Their own private reality

Over at Scottish”Sceptic” there’s an attempt at a report of what not-Prof Salby said at a lecture recently. The talk sounds to have been not too dissimilar to the Hamburg one I commented on and if you read the comments a variety of people make a variety of the obvious points as to why its all a pile of dingoes kidneys. Not terribly surprisingly it all bounces off, because if SS were the kind of person to listen to reason, he wouldn’t have written the post in the first place. And really, although you can play around with fancy ideas, if you can’t answer “so where did all the human-emitted CO2 go?” its all a waste of time.

I rather started blipping through the comments, there are more than 50 now, and like some slow-motion train wreck there are no end of people happily offering advice to the driver, but he’s not listening. The trouble, in this argument, is that there are just so many reasons for the bleedin’ obvious. SS does have the advantage of being polite – well, mostly – and apparently reasonable; but the reason is a veneer of words.

After a while, I realised he was still calling Salby a Prof, even though he knows full well Salby isn’t one. Its all a bit embarrassing for them, but still: isn’t Dr good enough? Its a real title that you earn and get to keep; Prof comes with the job, and when you lose the job you lose the title. I pointed this out and got the bizarre response:

I’ve checked and anyone can make anyone a professor,. so we’ve decided to make him and honorary professor of the Scottish Climate and Energy Forum.

Is this an attempt at humour? Its not funny. It just comes across as a total disconnect from reality. JBL complains too, and gets told:

What actually matters is whether someone warrants a title. I am more than happy that Prof Salby warrants the title so I will use the title. If you don’t agree then I can’t force you to do so.

So that’s it then. In “sceptic”-world, anyone can award anyone else any title they like, purely based on their own opinion. This would be mindbogglingly stupid, if it was what SS believed.

But actually, he doesn’t believe a word of it. The answer is worse: he’s been caught out in an error, and can’t bear to correct himself, no matter how blatant the error may be. Given that, what’s the point of attempting a scientific argument with him?

Shocker: solar physicists interested in solar physics

Um. sorry folks, don’t blame me, blame Eli. ’twas the now-aged lagomorph who attempted to interest me in the good old days of sci.env when we were all young and bushy-tailed. And indeed that thread does make for interesting reading: the present-day switch to blogs doesn’t encourage that style of discussion any more.

Anyway, what prompted this post (is this incestuous enough for you yet?) was TB’s witty rejoinder that “Clearly Eli hasn’t kept up with recent developments in the literature at JASTP, Elsevier and elsewhere. Well, what fun, I could but follow, and discover that

My thanks to Nicola Scafetta for pointing out this page of the most downloaded articles at science publishing house Elsevier’s title ‘Journal of Atmospheric and Solar Terrestrial Physics. Our Solar-Planetary Theory is gaining traction. It asserts that the Sun is a more significant climate driver than human emitted trace gases and aerosols and…

…so on. You get the idea. But JASTP is for the solar folk. Mostly, I think, for the respectable ones; but even they are hard-pressed not to try to make their stuff “relevant” to GW, no matter how hard that is. You can read the JASTP statement-of-purpose and it is

The Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics is an international journal concerned with the inter-disciplinary science of the Sun-Earth connection, defined very broadly.

So given that the whole purpose of the journal is sun-earth connections its not terribly surprising that’s what the papers are about.

And to all you who say, correctly, stop wasting time on shooting fish-in-a-barrel I say Yes, you’re right, and I’m about to read More about Fears of Climate Change.

You couldn’t make this stuff up

Conservapedia, as any fule kno, is The Trustworthy Encyclopedia. On matters of politics or “difficult” science like dinosaurs, perhaps one might expect a slight divergence from reality. But on well understood matters like relativity? All will be well, Shirley. But someone posted their E=mc2 article as a screenshot to facebook, so I checked up, and lo! It is true: they really are utterly nutso. We all knew that anyway really, so this is just for fun (if you want details, it looks like rationalwiki is useful). Quoting:

E=mc² is Einstein’s famous formula which asserts that the energy (E) which makes up the matter in any body is equal to the square of the speed of light (c²) times the mass (m) of that body.[1] It is a statement that purports to relate all matter to energy. In fact, no theory has successfully unified the laws governing mass (i.e., gravity) with the laws governing light (i.e., electromagnetism), and numerous attempts to derive E=mc² in general from first principles have failed. Political pressure, however, has since made it impossible for anyone pursuing an academic career in science to even question the validity of this nonsensical equation. Simply put, E=mc² is liberal claptrap. Biblical Scientific Foreknowledge predicts that a unified theory of all the laws of physics is impossible, because light and matter were created at different times, in different ways, as described in the Book of Genesis.

“Supermr34” made a small attempt to tidy it up, but was swiftly reverted. “Walterinternet” tried just pasting in the wiki version (and implausibly claiming this was OK because he’d written it) but (a) that got reverted and (b) he was using wiki-templates that conservapedia doesn’t even have, so it was an utter mess. Eventually he gave up and just wrote “CONSERVAPEDIA IS GAY” which may well have been the best solution. As I write this, they’re back to the “Simply put, E=mc² is liberal claptrap” version.

The “scientific foreknowledge” page is great, too:

Quantum Mechanics: Observation of the Wave Function: The second chapter of the Gospel of John describes the conversion of water into wine by Jesus at a wedding reception. John 2:9 states: “When the host of the wedding feast tasted the water, it had been made into wine.” This passage implies that the drink was not wine until it had been tasted, or observed. Possibly, the drink was a superposition of the state of wine and the state of water until it was observed as wine.

Lancelot Law Whyte's unitary field theory?

And you thought the GW deniers were wacko. Well, yes, they are. But not as wacko as some of the physics nuts, and I’m not even talking about the string theorists. I mean the people who know that Einstein was wrong, and possibly part of a vast conspiracy. I’m sure everyone has their favourite, but just today I was happily browsing [[Classical unified field theories]] (why? I know I started at [[Alternatives to general relativity]] but I don’t know why there) when I noticed a section entitled “Lancelot Law Whyte’s unitary field theory” which read a bit oddly:

This theory was based on an organizing process called by [[Lancelot Law Whyte]] the “Unitary Principle”. The history of this theoretical approach is: [[Michael Faraday]] and [[James Clerk Maxwell]] worked from [[Rudjer Boscovich]]’s theory, which dealt with non-Euclidean and higher-dimensional geometry. This prompted mathematicians such as [[Carl Friedrich Gauss|Gauss]] and [[Riemann]] to investigate that area of mathematics. The mathematics that Riemann developed was used by [[Einstein]] in his theory of [[general relativity]], but that was not as extensive a description as Boscovich’s theory, for which the mathematics had been only incompletely developed. Lancelot Law Whyte’s ideas were adopted for experimental work by Leo Baranski, who planned a series of books based upon this theory. Only Baranski’s first book was published before his death, upon which this line of investigation based upon classical physics was abandoned by academia.

Superficially, it is vaguely plausible, and all the links exist and work, but notice that it has no actual references. [[Rudjer Boscovich]] is probably an unfamiliar name to you (it was to me) and if you follow the link you’ll find he is a harmless but unexciting chap, who is famous for his atomic theory and made many important contributions to astronomy, including the first geometric procedure for determining the equator of a rotating planet from three observations of a surface feature and for computing the orbit of a planet from three observations of its position. In 1753 he also discovered the absence of atmosphere on the Moon. Fair enough, but that makes him an unlikely source for “non-Euclidean and higher-dimensional geometry” which anyway neither Maxwell nor Faraday used.

Nonetheless the page has been edited by a number of sensible people – including the late lamented Hillman – since the text was added way back in 2006. But the clincher of nonsense is looking at the guy who added it – [[User:Roger Anderton]] – and finding proudly displayed the link to which is even more stupid that you could possibly believe, unless you’ve had specialist training in physics nutjobs. It even gets in the near-obligatory references to Tesla, a touchstone for the deranged.

von S jumps the shark

Many thanks to commentor Bam who alerted me to A comment by Alex Harvey: CLIMATE CHANGE ARBITRATION BIAS AT WIKIPEDIA by Hans von Storch CLIMATE CHANGE ARBITRATION BIAS AT WIKIPEDIA complete with big shouty letters.

[This is a copy from back-up of a post that was on the old mt site, and didn’t get auto-moved to the new wp site. It will have lost any comments made then, sorry.]

Before you read that, you probably need to at least see Junk from von S (especially if you’re a von S reader, because he has previously censored links to that post). If you read the comments there, its clear that von S is clueless about wikipedia. And what do you do if you’re clueless? That’s right: you publish twaddle from a septic who is pretending to be neutral, which is von S’s most recent post. In the comments, von S uses the “Curry defence”: that he hasn’t got a clue what is going on, but is publishing this out of interest. Or something like that.

Probably the most important point to make is that anyone trying to understand what is going on from what AH is saying to von S will not succeed. Just about everything written by AH is either lies or deliberate misrepresentation. Please don’t expect me to correct it all. My own view of the original case is here, if you’re interested. You might also want to read my rather disorganised on-wiki page.

von S’s post relies heavily on Lawrence Solomon. As any fule kno, Solomon didn’t and doesn’t understand how wiki works, so pretty well everything he posted, and AH regurgitated, was wrong. I say “so”, but that is being generous: Solomon is not accidentally getting things wrong, or perhaps better has taken no trouble to get things right. By contrast AH does know how wiki works (well, a bit); he is deliberately lying to von S. See for example a child’s garden of wikipedia.

On the substantive point, which is the odd suggestion that arbcomm is biased pro-science, it is interesting to read the actual ban appeals. AH doesn’t provide you with convenient links to those, preferring to provide his own inaccurate gloss. Mine is here. The basic point is, I know what I’m talking about wrt GW and have something to contribute, and have a very long history of contributing worthwhile content. Cla68’s is here. The basic point is that he doesn’t know what he is talking about and has nothing to contribute except disruption (that’s my gloss, BTW). Don’t miss the “statement by MastCell” on that page. Its not a one-off; that is typical Cla. Taken together, this suffices to explain the difference in our treatment.

Update: its nice to see that not everyone is convinced by von S, see e.g. this comment which makes an explicit connection with one of von S’s hopes, the “honest broker” stuff: In my opinion giving Alex Harvey a platform for charactar assassination was a bad idea, far away from any honest broker ideals.


* Curry jumps the shark
* Jumping the shark?
* Webcite of Storch’s post as of writing
* Morano madness
* The IPCC May Have Outlived its Usefulness?

Supreme irony: wind farms can cause atmospheric warming, finds a new study?

What is it about GW that brings out such levels of stupidity in so many people?

Lets start with the easy bit. There’s a paper Impacts of wind farms on land surface temperature by Zhou et al.. It isn’t very exciting, but it made into Nature Climate Change, probably because of the inevitable stupidity it would arouse. What it says is Our results show a significant warming trend of up to 0.72 °C per decade, particularly at night-time, over wind farms relative to nearby non-wind-farm regions. This isn’t ironic or even particularly surprising: the effect is due to mixing down of warmer air on nights with an inversion. At least, that’s what I expect, not having read the paper, and its what Black of the Beeb wrote, having talked to Zhou: At night, air above ground level tends to be warmer than the ground. Dr Zhou and his colleagues believe the turbine blades are simply stirring up the air, mixing warm and cold, and bringing some of the warmth down to ground level.

But if you’re silly, like the Torygraph, you find yourself obliged to headline your story Wind farms can cause climate change, finds new study. The actual article itself isn’t too bad – it correctly notes this is a local effect, largely night-time only, and it permits itself a little speculation that if done on a large enough scale this might just be noticeable regionally. And, being generous, you could call this “climate change” – though to most people, “climate change” will mean global climate change, which this isn’t.

However, you then get people who really should know better repeating Windmills cause climate change! Timmy manages the oh-how-I-wish-it-was unusual feat of having nothing useful to say, whilst quoting the worst bits of the article and suppressing the useful bits. This is global cooling come again – people just can’t resist the “counter intuitive” stuff. He has another go at Forbes but gets it even wronger there – now its explicitly become Wind Farms Cause Global Warming!

But the funny thing is to look at the comments. Like:

I had a good laugh about that, it’s fairly obvious really you convert kinetic energy into electricity and get heat as a bi product. Silly eco mentalists


Think it through & you’ll realise there’s no climate warming effect whatsoever. The energy is in the wind. The bird shredders remove some of the energy as electricity but the process of doing so isn’t 100% efficient so it also creates heat

These are wrong – they are fairly typical of the “I know nothing about climatology, but rather than trying to find something out I’ll just speculate and call it truth” sort of commentator. But they have absolutely no excuse for being wrong, because even the Torygraph got it right, in the first few paragraphs of its article: “Usually at night the air closer to the ground becomes colder when the sun goes down and the earth cools. But on huge wind farms the motion of the turbines mixes the air higher in the atmosphere that is warmer, pushing up the overall temperature.”

Since its Timmy’s blog, and he is often rude to people, I get to call him and his commentators idiots. Which he (in this instance) and they (oh so often) richly deserve. Which brings me neatly on to…

WUWT, which is where I stole my headline from. That too reports the same study, and in the same sensationalist terms. What is, again, funny is that the commentators there completely miss the point and run off down the same inefficient-conversion-leads-to-heat rabbit-hole (and they even find some new ones), even though Watts has half-said it in the very top paragraph. I tell them the truth, but they aren’t grateful. In fact Watts is very ungrateful indeed – but that is after the inevitable degeneration of the dicussion into a pointless demonstration of their lack of knowledge of wikipedia.


* Potential Climatic Impacts and Reliability of Very Large Scale Wind Farms – Chien Wang and Ronald Prinn

RP Sr is a tosser

I haven’t had a tosser for a while, but I think its time for a new one. The evidence is all at Open Mind, that increasingly valuable resource who has done such a good job of shredding so many thoughtless folk. And RP Sr’s 7-fold updated post neatly puts him into that category. But what wins RP the coveted award is outing Tamino (whose name isn’t exactly a secret anyway) under the guise of “professional courtesy”. Well done, Wodger.

More trash from Watts

Well, so what’s new with that, I hear you say? And indeed, not much is the answer. But its a saturday night so some knock-about fun is in order.

So, Watts, along with most of the septic blogosphere, was all over An ikaite record of late Holocene climate at the Antarctic Peninsula by Zunli Lua et al.. Not because they care about the science, but because the abstract says This ikaite record qualitatively supports that both the Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age extended to the Antarctic Peninsula. In septic-world, it is very important that the MWP and LIA be global, so that instantly turned into a headline of “Yes, I know, I covered it first: The Medieval Warm Period was Global” in Watts-world. Actually, I have reservations as to whether their figures support even their text (it is yet another “we found some warm bits and we found some cold bits, and since the MWP and LIA time-spans are so vague, we called the warm bits MWP and the cold bits LIA”).

But all this misrepresentation, although obvious enough, has clearly annoyed the authors, who now say

“It is unfortunate that my research, “An ikaite record of late Holocene climate at the Antarctic Peninsula,” recently published in Earth and Planetary Science Letters, has been misrepresented by a number of media outlets.

Several of these media articles assert that our study claims the entire Earth heated up during medieval times without human CO2 emissions. We clearly state in our paper that we studied one site at the Antarctic Peninsula. The results should not be extrapolated to make assumptions about climate conditions across the entire globe. Other statements, such as the study “throws doubt on orthodoxies around global warming,” completely misrepresent our conclusions. Our study does not question the well-established anthropogenic warming trend.”

Watts has been obliged to update his post, but is still in denial, errm, which is exactly where he is supposed to be so that is all right then, best beloved.

And in other news

* General Motors pulls funding from climate sceptic thinktank Heartland. As they say The funding cut – just $15,000 a year – is small beer for the institute, which has a multi-million dollar turnover, largely from a single anonymous donor, so this isn’t as exciting as it might seem.
* BA has a nice pic of an underwater volcano errupting, visible from its plume in the water.

Plan 8 from outer space

The Mystery of Equation 8 refers, and offers me my title.

For a while now, there has been some weird septic stuff floating around about how the planet is warmer-than-it-would-be-without-an-atmosphere not because of the greenhouse effect or anything like that, but because of gravity. Nikolov and Zeller I think, though for all I know others are thinking the same. There are several threads, and vast piles of comments, at WUWT – for example, this one; or the original.

Since it was all obviously septic nonsense wrapped up in equations, I didn’t even bother to think about it, in much the same way that you really don’t bother with people who claim to disprove relativity over the intertubes. But then Willis Eschenbach was kind enough to put up a post explaining just why it was all rubbish, which is very good, because it can be understood without much thought, and also explains their killer result, viz fitting misc planetary temperatures.

[My own thinking about N&Z in arrears: if you have a planet with a radiatively non-active atmosphere, and make the usual assumption that you can consider it a point and forget about rotation and geometry; then the surface temperature without an atmosphere is such-and-such; and the energy balance at the surface is between incoming SW and outgoing (SW + LW); and if you add a radiatively inactive atmosphere that balance doesn’t change at all, in equilibrium; all that happens is that the atmosphere itself acquires some temperature via conduction (which it can’t shed radiatively, because its inactive). So the idea that something other than the radiatively active bit determines the surface temperature is twaddle.]

Anyway, it turns out that if you actually bother to read the tripe (as Willis Eschenbach has done) then it all boils down to:

Our analysis of interplanetary data in Table 1 found no meaningful relationships between ATE (NTE) and variables such as total absorbed solar radiation by planets or the amount of greenhouse gases in their atmospheres. However, we discovered that NTE was strongly related to total surface pressure through a nearly perfect regression fit via the following nonlinear function

and the equation is:

Or, put another way, there is no physics at all behind their “model”, just an equation with 4 free parameters which they have then fitted via regression. Which, as WE correctly points out, is a waste of time.

[Oh, and I may not have been paying attention to what other people have been saying about this, either, so if you’ve already taken this or similar apart, do let me know.]

Update: there have been Q’s in the comments here along the lines of “how can these guys be quite so wacko, do they really mean it? Someone claiming to be the Z in N&Z wrote the following at WUWT, which if genuine removes all doubt: they are utterly off their trolleys.

kzeller says:
January 25, 2012 at 9:51 am
Willis says …. “they claim to be able to calculate the surface temperature Ts of eight different planets and moons from knowing nothing more than the solar irradiation So and the surface pressure Ps for each heavenly body. Dr. Zeller refers to this as their MIRACLE equation…” …..”My simplified version of their equation looks like this: Ts = 25.394 * Solar^0.25 * e^(0.092 * Pressure ^ 0.17)” = A SIMPLER MIRACLE

You folks just don’t get it do you, you’re not seeing the forest for the trees: Willis’ rendition of our MIRACLE is also a MIRACLE!!!!!!! What is the Miracle you don’t see? We calculate the average global equilibrium surface temperature on any planet/moon using only Solar input and surface pressure! Why is this a miracle? Because it implys that the AGW theory is bogus. Why does it do that? Since the average global surface temperature of any planet/moon IS the basic bottomline determinator of that planet/moon’s climate and our Eq 8 accurately calculates this temperature without using greenhouse gas information.
Dr. Nikolov & I have been working on this for over 2 years, our first attempts looked like Willis’ simpler miracle, and we’ve played with density also, but we are trying to get it exact, currently Eq 8. You CAN NOT fit an elephant with an exponential equation, you can with a polynominal. The argument about the number of constants in our equation 8 would be valid it it were a polynominal – it’s not.
We are handing WUWT ‘THE NAIL’ to the AGW coffin and you guys have forgotten about the coffin and are fixated on the details of the nail! Is it galvinized? Why isn’t it a wooden spike? They need 2 more nails. Wonder what kind of hammer they plan to use?

I’m not quite sure that they understand the meaning of the word “Miracle” though when they say “Why is this a miracle? Because it implys that the AGW theory is bogus”. Presumably they don’t mean that only supernatural intervention could render AGW theory wrong. I can’t resist, I’m going to troll them with that.


* Plan 9 from Outer Space
* Step 3