2011-06-22 18:49:52The SkS Index
Glenn Tamblyn


With the volume of posts and rebuttals SkS has produced, I feel there is a real issue with old posts getting lost in the ongoing flow of new stuff. Like any good reference book, we need an index. And with the volume we have produced, this is a resource that goes way beyond just being 'skeptical of the skeptics'. Letting the effort that has gone into collating and presenting all this go to waste by becoming 'yesterdays news' seems almost criminal. But that is what an old post is. Yesterdays News.


What I propose is that we produce a series of linked pages that are an Index into ALL the content SkS has and is producing. Any post could appear under multiple headings if it is reasonably relevent to that topic.


Obviously that is a lot of work, but it is really the leg work of grabing each post and assigning it to its various categories in the index. Once all the old posts have been included, this could be part of the process of building Daily or Weekly Digests.


I am willing to start the leg work process of adding all the old posts since this suits my available work commitments - a bit haphazard.


What I would like is feedback on a general outline for how the 'index' should be structured. Also any feedback on small code changes JC could add that would enhance the capabilities and maintenance of the index.


My very rough preliminary outline for the index is as follows:

Climate Science

            Overview - The Big Picture


                      Radiative Physics

                      Greenhouse Effect

                      Water Vapour





                      Oceans & Chemistry

                      The Sun

                      Climate Sensitivity

                      Time Lags

                      Current Climate




                      Radiative Physics

                      Greenhouse Effect

                      Water Vapour





                      Oceans & Chemistry

                      The Sun

                      Climate Sensitivity

                      Time Lags

                      Current Climate




            Who’s Who?

            Inconsistencies, Logical Fallacies, Suspect motives.

            Possible but not Probable

           Well meaning but Wrong

           Grounds for debate


Sundries – Philosophy, The Moral Dimension, Testimonials, Reviews





Alphabetical Index

            [Key word list]

Each subsection would have a basic introduction as to its relevence (except for the alphabetical index). All posts would be classified according to what they are relevent to, and key words which would form the basis of the alphabetical index.

Opinions please!

2011-06-22 19:30:33Agreed for the need
John Cook

I just have to add a category map so blog posts can be mapped to multiple categories. Fortunately I did this for STW so I'll canabalise some of that code.

I'll program this so it can be crowd sourced. So we can all chip away at it over time and build the index. The key question is deciding appropriate categories.

2011-06-23 13:28:06Sounds good
Glenn Tamblyn


That sounds like a promising starting point. Perhaps also a keyword map as well so key words can be assigned to a post to form a true subject index.

2011-06-23 13:33:15Something missing?
John Hartz
John Hartz

Where are the "fingerprints" of climate change?

2011-06-23 13:34:39Also...
John Hartz
John Hartz

What about climate change's evil twin, ocean acidification?

2011-06-23 13:39:31Fingerprints
Glenn Tamblyn


Maybe a separate section for them, perhaps in the overview. Otherwise the prediction of them is implicit in the Theory section and/or could have its own subsection. Then their existance is under the Observations section again either implicitly or as a separate subsection.


This list is currently a suggested outline of topics. There could be subsections that go deeper. Also any post might appear in more than one section if relevent. Particularly between the topics index and the alphabetical index.

2011-06-23 18:37:09Some thoughts / Visual display


Regardless of how the index will eventually be structured, the starting point for any references to the rebuttals should - internally - be based on the fixed numbers from the argument levels list. Each argument can then be assigned to one or more of the suggested categories.

For an index, it would also be neat to directly have the information about available translations highlighted, eg. via the flags already used in the individual posts/rebuttals. This would visibly add the global dimension of SkS.


Some thoughts about visualising the connections:

In order to keep track of SkS-Translations I've been using a tool called "The Brain" which is a special kind of mindmapping-program. I also created a "brain" which at the moment has two categories: all the currently available rebuttals as an index (using their numbers from the argument levels list) and the taxonomy.

The brain is available as a rough and ready interactive web-version if you follow this link: http://webbrain.com/u/12TH

You can click on any of the arguments and see how they relate to the index (blue lines) and taxonomy (red lines). Additional categories and relationships can be created and added as needed (albeit not directly in the webbrain, I'd have to do this in my local file and re-synchronise).

Not sure if this might come in handy either for collecting or displaying the information, just thought I'd share.

2011-06-23 19:30:58
Paul D



A minimalist answer!

2011-06-23 21:18:58


How would you organize the Rebuttals' taxonomy?

2011-06-23 21:20:30Rebuttals already have a Taxonomy
John Cook

Parent categories "it's not happening", "it's not us", and so on...
2011-06-23 21:42:34


Where is the list of taxonomical categories?

2011-06-24 17:32:48Arg taxa
John Cook

2011-06-24 18:33:36



"Regardless of how the index will eventually be structured, the starting point for any references to the rebuttals should - internally - be based on the fixed numbers from the argument levels list. Each argument can then be assigned to one or more of the suggested categories."

Are the numbers from the argument-levels list, in fact, fixed? Or are they rankings that get shuffled every once in awhile, according to the statistics of the web?

In any case, I agree that we need to have some fixed ID number for each argument.

2011-06-24 18:46:04Fixed numbers
John Cook

Here are the fixed numbers for each arg:


2011-06-24 23:51:38Tipping points?
John Hartz
John Hartz

Where are tipping points dealt with?

2011-06-25 02:17:59Some thoughts from another Outline
Same Ordinary Fool


In response to receiving an Outline of mine, John Cook invited me to this Forum, and suggested that I submit it for comment.  I never did, because of the difficulty in justifying everything else (in addition to SkSc Arguments and blogposts) that I wanted to hang on it:

...Relevant no-paywall papers

...Questionable papers needing cautions

...Website discussions (Tamino, Real Climate, etc.)

...WUWT blogposts with AGW responses

...Videos (Greenman, Potholer, conference presentations)  etc. etc.

Anyway, this outline was originally meant for a larger population of entries.  And it still needs more subdivisions in some areas. 

It is roughly 3X longer than Glenn's.  By my quick scan, maybe 2X longer would avoid putting too many disparate things together.  Going shorter would increase the number of "Other" headings.  But since there wouldn't be too many items under each one, it's a reasonable thing to do.

Suggestion:  The shorter the Outline the greater the need for annotation.  The more different things that are lumped together, the greater the need to explain to other people just what is inside.


After several false starts, I found that using the Tables of Contents copied from Meteorology and Climatology textbooks at a nearby University library led me to a more coherent and remember-able organization.

And most importantly, that the desired categories and subcategories could best be presented when separated somewhat-obviously  into:

.....Short Term  (a la 'Meteorology')

.....Long Term  (a la 'Climate')  [Forcings:  CO2, Solar, Ozone...]

.....Future  (Climate disruption)  [Computer modeling, Climate sensitivity & Mitigation]

.....The Past  (Palaeoclimatology)



.....And the remainder into their respective 'college courses'


The hardest choice may be how to simplify palaeoclimatology.

The Energy section was included because WUWT has blogposts on energy issues...???

Is "Index" the right word?  My dictionary says that its "Table of Contents" definition is obsolete.



From:  Same Ordinary Fool







2011-06-25 03:15:14Fixed numbers vs. Rebuttal list


The fixed numbers listing isn't necessarily always up to date as far as I can tell. In addition, the rebuttals' list has the advantage to also already show what is in the pipeline even if not yet published. In order to get as complete a list and therefore structure it might be best to rely more on the rebuttals' list - at least for our internal usage.

2011-06-25 04:06:13Why reinvent the wheel?
John Hartz
John Hartz

SkS already has a Taxonimy for all articles. Is it obsolete?

PS -- The housekeeping side of a website like SkS cannot be efficiently and effectively managed by a committee-of-the-whole. I believe John Cook should create a Housekeeping Advisory Committee of 3-5 SkS authors. 

2011-06-26 18:39:51Not just rebuttals
Glenn Tamblyn


I suppose the point of my initial post was a comment about a basic reality here at SkS.

Blogging and general commentary has overtaken Rebuttals. So while the taxonomy of the rebuttals is important, the complete history of past blogs and presenting them as a coherent, structured whole is becoming more important.

A simple metric JC. How many blogs from 2 years ago get viewing hits vs current posts? Current blogs are important but they can easily be like todays newspaper - wrapping up the rubbish tomorrow. Short shelf-life can seriously devalue the effort that goes into posts.

This goes to a central question which is at the heart of blogging. Is this daily commentary, or the creation of a resource that has impacts beyond this weeks topic.

2011-06-26 19:29:01Bottom-up-approach?


In order to get a better handle on the categories needed, could it make sense to sift through the blog-posts and come up with eg. 5 to 10 keywords (or tags) for each of them? Once we have the keywords, these can be grouped into categories and used to index the posts. For the rebuttals, at least some of this work has already been done via their taxonomy, but more tags could be added.

For upcoming posts, tags/keywords could be added whenever a post is created but it should also be possible to add more tags later. For already existing posts, we'd somehow have to "triage" them, due to the sheer number out there already. Is there a way to find out which posts are accessed the most and therefore might have the biggest impact? With a list like this, we'd be able to do the tagging in a more relevant sequence.

2011-06-26 21:31:13Glenn Tamblyn
John Hartz
John Hartz

I concur with your assessment. 

Now is the time for everyone to take a deep breath and think through what the core mission of SkS has been, is now, and should be moving forward.

To be successful, an enterprise must always "keep its eye on the ball."  

SkS cannot, and should not be "all things to all people."  


2011-06-26 21:40:56BaerbelW
John Hartz
John Hartz

Your "bottoms-up" approach is a good way to the get the ball rolling.

I also second your motion about the need to triage blog posts.

Having said that, I strongly recommend that a small team of authors be consitituted to triage the rebuttals with respect to the need for updating. The rebuttals are, in my opinion, the heart and soul of SkS. Keeping them current should be one of the highest priorites for the SkS author team.

2011-06-26 21:42:15Publish, or perish syndrom
John Hartz
John Hartz

Have SkS authors fallen into the "publish, or perish" syndrom?

2011-06-26 22:55:22These are good issues to discuss
John Cook

It's easy to get lost in the hustle and bustle of daily grind and lose the long term goal. From day one, SkS has always been about the database of rebuttals. Originally, that was all the site was about. When people suggested I add a blog, I only added it because I thought I'd use blog posts to draw attention to additions or updates to the rebuttal database. The secret of the success of SkS is the database. It's what inspired Shine Tech to create the iPhone app. Converting all the intermediate rebuttals to Plain English is what led to the creation of the author community and this fantastic forum. Blogging can feel sometimes like running on one spot but SkS has avoided that trap by gradually over time incrementally building up the rebuttal database into a powerful resource that is now used by scientists, climate communicators, politicians and environmentalists.

That said, we are also building up other useful resources but again, they are long standing encyclopedic resources. Eg - Monckton Myths, Christy Crocks, etc. The Climate Graphics resource is building up steadily and is being used already by climate communicators in powerpoints. The quotes database, the contradictions database, the deniers database, these all interlink and there is a lot of power in there yet to be data mined. And there's always a place for blog posts that address current events. But we should always be looking to cannabalise content from blog posts and integrate them into the rebuttals database.

Nevertheless, while rebuttals always rule supreme at SkS, making the ever growing collection of blog posts more accessible is necessary so a taxonomy of categories is necessary. Working out appropriate categories is the challenge.

Re maintaining the rebuttals, I've been thinking about how to approach this. I'll shortly set up a new forum for revision. A major goal will be updating old rebuttals with new science or fixing inaccuracies. But I think another important aspect will be improving text that could be written better or communicated more effectively. We mustn't fall into the fallacy of thinking merely providing more accurate science will lead to changes in people's opinions.

I've been learning a lot lately about issues of climate communication - from communication books like "Made to Stick" and also from psychological research. I'd like to share some of these lessons in the Communicating Science forum. My vision is we all assimilate these lessons, incorporate them in our own thinking & writing and train each other by posting feedback on our content that suggest ways we can communicate more effectively. My vision is we work together to shape each other into a crack team of kick ass climate communicators! :-)

2011-06-26 23:57:47Our #1 need...
John Hartz
John Hartz

Develop and implement a work plan to manage all the components of the SkS Machine in a systematic way.

2011-06-27 21:16:45SkS components
John Cook

Good call. There so much going on, it's hard to keep track of all the crazy ideas going around. Would be good to have it all in one thread to peruse and update as new ideas form - would also make it easier to prioritize and strategize.
2011-06-27 22:54:15


It sounds like we need Management.

2011-06-27 23:47:51nealking
John Hartz
John Hartz

... or a reasonable facsimile thereof!

2011-06-29 00:48:08
Same Ordinary Fool


"A List of Categories to group blog posts under"  [from a previous list]

SHORT TERM (as Weather is short term) was the closest I could get to a heading explaining the grouping together of short term issues. But note that this is a list of short term AGW issues - otherwise unrelated to a weather/meteorology curriculum. "Clouds" (a la Spencer and Lindzen) are separate from "Precipitation & humidity & hydrologic cycle".

Could the category titles themselves be made useful as search words?



SHORT TERM (as Weather is short term)



..........aerosol,air pollution



..........ozone depletion






..........land (GISS,...)


..........satellite (UAH, RSS)



Sun & Radiation & Heat

.....Solar energy

.....Earth's heat balanc

Precipitation & humidity & hydrologic cycle




Extreme events



.....Floods, Landslides, Avalanches


.....Heatwaves & wildfires 


.....ENSO, El Nino

Weather vs climate



LONG TERM (as Climate is long term)


.....Greenhouse gases


...............CO2 cycles

...............CO2 measurement

...............CO2 climate physics

...........Methane, CH4




..........Sunspots & cosmic rays



.....Soot (re snow & ice albedo)


Other explanations for recent warming: Lindzen, etc.

[add Feedbacks; Tipping points?]



THE FUTURE (as climate disruption)

Computer modeling

Climate sensitivity



.....Sustainability (including efficiency)

.....Forests (new)

.....Adapting to warmer weather

.....CO2 sequestration

.....Carbon sinks - increasing??




.....Sea level rise (past,present & future)

.....Ocean heat content

.....Ocean acidification

.....Ocean currents




.....Arctic Ocean

..........sea ice



..........sea ice

..........Antarctic Peninsula

..........West Antarctica

...............Pine Island glacier

...............Thwaites glacier

..........East Antarctica

.....Mountain glaciers





.......... 150-2000 years ago

..........................hockey sticks

..........................Medieval Warm Period

..........................Little Ice Age

........... >2000 years ago


................Milankovitch cycles

................Ice Ages - misc

................Eemian interglacial

................Holstein interglacial

Cenozoic: Pliocene - Paleocene




Proxy temperature methods

.....Ice Cores



..........Mountain glaciers


.....Marine Sediments and Corals

.....Non-marine Geological Evidence

.....Non-marine Biological Evidence

.....Pollen Analysis

.....Documentary Data

.....Paleoclimate Models

.....Dating Methods

[List plagiarized from Raymond Bradley] 




[Combined because of obvious overlap]


.....IPCC, Cancun, Copenhagen, Kyoto

.....ar4, ar5

National Political Science & Current Events

.....National Politics

.....Media coverage


Politics of Climate Science

.....Peer review




.....Skeptic misc ?






..........Plant [ranges...]

 ..........Animal [ranges, migrations...]

...............Polar bears (not 'maritimus')


.....Agricultural (?)

.....Freshwater (?)

Human Health (i.e., malaria)




.....Cap 'n trade, carbon trading, carbon tax...

.....Economic aspects of global health issues and statistics. [Bjorn Lomborg...]




.....Mars, Venus, Pluto




Fossil Fuel Energy

.....Natural Gas



.....Tar sands, oil shale

Sustainable Energy







.....Hydro power 





























2011-06-30 13:15:46How to spend any money made.
Glenn Tamblyn


On another post there was a brief discussion of what to do with any revenue that might be raised through SkS activities. Simple Suggestion.


Wages for platform developers to support JC.

2011-06-30 13:40:43
Glenn Tamblyn



All these categories and more could be included. However a key issue with any subjects index as opposed to a keyword index is whether it is shallow but long or short but deep. Since it is web based there is no restriction on how deep down a viewer could drill if the dtabase allows indefinite depth. Perhaps a more important factor is information content on one page.

Ideally one screen should hold all the options at one level then they drill down on an item to go to a deeper level.

And good information display practice would have at most 6-8 subjects items per page. Perhaps with a 1-2 para subject description as a pop-up when you roll over a topic

Then each level should hold sub-topics relevent to that level.  And the sequencing of howyou read down through the subjects should refelct the order in which you might wish to teach an uninformed reader. So a reader can then work there way down the list and they have a tutorial style experience. Or than can drill straight in to a topic if they are looking for that in particular. Or they can got to the alphabet index to key word search.