits are going to suffer, probably very substantially.

      • Thanks Tamino.
        Jeff Condon: I said that, in my opinion, you are an enemy of liberty. I don’t need to read your mind. You can be an enemy of liberty even if you didn’t know it. In fact, that’s just what I’m saying — your misguided attempt to preserve the freedom for polluters to externalize the costs of their pollution will result in more drastic, less market-based action in the future.

        You know absolutely nothing about me or my political leanings (or my familiarity with data, for that matter), yet you feel fine saying that I’m a jackbooted totalitarian. You’re out of line. And you’re a hypocrite.

      • Worse yet, Jeff’s level of discussion of economic theory is first semester. He appears to be fishing for a commie quote. Jackboots, by the way, are typically associated with fascists, and fascists, of course, are quite friendly with capitalism. Jeff, your six year old boy may, in fact, read this very thread a few decades from now. Maybe during the summer. What in the physical record and in the physics of the atmosphere has you so convinced that there will be summer sea ice as your son reads? Go ahead, explain to your future son the basis upon which you so casually claim that “warming hurts nothing” and that the decrease in ice albedo is “over-hyped.” Explain to him why you cling to people like Anthony Watts. Think rationally? Is it rational to willfully disregard both the science and the advice of a very large body of experts across dozens of disciplines? Objectivists are rational until their existing understandings of the world are challenged, and then it’s time to rationalize.

        Speaking for myself and no one else on this blog: Who is John Galt? He died in the 20th century.

        Oh, and spending time with the data is not a substitute for expertise in handling the data.

      • Jeff Condon


        You are the one who assumed how I was going to react to more AGW. You are also the one who said I was the enemy. You are also the one who failed to notice that all I had done was plot some data in a reasonable fashion and make no conclusion.

        My conclusion – no science – no depth – politically biased.

        So far there is no evidence to contradict these things except you claim to read a lot. If I am wrong, address the problems with what I did specifically.

        I’ll leave you guys alone for a while to think it over.

      • Taking liberty in the name of saving liberty is an old concept my jackbooted friend. You have projected the future, decided for me my own thoughts, and declared me the enemy. All for plotting annually melting sea ice from government data.

        Thank you for admitting that your argument is ideological, not based on science, at all.

        Of course, we have all known this, for years.

      • It’s also true that if anyone is arguing against capitalism, it is Jeff Condon.

        He’s making the buggy whip argument against the automobile.

        Jeff Condon is anti-innovation, pure and simple.

        The world, at large, isn’t. If Jeff gets his way, in a few decades, we’ll be left in the dust, serving lattees to those countries not burdened with RW ideological bullshit.

      • Jeff — good idea to take a break. When you come back, try re-reading what has occurred here. All I said (8:25 pm) is that in 20 years you’ll probably be saying the same stuff. No assumption; just a prediction. My comment was motivated by your first comment (3:19 pm) in this thread (where you call us all anti-capitalists). I said, in my opinion, that you are an enemy of liberty. I wrote that because I think your fight against imaginary anti-capitalists is actually hurting the chances of a smooth, democratic, and necessary market-based transition. You’re the one who has been overly reactionary. If you wanted to talk about your actual analysis, then why all the political crap in your first comment (3:19 pm). Accept that most of that comment was crap and I’m sure it will be easier to just discuss how you chose and analyzed the data.
        P.S. Read more carefully — you’ll see you’ve been inaccurate regarding what I have claimed.

      • Susan Anderson

        “my jackbooted friend”??? your six year old next to you??

        A nice example of polite and setting an example of polite for the young. Unskeptical “skeptics” are all too fond of bringing up Nazis. One might be tempted to think of Freud but one is interested in facts and reality rather than polemics, mostly. Scientists are the ones under siege.

      • Horatio Algeranon

        I …have spent a lot more time with the data than you ever will.

        Has the makings of a fine country hit* (if it isn’t already)

        “I’ve spent more time, with my X-wife
        Than you ever will
        So understand her better
        Than you, or her new beau, Bill.”

  21. Horatio Algeranon

    “Climate Hypo-skepticism”
    — by Horatio Algeranon

    “The ice-melt is vastly over-hyped”
    The climate hypo-skeptic piped
    “Just a short time ago [123,000 BC]
    The summer arctic was sea-ice free!”

  22. I’ve never understood what the kerfuffle about subs surfacing in the Arctic is about. Anybody who’s read a proper Arctic adventure knows that leads and polynyas can open up and close quite unpredictably, more or less anywhere in the pack. And that sub commanders would just as soon use them, rather than break through the ice–though, IIRC, they can safely do the latter up to a couple of meters worth or so.

    Probative value: zero.

  23. Jeff is a moron.

    “I was curious as to what trend the single-year ice showed in general, ran the data, got the answer. ”

    He thinks that south of 72N you only get single year ice. For some reason he doesn’t think that multiyear ice travels south.

  24. > subs surfacing in the Arctic
    Remember this?
    Dick Rutan, 4 Other Fliers Stuck at North Pole
    ANCHORAGE — Five people aboard a Russian-designed biplane were stranded Monday when the plane landed at the North Pole and sank through the ice. The five were identified as Ron Sheardown, John Pletcher and Jim Bowden, of Anchorage; Dick Rutan from Mojave, Calif., and Jan Haugsad of Norway….

  25. Oboy.

    There’s nothing at the link, but this one ‘s precious:
    Ice ages begin in less than twenty years Aug 5, 2003. This
    confirms my assertion that ice ages begin incredibly fast. The writer,
    Spencer Weart, directs the Center for History of Physics at the
    American Institute of Physics.
    (thanks to Cory VanPelt for this info)

  26. By the way, has anyone noticed that the 72 degree lines on a perfect sphere demarcate an area covering less than 5% of the total surface? It’s a 1 – cos theta relation. And since Earth is oblate, the figure is actually a bit less. Jeff got as close to the poles as he could without people noticing he was egregiously cheating.

  27. Sorry, I meant 1 – sin theta, of course. My bad.

    • TrueSceptic


      The issue is that Jeff is redefining first-year ice (in the NH) as that *below* 72°N, and therefore ignoring any above that latitude. Surely he is too *far*, not too close, to the pole, or have I misunderstood?

  28. It’s some guy waving his hands and claiming something he found somewhere is a cite — claiming that whatever it was supports his notion.
    A familiar tactic.

  29. Kevin O'Neill

    Someone once said, ‘Never attribute to malice that which can be covered by ignorance.’ Well, we’re all ignorant on different subjects, some more than others. I’m ignorant on most things Canadian. Fortunately that doesn’t hinder me too much.

    I’m not sure what the boundaries are of Jeff Congdon’s ignorance, but he seems ignorant of the effects that follow from a loss of NH sea ice. One doesn’t even have to go as far north as the Arctic to see these effects. Numerous papers have been published looking at northern temperate lakes in general and the Great Lakes specifically. The loss of winter ice cover not only effects local and/or regional weather, but threatens fresh water supplies, navigation, transportation, fisheries resources, and quality of life across the NH.

    Wang, Jia, Xuezhi Bai, Haoguo Hu, Anne Clites, Marie Colton, Brent Lofgren, 2012: Temporal and Spatial Variability of Great Lakes Ice Cover, 1973–2010. J. Climate, 25, 1318–1329, shows a direct correlation between loss of winter ice on the Great Lakes and lake water levels. Over the last 35 years the ice loss has averaged more than 2% per year. Numerous papers have shown that Ice-On, Ice-Off dates across the NH are changing rapidly. This isn’t happening in some isolated Siberian tundra or on a desolate Arctic sea – this is happening right outside my backdoor.

  30. “Unlike this group, I’m not an extremist bent on shutting down capitalism in a fake effort to change the weather.” —-Jeff Condon
    This explains succinctly what the climate wars are all about

    • Yes, Owen.

      A while back, Jeff produced a global temperature time series showing a centennial trend higher than HadCRU. Jeff wrote:

      “Several skeptics will dislike this post. They are wrong, in my humble opinion. While winning the public “policy” battle outright, places pressure for a simple unified message, the data is the data and the math is the math. We”re stuck with it, and this result.”

  31. Kevin O'Neill

    Barry, are Jeff Id and Jeff Congdon the same person – or have you mixed them up?

  32. I remember last year’s melt season quite well. I think Watts did one post on Arctic sea ice in March (look there’s a lot of ice!). Then, he started submitting reader polls (!) to the ARCUS outlook. As the September minimum neared, they systematically adjusted their ‘forecast’ to reality. When the September minimum was reached there was silence and the spectalularly flawed poll results were forgotten.
    Watching Watts et al. from a distance is pure delight if you’re interested in human psychology!
    In about five years, it will all be about Antarctic sea ice and how a near ice-free Arctic is nothing exceptional (heck, it happened 50my ago, so what’s the big deal?!).

  33. Ah, late to the party unfortunately, so I missed Jeff Condon’s appearance.

    Shame, because I had a simple question for him: to wit, could he conduct a Condonic analysis on Arctice sea ice volume?

    It would be nice (and morbidly fascinating) to be reassured that there’s not much of a change on that front…

  34. David Brin takes on how fake libertarians fool themselves:

    Is Libertarianism Fundamentally about Competition? Or about Property?

    “… Alas, today’s libertarians are (I grieve to say it) in-effect quite mad. They worship unlimited private property, even though it was precisely the failure mode that crushed freedom in 99% of human cultures. And they rage against a system that in general resulted in vastly more wealth, freedom and more libertarians than any other….
    This is a quasi-religious idolatry. It makes them complicit allies of the enemies of competition. It makes them murderers of the thing that they should love….
    … look at 4000 years of history. Instead of simple-minded hatred of government, be more interested in pragmatic ways to enhance creative competition. Then the movement might have the subtlety of a surgeon or mechanic, instead of the sensibility of a berserk lumberjack. Make it about love of something, not bilious blame and hate.
    … measures for civil rights, sanitation and public health, infrastructure, childhood health care and… yes… the vast increases in literacy wrought by public education… vastly increased the number of citizens capable of independent engagement in markets and innovative goods and services.”

  35. Phil Clarke

    Ah, we have our Quote of the Week. When plotting something you describe a ‘global’ trend,

    … it is hard to call plotting most of the ‘globe’ cherry picking.

    My emphasis. His ‘quotes’. LOL.

  36. MightyDrunken

    OK I have read this post and the follow up post, I went to WUWT and read the associated pieces by Jeff Condon but I am left confused. Why does Jeff focus on sea ice south of latitude 72N? What do you gain from trying to look at the trend for “single year” ice?

    If the trend for ice north of latitude 72N is greater than for the south of that latitude what does that tell us?

  37. He includes much of the usual stuff, including a picture of the U.S.S. Skate which he originally stated was surfacing at the North Pole in March of 1959 to find lots of open water. But one of his readers pointed out that the photo wasn’t from 1959 and it wasn’t at the North Pole, so he changed his post

    He’s done this in the past, whilst neglecting to consider that:

    1) Submarines have sonar, and will surface where there is thin-ice or clear water – i.e. they self-select.

    2) Submarines, especially nuclear ones, have a surfeit of power – and this leaks into the environment as heat – i.e. they heat their surroundings.

    Point one means you cannot infer from the fact that the sub surfaced in near-clear water that this is a common condition.

    Point two means that even if the sub had to break through the ice, there will be more clear water if the sub stays for any length of time.

  38. On 4 March 1959 Skate left New London for her winter cruise north. On 17 March Skate was able to surface through a lead in darkness at the North Pole. A table with a green cloth was placed in the lee of the sail, on this was placed a bronze urn, on either side ranks of submariners were lined up, along with a 7-man rifle squad. The ceremony was lit by a single red flare.