by Judith Curry
A letter from Grant Petty provides a fitting finale to our engagement with the skydragons.
If you somehow missed the previous Skydragon threads, check them out, they have generated thousands of comments:
I continue to be cc’ed on some of the (voluminous) Skydragon correspondence, most of which I ignore, but I started seeing messages to and from Grant Petty. FYI, Grant Petty is a Professor of Atmospheric Science at the University of Wisconsin and author of the text A First Course in Atmospheric Radiation. I have known Grant for decades, he does research in radiative transfer and remote sensing and is a superb educator and writer.
So I started paying attention to this thread of emails (which seem to have numbered in the hundreds). I’ve counted 41 messages from Grant Petty since Oct 10, and there could have been several hundreds of emails from the various dragonslayers. If you’ve followed the Skydragon threads, you can imagine the obtuseness, false accusations, deliberate misrepresentations, sophistry etc. that dominated these emails. But Grant was doing a serious job in engaging with them, motivated by standing up for scientific principles.
The letter that I am highlighting here was stimulated by this statement from Joe Postma:
> In a large way, we are driven to do the research we do because of the
> myriad and countless other fraudulent claims, presumptions, and
> sophistries related to climate science. It has become apparent to us
> that the errors extend to the deepest level of the science.
Grant’s letter is reproduced here with his permission.
Grant Petty’s letter
To all Slayers:
As one who has no direct professional stake in the science of climate
change but who regularly observes my colleagues working hard and sharing
ideas to understand real data and to add pieces to the jigsaw puzzle, I am
quite confident that you vastly overestimate the role of fraudulent claims
and fundamental errors in the science. The nature of real modern science
is that fraudulent claims don’t go undetected long, because too many
people are working on pieces of the same giant jigsaw puzzle, and when
pieces don’t fit, they look around for the reason. And no one has any
incentive to let others get away with bad science – on the contrary,
science is very competitive when it comes to getting funding. Do you
realize that only a fraction of submitted proposals get funded, and that
academic scientists’ promotion and tenure depend on their getting funded?
Everyone’s goal is to show that they can find and patch shortcomings in
the science and to answer the unanswered questions so as to improve their
own standing. Do you really thing it’s some old-boys’ club, everyone
covering each other’s rear? And do you really think climate scientists
get rich promoting global warming? Any moderately successful doctor or
lawyer makes way more money than most climate scientists, at least in this
The models aren’t perfect; no one says that they are. But they’re a
damned sight more grounded in real science and physics than the naive but
cocky “proofs” published in blogs by the self-taught, and the blanket
unfounded assertions (“there is no two-way exchange of radiation because
we say there isn’t”) that somehow passes for science in this group.
In each of your cases, I predict that one of two things is going to happen
down the road: (1) the gaps and contradictions in your own collective
understanding of physical and climate science will become so evident that
you can no longer ignore them, and you just might even feel a little shame
at your roles in aggressively promoting misinformation and distrust of
experts among those who aren’t equipped to tell science from
pseuodoscience; or (2) you will close your eyes to that evidence forever
and continue to be the conspiracy theorists who believe that you’re
modern-day Galileos fighting the evil scientific establishment, and
everything you see and hear will be forced to fit into that paranoid
world-view no matter how divorced from reality it is. And in your
missionary zeal, you’ll drag real scientists into court and try to prove
that they’re frauds and liars, costing them and their families time,
money, and personal distress. And in the end, you’ll succeed in proving
that only in your own eyes, because most or all of them are actually just
trying to do good science.
Some of you have shown yourselves to be hyper-critical, even gleeful, in
finding apparent fault with the intelligence and/or knowledge of others,
including (or especially) those who actually spend their whole lives doing
climate research. I hope to God that some of you, at least, learn how to
be a little self-critical as well.
JC comment. Grant was unaware of the previous skydragon threads at Climate Etc. The skydragons continue to expect me to debate them, their preferred forum is a radio debate. While I will never shut the door on skeptical challenges to the science and encourage contributions from those from different areas of expertise, this group beggars belief. I will continue to (barely) follow Claes Johnson’s work to see if he is able to come with anything interesting or publishable. IMO, this group has damaged the credibility of skepticism about climate change and provides a convenient target when people want to refer to “deniers” and crackpots. So thank you Grant Petty for your engagement and independent assessment of this group.