And apsmith’s Mathematical analysis of Roy Spencer’s climate model has the story.
Poor Roy. He has backed himself so far into a corner that he no longer has anyone competent to discuss his ideas with, with the result that he publishes (in a book, because no-one would publish it in a journal) utter twaddle. It is really very difficult to do science all by yourself, and Spencer is certainly failing.
[2015 update: I often think of this post, and this concept, when reading the stuff from the Dork Side. Its not just Spencer; Curry is in the same boat and then so is JoNova with her Force X stuff; and so is any number of posts from WUWT. You might think, in the case of the latter two, “how can they be lonely?” when every blog post gets hundreds of comments. And the answer, of course, is to read the comments. Most of them are off the subject; of the few that are on-subject, most will be mindless praise; and that’s no help at all, to a scientist. Only one or two comments will be actual substantive criticism, and they are easily ignored in the morass.]
The point is that doing science by yourself is very hard. For at least two reasons.
For the first, I’ll quote Feynmann, after all everyone else does: The first principle is that you must not fool yourself — and you are the easiest person to fool. Unless you’re very good at being utterly objective, you need other people to look at your work and point out the bits you’ve forgotten, or allowed yourself to gloss over, and so on. And those other people need to want to find flaws in your work.
The second is that unless you’re brilliant (hint: you’re not, and neither am I) you need to bounce your ideas off people, both to knock the rough edges off the ones you have and to spark new ones. This is much much easier if you’re around a lot of other people, some of whom have read more widely than you.
If you’ve come here because I’ve pointed you at this post, and you’re actually open-minded enough to want to know more, then try reading Science, which is an attempt to explain who science actually is.]