Extended peer community

by Judith Curry

Michael Lowe posted this comment on the Disagreement  thread:

Wouldn’t it be great if more science was like this – hundreds of interested bloggers, laypeople and scientist interracting, arguing, disagreeing, learning. Maybe this is the real postnormal science!

This immediately triggered something in my head, a true clarification of the goal of Climate Etc.   What Michael Lowe describes is Jerome Ravetz’s extended peer community in action, but with an added twist.

For those of you that aren’t familiar with Jerome Ravetz, postnormal science, and the extended peer community (I wasn’t until relatively recently), read his essay at WUWT.


The “manifesto” for extended peer communities is described in Ravetz’s essay as:

“In traditional ‘normal’ science, the peer community, performing the functions of quality-assurance and governance, is strictly confined to the researchers who share the paradigm.  .  . We have argued that in the case of Post-Normal Science, the ‘extended peer community’, including all affected by the policy being implemented, must be fully involved.  .  .  Detailed technical work is a task for experts, but quality-control on even that work can be done by those with much broader expertise.  And on issues like the definition of the problem itself, the selection of personnel, and crucially the ownership of the results, the extended peer community has full rights of participation.”

“The task of creating and involving the extended peer community (generally known as ‘participation’) has been recognised as difficult, with its own contradictions and pitfalls.  It has grown haphazardly, with isolated successes and failures. . . To have a political effect, the ‘extended peers’ of science have traditionally needed to operate largely by means of activist pressure-groups using the media to create public alarm.”

“As we see from the ‘open source’ movement, many people play an active role in enjoyable technological development in the spare time that their job allows or even encourages.  Moreover, all over IT there are blogs that exercise quality control on the industry’s productions.  In this new knowledge industry, the workers can be as competent as the technicians and bosses.  The new technologies of information enable the diffusion of scientific competence and the sharing of unofficial information, and hence give power to peer communities that are extended far beyond the Ph.D.s in the relevant subject-specialty.”

“But now the extended peer community has a technological base, and the power-politics of science will be different. . . The new technologies of communications are revolutionising knowledge and power in many areas.  The extended peer community of science on the blogosphere will be playing its part in that process.  Let dialogue commence!”

The “radical implications of the blogosphere”

The new technologies facilitate the rapid diffusion of information and sharing of expertise, giving hitherto unrealized power to the peer communities.  This newfound power has challenged the politics of expertise, and the “radical implications of the blogosphere” (Ravetz) are just beginning to be understood.  Climategate illustrated the importance of the blogosphere as an empowerment of the extended peer community, “whereby criticism and a sense of probity were injected into the system by the extended peer community from the blogosphere” (Ravetz).

From Climate Etc.’s Welcome statement: Social computing has unrealized potential to facilitate understanding of complex issues, drive public policy innovation, provide transparency, identify the best contributions, increase the signal and filter out the noise, empower the public and policy makers to identify and secure their common interests, and maybe even reduce polarization.

Extended peer communities seem essential to me in grappling with both the intellectual and practical challenges  associated with climate change.  Blogs such at Climate Etc. (which in my own biased opinion represents the high mark in such discussions) may be the best hope for enabling the highly multi- and interdisciplinary investigations required to understand and address the climate change challenge and to enfranchise the public to secure its common interest.

Another development that interests me is cross-talk among bloggers in terms of investigating different aspects of an interesting idea.  On a technical issue, we saw interesting cross over and synergy with the Air Vent on discussing Makarieva’s paper.   The climate hawk is another interesting example.  My Disagreement post was stimulated by an email conversation among about 20 different bloggers about the climate hawk issue, bringing a different angle to that discussion than the more policy-oriented bloggers.

So the challenge is how we can continue and enable this process, at Climate Etc. and more broadly in the blogosphere?  I am definitely sold on the blogospheric potential, I have learned an enormous amount in the 6 weeks of Climate Etc.’s existence.  I have an interesting benchmark for this: the paper on Climate Science and the Uncertainty Monster that I submitted for publication in mid August. When the time comes to revise that paper or submit a new paper on the subject to Climatic Change, the maturity, difference, and overall development of my ideas on this subject will have resulted from the additional effort I made to develop these posts at Climate Etc. (each of which is one or two subsections in the original paper), the comments and ideas posted here, and the dialogue that has ensued.

But the potential of the blogosphere is almost certainly still unrealized.  I look forward to your ideas and suggestions.

176 responses to “Extended peer community

  1. Morley Sutter

    Dr. Curry:
    I think that care must be exercised when the idea of “Post-normal” science is introduced into the discussion. Post-normal science has to do with the sociology of science which must not be confused with the methods of doing science. In other words, dialog is no substitute for accurate, objective collection of data, careful analysis and open presentation of the data and subsequent analysis. The latter are the basis of good science and they cannot be replaced by dialog.
    Keep up the good work.

  2. Judith,

    I have not visited for quite a while. Glad to see you are thriving.

    Setting the theories of Jerome Ravetz aside for my comment, we can imagine two different free societies. One where the government essentially controls the funding and decision making processes for climate science research and the government gets the funds from taxes on the citizenry. That is my view of the current USA situation; a profoundly politicized science. Now we think of an alternate free society where essentially all research funding for climate science is provided voluntarily by individuals deeply concerned /interested in climate science; the individuals contribute to scientists & institutions that they themselves pick; no essential government role.

    Regarding your post topic of ‘extended peer review’, in a society where the scientific endeavor is not significantly influenced by government, then the ‘extended peer review’ will not be of concern. Voluntary funds will quickly stop with even the merest appearance of unprofessional scientific conduct or by lack of openness of the scientists.

    The second scenario is not compatible with the organization that is the IPCC. The first scenario reinforces the basis and existence of the IPCC.

    ‘Extended peer review’ starts with more freedom; it is the key to openness in science where the citizens are invested in it. They are part of the peer review by their very initial involvement in its creation by funding it voluntarily and tracking their money closely.


    • Well put. In my forthcoming dmuu series, the issue of research funding is discussed, and the feedback between politics, science, and funding, which in this instance is a positive feedback that is accelerating the science towards a policy option that codified in 1992.

      • Judith – has there been 18 yrs without readjustment? seems imprudent given the magnitude of the endeavor.

      • There has been some finetuning, but the qualitative policy was set in place in 1992. Only with the recent political collapse of this policy driven by global stabilization are a whole host of other ideas and strategies emerging. Working on the post now that makes this case.

  3. I posted this on the previous thread, but it’s more relevant here I suspect!

    There are serious problems with the IPCC models because to justify high AGW they assume ‘global dimming’, mostly from polluted clouds, of nearly half present median AGW [AR4]. Yet, as far as I can tell, apart for thin clouds there’s no experimental proof of this. So, the theory is wrong and predicted AGW must be reduced by a factor of >=3.

    Here’s the theory: http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/docs/1974/1974_Lacis_Hansen_1.pdf . Eq. 19, adapted from Sagan and Pollack for Venusian clouds, is a quotient of expressions involving [1-g].tau: g the Mie asymmetry factor, tau the optical depth. It apparently works: as tau increases so does albedo; pollution increases tau therefore albedo.

    However, despite coming from Sagan it’s very wrong. Mie’s solution of Maxwell’s equations assumes a plane wave. After the first scattering, most energy is concentrated in peaks, 10^7 [relative] at 15 microns diameter, 10^5 at 5 microns [polluted]. So, at the next interaction the boundary conditions have changed dramatically and you can’t apply Mie’s analysis. [The same applies to all multiple scattering physics, probably quite a lot.]

    Eventually, the radiation becomes isotropic [also g becomes meaningless], yet measured albedo shows angular dependence not expected for a Lambertian emitter. Consider a non-absorbing cloud with 0.7 albedo: 30% energy emerges diffusely from the base, the same diffusely from the top, 40% is pseudo-geometrical backscattering as the wave loses geometrical information, a form of shielding pollution switches off, an alternate AGW.

    In 2004, soon after experiment disproved ‘cloud albedo effect’ cooling, the researcher who predicted pollution increased albedo of thin clouds, Twomey, was given a prize. He had warned his analysis could not be extended to thick clouds. This NASA website substitutes his theory with a claim of more ‘reflection’ from higher surface area of water droplets: http://geo.arc.nasa.gov/sgg/singh/winners4.html : it’s incorrect physics.

    1. Sagan’s Venus greenhouse effect analysis was based on wrong theory.
    2. Early work at NASA, apparently triggered by the fear the same could happen on Earth, was based on the same theory.
    3. Thus ‘cloud albedo effect’ cooling is imaginary and could be heating.
    4. There’s no justification for predicted high CO2-AGW; it could be zero.
    5. I’m disturbed at NASA’s use of incorrect science after a key assumption without which the high CO2-AGW hypothesis is incorrect, was disproved.
    6. The IPCC programme and leadership needs radical revision.

    • What is the opposite of ´ad hominem.´

      How, other than the Truth, can we understand the following:
      ¨However, despite coming from Sagan it’s very wrong.¨ When, in one argument, we see the names Hansen and Sagan, we must approach cautiously. These researchers represent agenda-driven boosterism.

      • Let the Physics do the talking: http://farside.ph.utexas.edu/teaching/jk1/lectures/node103.html

        Mie theory 1st sentence: ‘Consider a plane electromagnetic wave incident on a spherical obstacle.’ But be careful, caption to eq 1363: ‘The scattering is predominately backwards’. That’s wrong by 180 degrees and it’s teaching material so NASA could have thought Mie scattering is a bit like reflection because someone was wrongly taught.

        So, wave front from sun hits cloud droplets in line of sight. For 15 microns diameter, Mie theory [ http://www.philiplaven.com/mieplot.htm ] gives a forward scattered intensity 10^7 times initial. Therefore, the next interaction is very different from a plane wave and you need new mathematics; it’s tough: you musn’t assume constant g.

        So, the scientific thread of albedo prediction from optical depth, Van de Hulst, Sagan and Pollack [Venusian runaway global warming], Lacis and Hansen is wrong., the crutch for the high CO2-AGW hypothesis is taken away, CO2 probably loses AGW monopoly via ‘polluted cloud heating’.

        I know it’s controversial and it’ll upset just about everybody, but my 40 years’ post PhD experience went into this, and I believe I’m spot on! Got a track record of finding flaws like this and it’s fun!

  4. @Judith
    The next big thing will be the semantic web. As computers learn the meaning of our blabbering, they’ll connect the unconnected and new insights will emerge.

    For you and me, however, the next big thing would be to get academic recognition for our blogging. I tested a few ideas for papers on a blog, and I’m now crowdsourcing — but if your aim is to write academic papers, the blogosphere is not really the place to be.

    • Richard, fortunately at my stage of career, publishing papers isn’t all that relevant. As an administrator, I get evaluated in a different way than the typical academic researcher. I still publish conventional scientific research papers, but whether i publish 2 or 10 papers per year doesn’t matter (to me or to my employer). I am also relatively immune to needs for research funding; 12 months of my salary are supported by Georgia Tech (unusual in the U.S.) and I even have a small research fund from Georgia Tech; much of my research is actually subsidized from the overhead and meager profits of my company. At this point, I’m blogging because I am interested in learning from a broader community than I have access to on a daily basis in my work environment. I am also exploring the potential of the blogosphere for learning and outreach education, which is arguably an academic pursuit. And finally I’m hoping to possibly have an impact on the policy dialogue in terms of throwing new ideas out and trying to open up the debate on both the science and the policy options. I realize that I may be in a more fortunate position than other academics in devoting a lot of time to blogging.

      I’ve heard of the semantic web, sounds like it would really be interesting.

      • I’m glad this effort is part of your appointed rounds. I was actually worried that you were trying to do this with “free time.” Clearly the concept of “free time” is the invention of no one we would know, but nonetheless there are only so many hours in a day and I suspect this blog takes a lot.

        thanks again.

      • Well, all of this comes on top of the responsibilities of my day job, which are fairly substantial (the administrative part is regarded as half time commitment). Then I teach one course per year, and have a medium sized research program (3 graduate students and one postdoc), not to mention running a company. So the blog cuts into my free time in a major way, but i am sort of getting credit for this in terms of my job description (the blog is listed on Georgia Tech’s home page http://www.gatech.edu/blogs/). Georgia Tech is pretty forward looking institution, I’m not sure how all this would be received at some other universities in the U.S.

      • Dr. Curry
        If so
        curryja | October 29, 2010 at 5:43 pm
        ok, this is really interesting.
        was the above an honest view, or more likely a very polite brush-off (although sceptic in more ways than one, perhaps I should give it the benefit of doubt), but either way thanks for the comment.

      • nope i found that statement intriguing

      • In that case it is important to have a more precise statement, so I went back to check the reference Journal of Marine Systems
        Volume 48, Issues 1-4, July 2004, Pages 133-157

        Sea ice from the Kara Sea region reaches Fram Strait from 2 to 4 years (min 2 years) on average, and while sea ice from the Laptev Sea takes roughly 4–6 years (min 3 years) to reach Fram Strait’…from the East Siberian, Chukchi and Beaufort seas within 6–10 years.
        This is reflected in the optimal correlations I calculated for the 3 indices:
        Arctic temperature anomaly – GMFz R = 0.9434
        AMO ( advanced 7 yr ) – GMFz R = 0.8246
        AMO ( advanced 3 yr ) – Arctic temperature R = 0.6951
        See graph: http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/AGA.htm

      • ok, i’ve flagged this to look at more detail later (working on my next post right now), thanks

      • Thank you. My email is same as my blog id, v…@yahoo.com

      • @Judith
        Like you, blogging is in my job description (but as an additional task, of course). I would think that we also want to engage and reward younger people.

      • big risk for untenured academics, i would say; not just the time sink, but also the controversy

    • John F. Pittman

      I agree with Richard on the blogosphere being a limited format for academic papers. Though this may change as we approach, a virtual world village.

      I do think that the blogosphere will not so much reduce fighting over ideas or increase the signal to noise ratio as much as it will facilitate addressing the concerns that lead to the in-fighting, and enable the different signals to be heard, and then discussed.

      I can’t remember who posted it, but I agree that if Climategate had not come along, they would have had to invent something for the failure of Copenhagen.

      Perhaps, the real power will be to bring the considerations of the engaged citizenry to the fore in order to better the chances of workable solutions. An example of what I consider an infant mortality scenario: Even though all citizens will be effected by CO2 mitigation with the Copenhagen approach, one of the tactics was the suppression of dissent and economics. Yet, briefly there was in Germany, IIRC, a discussion of whether democratic nations would have the political will for the requirements of Climate Change. I would maintain that this was a failure of the methodology. The decision had been made for a top down regulatory approach, and the reality of the political body, not the scientific, was the problem. But the error could be seen, before, rather than after the fact, from the violation of the all citizens will be effected meme. Suppression and other preemptive acts guarantee opposition where the definition should have been all inclusive.

      By engaging the citizenry before the formulation of the policy approach, a better chance of success could be obtained in a reasonable time frame.

      • John, regarding academic papers, the blogospheric discussions influence what I actually decide I want to write about, and provide a source of references and ideas that I can draw from. If it hadn’t been for my blogospheric discussions over the past year, I wouldn’t have been motivated to write the uncertainty monster paper, and I wouldn’t be in a position where I am invited to write a paper in Climatic Change critiquing the IPCC’s uncertainty paradigm.

        Also, the blogospheric discussion of my recent Antarctic paper (esp over at WUWT) motivated us to write a follow on paper (which is now turning into more than one papers).

        So the the blogospheric discussions are influencing my formal academic scholarship.

      • John F. Pittman

        Yes, that influence is good; and what the blogosphere is good at. I hope that others, and yourself continue to find it a source. I think it unfortunate that the German (or whatever) group withdrew rather than engaging and discussing whether democracies actually were the worst model or the best model. The communists had a horrible, and still do, environmental track record. I think that information could have been exchanged that benefited both parties, and perhaps it would have been realized that the democracies are actually pursuing climate change, rather than the autocracies. Such a realization might make the discussions more fruitful.

      • Like you and Richard Tol, I regard blogging as part of my job description, which as a State Climatologist includes outreach. My main purpose (besides the opportunity to pretend that my ideas were important) was to engage with commenters and learn the origins of the wide spectrum of ideas about global warming and its policy implications. This only works if your site attracts such a spectrum, which so far you’ve done.

        As for receiving evaluation credit in academia, the fact that blogging may improve one’s scholarship turns out not to be a good reason for such credit. Reading journal articles improves one’s scholarship too, but one doesn’t get credit for reading. The improved scholarship itself gets rewarded.

        I think for blogging to be rewarded as a scholarly activity rather than merely as a service activity, there must be some respected mechanism in place for judging its quality. And won’t that be fun! The evaluation criteria would have to differ from blog to blog, depending on audience, unlike the uniformity of a research article.

        Perhaps the best place to start would be an American Meteorological Society award for best blogging. The AMS already gives out awards for best book and best children’s book. (Until very recently, the former award was for best adult book, which was useful for getting lots of volunteers for the awards committee ;>)

  5. Dr, Curry,
    What is happening in the extended peer community seems marvelous and useful. The recent discussions at Jeff Id’s on modeling with the participation of several “career modelers” if that is a respectful and accurate characterization is very encouraging. The earlier examination at Lucia’s and TAV of the effects on results of various forms of the GISSTEMP code by a number of capable people seemed also constructive and useful as well as supportive that given the inputs (the temperature data) the messaging could be replicated and perhaps “validated” in some sense.
    There are a lot of smart knowledgeable people watching these things. The tossing around of ideas and then attacking their applicability and utility with simultaneous detailed analyses must surely be something that speeds up the evolution of our understanding.
    For my part, I m grateful you take the pains to make what you write understandable to those not conversant in the nuances of these things.
    I’m guessing that there will be a transition in the way less formal hypothesizing is done from arguments at colloquia to trial balloons, discussion, analyses, maybe some convergence, and then on to the next disputed material – all on blogs.

    What could be better?

  6. Ok this is really funny. Presumably as a result of the kerfuffle surrounding the Sci Am article, I have come to the attention of Sourcewatch.

    There is a section on criticisms from climate scientists, citing devastating critiques from the likes of William Connolley, Michael Tobis, James Annan, and Thingsbreak(!)

    This reflects the true democratization of the blogosphere, which I am all in favor of. Now I’m not really a snob about all this, but I would have preferred the criticisms to be from the likes of Gavin Schmidt and Joe Romm, who have more stature :)

    • John F. Pittman

      I guess one could wish for a more balanced perspective. Sigh! And they claim that skeptics are mono-minded.

      • I checked for Gavin Schmidt on sourcewatch, he isn’t included. Seems they focus on “skeptics” (or people like me that are giving the consensus a hard time), although Joe Romm has a profile there. I haven’t spent much time looking at sourcewatch, seems like an interesting thing for somebody to investigate.

      • Sourcewatch has a certain focus (see its main page), and is a favored resource for those interested in the background of those on the more skeptical side of this debate. It’s a wiki, though like virtually all wikis there are significant editorial controls. I’ve definitely found it useful at times.
        Having our own entry on there is a sign that a lot of people are interested in who you are, what you represent, and whether there is any good dirt to be found in your background.

      • Well so far, they only dirt they seem to have dug up is hurricane forecasting funded by an energy company, devastating criticisms in the blogosphere by the likes of Thingsbreak, and the possibility of some mythical relative with an involvement with a right wing think tank. Interesting that they didn’t bother to report my campaign contributions to Obama, I guess it didn’t fit their narrative.

      • Maybe you could submit an update to Sourcewatch for them to consider? ;)

      • Tomas Milanovic

        Interesting that they didn’t bother to report my campaign contributions to Obama, I guess it didn’t fit their narrative.


        Perhaps there is something wrong with my understanding of the finer points of the english language but what do you mean by that?

        Are you making fun of the “misguided” who supported Obama (if I lived in USA , I certainly would) ?
        Or are you telling that you were “misguided” yourself and that they somehow missed it?

        In either case it is hard for me to see the relevance.
        Due to the life experience my family and myself had with “the hardcore left governed countries”, I am of obviously a convinced “hardcore right”.
        So if I was American, I would oppose Obama&Co with all my energy.
        There has always been a fight between the right and the left since approximately 2 centuries and we are lucky that there is this fight.
        It is only if one side declared that this fight is over (historically this concept has been invented by the Marxism) that we should be extremely worried.

        But these are just political preferences that are a given (like scientific data) – why would it “fit” or “not fit” someone’s narrative?

      • Sourcewatch is looking for signs of my ideological bias; they seem highly prepared to think that I have been brainwashed by right wing think tanks. The fact (publicly available) that I contributed to Obama’s presidential campaign (which is the kind of thing they usually look for, political contributions) doesn’t seem to fit their narrative (had I been making contributions to the Republicans or Libertarians, well I’m sure that would have been reported). Politically, I am an independent who has not often voted Democratic in U.S. elections.

      • Tomas Milanovic

        OK I see.
        But isn’t that trivial?
        Almost everybody can be said to be “brainwashed” either by the right wing or left wing think tanks.
        Then there is a small minority that is apolitical and doesn’t care either way.

        The point I don’t get is WHY should there be any qualitative difference between dextro or sinistro brain washing?
        The observation that right wing politicians do right wing politics that left wing people don’t like and vice versa, is perhaps the most tautological and trivial observation one could make.

        So even if they wrote that you contributed to the Republicans (supposing you did), you could then simply answer that they contributed to the Democrats (and vice versa).
        So both observations cancel and one sees that the comment was meaningless.

      • Tomas – perhaps I can shed some light. Unlike someone with your direct experience of a tyrannical socialist regime, it is possible for an American, or for that matter an Australian or Brit, to favour parties of the left without actually being insane, particularly if it doesn’t become a lifelong habit. However few would dispute that those on the left are more likely to be reflexively pro-CAGW, and vice versa. Eco-fascists prefer their sceptics to have decidedly right-wing politics, allowing them to draw smug syllogisms and dismiss them as self-interested shills for Big Oil. If Judith did contribute to Obama’s campaign, her scientific scepticism would mark her out as a free thinker, and free thinkers drive eco-fascists nuts.
        Anyway, I’m still not clear whether Judith did give BO any of her money, and I don’t particularly want to be, not because it doesn’t intrigue me, but on Badgehot’s grounds that knowing too much about our hostess’ politics would be to “let daylight in on mystery”. Badgehot was talking about monarchy, but the same applies, IMO, to our esteemed saloneuse, even if she isn’t a queen.

      • Tomas Milanovic

        Eco-fascists prefer their sceptics to have decidedly right-wing politics, allowing them to draw smug syllogisms and dismiss them as self-interested shills for Big Oil.

        OK. And?
        It might very well be that the sceptics are in majority right wing (I definitely am but 1 is not a representative sample).
        This would simply mean by symmetry that warmists are in majority left wing.

        So what?
        That would only mean that an “average” sceptic will fight an “average” warmist twice – once on the scientific level and once on the political level.

        The Big Oil?
        I wish they would support sceptical reserch!
        But they don’t.
        Anybody who still thinks or writes that is in complete denial of reality.
        You only need to spend 1 or 2 hours analysing Shell, BP , Total etc web pages and business reports (I did) – it is terrifying.

        They have Corporate “Sustainable Development Divisions” with hundreds of highly paid people who are chosen for their color which must be between light and dark green.
        They have Foundations that pour money in eco-fascist NGOs like Greenpeace, WWF & Co.
        They finance completely crazy projects like “Crossing the Arctics in baloon to witness the global warming” – yes , this is one real example among a multitude.
        I can only wonder why the shareholders don’t sack the CEOs and demand some serious cost cutting in the “Sustainable Development and Environment Divisions” and investing the money in real business projects.
        After all the shareholders own the company so why should they tolerate that their money is burned in moronic baloon projects?

        So even if by miracle a sceptical scientist would be financed by Big Oil (it is unfortunately impossible), it would be certainly a positive action that would restore a balance in a world where not only Big Oil but mad people like Soros an other billionaires pour money in environmentalism.

    • And, of course, there’s the obligatory reference to “Merchants of Doubt”. The tone deaf nature of some activists amaze me. Downplaying uncertainty in public fora, indulging in Nazi and slaveholding analogies, playing the guilt by association card and smearing disagreement as mental illness are all transparent and counter-productive. “You’re an immoral idiot incapable of understanding and suffering from profound neuroses, but here’s what I’d like you to do…” just doesn’t seem like a logical strategy.

    • I like the part about the fact that you disclosed having received money from fossil fuel industry.

      I find ridiculous the claim that scientist views are influenced by their funders. In my opinion, it is more the view of the scientist that influence the funding.

      • Sylvain, the funny thing is that this “disclosure” has been sitting on my website for quite awhile

      • Receiving money for a product is very different than receiving funding for a research paper to be published.

        Even then if the funder wish for a particular outcome, they will most likely seek scientist that share their point of view. In the case of the oil industry most likely they will call Fred Singer, Patrick Michaels, etc. While environmental foundation are more likely to request the help from people that share their point of view.

      • By the way, my contract with the energy company was negotiated in 2006, at the height of my status as a “high priestess of global warming.”

      • I call that sort of slur a cheap shot.

      • I find ridiculous the claim that scientist views are influenced by their funders. In my opinion, it is more the view of the scientist that influence the funding.

        Well certainly the starting point is that funders pick scientists that suit their purpose. But scientists do have careers and families to worry about, and mostly cannot afford to rock the the boat that feeds them :-) too much. Especially, as in climate science, where 99+% of the funding is from just one ‘boat’ – the state. Fall out of favour with the state funders, and your career could soon be over. This would seem to be why the rank-and-file climatologists have largely failed to really criticise the Climategate crooks.

  7. This is the logical extrapolation of the Interdisciplinary Science movement that began to emerge in the 1980’s. One problem with the blogosphere is that it’s difficult to vet the participants, and it can become overwhelming to separate the nuggets of sustenance from the chaff. The participants in a productive peer review process ought to have some investment in, and professional understanding of, some relevant aspect of the subject under review.

    As this nascent blog matures, it will inevitably bloat with the usual collection of wordsmiths — a particular bias of this medium. Wordsmiths are, almost by definition, politicians. Be alert for this bias as you proceed.

    • Sustenance is better than substance – something to munch on. At first I thought it might be an error, but it’s too good.

      on wordsmithery, the risk of fooling oneself in these things is very high especially with a talent for cloaking the banal or pedestrian in original verbiage with such precision that the idea seems more than it is.

      The practice which seems to plague other blogs is the insufficient comment – the comment which is so terse that the meaning intended doesn’t convey. Lucia entertains a couple of real masters of this art. None seen here so far.

      I don’t buy that commenters should be vetted. Who would have vetted Jeff Id? Comments speak for themselves and there will be more chaff – no way around that. But this may be the only way available to get reviews and consideration outside/beyond the incestuous cliques that appear in some areas of climate study.

  8. From Climate Etc.’s Welcome statement: Social computing has unrealized potential to facilitate understanding of complex issues, drive public policy innovation, provide transparency, identify the best contributions, increase the signal and filter out the noise, empower the public and policy makers to identify and secure their common interests, and maybe even reduce polarization.

    We should also throw in there education – literally – of the blog readership.

    Judith, you yourself say, “I have learned an enormous amount in the 6 weeks of Climate Etc.’s existence.

    So, we all learn. As the readership learns, the gap between interested lay people and the PhDs narrows. While we may not be able to understand everything in peer-reviewed papers we read, we begin to understand more and more over time. And even if we can’t grasp all the math or technicalities, per se, our grasp of the principles and merits increases and increases.

    While most fans watching a professional football game would not be able to coach or play any of the positions, we certainly can fully know what is going on on the field. Likewise, we who visit here or at WUWT or CA or Air Vent have more an more capacity to be good “fans” of our team and to know what is going on.

    At the same time, those with credentials like Judith can and do learn – if she is even the slightest bit open for perspectives from the wider audience, as she mentions.

    So, in more ways than one the two ends of the spectrum can and do draw together – but only when there is a transparency such as in the open source that Judith mentions. All of that comes from the collective and individual levels of questioning what is going on. Fundamentally science IS questioning what is going on. Historically and hierarchically, normal science has been reserved solely to the scientists.

    Are we, then, already arrived at postnormal science, as Ravetz posits? We are certainly transitioning.

    In any transition, those in established positions of authority will not give that up lightly, not even to share it.

    That is the mistake religious authorities made 500 years ago and are still making. And there will always be those who side with that POV. But what history has shown is that that side gets left behind, to strut their power to ever fewer pews full of faithful. Those among the credentialed who are open to the transition will carry the inquiry forward, as leaders and teachers, in a classroom/lecture hall as wide as the planet.

    It is good to see that Judith and a few others see that the learning process is a two-way street. Those others who are inquisitive will bring some small value to each other and to the credentialed, in ways that we are only now discovering.

    • I agree that learning/education is an important part of the process which I left out of my post below.

  9. Judith

    If I may add my two penny worth.

    Personally, I think what you are doing here is important in establishing a workable extended peer review community. People with differing ideas can actually engage on this site. Too many (if not all) other blogs end up as echo chambers – I include WUWT which I otherwise rate as Anthony does at least allow comment from true believers, but inevitably they are shouted down by the regulars.

    On the last thread, M A Vukcevic made some interesting posts relating to geomagnetic effects. For a non-scientist, I have no idea whether he is on to something or not, but I note that you thought his posts were interesting. You have mentioned that you would like guest posts on your blog. What about asking Vukcevic to do a guest post and see what your scientific commenters can make of it?

    Just a thought

    Kind regards Gary

    • Gary, here is an idea I am developing, since you’ve brought it up, maybe this is a good time to discuss. I’m thinking of a thread entitled “Skeptics: make your best case.” I see hints of things floating around from Vukcevic, Joe LaLonde, and others. They present little hints; they either get ignored or somebody writes a rude remark about it. After seeing the same things many times, my eyes glaze over and such statements become noise that clutter up any attempts at trying to develop a signal here. Vukcevic stands out here in trying to make relevant comments and generate interest in his work, and some interest is being generated it seems.

      Now I am not dismissing these people or their ideas in any way, for the simple reason I mostly have no idea what they are talking about. Its possible that there are other ideas out there and papers trying to get published that are as interesting and potentially important as Makarieva’s discussed on the water vapor mischief thread. At the same time, we don’t want to waste much time on nonsense.

      So my idea for the thread is to give everybody the opportunity to make their best case. 750 words max, include links to websites and supporting publications. People make comments as to whether they think a particular one is worthwhile. I promise to select at least one for the topic of a thread analogous to water vapor mischief. It may materialize that there are a number that will coalesce around a theme i am already interested in (like AMO and PDO).

      Thoughts? Other ideas along these lines? Apart from giving people with ideas outside the mainstream a chance to be heard, we might actually come up with something interesting and possibly valuable, and we can clear out the noise on these topics from other threads where people keep introducing their ideas even when they are not germane to the discussion at hand.

      • David L. Hagen

        Go for it. WUWT is using it effectively, often giving both sides the opportunity. cf
        Disputing the Skeptical Environmentalist responding to:
        Why Can’t We Innovate Our Way To A Carbon-Free Energy Future? By BJORN LOMBORG

        In other words, under the Kyoto approach, we’d be spending $40 trillion a year to prevent $3 trillion a year in environmental damage.

        What both sides miss is that focus on “climate change” has hidden the far greater dangers of “resource depletion” of light oil – with little thought to transitions. Robert Hirsch highlights that total GDP will plummet in direct proportion to forced reductions in transport fuels especially in importing countries. And EXPORTS of light oil have been projected to drop > 6%/year after the peak in each country. This will devastate the oil importing countries, especially the US, Germany, & Japan etc. until alternatives can be developed.

        Thus, focusing most government R&D on climate change WILL solve the “climate change” “problem” – by allowing the economy self destruct by negligence of preparing for alternative fuels!

      • This could work well, but again I suspect you would have to exercise “blogotorial” priviledges to relegate threads you believe unpromising to the less visible regions of your blog. That means we have to trust your judgement and integrity, or the project fails. Again, you are rare among bloggers in retaining that trust. I would accept such a demotion (after all, the participants can wrangle away as long as they want, in Judy’s Shed, or whatever you want to call the place you dump discussions you deem no longer productive, just not in our faces) by you on the grounds that you judged that the sceptical case had been given a fair airing, had been IYO convincingly rebutted, and was becoming sterile.

        Secondly, “To kill an error is as good a service as, and sometimes better than, the establishing of a new truth or fact” (Darwin)

        It would be crucial to insist that, strictly, sceptics have no case to make. Their currency is disconfirmation, not proof. For every “sceptic” who advances new science, there is a hundred that simply see error and wish to kill it. CAGW advocates loathe this stricture, and will lose no opportunity to disparage sceptical arguments because they “have no theory of their own”. You would have to stamp on this forthrightly.

        I’m not sure your present web design is ideal for this purpose.

        Congrats again on a great enterprise.

      • The idea is not for this to be a demotion, but a promotion. A dedicated thread is started for people to post serious skeptical arguments, and provide links to evidence. I will be paying attention. The challenge is to put forward some serious arguments that will motivate others (including me) to pay attention.

      • Sorry, Judith, I wasn’t clear – my point is that I don’t think you will be able to allow all threads to run indefinitely with equal prominence – I think you will have to “demote” the less promising ones, allowing those which have substantial and (in your judgement) meritorious support from both sides, and appear to be generating more light than heat, to occupy the limelight, without killing off the less promising threads entirely.

        Other sceptical threads, I am confident :-) , will go the other way, and survive the review process. You may wish to “promote” these to a position of particular prominence!

      • 750 words sounds OK for a quantity limit. But there has to be a quality threshold.

        Yr 12 essay, newspaper feature piece, undergraduate presentation?

        Not sure, but adequate references and analysis have to be set at some level.

      • Thank you Judith,
        Science is a vast area and some areas have just been generalized but never researched.
        I’m more than willing to be picked apart. If I made I mistake, then I will grow with that knowledge.
        But it would also be a learning curve for everyone else into looking at the past and present. Many theories today will not hold up in the past due to the different speed of rotation of this planet.
        Evaporation could not emerge until much later due to centrifugal force. So the partnership of water with salt changes as the planet slows. The oceans water are becoming freshwater due to this slowdown.
        Unless you know the process this can be achieved at through experimentation, this would be just another theory. But it isn’t when you can prove you can change density of materials through rotation and the speed at which it revolves.

    • It was suggested something similar on WUWT. My response:
      I don’t mind occasionally being shot at, but facing whole firing squad, no thanks. …
      Since I prefer to question than to answer the ‘unknowns’, perhaps it should stay that way.
      However, for those interested, content of this link may meet your curiosity:
      p.s. It is only a hobby, I do not take responsibility for any climatic catastrophe past, present or future.

  10. I think the extended peer community is very hard to define, but gains some clarity by being compared as a review process against traditional peer review.
    The purpose of traditional peer review is to review potential works for publication. The number of reviewers is small, the process can take many months or longer, and ultimately publication hinges on satisfying the reviewers and/or the editor. There may be some attempt by the reviewers to replicate findings and methodologies, but this is generally not very common. Reviewers are selected on the basis of their expertise, and are thus able to provide expert judgment. They often provide valuable feedback that strengthens the work, but I think most authors that have been through the process have also encountered reviews which are significantly off-base, at which point (assuming the piece has not been rejected) the author has to decide whether to start the long process somewhere else, or address the review as best as possible.

    Extended peer review on the web has no clear purpose. It comes in many forms, and while I’ve seen a few climate scientists post pre-publications on blogs for feedback, this is still quite rare. Generally, members of the community review what they think is important, for good or bad. This includes Deep Climate reviewing plagiarism or the trail of oil dollars, WUWT reviewing station data, and Climate Etc. reviewing IPCC uncertainty. Those who manage these sites typically have their own community of reviewers who contribute by means of the comment section.
    There are thus a wide variety of individuals of different background, expertise, and motivation, and impossible to generalize as well or badly-informed, though there does appear to be a broadly shared interest in making things public.
    Extended peer-review has a lot of power and potential, but it does not hold publications hostage the same way traditional peer-review does. The IPCC is not required to respond to our comments here, and the blogs do not fulfill a gatekeeping function, instead reviewing work after the fact. Still, the power of the extended peer community is considerable, amounting to a sort of public pressure that can be impossible to ignore. The past few years include a number of such cases where the extended peers have had considerable impact.
    The extended peer community works quickly, and makes the most of the internet’s connectivity. Many reviews are shallow, but some go much deeper, often driven by suspicion or a desire to uncover hidden truth and expose falsehood. Quality control is low, as is the “signal to noise ratio”, but the potential is enormous. With so many reviewers pushing and pulling in various directions, some are bound to come up with something useful.
    The extended peer community is a new sort of science at work – an inclusive process that is struggling for coherence amongst its broad base of peer power. I hesitate to call it post-normal science because of all the other baggage that comes with the definition, but it is a relatively new phenomenon that has impacted more traditional science, and still has much unrealized potential.

    • I see a parallel here between traditional peer review/extended (peer?) community review and central government control/individualism/capitalism.

      Traditional peer review is somewhat centralized as is the “power.” It also, as you say, bring to bear selected experts in the probably narrow field of the paper. This power is potentially subject to abuse. For example, in holding back papers that express views against the “party line.” This is probably rare, but it did take Roy Spencer three years to get a paper published because of a single reviewer.

      OTOH, extended community review is more like individualism and capitalism. In this system, thousands of brains are or can be brought to bear on the review. This extensive variety of backgrounds and knowledge can potentially bring to light aspects of the subject that might slip by someone with a more narrow life experience and/or learning. Also, this multitude of minds is supplied for free. No government has to set up a committee of experts using tax payer dollars to do it.

      • There are some parallels without a doubt, but the object of the two is not necessarily the same. I’m also wary of analogies to systems which have heavy normative connotations, since I don’t think centralized authority is inherently bad, just as democracy and individualism are by no means inherently good.
        Traditional peer review legitimates and therefore it also delegitimates, though obviously something does not become established as scientific fact just by being published in a journal. The system is flawed, prone to abuse, but has in general worked as an important part of the conduct of science.
        Extended peer review does not really share this legitimating function. In a sense it is review without the gatekeeping, since the gate is left wide open (so wide that all sorts of stuff gets through). This solves the problem of centralized control and a narrow view, but creates others as a result. The peer review gatekeepers filter information – extended peer review does to some extent as well but collectively, informally and without a clear result. So far it’s been a great tool for criticism, but there is more to science than skepticism and critique (though I know some would argue with me on this).

      • Systems which have heavy normative connotations are already intertwined with climate science due to its implications for policy, so in this case the cow is already out of the barn. Thousands of brains focused on a subject is a good thing and does not supplant traditional peer review, but instead augments it. Also, it isn’t a democracy where everyone gets to vote on the best hypothesis or theory. The noise level associated with community review is high, but so it the noise in the real world. People manage to navigate the complexity and in most cases can find the gems. We have had thousands of years experience with it.

  11. While I welcome the democratization of science in principal, I wonder how in practice mob rule, the Mr. Hyde of Dr. Democracy, can be avoided?

    • David L. Hagen

      Only by appealing to and upholding transcendent principles and the Rule of Law. Contrast the American war of independence (and the British reformation) founded on “the laws of nature and of nature’s God” vs the mayhem of the French revolution founded on atheistic humanism.

    • I contend that community review isn’t equivalent to a democracy. There won’t be any voting on the best interpretation of the evidence, just the rendering of many interpretations.

  12. Is “post-normal” another word for “ab-normal”?

  13. I know it seems like we argue back and forth without appearing to go anywhere, but I don’t think that’s true. I there is a lot of information and commentary to study, but what is really important is how you act. How do you vote? Do you act in less wasteful ways? What causes do you support and which do you fight against? All the data, analysis and opinions blend into our physical responses. It’s a great thing!

    • Even though, at this time, I don’t see CO2 as a major problem; I still act in “less wasteful ways.” It makes sense to conserve some things. Aluminum is a good example. Energy is a good candidate, but there are limits to how far I will go in that direction. Recycling should be profitable, otherwise the material should be disposed of in a dump. In the future, when and if the economics change, jobs will be created to mine the dumps for valuable materials. In the meantime, methane from the dumps can be recycled.

  14. AnyColourYouLike

    I posted this at the Air-Vent last week on Jeff ID’s Winners and Losers thread. Doesn’t add much to what’s been said here already but shows that many of us are picking up on this extended peer-review zeitgeist.


    October 23, 2010 at 11:24 am
    Over and above what may have been won and lost specifically in the climate debate, an important development is surely the critical influence of the blogosphere on the idea of elite scientific “consensus”. The public perception of a super-smart cabal of researchers, who’s theories are too arcane to be challenged by anyone working outside their own small field of expertise and accepted practice, has been fractured by the work of talented “amateurs” like McKintyre and Watts. Also holding the suspect editorial policies of prestigious journals such as Nature and Science to account has disseminated more widely than ever before a debate about the meaning of “settled science”.

    If this serves to focus the mind of lazy scientists and clean up sloppy practice in university departments, it is a significant and “democratising” addition to the “peer” review process. In itself, this is a kind of victory, especially given the tendency of most main-stream media science commentators to be mere echo-chambers for the consensus.

    Sorry if all this seems to be stating the obvious, but I see the implications of this “blog review” process as potentially very far-reaching for scientific advancement.

  15. The scientific advances will come with time and data, and the rough and tumble of blog peer-like debate is a bonus if you can get it. It may be a little transient and erratic, depending on external factors putting the topic into the limelight.

    Perhaps, angry frustration from the barrage of media and political propaganda, felt by the ever-expanding sceptical community, (which is, much to the surprise of pollsters, dominated by well qualified professionals), was the catalyst that sent climate science into the blog hit statosphere with a bullet. It certainly looks like this grievance will strengthen rather than weaken as the escalating policy sanctions bite.

    • There are many in the general public who have always had an appreciation for the pure sciences, the scientific method of truth seeking, the continual incorporation of new data and ideas into the existing paradigm. Who have kept up to date with the basics of many fields of study, had hobbies in many areas of weather and climate.

      It is not surprising that there are many skeptics who like I am, are very knowledgeable in many of the over lapping fields, of gas chromatography, anthropology, radio graphics of X-ray and particle physics, biological plant and animal processes, agriculture, high power radio transmission and reception, and its attendant multiplexing of signals, mining, reforestation plans and progress realities, nuclear, gas, and coal power plant construction techniques, organic gardening, astronomy, stellar physics, global circulation pattern drivers, and have also spent considerable time out doors in a tent and sleeping bag.

      Most of us old x GI’s understand international politics from watching first hand the going ons of people in the foreign countries we served in, if I read only research based on real raw data and not just crap MSM News fabrications, the truth becomes very apparent, and BS detectors become sensitive.

      Most of those who have learned to think for them selves are not taken in by grandiose egomaniacs spouting half truths which they cover with name calling and lies when asked for raw data and processes used to get the results that do not smell right. Just raising kids of our own has taught us that much.

      I have always aspired to be a scientist, to push the envelope of knowledge past the mundane, but got drafted for some war effort that was a worthless waste or resources and lives on both sides. The CAGW cause is just another piece of propaganda for a bloodless war of attrition and global control, starvation and endless taxation are just dry blood less ways to die.

      I have but one life to give, I have spent most of my time on this planet trying to solve everyday problems, as I find them, now after spending most of the last 30 years on self education of the problems with the weather, climate, and environment in an attempt to leave some knowledge of value for the living, who come behind me.

      I find this recent episode of intentional disinformation for manipulative contamination of the sciences, and raw data needed to understand all of the values I hold dear in the seeking of (the truth that just is) science. To be very repugnant to the very center of my being, that simple egos and greed, have derailed the search for truth and understanding and the rot has spread into the very heart of the universities I so idolized growing up as a kid.

      Peer to peer blog review is the only way I have left to try to express the truths I have uncovered, in over 30 years of independent research, while holding down a day job to pay the bills. I am still researching and more data uncovered is yet to published as I can get it processed, thanks for listening.

  16. Without complete transparency and access, audits and replications are not possible. And without them, the quality of the conversation degenerates. If the climate science community had a culture of checking each other’s work and allowing the public access to their secrets, the quality of the science to date would be far, far better. Too bad.

    • Well regarding checking each others work, part of the problem is the scope of the climate system, there are so many problems to work and so many different ways to go about it. Therefore there is little interest (and virtually no academic reward) for retreading or auditing someone else’s ground, unless to build upon it or counter it. That is why I think the auditors (e.g. McIntyre et al.) and extended peer communities are a good thing, since there seems to be widespread interest in doing exactly that.

  17. 150 years ago much science was done by hobby scientists with little formal training, all self taught. That evaporated for 100 years. But that does not mean that self educated laypeople are incapable of understanding and doing their bit of real science. Just the Halls of Science were not overtly open to those of us who do science part time for the love of it. We were considered “outsiders”.

    The Internet and these blogs have come full circle allowing us to finally have a voice and some input. If nothing else to show formal professional scientists that we exist, we understand, and we can have meaningful input.

    This is good for science (though obviously not so good for those practicing climate science). Science has always been freely available to anyone who wishes to do it. That must never change.

    It also puts to rest the demeaning rebuttal argument from the AGW faithful “You are not a scientist, how can you possibly understand.”

    • ahh, the power politics of expertise. this is a topic of a post coming soon.

      • a good example of B.C. (before computers) are the astronomers and the “amatuers” that have teamed up for a very long time.

    • afaik, there’s still a lot of cooperation between birdwatchers, fishermen, duck hunters, gardeners, enthusiasts of all stripes and various scientific organisations.

      I once knew a bloke who was into reptiles and amphibians in a big way. Had a personal encounter with a rare baby snake making its way inside my sleeve outside my office while this character was absorbed in describing the projects he undertook, some paid- most unpaid , doing surveys and head counts and relocations for wildlife bodies and for exploration companies.

      Admired his dedication, not so fond of baby-sitting the results of his breeding programs. Not fond at all.

  18. Wouldn’t it be great if more science was like this – hundreds of interested bloggers, laypeople and scientist interracting, arguing, disagreeing, learning. Maybe this is the real postnormal science!

    Why stop there, surely if we had enough monkeys on typewriters we could solve every problem.

    • Hey Snide, we already have supercomputers running climate models. It’s like a bazillion monkeys on a bazillion computers.

      • Or is it like hooking up the brain power of millions of cockroaches and assuming the weight of the neural matter means you can solve a particular problem?

    • No.

      Russell’s Paradox.

      Alternatively, monkeys on typewriters are on an order of Aleph-0 even for idealized monkeys; ‘every problem’ exceeds Aleph-2.

  19. Following several more academic and science based blogs, I’ve been pleased to see several scientists like Dr. Curry place their thoughts and work on their respective blogs for community comment. I see the concept of the community review as an opportunity to test ideas amongst those of many disciplines. It broadens the scope of thought and helps to identify weak areas in the concept. Of course, there will be plenty of noise (base band) but relevant and valuable comments will rise above the noise to consider. Overall I see community review as a valuable developmental tool.

    A side benefit to sites like Climate Etc. is people like me, who work in other areas of research, have an easily accessed resource to learn and broaden our understanding of interesting and important areas of scientific inquiry. Twenty years ago, I would have had to spend many hours at the library or wait a month for the next issue of my favorite science magazines to keep up with current science events – neither affording an opportunity to ask questions. Today, I can click on my bookmarks for an hour, enter an interactive world of information, and still take my wife (also a research scientist) out for a pleasant dinner.

  20. Herewith a suggested Extended Peer Review project:

    A number of journals have failed to make the public availability of all supporting data and code appertaining to a paper, a condition for publication of it. This is clearly a weakness in the science. (In my view papers lacking any supporting data should be immediately set aside until they do provide it. I’m not holding my breath though…)

    But in the meantime, to help us deal with this flaw, what I suggest is that we (Climate Etc?) start compiling a webpage containing a table showing the following for each climate-related paper, beginning with all papers referenced in IPCC reports:
    (1) Name/mnemonic, abstract, authors, date etc
    (2) Journal
    (3) Whether all data and code publicly available Yes/No
    (4) Explanatory comments if (3) is not Yes.

    This will allow us to rate not only papers, but also journals and reports (such as the IPCC’s).

  21. I sent the following comment to SciAm. I would very much appreciate your comment.
    There are many instances in the past where climate changes have been caused by Humans; so no doubt about AGW. Consider e.g. the Sahara: about 10000 years ago there were wild animals, lions, rhinos etc. as attested by ancient cave engravings. 5000 years later only cattle and sheep appear on the engravings. Today it is a desert. Obviously the once green woodland had been cleared by Man to allow agriculture. Sheep have done a further job to prevent any new trees to develop, like what happened in Scotland at the beginning of the industrial age. There are many other examples, one account has appeared in Sciam a few years ago about what happened to the state of Virginia’s woodlands when the first Europeans appeared. There is a recent story about Australias big game that disappeared within a few thousand years after the first Humans set foot in the region. So, no doubt that Man has caused a number of huge environmental changes in the past, but there is no role for CO2. The error probably occurred because in the models used by IPCC CO2 was proxy for a number of pollutants, that were not modeled, but happened to evolve in line with CO2. In the atmosphere CO2 is rare (less than 1/20 %) and any effect must be proportional to its concentration. So it is difficult to believe that CO2 shoud have the enormous effect it is being attributed by IPCC.

    • Sorry, no.

      There have been many primarily anthropogenic changes in the past, but the major jet stream changes caused by the retreat of the North American Ice Shield seems to be much more determinative for Holocene changes in Saharan rainfall. Even the mild perturbation of an Icelandic volcano has been showed to have the potential to modulate drought in Egypt.

      CO2 is much more prevalent than all other gaseous pollutants combined.

      The role of CO2 is proportional to the extent to which it can absorb and emit infrared radiation at wavelengths that any of the more prevalent gases (nitrogen, oxygen, water vapor, and argon) cannot. The structure of a CO2 molecule is well designed to do this. The other gases leave quite a bit of the infrared spectrum open for CO2 to do its work, and it’s happy to comply.

      • “The role of CO2 is proportional to the extent to which it can absorb and emit infrared radiation at wavelengths that any of the more prevalent gases (nitrogen, oxygen, water vapor, and argon) cannot. ”

        It’s not linear, it’s logarithmic. The more CO2 does not mean more absorption of infrared. The more CO2 the less there is left to absorb.

        55myo there was 5 times the CO2 than today and the planet didn’t cook. Tropical forests up to the Arctic Circle. No winters, summers the same as now. Great era for biodiversity, specifcally for mammals.

      • Do you have a video from your 55my vacation at the Arctic Circle beach?

        Because this sounds like my former travel agent’s sales pitch, extolling a romantic Haitian getaway back in the days of Baby Doc.

      • Look it up

      • And today we have this:


        “The combined sea ice data suggest that the seasonal Arctic sea ice cover was strongly reduced during most of the early Holocene and there appear to have been periods of ice free summers in the central Arctic Ocean. ”

        and with CO2 less than today.

      • jrwakefield and today we also have this http://www.arctic.noaa.gov/reportcard/greenland.html

        “Greenland climate in 2010 is marked by record-setting high air temperatures, ice loss by melting, and marine-terminating glacier area loss.”

      • All perfectly normal variation. You have any evidence that this is linked to our CO2 emissions?

      • To John N-G,
        The oldest cave engravings in the Sahara are younger than 10 000 years, the end of the retreating of the north-american ice-shelve. Still they show lions, gazelles and the like. The youngest (+- 5 000 years) show only cattle. So, my point was right. As to CO2, it shares its role with water vapour, methane and ozone (cf Wikipedia). The effect of clouds is on top and everybody knows from his swimming pool cooling of during a cloudless night how important clouds are! So there again my doubts are justified.

  22. I initiated the publishing of Jerry Ravetz’s piece on WUWT, following long discussions by email on the climategate issue. Jerry Ravetz is of an age where trust in science is more important to him than the advancement of any particular theory, and it is of great credit to him that he was willing to listen to my climate sceptical viewpoint and put himself in the firing line. I warned him that repostioning himself to the middle of the road would lead to him being hit by traffic from both directions, and sure enough, this has come to pass.

    I found that bearing in mind it was written long before climategate broke, the most prescient part of his formulation of ‘postnormal science’ was this short passage:

    The basis we chose for Post-Normal Science is in methodology. We argue that the quality-assurance of scientific inputs into policy processes requires an ‘extended peer community’, including all the stakeholders in an issue. This new peer community can also deploy ‘extended facts’, including local and personal experience, as well as investigative journalism and leaked sources. So Post-Normal Science is inevitably political, and involves a new extension of legitimacy and power; but we felt it appropriate to launch it on this philosophical foundation.

    Many people on the skeptical side of the climate debate see Jerry Ravetz’ ‘postnormal science’ as part of the problem, indeed the man himself as responsible in large part for formulations such as those of the late Stephen Schneider regarding making a judgement about the balance between truth and effectiveness. I contend however, that a careful reading of the above passage reveals that the ‘extended peer community’ gets its say after ‘normal science’ has done its work, in assessing science inputs into policy processes.

    Well, here we are with our personal experience, our investigative journalism, and our leaked sources. And we’ve certainly been making a difference to the policy process in the year since those sources were leaked. The facts revealed by those leaked documents cry out for the need for ‘normal science’ which is not agenda dominated in its inception and execution.

    It can be said that in the process of choosing which science is going to get funded, we make as many decisions regarding those aspects of knowledge we are going to remain ignorant about, as we do about those aspects of knowledge we are going to find out more about. It seems to me that Judith Curry’s proposal to provide a platform for unsung climate theses is a step towards redressing the imbalance and onesidedness which has dogged the field of climatology for too long.

    I will be putting forward my pitch for a more holistic understanding of Earth’s climate within the solar system environment when Dr Curry presents the opportunity.

    • tallbloke, thanks for stopping by. There are many different interpretations of PNS, but if you go back to Jerry Ravetz’s original ideas and analysis of this situation, i think it is spot on. and I think his formalism of the extended peer community is really important. The whole climategate thing resulted from the climate scientists failure to understand this concept of extended peer community, and assumed that McIntyre et al. were merchants of doubt with sinister motives.

      • As opposed to seeing the climate establishment as merchants of certainty with sinister motives….

  23. Judith,

    I tend to run a mile from any article that contains the phrase “post modern”!

    Putting that aside, I am wondering about the concept of science discussed and evaluated in blogs or other open internet mechanisms.

    The problem is, of course, that in some areas, any value would be drowned out by nonsense. I remember hearing a cosmologist describing how he would regularly receive hand-written manuscripts explaining why “Einstein was wrong”. He said he gave the best of these to his students, and asked them to send a careful reply, explaining where the first error could be found! On the other hand, Hardy almost consigned Ramanujan’s manuscript, posted from India, to his waste basket!

    Clearly climate science is in some way exceptional because its practitioners seemed to actively repulse help from the rest of the science community. For example, within the CRU emails, there is one from a botanist wanting to help regarding tree rings. They discuss him, decide he is not on message, and so do not reply!

    Maybe we need a mechanism whereby a group of people can collaborate on the internet to prepare ONE paper that contains their doubts about some topic – such as the hockey stick – and then researchers would be expected to make a refereed response. Assuming the peer-review process was working, this should inhibit the researchers merely brushing off the criticism.

  24. Judith,

    I tried the “peer-review’ system once for power generation and the physics of calculating out actual energy transferance of turbines. Created a presentation of actual angles of deflection off the current turbine designs showing only 2% actual evergy transferance in a whole circle.
    It all came down to not belonging to any institution of government agency.
    A total independant. So…he could not possibly have a brain.
    This is the same with NASA. They will NOT allow any interaction with any scientist due to it could interfere with the competition process they have set in place for government grants. So only other qualified scientsts can talk with NASA scientists. Meanwhile every week I get a NASA competition for scientists notification.

    • David L. Hagen

      Joe Lalonde
      Not clear about your experience. I gather a paper/proposal was not accepted.
      Re “energy transference of turbines”, Wind, hydro, gas turbines?
      What method/software did you use? Private or commercial?
      Re: “not belonging to any institution of government agency”. Commercial applications will likely require validated commercial software modeling before investing, and would seriously question “government” sources.
      The present very high uncertainty and poor performance relative to “projections” with global climate modeling would be an absolute nonstarter for commercial gas turbine modeling. Historically, a number of turbine combustors were “liberated” resulting in “substantial” downstream “disruption”. Those were expensive mistakes, requiring substantial improvement in reactive CFD modeling, with quantitative validation against full scale tests.
      The impact of “climate mitigation” on the global economy is about a million times larger. Speaking as an engineer, we expect corresponding reliability and validation to reliably make such trillion dollar commitments. To date, I have seen no reliable validation or true “scientific forecasting” sufficient to justify any deviation from the “null hypothesis” (continuing natural/anthropogenic change) with adaption as needed, coupled with “do no harm”. Obviously cost effective energy efficiency and full scale development of cost effective alternative fuels is essential regardless of climate “projections”.

  25. I don’t want to go off topic but extended peer review has a thriving existence in other scientific endeavours. Medicine is a prime example. We see science operating at multiple levels from the ‘hard’ science looking at the molecular basis of disease (analogous to the physics underpinning the climate sciences), drug development, clinical trials of medical interventions with all their methodological flaws, epidemiological studies (again replete with statistical traps and definitional pitfalls – hockey sticks anyone?), the ‘real world’ of physicians often choosing interventions which have life-altering and in extreme cases, fatal, consequences for patients, and a vast blogosphere inhabited by patients, families, and self-help groups some of which are firmly anchored in conventional scientific medicine and others who favour less conventional approaches (complementary and alternative medicine, homeopathy, chiropractic, and the like).

    Let’s not forget the economic imperatives which drive drug research and marketing, restrictions on government subsidies for expensive drugs, the inflated egos and narcissism of some researchers and charismatic doctors, and the competing paradigms that ensue.

    In this setting, ‘the uncertainty monster’ is a constant, enduring, and all-pervasive presence. Coalface physicians cope with it as best as they can always aware that they are dealing with an increasingly informed (and sometimes partially informed) and critical patient population. Moreover, physicians cannot do as they like – they need the informed consent of patients before acting. Public health authorities are even more caught by the intersection of competing political, economic, and social interests while debating appropriate levels of intervention.

    Climate science seems very similar. Moreover, just as physicians have become increasingly accustomed to being seen as fallible humans, so too climate scientists have an increasingly fragile purchase on their pedestals. “Climategate” arguably has its parallels in the . Interestingly, which was rather low well before the Vioxx scandal even back in lagged substantially behind confidence in research scientists. The latter, however, has also fallen substantially even pre-Climategate (see this ).

    For scientists arguing for significant change at the societal level, there us no escaping engagement with the public whose preferred forum increasingly lies in the blogosphere. The public, like individual patients, increasingly demands .

    • apologies, this one landed in spam overnight.

    • Chris –
      you omitted the quacks gaining “informed” consent for dangerous, therapeutically useless procedures like ‘chelation’. They can get consent because they initially play on the fears and prejudices of the clients and they do Not inform them of the very real dangers. And children die.

    • Public engagement in medicine does have some similarities I agree. There’s quite a bit of literature in sociology now on the surge of new patients groups that have arisen, particularly since the 1980s an 90s, to challenge established medical authorities they felt ignored by. Some of these groups have become very scientifically literate, funded their own research, and been begrudgingly accepted by the medical establishment. Now the internet has drastically changed things as well – it’s quite common for patients to go to appointments knowing more about their condition than the GP.

  26. A longish post under Chris1958 (now preferred to an earlier designation as Christophorus) seems to have been swallowed up – too off topic? Lousy links? Spam filter? Awaiting moderation? Just curious.

  27. AnyColourYouLike

    Andrew Montford mentions in THSI the experience of Craig Loehle and his 2007 paper on non-tree ring proxy reconstructions. Apparently the readers of Climate Audit and Real Climate were encouraged to discuss the paper from the off. Errors were found and a corrigendum issued in 2008. This seems, on the face of it, an excellent example of extended peer review process.

    I believe Craig has posted on Climate etc. Perhaps he could be persuaded to tell us in some detail what he felt about the extended peer-review process in practice?

    • I followed the Loehle thread at CA, it was amazing, a credit to both Loehle and CA.

      • PolyisTCOandbanned

        Judy: My considered opinion is a bit ore critical. Loehle could have shared his paper prepublication, but didn’t, instead oopting for suprrise. But when shown, it had major errors. That was not a inior corrigendu,but a coplete reqwrite. People cite the whole new paper, now.

        It showed EnE very poorly that they did not find the several flaws in it, during reviews. I’ just a blog-educated cliate follower but could readily see several issues with the paper (most obvious was the failure to understand and cite the similar Moburg recon.)

        I give McCullough props for fixing it. He is a real academic (econ) at a real (big10) school, that publishes properly in his field, etc. He’s definitely one of the better ones there. I put him a notch above Ross for sure and a couple notches above McI (both for fairness and care).

        Loehle was initially a little resistant to some of the criticism, but I think took it onboard in time and then did the correction. He wasn’t as bad as Watts or the like in terms of failure to recognize mistakes. I really don’t think he should give himself some attaboys though. That’s a bit much. CL is probably a notch better than Eschenback, yet there is/was a similarity in their amateurish efforts. I think with CL that he is an older, middle of the road PhD, who is a bit overproud of his union card….and thinks he can opine readily and easily in other fields, not quite recognizing what is required to really contribute. I’ve seen the sort before, both in age and brains. Basically, the ones who have to let you know they have a doctorate are typically the weaker ones.

        McIntyre was duplitious in his commentary on Loehle. Despite the paper being right in his area of interest and him having lots of knowledge of the general subject, he did not analyze it and criticize it. I find it hard to beleive he did not see the errors in it. I believe that he held up, because he did not want to criticize an “ally”. To me, critical discussion and pushing for truth should be the priority, not buddies on the Internet. What he did (what he often does) was make sure that he was not hitched wagon to it…but NOT clarify waht was wrong with it. Also, he said (in the manner of defending the paper) that it was nor worse than Moburg. As if this were a tit for tat game. Not a search for truth. If you look back at his commentary on Moburg, he says Moburg was dreadful! But he never really clarifies that he thinks Loehle dreadful, and actually gives the opposite impression. (BTW, this Clintonian style of word-parse-requiring equivocation would get you cashiered as a military officer for “intent to decieve”. It’s really penny ante, amateur lawyer stuff, befitting a Canadian pennystock promoter. Not a truth seeker.)


        Net, net, just from reading the blog and seeing all the kerfuffles perviously, Loehle should have had the brains to do a better job on this paper. He should “show how it’s done”. Should NAIL IT. Should give Mike and Gavin an example of good work to emulate (like, um, Huyers does!) But he dropped the ball.

        P.s. If you want an example of an amatuer doing good work, look at the British computer scientist blogger, John Graham Cumming, who found the problem with the Met SErvice uncertainty formula. That guy was shapr, not an overreacher. He’s what real helpful amateur skeptic analysts should be like. BTW, that guy has an interesting recent post on code transparency. AND he has previously called out some of the sophistry from the skeptic side, overreaching.

      • Whatever the merits or demerits of Loehle’s paper, he is far from an amateur. “Dr. Craig Loehle is Principal Scientist with the National Council for Air and Stream Improvement (NCASI). His research interests include ecological modeling, landscape ecology, life history theory, and natural resource management. He is the author of over 100 scientific publications.”

      • PolyisTCOandbanned

        I know his CV, Judy. I agree that he has done PI work for a long time in the trace chemicals arena (or whatever that stuff is). Yeah, he’s a step up from Willis. For sure.

        Still, I can’t express it properly, but the flaws with the paper did not surprise me based on some of his flawed comments in discussion and based on a lack of ability to evaluate his own weaknesses. I see Mccullough as much more thoughtful. I put my money more on him to make contributions out of his field than Loehle.

        I can’t expect everyone to be Einstein or Feynman or Huybers. But if you’re not, at least be aware that you’re not and that you need to be pretty good at murderboarding yourself. The Loehle messup fits right into a pattern of low standards and overenthusiams from skeptics. In contrast McCullough has had some good small upgrades (one I remember that RC fixed, but said they had not see from him), similar to Graham-cumming.

        Sorry, I can’t express this precisely, but there is something there, Judy. I can taste it. Trust me. TCO know teh Neverending Audit.

  28. Thanks Judith :-)

    The comment and links got a little mangled (by me) but most of it’s there.

    Anyway, the last sentence should read, ‘The public, like individual patients, demands informed consent.’

  29. Judith

    I was impressed when you “broke ranks” following climategate and this blog is a great development towards establishing transparency in climate science.

    The breadth and complexity of climate science is such that although highly reputable scientists have a thorough understanding of their particular field, there is a tacit assumption that their peers in other fields are equally reputable and each will tend to write in the context of man-made global warming being fact. Absent a thorough examination of all climate and related science, bias is inevitable. The IPCC’s mission is to address “human induced” climate change and has failed to fulfill the role of an “honest broker ” of information. Consequently, non-scientists or scientists from other disciplines, prepared to do the intellectual “heavy lifting” have much to contribute to this debate.

    Peter Taylor, an ecologist of some 30 years standing, spent three years reviewing papers from a broad range of disciplines and talking to international scientists. His well referenced book “Chill, A Reassessment of Global Warming” provides the reader with insights into the many aspects of climate science, the uncertainties and its politicisation. Jackson Davis, author of the first draft of the Kyoto Protocol, says it is a must read for everyone on both sides of the debate.


    • I saw Peter Taylor’s comments that he submitted to UEA hearings. I will take a look, thanks for the suggestion.

      • Judith

        I reviewed ‘Chill’ for an ecology publication and subsequently hosted a thread on it at Harmless sky.


        You will get a very good flavour of the book from here, and Peter Taylor makes numerous interjections that amplify his comments. In my opinion the book should be compulsory reading for all at the IPCC, Climate scientists and NGO’s.


  30. I don’t see how it’s possible to have a useful and meaningful review of climate science on the internet without some form of access control and moderation. It’s obvious that the more successful a site is in regularly attracting large numbers of commenters then the less useful they are. Sites like wattsupwiththat.com generate lots of “Another brilliant analysis!!” slaps on the back for anything critical of AGW regardless of merit as well as lots of “Well they would say that!!” for any new research supporting it. There’s maybe one or two genuinely useful and informative discussions there a month.

    Other sites makes heavy use of moderation but then you risk comments only reflecting the views of the moderators making it through consistently.

    • Well, after some craziness with the Welcome post and last week with Heresy, I think Climate Etc.’s dialogue has been pretty meaningful. Jeff Id at the Air Vent says he doesn’t need much moderation either. I think people who just want to cheerlead and snark tend to stay away from the technical blogs. WUWT has hit some kind of sweet spot in terms of creating a large readership by providing a mix of technical plus cheerleading posts, and allowing open moderation. Other blogs don’t get enough traffic to make moderation much of an issue. And then there is the moderator as censor type blogs that create echo chambers. So i’m hoping that by keeping the technical content high and actively discouraging snark, I can keep things mostly productive at Climate Etc. without moderation. Blog traffic has settled down (after heresy) to twice its previous average level, if the number of comments gets too high I will have to rethink all this. Heres to hoping that semantic web will eventually help all this.

      • I wouldn’t count on the semantic web showing up in a useful form anytime soon. You could take it a step further and say an interactive AI acting as moderator could filter out irrelevant content but then that would solve many problems beyond climate science and won’t show up for a while either.

        It seems like what you want is an online science journal. What you’re talking about is using blogs to approximate such a thing but you should also consider that people with the necessary technical skills would be willing to help build a suitable platform for publishing research and allowing commentary.

        Consider for example the difference between a classic print newspaper publishing a news story on Monday and then publishing a letter in response to it on Friday versus the online version which allows user comments on the same story.

        There are strengths and weaknesses to each approach. The print version can ensure strict quality control of all published letters but it takes a long time for them to appear, there’s no real link between the story and the comment plus published letters may well end up reflecting only the views of the newspaper editors or owners.

        With the online version all points of view get to express themselves and to do so quickly in a format that’s linked directly to the story. However quality control is a big problem so the useful and relevant comments get lost amidst the spam and extremism.

      • You are now on my daily must read list, including WUWT. Great work here!

  31. Don’t worry Dr.Curry, like I’ve mentioned on another blog, the activists will divert their attention to another hot topic: BIODIVERSITY…follow da money.

    It will ease the pressure on blogs like this and allow you to pay full attention to science and not scientology.

  32. Judith

    I think extended peer review can be used by those who are not practicising ‘climate scientists’ to those in the wider climate community who have come to their own conclusions and fashioned a (credible) theory or (credible) article that warrants a wider audience. This is with a view to admitting’this is a ‘work in progress’ not the finished item, and asking for constructive comments on it from all sides of the debate.

    If that principle had been extended to say Michaels Mann’s hockey stick it is a safe bet that others would have pointed out its shortcomings. In my view it was released at least 5 years too early and needed a lot more work. In the blogosphere that 5 years can be reduced to 2 weeks.


  33. David L. Hagen

    On the Extended Peer Community, see
    Art Robinson
    “I think scientists bring two special things. One, they’re problem solvers, but the other thing they bring is the knowledge of what they don’t know. Any good scientist has tremendous humility because he knows how little he knows. That means if an issue comes up, he seeks to learn about it, instead of asking around which way the political wind is blowing.”

    A chemist by training, Robinson started gaining attention for his global warming views when he was asked to write an editorial for The Wall Street Journal on the subject 12 years ago, and he has since made the transition from skeptic to denier of man-made global warming.

    “I’m convinced now that there’s overwhelming evidence the hypothesis is wrong,” Robinson said of the belief that carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere is causing the planet to warm. “There’s one big environmental effect – it fertilizes plants, and there’s a huge increase in plants and animals due to this thing… It’s a good thing, in my view. When you get more plants, you also get more diversity. The animal and plant kingdom has become far more lush because of that CO2.”

    Robinson initiated the Global Warming (Oregon)Petition

    31,487 American scientists have signed this petition,
    including 9,029 with PhDs

    That group prepared a brief:
    Environmental Effects of Increased Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide

    For Extended Peer review, strongly recommend exploring ways to leverage the feedback from this very large “Red Team” group. That is an order of magnitude more scientists than involved with the IPCC review.

    That breadth would provide a lot of “outside” critique, especially in the IPCC’s major areas of weakness. E.g. IPCC / environmental alarmists advocate climate “mitigation” by controlling CO2 – yet they have no experience in chemical plant control. Chemical control engineers who know what is required to “control” say that ALL the critical elements essential to “control” a chemical process are MISSING. i.e., we cannot control climate by controlling anthropogenic CO2.
    See Dr. Pierre R. Latour Engineering Earth’s thermostat with CO2?” HYDROCARBON PROCESSING February 2010 pp 25-28.

    Review of control system engineering of Earth’s thermostat with anthropogenic CO2 in 1997 proved it will never work because it is an unmeasurable, unobservable and uncontrollable system. . . . Since there are no graduate or licensed chemical process control engineers in the UN IPCC, US Congress, Cabinet or Supreme Court, these incompetent engineering groups continue to waste time and money since 1997 attempting the impossible, designing Earth’s thermostat using anthropogenic CO2.

    When a control expert with Latour’s credentials says it is impossible, I sit up and take notice! I highly recommend Latour’s concise eloquent summary.
    Now, how do we prepare Plan B?

  34. I think this is a great idea. Of course this will to some degree be a multi-tiered system, at least in the sense that the debate necessarily involves both advanced physical and social science. Being a layman in the former but more deeply informed on the latter, I’m so pleased that a person of your undoubted standing in this debate has realised both the importance of interdisciplinary study and the unique, historic opportunities presented by the blogosphere.

    This could be the dawn of a new “Enlightenment” perhaps……resisted just as furiously by the establishment, born from anarchic and unpredictable streams of intellect (ie www) in much the same way as the 1790’s.

    It takes brave people such as yourself to take the lead – your article: “Heresy and the creation of monsters” has something of Martin Luther about it and is so inspiring. I look forward to being an active participant in this “Brave New World”.


    Christopher Elves

  35. Alexander Harvey

    I wonder about the risk of public engagement creating an just the illusion of breadth.

    So, perhaps people could shout out.

    The following seem to be rather important to the generation of climate and also the governing of climatic change.

    The Continents, and their mountains
    The Oceans, and their mountains
    The Cryosphere , and its mountains
    The Atmosphere

    Now I could argue that if one opened an atlas and wished to guess at the climate of a dot on the map, some knowledge of all of the above is necessary and in a fairly even balance.

    My question is do we have many of the following here:

    Oceanographers, Geographers, Cryospheric Scientists, either professionals, those educated in these disciplines either formally or overwise extensively.

    It is my prejudice that on balance these disciplines are not well represented in the climoblogoshpere.

    In particular, one can never seem to find a professional oceanographer when one needs one.

    Am I wrong, I hope so. Are you there?


  36. WUWT has just done something interesting, a week in review type thing


    very comprehensive.

  37. Now to assemble the full picture …

    AGW is as any investigative process. It behaves as a ‘TAG’ haphazardly moving through an unknown space as a self-directed, self-revising entity.

    The space which is explored is unknown and unbounded. Substantial indicative understanding can be gained by a) observing factors that govern the TAG movement and b) observing new information that is revealed in the course of the TAG’s meander.


    I) Drawing attention to an impending AGW crisis singles out a constrained resource and also monetizes it by way of emphasizing the need to mitigate.

    This resolute push to ‘raise the alarm’ has being on-going for more than a decade. Moreover it is being over-driven with the belief that ‘dogmatic’ indoctrination is appropriate and essential. The dogmatic indoctrination is carried out with the unflinching belief that the basis for the underlying science is settled and certain.

    Overdriving the ‘alarm’ for more than a decade with an intensity and grit determination that has already presumed that propaganda is warranted super-heats the inflationary bubble enormously.

    For more than a decade the world has been ramping up the emissions of GG. Much of that increase is directly and indirectly stimulated by the monetary gold rush afforded in managing, owning, mitigating, hiding, offloading and transforming and sequestering this newly found and highly proffered constrained resource.

    Human ingenuity, anxiety and desire for productive gains amplifies the involvement, usage, movement and interconversion of this new wealth.

    Green house gases are being milked like never before for every penny that can be extracted from them. THAT CREATES NEEDLESS AND UNANTICIPATED INFLATION.

    It is clearly evident that the TAG’s meander has stimulated the increase of GG production. The increase of production is significant. The increase in production is independent of the science.

    II) Recruiting participants by deliberately resorting to ‘dogma’ and indoctrination by way of emotional blackmail primes society for some very rude shocks when confronted with some dangerous contradictions.

    This resorting to emotion to inculcate ‘dogma’ directly arises from the TAGs meander and is independent of the science.


    By being ignored, commenters who are not deemed interesting by others will give up and go elsewhere.

    I have finished contributing whatever worth I had to offer and depart.

    • Raving reply to Raving reply to Curry reply to …

      By being ignored, commenters who are not deemed interesting by others will give up and go elsewhere.

      But that the whole thing isn’t it? Consensus or Ignored. (Perception)

      • There are several thousand people who have shown up here that have made rather senseless and pointless comments, mostly on the Welcome and Heresy thread. These people haven’t come back. The Climate Etc. regulars (which is a growing group) are an interesting and diverse group. If you want to know what I am talking about, go back and read comments from the Welcome thread.

      • What I mean is that a ‘discontinuity’ forms.

        The awareness accretes together and moves as a cohesive flock (i.e. hounds chasing after a fox) … OR … drifts away

        It’s a perceptual thing .

        You can look at the dynamics of the ‘flock’
        You can look at the process of accretion-and-disintegration

        You can stand back (struggling very hard to glimpse an overview) and look for essential categorizing factors.

        There are …
        – discontinuity formation (disintegration)
        – coalescence ( the accretion of previously disassociated objects)
        – flock dynamics
        – physical and perceptual domains

        It is very hard to see the ‘forest’ in the climate change problem. Incredibly easy to succumb to ‘begging the question’ and go chasing off after individual trees.

        Slopping around in my raving manner only permits me fleeting glimpses of a broader overview.

        In my thrashing about to see the periphery of the ‘local focus’, I get ridiculed for stating the obvious. That’s the real problem with transparency, it’s so darned obvious that it passes by assumed and unseen.

      • From the ‘Welcome thread’
        … for educating the public and for enabling large-scale collective intelligence to address the scientific and policy challenges associated with climate change. …

        Now re-read your own words …
        There are several thousand people who have shown up here that have made rather senseless and pointless comments …

        Those people who drift away, carry with them the essential reasons (causes, arguments, factors) that create the disintegration of a ‘spanning overview’.

        Maybe their departure isn’t a bad thing. It is unpreventable regardless. … My point being that the departing readership is a good resource for perceiving how the large-scale collective intelligence fragments and ultimately disintegrates.

  38. > wattsup …. roundup
    Mostly taken from SEPP; one piece above, and everything below, the line
    “ARTICLES: For the numbered articles below please see: The Week That Was

  39. PolyisTCOandbanned

    Judy, being able to chew over an idea is a benefit of the blogosphere. But when we have people like McIntyre not publishing, and instead spewing out half-baked snark, it is a real waste. Things never get to the form of clear statements. A five year “scratch pad”. A Neverending Audit. And then you have his hoi polloi who think he is being “kept down” by peer reveiw. (If so, why can’t he show clear papers that were rejected–his posts are disorganized messes?)

    • It doesn’t matter if McIntyre publishes or not. The real question is, is he right or not? At least his work is public for everyone to see and judge for themselves. I can’t say that for many of the published climate workers.

      • AnyColourYouLike

        “In general, it is hard to tell what he is even asserting.”
        It’s hard to tell what YOU are asserting. It seems to be that those who think McIntyre has done groundbreaking audting work,( “the Hoi Polloi” ) are merely blinded by flashing lights, fancy graphs and superhero reputations?

        You say his posts “lack references, definitions of terms, etc” and make th accusation “that what he alludes to is not what he shows.” (whatever that means?) Yet you provide no illustrations, references or definitions of terms – “lickspittle”?

        You have “more experience in the Neverending Audit than anyone other than JohnA or Steve himself” (how modest) so presumably you can illustrate with examples and explanatory links, your various vague declamations?

      • PolyisTCOandbanned

        I have explained previously in detail how McI’s work is substandard and difficult to even rebut. If you are well read on the NEverenging Audit, you would have seen them. Quick recap:

        1. Work is not archived, could dissappear (as Chefen’s blog did).

        2. Lacks clear reference citations (can’t tell which papers he is refering to or which previous analyses of his).

        3. Graphs are VERY frequently mislabeled or confusings. Lacks good figure captions as well. These are the key areas for a scientis to examine a paper and any reference on writing sciencen papers will explain the imprortance of doing so (this is not a “style complaint”…he actually is HARD TO ASSESS, since the graphs are so bad.)

        4. Frequent interweaving of personality driven snark, that distracts from comprehending tehcnical ideas.

        5. Failure to do issues disaggregation and full factorials of method choices. Frequent changes of more than one variable at a time, witjhout full factorical, making analysis of what causes what impossible.

        6. Leading coy language, that fails to make clear assertions (that can be hidden behind when called on, but is intended to influence wrongly an impression to his lay readers).

        7. Failure to estimate numerical extent of flaws (if you’re not measuring, you’re not doing science or math!) With that frequent trumpeting of effects that are very minor numerically but seems galling by the way he writes them up.

        8. Self-editing of posted content to dissapper mistakes. This is very infrequent, but has occurred. How can someone spend time on content that is shfiting?

        9. Mystery story style of writing (how he got to the answer, what motivated him, rather than the answer). This is extremelty tedious to read since one has to invest a bunch of time weekding through something not knowing if the end result will be relevant.

        10. Sometimes, content in the comments, this is even more hard to archive, search and keep track of, yet he will refer to it at times or expect people to know it.

        11. Bunch more stuff, but you can go read one of my other compendiums. I have spent way too much time reading this fellow. And have dissected the flawed method of analysis and communictaion many times before. Bottome line, there is a reason why content in physics, chemistry, biology, engineering, etc. is communicated in papers and tehcnical reports. People like Katzoff and Tufte have written about this.


        If STeve has groundbreaking work, it should be the easiest thing in the world to write it up in clear reports. But he hasn’t. for the last 5 years! Sorry, controversial take on the science ALONG with inability to communicate his ideas clearly so that people can assess them is unsat. Burden is on him.

        As it is now, CA is just a retired guy playing around and a social phenomenon with people reading it and some circlejerk backslapping. I will say that the questions are somewhat interesting. But the payoff is just a long tease with nothing to show.

      • Michael Larkin

        For crying out loud, Poly. Give it a rest. The proper place to take issue with Steve McI is at his blog, and not here.

  40. David L. Hagen

    “McIntyre not publishing” is false and slander.
    See ClimateAudit.org left column “Articles”. e.g. Hockey sticks, principal components, and spurious significance
    See also with Ross McKitrick. e.g., The M&M Project: Replication Analysis of the Mann et al. Hockey Stick

    Re: “his posts are disorganized messes” – McIntyre’s posts are methodical, detailed with full exposure of all programs and data – in contrast to Mann, Jones etc.

    Reform or begone.

  41. Where is the experimental data that proves that the “greenhouse gas effect exists?’ Until someone shows the data ,the Ghg effect is a hypotheses that has not been proved in about 200years since it was proposed.

  42. PolyisTCOandbanned

    Hagan: The only real paper, Steve has done (real journal and not a comment or reply) was the GRL05. Soon, he’ll have MMH to break his 5 year drought. No, the posts are not methodical. They lack references, definitions of terms, etc. McI himself often says his posts are scratchpad doodling.

    • David L. Hagen

      Try some due diligence rather than ad hominem attacks. e.g., McKitrick also lists:
      * **McIntyre, Steven and Ross McKitrick, (2003). Corrections to the Mann et al. (1998) Proxy Data Base and Northern Hemisphere Average Temperature Series Environment and Energy 14(6) pp. 751-771.
      * **McIntyre, S. and R. McKitrick (2004). Materials Complaint Concerning MBH98 Nature 430 July 1, 2004, p. 105.
      * **McIntyre, Stephen and Ross McKitrick (2005) The M&M Critique of the MBH98 Northern Hemisphere Climate Index: Update and Implications Energy and Environment 16(1) pp. 69-100.
      * **McIntyre, Stephen and Ross R. McKitrick (2009) Proxy inconsistency and other problems in millennial paleoclimate reconstructions Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences February 2, 2009. 106:E10; doi:10.1073/pnas.0812509106

      • PolyisTCOandbanned

        “real journal” “not a comment or reply”. Attention to details…

      • AnyColourYouLike

        Aren’t you being a little unfair here? The guy is retired and does the whole thing in his spare time. He doesn’t have the resources of a university dept, and despite the unfounded claims (these are admittedly receding lately) he is basically unfunded by anyone.

        It’s true that recent CA posts have been more about auditing the UAE reviews and less about the science. That seems to me understandable since he was a key player, mentioned often in the inquiries. He does not feel his criticisms were adequately addressed (he’s not the only one). Why shouldn’t he blog about it? If you perceived yourself as having been stitched up by whitewash I imagine you’d have something to say about it!

      • PolyisTCOandbanned

        No. Absolutely not unfair. Standard communication would crispen his own thinking in addition to all the benefits for readers to process it. Ph.D. students that are 22 can figure this stuff out. He has 40 years work experience. He should be able to write normal technical reports that don’t meander. He has been doing this stuff full time for 5 years.

      • McIntyre says that since he is not an academic, there is no reason for him to bother with peer reviewed articles. He has a large audience at CA and enjoys what he does, and has unquestionable influence. So I don’t think anyone is going to convince him to publish, other than occasionally with McKitrick (who is quite prolific).

      • PolyisTCOandbanned


        1. I think Steve enjoys the social intereaction and the rush from being a minor internet celebrity. But his work is not really assessable as is. For this reason I dismiss it. Sure, he can do whatever he wants. But I can say that if it takes 10 hours of weeding through something that ought to take an hour to even tell what he is doing/saying, or if there is not really a clear assertion, then it is reasonable to dismiss him and even to urge others to dismiss him. (and this is not being mean or partial…heck I WANTED him to be right, to have a payoff!)

        2. There is a well known set of writings on tehcnical reporting and the benefits of publishing (for reader, author and field). Steve fits right into this set of writings in that his points are not clear and would be straightened out and properly understandable if clearly written up.

        3. Note, that this is NOT a case of STeve writing papers and the field censoring him. If that were the case, he would have whtie papers properly written up so that arguments could be assessed easily. As is, I am starting to come to the point of thinking that he does not write things up clearly because he wants to overdramatize (iow is intentionally creating a dishonest impression). Maybe some laziness mixed in, too. But I think the deliberate use of this style of reporting is a form of sophistry and is intentionally dishonest.

      • Well, I have to agree that his work is rather incomprehensible. That is why i found Montford’s book to be illuminating. I don’t think it is laziness or dishonesty; after being burned several times in the publication process, it doesn’t seem worth the bother (unless McKitrick or someone is prepared to fight the publication battle.) I have to admit, just putting things out there in the blogosphere has an appeal. In principle, I could probably find a place to publish each of my little essays (which aren’t so little, averaging over 2000 words). But I see little point, really, seems a battle hardly worth fighting. I of course continue publishing in my main academic areas, but this material is far easier just to post on the blogosphere. However, I work pretty hard at my writing and I think it is much more understandable to a broader audience to write this way than in scientific journalese.

      • PolyisTCOandbanned

        Judy, again you are confounding the issue of clear well-written work, versus the PLACE where that work is read. If Steve were writing clearly, but being censored, he would have many examples of “papers” that were great (in result and in communication) but that were censored. but the OPPOSITE is the case. His stuff is a mess! This should NOT surprise us, because MOST people need to FORCE of editorial standards to produce clear work. That said, Steve is WORSE than the average, even the average blogger. Clear writing is clear thinking and writing is a rpocess. the work required to clearly state your argument has an effect of making you sharpen your argument. So even for yourself, writing things up “properly” is helpful. And for anyone trying to actually follow it thoughtfully, that goes triple. heck, with STeve he’s so disorganized, he leaves stuff out that is in his head and never made the paper (but he thinks it did). And often, I can’t even be sure which science papers he’s referring to since he doesn’t even use reference notes! For someone who blathers on so much about being precise and auditable, that is pretty bad.

      • David L. Hagen

        Galileo published in the popular press, as did Newton and Darwin.

      • PolyisTCOandbanned

        I’ve already rebutted this point. If Steve produced quality reports, the location would not be an issue. In fact, he could show them allto us very readily and it would just be an issue of location and archiving. As is, he produces meandering stuff that is indeterminate. He actually NEEDS the rigor of proper technical reporting MORE than most. Clear writing is clear thinking.

      • AnyColourYouLike


        Why don’t you post this stuff over at CA. This is Judith Curry’s blog.

      • Alexander Harvey

        Hav you addressed all this on Climate Audit?


      • AnyColourYouLike


        Spooky coincidence…must be a meme going round.

      • PolyisTCOandbanned

        I’ve posted this stuff a lot in the past and at CA. I’m backed up by people like Zorita, Wegman, etc. who think that proper publication is the way to show analysis and really move the science forward. I have saidit, detailed it, given references to thoughtful publications on the meaning of technical reporting, etc. I was going to make sarcastic statement and say you should just google the web and find my previous comments (including at CA),but I just decided not to be mean and repeated. Actually the inefficiency of having to repeat stuff like this is a real drag to having these debates on blogs or forums. And another reason why proper writeups are superior.

      • David L. Hagen

        The industrial degree of due diligence that McIntyre was used to was at least 3″ thick reports where fraud meant jail.

        The climate “scientists” in question bear the burden of proof of supporting their very “thin” papers where they failed to provide replicable methods and refused to post data or models that could be tested.

      • PolyisTCOandbanned

        It’s not just a complaint that Steve is not “following channels”. Honest, it’s not. But his posts are a MESS! They wouldn’t cut it in business, military, science, government, etc. they’re meandering and confused and ambiguous and shoddy in quality of writing and figures.

        It’s just not fair to his critics to produce criticism that way (how can you even rebut when it is such a mess). And his commenters lap it all up way too uncritically. He does a disservice to them as well.

      • PolyisTCOandbanned

        Hagen: If he is used to very high quality, 3″ reports, then McI ought to show us high quality analytical communications. His stuff ought to be buttoned up. And it is so messy, you can’t even determine what his technical points are and all the hoi polloi silliness and disorganization makes it take several times as long as it ought to, to even read his arguments. If you want an example of crisp, revalatory communication, look at Huybers’s comment on the McI’s normalization which helped explain all the correlation/covariance/off-centering and showed McI pulling a fast one, to his opponent’s detriment and clouding the concept way more than needed by jargon. I’ll take the ex-tanker 1st Lt with the Harvard tenure track position and awards and stuff over the “couldabeen a great economist, but ended up a pennystock operator” any day.

      • Alexander Harvey

        Poly OK and Thanks

        I had looked for your stuff on CA but couldn’t find anything.

        What name did you post under?


      • Polyis… I think we all agree that journal articles are a superior method to communicate scientific work. But the critics have the same access to the internet as McIntyre. The are intelligent people and are fully capable of defending themselves if necessary. McIntyre has every right to his blog as we are in counrtries that are mostly free. He can run it as he sees fit!

      • Poly is…..well what is Polly?
        Those who can, do; those who can’t, become critics.

  43. Clive Menzies

    tonyb | October 31, 2010 at 11:51 am | Reply
    I reviewed ‘Chill’ for an ecology publication and subsequently hosted a thread on it at Harmless sky.

    Excellent thread following your review enhanced by Peter Taylor’s participation. I attended a talk he gave at the Energy Institute in London in Feb 2010 and was sufficiently impressed to buy his book.

    • Clive
      I saw Peter giving a talk at Torquay prior to reviewing the book. He was weaving togetrher two different and complex subjects (one of which was Climate change.) He coped with switching between two subjects, dealing with questions as he went along, and the vagaries of a rogue alarm system to weave together his story in a fascinating manner without reference to notes.

      He is engaged in writing a follow up to Chill. It would be nice to see that book better promoted though as it is still highly relevant.


  44. Judith,
    The one problem I am having is the science has a life of it’s own that vastly grows further away and yet parallel to the current science.
    Simple science when challenged becomes vastly more complcated as it should be.
    In a planet there are more then one center of balance . An overall center of balance BUT each individual layer has it’s own center of balance due to the density and mass of the material.

    Example: A car has an over all center of balance BUT all the individual materials do as well dependant on the density and mass as to how much energy is stored in motion.

  45. Michael Larkin

    It’s impossible to predict in detail how things will work out with crowd sourcing, alternative review paradigms, and so forth.

    I will just make the observation that in a very short time the Internet has already revolutionised so many areas in ways that no one could possibly have imagined. Little of that was stage managed. In fact, no more so than was the rise of the scientific establishment from its earliest beginnings.

    Things always go that way when they are working properly. They evolve and are never the result of five-year-plan equivalents. They radiate and adapt and become, in due course, hidebound and ripe for replacement. The new bull comes along and ousts the old one, and it was ever thus.

    All you can do, Dr. Curry, is play with ideas and see what happens. If you have the right intention and sincerity (and I think you have), you may go down in the history books as a key player in the development of something that will come to seem ordinary, quite normal and not at all postnormal.

    There’s nothing as powerful as the evolutionary principle. The birth of the Internet was the birth of a whole new high-level taxon. There’s a great deal of competition; some of the old orders are going to have to adapt or perish. You’re just riding a wave function that’s bound to collapse into something new and interesting, as it always does.

    Enough with the mixed metaphors! ;-)

  46. Judith,

    Thank you for hosting this space. I do hope this your blog morphs into something as compelling as WUWT but without the right wing political backstory. I’m hoping that someone will create a post alarmist narrative that with attract the majority of the scientifically literate and cut out of the debate the extreme alarmists and the extreme climate change skeptics.

    Que tengas suerte chica!

  47. David L. Hagen | October 31, 2010 at 5:42 pm | Reply

    No Consensus (No Frakking Consensus) is auditing IPCC reports.

    WUWT has a Climategate resource

    If you read the report, Part one of the IPCC report gets an A, that is the part of the report that focuses on the scientific case for AGW. The parts that get an ‘F’ are the parts that are failed for using gray literature. These parts are not the scientific case for AGW but the beginning attempts to evaluate what the results of AGW will be for society and the world.

    These parts definitely need to be tightened up, but they in no way invalidate the case for AGW.

    The removal of gray literature from the IPCC reports no references to anything other than peer reviewed literature, so no references to blogs or amateur scientists.

    • David L. Hagen

      An “A” regarding only using peer reviewed material does not equate to being comprehensive, nor definitive.

      Perhaps then you can point to definitive model, testing and validation of which comes first – the warming or the CO2?

      Along with that, what is the cause/effect, sign and magnitude of the interaction of clouds to each of warming, CO2, solar variations, planets, and galactic cosmic rays?

  48. From my own selfish point of view, I come here to learn and get differing viewpoints. Since a lot of the technical information is familiar but not my discipline, I usually don’t respond on the technicalities of the issues. I just appreciate the discourse in a relatively calm manner on this site. Climatology covers so much science that it’s difficult for me to grasp how anyone can coordinte the information – thermodynamics, meterology, fluid dynamics, physics, chemistry, radiation, geology, etc. ad nauseum. Thanks again for the contributors to this site and especially Dr. Curry.

  49. Wondering if the extended peer community could help with a question.

    I’ve come across a set of terms in the literature about ice core dating, including the concept of dating ‘drift’.

    Can anyone point me to literature about how we know that everything in the ice core keeps the same relative depth, or if it is known not to, how measurements are adjusted to acount for differential drift?

    That is, has anyone documented why or if ‘trapped’ gases stay in the same strata as trapped solids?

    In some solid state materials with trapped gas, such as metals infiltrated by Hydrogen or Helium, it had been my understanding (though I cannot find attribution) that an effect like chromatography would be observed with the passage of time, and the ‘alien’ bubbles would be force out of the matrix.

    I’d be glad of a hand on this question of how do we know CO2 concentrations and dates from ice cores are not subject to such a chromatographic effect?

    As mentioned in an earlier post, I’ve decided the accumulated information, links, pointers and discussions on Climate Etc. provide enough of a curriculum for a serious amateur to begin to properly pursue self-education in Climatology. My plan is to build a portfolio of this inquiry and seek credentials in the field from an accredited university. I’m getting back to speed on differential equations, thermodynamics, radiative physics and statistical methods right now, but my next step is a chronological approach to the climate record. (As such, I’ve been pouring over texts, periodicals and websites so haven’t posted much lately.) It’s been decades since I last began this sort of thing in my profession, so I’m a bit rusty and don’t have access to a university library or faculty advice.

    If anyone comes across this post with helpful advice (other than ‘give up’), it’d be appreciated.