Saturday, 18 January 2014

"Dr" Bob in retirement - just keep churning it out

Recently "Dr" Bob Tisdale, climate science denier, announced his retirement.  That was on 3 January.  Since that time, however, he has been busier than ever.  Perhaps he could do with a lie down because the other day he decided that his level of self-importance was sufficient to justify another one of those pointless things that science deniers do - the open letter (archived).

This isn't the first open letter to appear on WattsUpWithThat.  In fact, the fake skeptics there quite like them.  They play to the gallery without ever achieving anything.  Let's put ourselves in Jon Stewart's, the intended target's, shoes for a moment.  As the star of a popular and respected, at least in some circles, show that pricks the skins of those right wing sausages who sit and glumly watch that tower of truth, Fox News, or listen to Alex Jones (with the sound turned down to protect their hearing), you're likely to find the round file with this one.  Why?  Because it flags up why you shouldn't bother taking it seriously right from the get go.

Dear Jon:
I am an independent climate researcher and regular contributor at the award-winning science blog WattsUpWithThat. I am also the author of three ebooks on global warming, climate change and the poor performance of climate models. I am writing to you about your January 6, 2014 episode (full episode here) of The Daily Show. It began with “The Global Warming Hoax” and “War on Carbon” clips, which ran consecutively when aired.
The clip and excellent commentary can be found here.

Bob, here's my advice.  Anyone who says they are an independent climate researcher is immediately going to look stupid.  I could say I am an independent evolution researcher but it isn't really true.  I collect fossils.  What you have said is that I have no support from the scientific community and that you are highly likely to be a climate science denier.

You confirm that by stating you are a regular contributor to the "award winning" WattsUpWithThat.  Wow.  Award winning.  Awards are all well and good and I am sure that people get a nice fuzzy feeling when someone gives them an award.  But the selection process needs to be worthwhile and the award needs to have sufficient recognition.  I suspect Jon Stewart knows what a stitch up the WUWT awards are.

Three, count 'em, three ebooks.  More wow.  Anyone can do an ebook.  What you are flogging are pdf files of books that, presumably, you couldn't interest even one of the crank publishers in.  If I wanted, I could do the same.  People will put more store in a real, physical, printed book published by a reputable publisher with a proper publishing record.  Vanity publishing might look good amongst your mates.  For Jon Stewart, I suspect less so.

First, let me say that I applaud you and your staff for making The Daily Show a massively entertaining political satire. I enjoy the show thoroughly. 
Flattery then a lie.  Clearly you don't enjoy the show thoroughly otherwise you wouldn't be moaning about it.  Understand how that one works, Bob?

During your January 6th episode, however, you expressed beliefs in climate models and in the climate science community…the human-induced global warming wing thereof. Unfortunately, the climate models used to hindcast past climate and to project future climate are so flawed that they are not fit for their intended purposes. And the climate science community under the direction of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) has specialized in only one aspect of global warming, which is why the models perform so poorly. I’ll provide evidence for those statements in the following, including data and peer-reviewed scientific studies. 
 Ah, the kernel of the complaint.  It's about the climate models which, as we know, are approximations to reality and, although they can give us a valuable insight into what is happening and about to happen, are not sufficiently perfect to give the sorts of answers that climate change deniers would like them to give.  Will it rain on my birthday in 2075?

For most people, their understanding of climate science comes from the time around 2006-2007 when there was a lot of interest in global warming and climate change. Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth was getting press and the IPCC and Al Gore were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Things have changed drastically since then. Specialists in many fields of climate science are now writing papers about model failings, and they’re not small problems. They’re fatal flaws. Skeptics have become much better at presenting and illustrating those model failures, too, and describing why they’re important. And there has been a flood of peer-reviewed papers over the past two years, in which climate scientists are trying to explain the hiatus in global warming—with limited success and limited agreement; that is, there’s no consensus on the cause of the pause. Examples are discussed in the very recent Nature article Climate Change: The Case of the Missing Heat by Jeff Tollefson. Those scientists wouldn’t be writing those papers if the climate models had anticipated the current cessation of global surface temperature warming. Unfortunately, with the IPCC’s focus on manmade greenhouse gases, climate scientists still do not know how to model nature’s handiwork. More on this later.
I don't know when most people gained their understanding of climate science and I suspect you don't either.  Without doing a literature search, I expect climate modellers have always been putting caveats and cautions into their work on climate models because that's what real scientists do.   Skeptics of your hue wish that they did something different, then amplify it when they publish something on the subject.  It is the same conjuring trick to hide the incline that creationists were doing in the 80s, amply demonstrated by Stephen Jay Gould all those years ago.  In an effort to make models better, modellers investigate the models and how the real climate is acting.  This is essential, it is normal science and nothing special.  It is only the deniers who think this means anything more than trying to understand reality in all its myriad, chaotic forms. 

You presented a clip of Dan Weiss of the Center for American Progress who said:
If 97 doctors told you that that lump on your lung was something to worry about, and 3 scientists — er, doctors — told you not to worry about it, are you going to listen to the 97, or the 3? Sounds like you might listen to the 3, which would be sad.
(Quotes from the DailyKos transcript here.)
That argument has been used a lot recently.
You were right to point out the error in the logic of the response to it, which was to the effect of climate scientists are paid to… But the reality of the situation is something altogether different.
The climate science community has specialized in only one aspect of global warming and climate change, and as a result, they have overlooked other major contributors.
 As you well know, Bob, there are plenty of people who listen to the 3% of doctors and a good many of them aren't around any longer to regret it.  You have missed an important point in that last sentence, Bob.  Climate scientists have examined other hypotheses and found that they are wrong or insignificant.  That's an important point.  It is one the deniers don't seem to recognise.

I’ve addressed this problem previously in two open letters—one to George Clooney and your associate Lewis Black here, and one to the Executive Producers of the upcoming ShowTime series Years of Living Dangerously here. As I wrote to Black and Clooney:
The climate science community, under the direction of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), has only been tasked with determining whether manmade factors, primarily carbon dioxide, could be responsible for the recent bout of global warming, and what the future might bring if the real world responds to projected increases in manmade greenhouse gases in ways that are similar to climate models. They were not asked to determine if naturally caused, sunlight-fueled processes could have caused the global warming over the past 30 years, or to determine the contribution of those natural factors in the future—thus all of the scrambling by climate scientists who are now trying to explain the hiatus in global warming. Refer to the IPCC’s History webpage (my boldface):
Today the IPCC’s role is as defined in Principles Governing IPCC Work, “…to assess on a comprehensive, objective, open and transparent basis the scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant to understanding the scientific basis of risk of human-induced climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation…”
It is not the IPCC’s role to understand the scientific basis for naturally caused climate change, which the Earth has experienced all along. As a result, even after decades of modeling efforts, climate models still cannot simulate naturally occurring ocean-atmosphere processes that contribute to global warming or stop it. So a “doctors” example falls flat because it relies on experts whose understandings of climate are extremely limited in scope.
The response to “97 doctors” argument should have been: “Would you see a podiatrist or proctologist for that lump on your lung?”
 Sadly, Bob, some people do go to see someone totally unsuited to checking and treating that lump on their lung.  Perhaps it is a visit to a homeopathist who will give them some magically shaken water, or an acupuncturist who will stick some needles in them. They could choose to visit an independent cancer researcher, perhaps on the basis of some posts at an award winning website and the promise of three, count 'em, three ebooks.  Or perhaps they will pick an oncologist who has spent many years learning their craft, understanding their science and trying to do something to reverse the process.  So, yeah, the analogy is a good one after all. 

Another way that it is a good analogy is that many oncologists are studying the effects of human caused cancers - you know, the one's that dare not speak their name at WattsUpWithThat (I shall not be so prissy: lung cancer due to smoking - and if Watts wants to come here and moan, read some of my other posts where I talk about my dad's cancer.  Neither of us is special.  It was a primary tumour in the lung that did for my dad).

Besides, telling Jon Stewart that you have a record of sending these hopeless, badly spelled, letters to people like George Clooney, that's going to endear him, isn't it?

The climate science community now understands the problems caused by limiting their research to the increased emissions of manmade greenhouse gases, primarily carbon dioxide.
The Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI) is concerned about the IPCC’s focus. See their document titled Submission by The Netherlands on the future of the IPCC. Under the heading of “The IPCC needs to adjust its principles”, KNMI begins:
We believe that limiting the scope of the IPCC to human-induced climate change is undesirable, especially because natural climate change is a crucial part of the total understanding of the climate system, including human-induced climate change.
 As you should know, unless you live in a climatically controlled cave, the KNMI did not mean what you think it meant. One way to spot a denier is to see how they respond to evidence that contradicts what they would like others to believe.  You fail here, Bob.

Life is too short for one of your pithy open letters, Bob.  This one goes on and on and on.  I can't be bothered to pick it all apart so I shall skip to the end.

In closing, Jon, when people imagine climate models, maybe it’s best to think of early generations of CGI (computer generated imagery). A decade or two ago, we’d go to the movies and be amazed at the images on the big screen. And we probably thought some of the video games at that time were also impressive. Looking back at them now, they look hokey.
Climate models used by the IPCC for hindcasting and projections of future climate are at the hokey-looking phase of development. And the more you investigate them, the hokier they look.
You could knock me down with a feather.  Doesn't it strike you as strange that we are at the beginning of this process and that it isn't perfect?  It doesn't seem strange to me because I think I have an idea how science works.  We learn and feed that learning back into what we already know.  Deniers don't learn, don't feed that back in so don't make progress.  Bob, you are at the hokey stage of pointing at things and saying that isn't perfect.  Climate science, on the other hand, is making progress towards a more complete understanding.  And it will do it in spite of the flea bites that you and your cronies inflict.

Jon, if you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment on any thread at my blog Climate Observations
Bob, I can think of one.  Why don't you use your retirement to do some serious reading on the topic?  Another: why don't you learn to write at less length and greater precision?

Bob Tisdale
PS: If you should know of a comedian who’s tired of the tripe we’ve been seeing from the catastrophic manmade global warming wing of the climate science community, please let them know I’m looking for a co-author for my next book. Working title: The Oceans Ate My Global Warming. I’m looking for someone to help make it fun to read.
Bob, seriously?  You think Jon Stewart is going to give you the name and address of a comedian to help make your next pdf fun to read.  He doesn't need to.  He could just say take a blue pencil to huge sections of it because you don't half go on.  Secondly, he could tell you to get a better title.  It's a turn off.  A casual reader won't look twice at a title like that.  It looks as if it ought to be witty but you need to know what the book is going to tell you, that energy is being sequestered in the deep ocean rather than in the atmosphere just above the surface, to understand the title.  Besides, readers who do understand that will know your pdf is full of jokes already.  Like the jokes you seem to associate with.

My advice, "Dr" Bob, is to give it up.  The climate is changing and it is changing because of human activities.  That much is easily demonstrated by climate scientists the world over.  Anyone who has watched creationists and intelligent deniers struggle to get themselves heard will know it is not because of a global conspiracy but because their "science" is based on a premise that isn't true: questioning the real science by deniers is not intended to find the truth but to promote an untruth.  It takes little intellect to spot what you and Monckton, Willis, Uncle Tom Cobbleigh and others do.  The ultimate sign of this is simple.  There is plenty of shouting about the consensus at WUWT but no one seems to have done the obvious and repeated the activity of rating the abstracts.  If they did, they know what the outcome would be. 

And of course it is a denier trick to try to confuse the idea of consensus.  It's been around for decades.  The public prefers to know there is a consensus (back to the doctors, Bob) because that means the science is well established.  The reason there is a consensus is because scientists examine the evidence and come around to that point of view (read this by Phil Plait, in fact read many more of his posts because he deals with science as it is, not as you would wish it to be).  It is the evidence, Bob, and that isn't on your side.  Forget the models.  What do the temperature records say.


  1. Well said! Bob seems to think he's Galileo and Martin Luther all rolled into one.

  2. Yes, very good. Should always be careful of someone who doesn't hide at all that they think they're brilliant :-)

  3. Great post. Bob Tisdale is not quite as spectacularly vain as Willis Eschenbach but he's getting closer by the day!

  4. This one was a good one! Poor Bob.

  5. Nailed it! My guess is that Bob is not writing for Jon Stewart, he's writing for the sycophantic crew that read WattsGoesUpMustComeDown - nearly all of whom will only read the first couple of sentences and then, like Pavlov's Dog, reflexively post their comments.
    Bob's response to the "97 doctors" arguments applies ironically to climatology. With a few changes his rejoinder becomes: The response to the “97 climatologists” argument should have been: “Would you seek out a mineralogist or a particle physicist for an opinion on AGW?”