The Inferior Methods in Supran and Oreskes 2017

In the previous post I looked at one aspect of the article Assessing ExxonMobil’s Climate Change Communications (1977–2014) by Geoffrey Supran and Naomi Oreskes. I concluded the basis for evaluation of ExxonMobil’s sponsored climate papers – “AGW is real, human-caused, serious, and solvable” –  is a mantra held by people who fail to distinguish between empirical and verifiable statements, tautologies, opinions and public policy that requires some fanciful global political implementation. In this post I look at how the application of that mantra in analyzing journal articles can lead to grossly misleading interpretations.

Under Section 2. Method, in Table 2 the authors lay out their criteria evaluation in terms of how the wording supports (endorses) or doubts elements of the mantra. For AGW is real & human-caused there are quite complex criteria. But for whether it is “serious” and “solvable” they are much more straightforward, and I have reproduced them below.

The acknowledgment or doubt of “AGW as serious” or “AGW as solvable” are in relation to the mantra. That is the only criteria used. Supran and Oreskes would claim that this does not matter. What they are looking at is the positions communicated in the papers relative to the positions expressed by ExxonMobil externally. But there are problems with this methodology in terms of alternative perspectives that are missing.

First is that the underlying quality and clarity of results and relevancy of each paper is ignored. What matters to Supran and Oreskes is the language used.

Second is that ExxonMobil’s papers are not the only research on whether “AGW is real, human-caused, serious, and solvable”. The authors could also take into account the much wider body of papers out there within the broad areas covered by the mantra.

Third, if the totality of the research – whether ExxonMobil’s or the totality of climate research – does not amount to a strong case for anthropogenic global warming being a serious global problem, and nor having a workable solution, why should they promote politicized delusions?

Put this into the context of ExxonMobil – one of the World’s most successful businesses over decades – by applying some of the likely that it would use in assessing a major project or major strategic investment. For instance

  • How good is the evidence that there is a serious problem on a global scale emerging from human GHG emissions?
  • How strong is the evidence that humans have caused the recent warming?
  • Given many years of research, what is the track record of improving the quality and refinement of the output in the climate area?
  • What quality controls and KPIs are in place to enable both internal and external auditors to validate the work?
  • Where projections are made, what checks on the robustness of those projections have been done?
  • Where economic projections are produced, have they been done by competent mainstream economists, what are the assumptions made, and what sensitivity analyses have been done on those assumptions?
  • Does the project potentially harm investors, employees, customers and other stakeholders in the business? Where are the risk assessments of such potential harms, along with the procedures for the reporting and investigation of non-compliances?
  • Does a proposed project risk contravening laws and internal procedures relating to bribery and corruption?
  • Once a project is started, is it possible to amend that project over time or even abandon it should it fail to deliver? What are the contractual clauses that enable project amendment or abandonment and the potential costs of doing so?

Conclusions and further thoughts

Supran and Oreskes evaluate the ExxonMobil articles for AGW and policy in terms of a belief mantra applied to a small subset of the literature on the subject. Each article is looked at independently of from all other articles and indeed all other available information. Further any legitimate argument or evidence that undermines the mantra is evidence of doubt. It is all throwing the onus on ExxonMobil to disprove the allegations, but never for Supran and Oreskes justify their mantra or their method of analysis is valid.

There are some questions arising from this, that I hope to pursue in later posts.

1. Is the method of analysis just a means of exposing ExxonMobil’s supposed hypocrisy by statistical means, or does it stem from a deeply flawed and ideological way of perceiving the world, that includes trying to shut out the wider realities of the real world, basic logic and other competing (and possibly superior) perspectives?

2. Whatever spread of misinformation and general hypocrisy might be shown on the part of ExxonMobil from more objective and professional perspectives, is there not greater misinformation sown by the promoters of the “climate consensus“?

3. Can any part of the mantra “AGW is real, human-caused, serious, and solvable” be shown to be false in the real world, beyond reasonable doubt?

Kevin Marshall


Supran and Oreskes on ExxonMobils Communication of Climate Change

Over at Cliscep, Geoff Chambers gave a rather bitter review (with foul language) about a new paper, Assessing ExxonMobil’s Climate Change Communications (1977–2014) by Geoffrey Supran and Naomi Oreskes.
One point that I would like to explore is part of a quote Geoff uses:-

The issue at stake is whether the corporation misled consumers, shareholders and/or the general public by making public statements that cast doubt on climate science and its implications, and which were at odds with available scientific information and with what the company knew. We stress that the question is not whether ExxonMobil ‘suppressed climate change research,’ but rather how they communicated about it.

It is the communication of climate science by a very powerful oil company, that the paper concentrates upon. The approach reveals a lot about the Climate Change movement as well. In particular, this statement in the introduction:-

Research has shown that four key points of understanding about AGW—that it is real, human-caused, serious, and solvable—are important predictors of the public’s perceived issue seriousness, affective issue involvement, support for climate policies, and political activism [62–66].

The references are as follows

[62] Krosnick J A, Holbrook A L, Lowe L and Visser P S 2006 The origins and consequences of democratic citizens’ policy agendas: a study of popular concern about global warming Clim. Change 77 7–43
[63] Ding D, Maibach E W, Zhao X, Roser-Renouf C and Leiserowitz A 2011 Support for climate policy and societal action are linked to perceptions about scientific agreement Nat. Clim. Change 1 462–6
[64] Roser-Renouf C, Maibach E W, Leiserowitz A and Zhao X 2014 The genesis of climate change activism: from key beliefs to political action Clim. Change 125 163–78
[65] Roser-Renouf C, Atkinson L, Maibach E and Leiserowitz A 2016 The consumer as climate activist Int. J. Commun. 10 4759–83
[66] van der Linden S L, Leiserowitz A A, Feinberg G D and Maibach E W 2015 The scientific consensus on climate change as a gateway belief: experimental evidence PLoS One 10 e0118489

For the purposes of Supran and Oreskes study, the understanding that people have does not require any substance at all beyond beliefs. For instance, the Jehovah Witness Sect developing an “understanding” that Armageddon would occur in 1975. This certainly affected their activities in the lead up to the momentous history-ending event. Non-believers or members of the Christian Church may have been a little worried, shrugged their shoulders, or thought the whole idea ridiculous. If similar studies to those on climate activism had been conducted on the prophecy of Armageddon 1975, similar results could have been found to those quoted for AGW beliefs in references 62-66. That is, the stronger the belief in the cause, whether religious evangelism in the case of Jehovah’s Witnesses, or ideological environmentalism in the case of AGW, is a predictor of activism in support of the cause. They cannot go further because of an issue with scholarly articles. Claims made must be substantiated, something that cannot be done with respect to the prophesies of climate catastrophism, except in a highly nuanced form.
But the statement that AGW is “real, human-caused, serious, and solvable” – repeated five times in the article – indicates something about the activists understanding of complex issues.
AGW is real” is not a proper scientific statement, as it is not quantified. Given that the impacts on surface temperatures can muffled and delayed nearly indefinitely by natural factors, or swallowed by the oceans, the belief can be independent of any contrary evidence for decades to come.
AGW is human-caused”, is saying “Human-caused global warming is human-caused”. It is a tautology that tells us nothing about the real world.
AGW is serious” is an opinion. It may be a very widely-held opinion, with many articles written with confirming evidence, and many concerned people attending massive conferences where it is discussed. But without clear evidence for emerging net adverse consequences, the opinion is largely unsubstantiated.
AGW is solvable” could be whether it is theoretically solvable, given the technology and policies being implemented. But the statement also includes whether it is politically solvable, getting actual policies to reduce emissions fully implemented. If the “solution” is the reduction of global emissions to a level commensurate with 2C of warming (hence a partial solution), then COP21 in Paris shows that AGW is a long way from being solvable, with no actual solution in sight. Whereas the 2C limit requires global emissions to be lower in 2030 than in 2015, and falling rapidly, fully implemented policies would still see emissions higher in 2030 than in 2015 and still increasing.

The statement AGW is “real, human-caused, serious, and solvable” is, therefore, nothing more than a mantra held by people who fail to distinguish between empirical and verifiable statements, tautologies, opinions and public policy that requires some fanciful global political implementation. 

Kevin Marshall

SNP Government’s Out-Sourced Propaganda on Food Waste

In the previous post I promised to provide some clear illustrations of the climate of this policy nonsense in Britain. The United Kingdom has a rather strange constitution, where three of the four countries have devolved assemblies, but largest with 83% of the population does not. The most vocal by far is the Scottish Assembly lead by Scottish Nationalist First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. The United Kingdom has the world’s most strident Climate legislation in the form of the Climate Change Act 2008. The Scottish Nationalists seek to differentiate themselves from the English by usurping the British role of leading the world on Climate Change. Scotland is therefore a useful place to look for the most extreme examples.

Zero Waste Scotland, a Stirling-based company Limited by Guarantee, almost entirely funded by the Scottish Government, exists to promote environmentalist propaganda. In their words .

Zero Waste Scotland exists to create a society where resources are valued and nothing is wasted. 

Take the page on Food Waste

Your food does its job best when it’s on a plate ready to be enjoyed. Saving food saves money and helps to slow down global warming and deforestation. Reducing the amount of food that ends up in the bin also means you can say goodbye to unnecessary packaging waste. If we all make a few small changes and start using up the food we buy, together we can make a big difference.

Look at the “we” part in relation to making a big difference to slowing global warming. It is a Scottish-based website, promoting Scottish Government policy. The context to consider this claim is

  1. Note all the Scottish people will take up the call from the website. Indeed, very few will likely visit the webpage, particularly those who are not already .
  2. Domestic food waste is less than the total food waste. There is waste in farming, food processing, restaurants, schools and retailing.
  3. Food Waste is a only a small part of total Scottish emissions. Zero Waste Scotland estimates 1.5 millions tonnes of 75 millions tonnes.
  4. Scottish emissions of 75 MtCO2E are a small part of global greenhouse emissions of 54000 MtCO2.

The slow-down if all readers of the website and reduce food waste to zero in slowing global warming (assuming the link between warming and GHG less) is much less than 0.0028% of the total.
Will people save money and reduce packaging waste by eliminating food waste? I believe that a cheap healthy diet for a family. I always tried to provide fruit and fresh vegetables for my growing children, as against cakes and ice-cream. With growing children, getting them to eat vegetables was a problem. Cabbage, leaks and mange tout were least successful. Corn on the cob was successful for a while. But we rarely had tinned of baked beans, which were popular. With fruit, some got left depending on the mood, and other foods eaten. Peels and cores added to the waste, along with the unsightly bits of cheaper potatoes and residue of roast chicken, leg of lamb and pork shoulder. (We are not keen on the fat, nor soup made from the stock). We could have saved waste by spending more on quality, or reduced waste by careful planning. For hard-working families there are other considerations. On a weekly shop it is a case of chucking some things in the trolley that will provide quick meals. Detailed planning of meals and careful preparation is sacrificed for family time, relaxation and sleeping. In terms of focusing on food waste could cause other harms, like failing to provide a varied diet to children and maybe spending more. The loss of leisure and family time are potential non-monetary costs.

Zero Waste Scotland gets a 10% reduction from the 5.5 million people in Scotland, that is just 0.00028%, But the people reading are individuals, and maybe decision-makers for the families. A family going from average to zero food waste might reduce global emissions by 0.000000001%.

Imagine is a business making such a grossly misleading claims in the benefits, and hiding of potential harmful side-effects in promoting say, vitamins. They would be prosecuted. But this is not a business selling a product but environmentalist propaganda.

However, there are benefits to the Scottish Government.

First, by having fancy websites, along with signage all over the place, they can claim they are combating climate change. This enables First Minister Sturgeon being able to dream of being making serious speeches to the UN and being photographed next to other world leaders.

Further, this messaging changes peoples perceptions, meaning that anybody who perceives the absurdity is met by incomprehension and a string of half-learnt mantras. Without imposing censorship, in the name of “saving the planet” this promotes a progressive consensus that cannot be challenged.

Third, there are British Government and EU targets to reduce food waste and other environmental concerns. When persuasion does not work, there is greater justification in providing incentives to promote “better” behaviour, as with banning smoking in public places, minimum price for alcohol and a awkward charging for plastic bags. Alternatively by taking some of the decision-making powers about what people eat and how they live their lives out of their hands and placing under the guidance of those who know better. They Scottish Government already tried this with the named person child protection scheme.

Fourth, by out-sourcing (or privatizing) political propaganda, the SNP can avoid the claim of using the Scottish Government website for promoting a political hegemony.

Kevin Marshall



ATTP on Lomborg’s Australian Funding

Blogger …and then there’s physics (ATTP) joins in the hullabaloo about Bjorn Lomberg’s Lomborg’s Consensus Centre is getting A$4m of funding to set up a branch at the University of Western Australia. He says

However, ignoring that Lomborg appears to have a rather tenuous grasp on the basics of climate science, my main issue with what he says is its simplicity. Take all the problems in the world, determine some kind of priority ordering, and then start at the top and work your way down – climate change, obviously, being well down the list. It’s as if Lomborg doesn’t realise that the world is a complex place and that many of the problems we face are related. We can’t necessarily solve something if we don’t also try to address many of the other issues at the same time. It’s this kind of simplistic linear thinking – and that some seem to take it seriously – that irritates me most.

The comment about climatology is just a lead in. ATTP is expressing a normative view about the interrelationship of problems, along with beliefs about the solution. What he is rejecting as simplistic is the method of identifying the interrelated issues separately, understanding the relative size of the problems along with the effectiveness and availability of possible solutions and then prioritizing them.

This errant notion is exacerbated when ATTP implies that Lomborg has received the funding. Lomborg heads up the Copenhagen Consensus Centre and it is they who have received the funding to set up a branch in Australia. This description is from their website

We work with some of the world’s top economists (including 7 Nobel Laureates) to research and publish the smartest solutions to global challenges. Through social, economic and environmental benefit-cost research, we show policymakers and philanthropists how to do the most good for each dollar spent.

It is about bringing together some of the best minds available to understand the problems of the world. It is then to persuade those who are able to do something about the issues. It is not Lomborg’s personal views that are present here, but people with different views and from different specialisms coming together to argue and debate. Anyone who has properly studied economics will soon learn that there are a whole range of different views, many of them plausible. Some glimpse that economic systems are highly interrelated in ways that cannot be remotely specified, leading to the conclusion that any attempt to create a computer model of an economic system will be a highly distorted simplification. At a more basic level they will have learnt that in the real world there are 200 separate countries, all with different priorities. In many there is a whole range of different voiced opinions about what the priorities should be at national, regional and local levels. To address all these interrelated issues together would require the modeller of be omniscient and omnipresent. To actually enact the modeller’s preferred policies over seven billion people would require a level of omnipotence that Stalin could only dream of.

This lack of understanding of economics and policy making is symptomatic of those who believe in climate science. They fail to realize that models are only an attempted abstraction of the real world. Academic economists have long recognized the abstract nature of the subject along with the presence of strong beliefs about the subject. As a result, in the last century many drew upon the rapidly developing philosophy of science to distinguish whether theories were imparting knowledge about the world or confirming beliefs. The most influential by some distance was Milton Friedman. In his seminal essay The Methodology of Positive Economics he suggested the way round this problem was to develop bold yet simple predictions from the theory that, despite being unlikely, are nevertheless come true. I would suggest that you do not need to be too dogmatic in the application. The bold predictions do not need to be right 100% of the time, but an entire research programme should be establishing a good track record over a sustained period. In climatology the bold predictions, that would show a large and increasing problem, have been almost uniformly wrong. For instance:-

  • The rate of melting of the polar ice caps has not accelerated.
  • The rate of sea level rise has not accelerated in the era of satellite measurements.
  • Arctic sea ice did not disappear in the summer of 2013.
  • Hurricanes did not get worse following Katrina. Instead there followed the quietest period on record.
  • Snow has not become a thing of the past in England, nor in Germany.

Other examples have been compiled by Pierre Gosselin at Notrickszone, as part of his list of climate scandals.

Maybe it is different in climatology. The standard response is that the reliability of the models is based on the strength of the consensus in support. This view is not proclaimed by ATTP. Instead from the name it would appear he believes the reliability can be obtained from the basic physics. I have not done any physics since high school and have forgotten most of what I learnt. So in discerning what is reality in that area I have to rely on the opinions of physicists themselves. One of the greatest physicists since Einstein was Richard Feynman. He said fifty years ago in a lecture on the Scientific Method

You cannot prove a vague theory wrong. If the guess that you make is poorly expressed and the method you have for computing the consequences is a little vague then ….. you see that the theory is good as it can’t be proved wrong. If the process of computing the consequences is indefinite, then with a little skill any experimental result can be made to look like an expected consequence.

Climate models, like economic models, will always be vague. This is not due to being poorly expressed (though they often are) but due to the nature of the subject. Short of rejecting climate models as utter nonsense, I would suggest the major way of evaluating whether they say something distinctive about the real world is on the predictive ability. But a consequence of theories always being vague in both economics and climate is you will not be able to use the models as a forecasting tool. As Freeman Dyson (who narrowly missed sharing a Nobel Prize with Feynman) recently said of climate models:-

These climate models are excellent tools for understanding climate, but that they are very bad tools for predicting climate. The reason is simple – that they are models which have very few of the factors that may be important, so you can vary one thing at a time ……. to see what happens – particularly carbon dioxide. But there are a whole lot of things that they leave out. ….. The real world is far more complicated than the models.

This implies that when ATTP is criticizing somebody else’s work with a simple model, or a third person’s work, he is likely criticizing them for looking at a highly complex issue in another way. Whether his way is better, worse or just different we have no way of knowing. All we can infer from his total rejection of ideas of experts in a field to which he lacks even a basic understanding, is that he has no basis of knowing either.

To be fair, I have not looked at the earlier part of ATTP’s article. For instance he says:-

If you want to read a defense of Lomborg, you could read Roger Pielke Jr’s. Roger’s article makes the perfectly reasonable suggestion that we shouldn’t demonise academics, but fails to acknowledge that Lomborg is not an academic by any standard definition…….

The place to look for a “standard definition” of a word is a dictionary. The noun definitions are


8. a student or teacher at a college or university.

9. a person who is academic in background, attitudes, methods, etc.:

He was by temperament an academic, concerned with books and the arts.

10. (initial capital letter) a person who supports or advocates the Platonic school of philosophy.

This is Bjorn Lomborg’s biography from the Copenhagen Consensus website:-

Dr. Bjorn Lomborg is Director of the Copenhagen Consensus Center and Adjunct Professor at University of Western Australia and Visiting Professor at Copenhagen Business School. He researches the smartest ways to help the world, for which he was named one of TIME magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world. His numerous books include The Skeptical Environmentalist, Cool It, How to Spend $75 Billion to Make the World a Better Place and The Nobel Laureates’ Guide to the Smartest Targets for the World 2016-2030.

Lomborg meets both definitions 8 & 9, which seem to be pretty standard. Like with John Cook and William Connolley defining the word sceptic, it would appear that ATTP rejects the authority of those who write the dictionary. Or more accurately does not even to bother to look. Like with rejecting the authority of those who understand economics it suggests ATTP uses the authority of his own dogmatic beliefs as the standard by which to evaluate others.

Kevin Marshall

The Propaganda methods of ….and Then There’s Physics on Temperature Homogenisation

There has been a rash of blog articles about temperature homogenisations that is challenging the credibility of the NASS GISS temperature data. This has lead to attempts by anonymous blogger andthentheresphysics (ATTP) to crudely deflect from the issues identified. It is propagandist’s trick of turning people’s perspectives. Instead of a dispute about some scientific data, ATTP turns the affair into a dispute between those with authority and expertise in scientific analysis, against a few crackpot conspiracy theorists.

The issues on temperature homogenisation are to do with the raw surface temperature data and the adjustments made to remove anomalies or biases within the data. “Homogenisation” is a term used for process of adjusting the anomalous data into line with that from the surrounding data.

The blog articles can be split into three categories. The primary articles are those that make direct reference to the raw data set and the surrounding adjustments. The secondary articles refer to the primary articles, and comment upon them. The tertiary articles are directed at the secondary articles, making little or no reference to the primary articles. I perceive the two ATTP articles as fitting into the scheme below.

Primary Articles

The source of complaints about temperature homogenisations is Paul Homewood at his blog notalotofpeopleknowthat. The source of the articles is NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) database. For any weather station GISS provide nice graphs of the temperature data. The current after GISS homogeneity adjustment data is available here and the raw GHCN data + UHSHCN corrections is available here up until 2011 only. For any weather station GISS provide nice graphs of the temperature data. Homewood’s primary analysis was to show the “raw data” side by side.

20/01/15 Massive Tampering With Temperatures In South America

This looked at all three available rural stations in Paraguay. The data from all three at Puerto Casado, Mariscal and San Jan Buatista/Misiones had the same pattern of homogenization adjustments. That is, cooling of the past, so that instead of the raw data showing the 1960s being warmer than today, it was cooler. What could they have been homogenized to?

26/01/15 All Of Paraguay’s Temperature Record Has Been Tampered With

This checked the six available urban sites in Paraguay. Homewood’s conclusion was that

warming adjustments have taken place at every single, currently operational site in Paraguay.

How can homogenization adjustments all go so same way? There is no valid reason for making such adjustments, as there is no reference point for the adjustments.

29/01/15Temperature Adjustments Around The World

Homewood details other examples from Southern Greenland, Iceland, Northern Russia, California, Central Australia and South-West Ireland. Instead of comparing the raw with the adjusted data, he compared the old adjusted data with the recent data. Adjustment decisions are changing over time, making the adjusted data sets give even more pronounced warming trends.

30/01/15 Cooling The Past In Bolivia

Then he looked at all 14 available stations in neighbouring Bolivia. His conclusion

At every station, bar one, we find the ….. past is cooled and the present warmed.”

(The exception was La Paz, where the cooling trend in the raw data had been reduced.)

Why choose Paraguay in the first place? In the first post, Homewood explains that within a NOAA temperature map for the period 1981-2010 there appeared to be a warming hotspot around Paraguay. Being a former accountant he checked the underlying data to see if it existed in the data. Finding an anomaly in one area, he checked more widely.

The other primary articles are

26/01/15 Kevin Cowton NOAA Paraguay Data

This Youtube video was made in response to Christopher Booker’s article in the Telegraph, a secondary source of data. Cowton assumes Booker is the primary source, and is criticizing NOAA data. A screen shot of the first paragraph shows these are untrue.

Further, if you read down the article, Cowton’s highlighting of the data from one weather station is also misleading. Booker points to three, but just illustrates one.

Despite this, it still ranks as a primary source, as there are direct references to the temperature data and the adjustments. They are not GISS adjustments, but might be the same.

29/01/15 Shub Niggurath – The Puerto Casado Story

Shub looked at the station moves. He found that the metadata for the station data is a mess, so there is no actual evidence of the location changing. But, Shub reasons the fact that there was a step change in the data meant that it moved, and the fact that it moved meant there was a change. Shub is a primary source as he looks at the adjustment reason.


Secondary Articles

The three secondary articles by Christopher Booker, James Delingpole and BishopHill are just the connectors in this story.


Tertiary articles of “…and Then There’s Physics”

25/01/15 Puerto Cascado

This looked solely at Booker’s article. It starts

Christopher Booker has a new article in the The Telegraph called Climategate, the sequel: How we are STILL being tricked with flawed data on global warming. The title alone should be enough to convince anyone sensible that it isn’t really worth reading. I, however, not being sensible, read it and then called Booker an idiot on Twitter. It was suggested that rather than insulting him, I should show where he was wrong. Okay, this isn’t really right, as there’s only so much time and effort available, and it isn’t really worth spending it rebutting Booker’s nonsense.

However, thanks to a tweet from Ed Hawkins, it turns out that it is really easy to do. Booker shows data from a site in Paraguay (Puerto Casado) in which the data was adjusted from a trend of -1.37o C per century to +1.36o C per century. Shock, horror, a conspiracy?


ATTP is highlighting an article, but is strongly discouraging anybody from reading it. That is why the referral is a red line in the graphic above. He then says he is not going to provide a rebuttal. ATTP is good to his word and does not provide a rebuttal. Basically it is saying “Don’t look at that rubbish, look at the real authority“. But he is wrong for a number of reasons.

  1. ATTP provides misdirection to an alternative data source. Booker quite clearly states that the source of the data is the NASA GISS temperature set. ATTP cites Berkeley Earth.
  2. Booker clearly states that there are thee rural temperature stations spatially spread that show similar results. ATTP’s argument that a single site was homogenized with the others in the vicinity falls over.
  3. This was further undermined by Paul Homewood’s posting on the same day on the other 6 available sites in Paraguay, all giving similar adjustments.
  4. It was further undermined by Paul Homewood’s posting on 30th January on all 14 sites in Bolivia.

The story is not of a wizened old hack making some extremist claims without any foundation, but of a retired accountant seeing an anomaly, and exploring it. In audit, if there is an issue then you keep exploring it until you can bottom it out. Paul Homewood has found an issue, found it is extensive, but is still far from finding the full extent or depth. ATTP, when confronted by my summary of the 23 stations that corroborate each other chose to delete it. He has now issued an update.

Update 4/2/2015 : It’s come to my attention that some are claiming that this post is misleading my readers. I’m not quite sure why, but it appears to be related to me not having given proper credit for the information that Christopher Booker used in his article. I had thought that linking to his article would allow people to establish that for themselves, but – just to be clear – the idiotic, conspiracy-laden, nonsense originates from someone called Paul Homewood, and not from Chistopher Booker himself. Okay, everyone happy now? J

ATTP cannot accept that he is wrong. He has totally misrepresented the arguments. When confronted with alternative evidence ATTP resorts to vitriolic claims. If someone is on the side of truth and science, they will encourage people to compare and contrast the evidence. He seems to have forgotten the advice about when in a whole…..

Temperature homogenisation

ATTP’s article on Temperature Homogenisation starts

Amazing as it may seem, the whole tampering with temperature data conspiracy has managed to rear its ugly head once again. James Delingpole has a rather silly article that even Bishop Hill calls interesting (although, to be fair, I have a suspicion that in “skeptic” land, interesting sometimes means “I know this is complete bollocks, but I can’t bring myself to actually say so”). All of Delingpole’s evidence seems to come from “skeptic” bloggers, whose lack of understand of climate science seems – in my experience – to be only surpassed by their lack of understanding of the concept of censorship J.

ATPP starts with a presumption of being on the side of truth, with no fault possible on his side. Any objections are due to a conscious effort to deceive. The theory of cock-up or of people not checking their data does not seem to have occurred to him. Then there is a link to Delingpole’s secondary article, but calling it “silly” again deters readers from looking for themselves. If they did, the readers would be presented with flashing images of all the “before” and “after” GISS graphs from Paraguay, along with links to the 6 global sites and Shub’s claims that there is a lack of evidence for the Puerto Casado site being moved. Delingpole was not able the more recent evidence from Bolivia, that further corroborates the story.

He then makes a tangential reference to his deleting my previous comments, though I never once used the term “censorship”, nor did I tag the article “climate censorship”, as I have done to some others. Like on basic physics, ATTP claims to have a superior understanding of censorship.

There are then some misdirects.

  • The long explanation of temperature homogenisation makes some good points. But what it does not do is explain that the size and direction of any adjustment is an opinion, and as such be wrong. It a misdirection to say that the secondary sources are against any adjustments. They are against adjustments that create biases within the data.
  • Quoting Richard Betts’s comment on Booker’s article about negative adjustments in sea temperature data is a misdirection, as Booker (a secondary source) was talking about Paraguay, a land-locked country.
  • Referring to Cowton’s alternative analysis is another misdirect, as pointed out above. Upon reflection, ATTP may find it a tad embarrassing to have this as his major source of authority.


When I studied economics, many lecturers said that if you want to properly understand an argument or debate you need to look at the primary sources, and then compare and contrast the arguments. Although the secondary sources were useful background, particularly in a contentious issue, it is the primary sources on all sides that enable a rounded understanding. Personally, by being challenged by viewpoints that I disagreed with enhanced my overall understanding of the subject.

ATTP has managed to turn this on its head. He uses methods akin to crudest propagandists of last century. They started from deeply prejudiced positions; attacked an opponent’s integrity and intelligence; and then deflected away to what they wanted to say. There never gave the slightest hint that one side might be at fault, or any acknowledgement that the other may have a valid point. For ATTP, and similar modern propagandists, rather than have a debate about the quality of evidence and science, it becomes a war of words between “deniers“, “idiots” and “conspiracy theorists” against the basic physics and the overwhelming evidence that supports that science.

If there is any substance to these allegations concerning temperature adjustments, for any dogmatists like ATTP, it becomes a severe challenge to their view of the world. If temperature records have systematic adjustment biases then climate science loses its’ grip on reality. The climate models cease to be about understanding the real world, but conforming to people’s flawed opinions about the world.

The only way to properly understand the allegations is to examine the evidence. That is to look at the data behind the graphs Homewood presents. I have now done that for the nine Paraguayan weather stations. The story behind that will have to await another day. However, although I find Paul Homewood’s claims of systematic biases in the homogenisation process to be substantiated, I do not believe that it points to a conspiracy (in terms of a conscious and co-ordinated attempt to deceive) on the part of climate researchers.