Update Be sure to come back on Sunday and see my wrap-up column.
The first section of this article contains background on the subject which should be read, the second records correspondence with several “science” reporters which can be skimmed, and the third has an analysis on the state of science. Feel free to pass this article around (but in its entirety and with a link back here).
This concerns the paper Lord Christopher Monckton, Willie Soon, David Legates and I wrote entitled “Why models run hot“, which carries the good news that we have a potential and likely explanation why climate models perform so badly that they should not be trusted.
Yet instead of celebrating this or at least asking relevant or pertinent questions related to the physics, those of a certain political persuasion panicked. What matters to these sad people is not truth but belief. Only evidence which is consonant with their belief is countenanced. Evidence which questions or refutes their belief isn’t challenged or engaged, instead it is anathematized, and the bearers of the bad tidings are damned and hounded.
Now it is utterly, completely, starkly irrelevant, and obvious to any but a bug-eyed zealot, how the four of us came to our result. It does not matter if Greenpeace itself, as that cult-like organization often does, paid for the writing of the paper. It doesn’t matter if the government, awash as it is in billions, asked us to do the work. It even doesn’t matter if we discovered the results printed small on a Chinese fortune cookie. The result is what and is all that is important.
As it is, none of us, as I have repeatedly said, received consideration in any form from anybody for the work we did. This means that even if you embraced the childish fallacy that the origin of ideas mattered to the truth of them, here the result is as pure as pure can be.
The easily frenzied did not believe this, and were convinced a conspiracy was afoot. Some, whose grasp on sanity is faintest, organized a petition to have one of us (Soon) fired, because why? Because they falsely accused Soon of failing to fill out a journal form properly. I do not joke nor jest. As it is, Soon and the rest of us honestly, openly, and properly filled out all forms. Not that any of that matters to our result.
It was at this point real dread set in. It looked like the four of us were telling the truth. We were. And to the deluded who cherish the genetic fallacy this appeared that our result might be true, too. So the mentally feeble David Appell (sometime scourge of the comment box) put a FOIA request to the employer of Legates, but the poor soul was rebuffed because no state monies were involved in the writing of the paper. As we claimed. Then Greenpeace contacted the employer of Soon with the same intent, and Greenpeace discovered that Soon was in the same state as those who receive Greenpeace money. Which is to say, Soon in his career received money from sources other than our beneficent government. But he didn’t get anything for the paper the four of us wrote. How disappointed Greenpeace must have been to have discovered that.
Science mistaken for politics
Greenpeace was stymied again. But they have friends in low places, who they contacted because Soon soon (a joke!) was inundated with “science” reporters asking for interviews.
One of these was Jeff Tollefson, US Correspondent for Nature, who pestered Soon. I wrote to Tollefson (complete with my typos):
A little birdies told me you’re writing an article which won’t discuss Lord Monckton et alia’s “Why models run hot” paper, but which will instead try to discredit the paper by talking about anything but what’s in it.
When I heard that I said to myself, “No reporter at Nature can be that pig ignorant or wantonly scurrilous.” Am I right? “No,” I said, “the reporter must be writing about two common fallacies used by those who deny science. The genetic fallacy and the non sequitur.”
When confronted by an unpleasant result, non-scientists in the media love to encourage the genetic fallacy, which is when they try and get their audiences to believe that the origin of a truth is false because of that truth’s origin. I know you’ll have difficulty believing this, Tollefson, but this strategy actually works! People are so gleeful at the possibility that they don’t have to confront the truth that they leap at the chance to turn the discussion to money or politics. Shameful and more than a little sad, no?
And then there’s the non sequitur that falsely accusing a man of not checking off a box on a paper submission form therefore invalidates the results of that paper. Embarrassing that anybody would believe such a thing. But it happens!
I know you know these things, Tollefson, but I had to say them because I wanted to share my misery over the shoddy state of science these days.
Incidentally, isn’t it wonderfully cheering news that our results in the “Why models run hot” paper show that multitude of the-end-is-nigh forecasts are very likely exaggerated?
Hello Mr. Briggs,
I’m writing a story about the broader issue of industry funding as illustrated by these documents that are about to come out. The study in Science Bulletin will likely come up, but this is not a story about that discussion. That said, I just submitted a request to our librarian to get me that paper (we don’t have free access), and I would greatly appreciate it if you could pass it along (with any supplemental materials).
To which I said:
Broader issue, eh. So you do prefer politics to science? Well, I’ll look for you to point out the fallacies I mentioned to your readers.
But since politics and not science is your beat, then what effect do you think the billions of government money flooding into the system has? Why is it government money is seen as “pure” and industry money “tainted”, especially when the government far outspends industry. The government is, after all, an interested source. Just think of EPA grants. What will you say of the common practice whereby scientists review grants and also receive them from the same agencies (not simultaneously of course)? Tremendous conflict of interest! Do you recall Eisenhower’s speech where he not only cautioned against the military-industrial complex but also about the corrupting influence of government money?
Incidentally, the paper is open source. But I’ll attach it for you.
That was one reporter. Another was Sylvan Lane, Congressional Correspondent at The Boston Globe, Washington Bureau, who we met before and whom I offered to instruct in physics. He wrote:
Hello Dr. Briggs and Lord Monckton,
I hope all is well. I’m writing to ask you a couple of questions about your and Dr. Soon’s work on “Why models run hot.”
We received documents today that Greenpeace obtained through FOIA indicating that the Dr. Soon received several $100,000 during the time you all were working on “Why models run hot.”
Were you two aware that Dr. Soon was receiving this money at the time? Do you believe that this should have been disclosed as a conflict of interest, given the proximity of the receipt of funding to the work on the paper?
Thank you very much,
Still no questions on the physics? Have you even tried to learn any in the interim?
Plus I notice you didn’t answer any of the questions I asked before. Why is that? Are the answers too embarrassing for you? Are you compromised in some way? You can tell me.
If you’d like me to suggest a course of reading on physical modeling, let me know. After you have that under your belt, perhaps we can then have a relevant, intelligent discussion.
Surprisingly, Lane never wrote back.
A third reporter, Dave Hasemyer at InsideClimate News, starting harassing Soon at home. This cheeseball in part wrote (it’s only “in part” because I am affording Hasemyer of stripping off his email and phone number):
I am doing a story that tracks some of your recent published studies — reporting in which questions are being raised about whether you violated any conflicts of interest guidelines by not disclosing your funding sources.
I’m also need to talk with you about the ethics of what you have said about trying to sway public opinion and influence public policy though the results of your studies that address climate change and global warming.
I didn’t write Hasemyer because it’s almost certain he’s beyond helping. That last sentence of his is a doozy and is all the proof you need of the one-sided nature of this public debate.
Another reporter, a Justin Gillis, Environmental Science Writer for the left wing New York Times, wrote something similar. His email also admitted his relationship with Greenpeace.
About two weeks back, another reporter, Chris Mooney of the Washington Post wrote this:
Yes, can you address two points — and anything else you’d like to address?
1) The article suggests there should have been some type of disclosure. Does Dr Soon have a response to this? Or you, the authors?
2) There’s a citation of “more than $1 million Soon has received from companies and interests supporting studies critical of climate change.” Is that accurate?
Also: You’re acting as a spokesperson for Dr. Soon? How do I identify you?
A) Let me ask you this. Are you getting paid to write this upcoming piece? Do you feel that this money biases you? Do you feel under pressure to, say, bend the truth, leave out pertinent details, or otherwise misreport the story based on your funder’s desires?
B) I notice you didn’t ask questions about the physics. Why was this?
Our argument is that the physics used in climate models is sorely lacking at specific points. Are you familiar with the Genetic Fallacy? This is when somebody says an argument fails because of its source. It is a fallacy because it does not address the argument itself. How about the non sequitur? In this case, the fallacy is the crude and foolish attempt to distract from the argument, presumably because there is no answer for the argument. Will you be addressing the central argument of the paper or ignoring it? Will you make the same points I made in this paragraph?
1) There was a disclosure, all in full accordance with the journal’s policies. None of us were offered nor did any of us take any form of consideration for writing the paper. Suppose instead the counterfactual, that we, for instance, accepted a grant from Greenpeace or Government. Would that make our central finding—that climate models are poor—true or false? Do you often write stories asking whether authors filled out intra-journal paperwork correctly? How many have you written?
2) I have no idea about that “citation.” But at what level of funding from non-governmental sources makes an author’s finding doubtful? Is there an accepted figure? Does money from places like Greenpeace and the Sierra Club and, say, Apple Corporation count toward it, or is there an official list of tainted firms? If so, may I see it? And why is it that government funding is seen as pure and disinterested? The government spends vastly more on grants than do private sources. Interestingly, the same people who sit on grant awarding committees also themselves apply for and receive grants from those same committees (albeit not simultaneously). Isn’t that a huge conflict of interest? If so, why doesn’t anybody ever declare this? Talk about an unreported scandal.
Let me know if you have more questions.
Mooney actually replied saying (ellipsis original), “Just one other question — you are speaking for Soon, for the group of authors, or….?” I thought this question silly and didn’t answer.
And there are more, including those schooled by Lord Monckton, but that’s enough. You get the idea.
The End is nigh
Listens up, lovers of truth. Do not play their game. Refuse to honor their dishonorable requests. This is an attempt by malcontents to change the subject from WHY MODELS RUN HOT to some putrid political point.
The very second you start on their diseased path, they win. Everybody will forget that climate models stink, that they have no skill, that they should not be trusted, that something is very deeply wrong with the science behind these models, that the IPCC forecasts are awful, that the science is far from settled. Instead, we’ll have some nonsensical “debate” about paperwork.
They are hoping you are as dumb as they; they are hoping that if, as is false, some box on a form was improperly checked, the results in the paper are therefore wrong. Can you imagine the level of mind that is convinced by an argument like that? I can. We are swimming in a sea of such people. This is why the science is now yet another branch of politics.
Never did I once get through to any of these “science” reporters. Why? Their minds are too clouded, they are incapable of understanding the subjects on which they are reporting, or they are on a mission to discredit a good man simply because we questioned a cherished belief.
What a sad story. What vast ignorance. What despicable people. What a farce.
Oh, by the way. Climate models have no skill. They should not be trusted. The science behind climate models is woefully incomplete. The forecasts from these models have been a bust for decades now. If you’d like to learn why, you can’t go too far wrong than by starting with the paper “Why model run hot”, available at the link above.
Lane finally emailed me back. Here’s what he said:
I assume you’re not willing to answer my questions then? We’ll be running a story this weekend that I’m finishing up today.
To which I replied:
I assume you’re not willing to answer my questions then? I’ll be posting your responses.
Why is it reporters think they’re immune from questioning their motives?
Tollefson also emailed:
Hello again Mr. Briggs, and hello for the first time Lord Monckton,
So I wanted to verify your position regarding the alleged conflict of interest, given Willie Soon’s funding, and then provide some comments that I received regarding your paper in Science Bulletin.
First regarding the alleged conflict, I saw that you were quoted, Lord Monckton, in the Boston Globe saying that there was no such conflict because all of the work for this paper was done in your own time. Is that correct? But regardless, shouldn’t Willie Soon’s funding be acknowledged just as a matter of due diligence so as to avoid questions like this?
Second, I’m pasting in a quick critique of the Science Bulletin paper from Kevin Trenberth below, who summed things up with the following question: How did this get published? Your responses are welcome, although to be clear the story I’m writing is not about this paper but about the question of science funding and conflicts of interest.
Many thanks for your time.
I’ll post Trenberth’s critique and my response to it in a separate post. But notice that Tollefson still can’t be brought to discuss the point at hand. I replied to Tollefson:
Well, you’re finally getting to the real point. Instead of trying to distract and mislead your audience with irrelevant and already asked-and-answered questions, you have actual science to discuss. What a wonderful change!
What I’ll do is to put up for all to see Trenberth’s critique and my response. I’ll let you know when this is done. Lord Monckton may wish to do his own, of course.
Update Note the New & Improved title!
Gillis of the far-left New York Times is a pathetic creature who without talking to Soon jumped to pre-judged conclusions. Without evidence or corroboration the foolish Gillis accused Soon of an “ethical breach”.
So I emailed this foolish ethically breached man:
I understand you’re attempting to distract your readers with persiflage about whether Dr Soon incorrectly filled out a journal’s paper submission form. I am one of the authors of that paper.
Why are you doing this? I understand you are funded by progressive corporate interests that have a stake in the politics of climate change. I’d like to ask you whether your acceptance of this corporate funding has influenced the conclusions of your reporting. I’m guessing it has. Can you explain yourself?
I’d also like to know why you feel falsely accusing people of trivial paperwork mishandling contributes or detracts to science. Do you feel you’re on a mission to “change the world”? Don’t you agree that scientific truth is more important in this case? If not, why not? Do you yourself feel important in some way by making these false charges?
I’m most concerned that you did not ask any relevant science questions. Do you know much about the physics of climate change? Can you, for instance, tell me what cloud parameterization scheme you like best? Can you expound for me on the scientific principle that bad forecasts imply false theories and its relation to global climate predictions?
Again, I’m pretty concerned that because your employer, a well known far-left publication, is involved that you no amount of argument can talk you out of your pre-conceived and false notions. Do you think this is an apt charge? How do you defend yourself?
I’m going to press with this story pretty quickly, so I’d appreciate a quick response.
Update Want more proof that climatology is no longer a science? Somebody slipped their restraints and started emailing me, Willie Soon, and a bunch of others attempting to taunt us. Though “taunt” is too strong a word. This person calls itself “Willie A Soon” with email email@example.com. The latest email was this poem from The Hobbit:
I cannot be seen, cannot be felt,
Cannot be heard, cannot be smelt.
I lies behind stars and under hills,
And empty holes I fills.
I comes out first and follows after,
Ends life, kills laughter.
So it self-identifies as Dark. Sheesh. Is there a place I can apply to government for victim status? I really ought to be compensated.
Update The naughty Sylvan Lane has a Boston Globe article on some politician trying to boost his take by frightening people about global warming, or whatever, in which he fibs, “Co-author Dr. William Briggs declined to comment.” Which, as you can see above, is not so. And don’t forget my earlier back-and-forth with Lane here. Tons of correspondence. What a pest this earnest but ignorant young man is. I just wrote to him this:
Naughty naughty, Lane.
I have all the correspondence between us posted, which proves your fib that I refused to comment.
I hope you at least blushed when writing that.