Hey guys. I haven't written any new posts for a little while because I didn't want to distract from the last post where I announced me new eBook. Or maybe I should be calling it an ePamphlet, since it is shorter than a book normally is? Either way, the point is I wanted to let that be the top post for a while to keep attention focused on the new book:
Fortunately, there's now a bit more to talk about regarding the book. Specifically, I'd like to talk about how people have reacted to the book. You may have seen the leading "skeptic" blog Watts Up With That (which I've condemned quite strongly in the recent past) ran a post promoting this book. I'm obviously happy for the exposure despite not being a fan of the site, and the people there seem to have reacted quite positively to this, so all in all things are good.
But of course, there are critics. Their comments are the ones I want to discuss. That's partially because I feel awkward highlighting positive remarks about myself as it seems like being... well, tasteless. It's also because I feel I should address some of the things they say because responding to criticism is a good thing. Mostly though, my critics are just too funny to ignore.
I'll start by highlighting a post by the blogger Sou, of Hot Whopper. She has a creepy obsession with the Watts Up With That (WUWT) website, seemingly writing posts to respond to every single thing the site publishes. She also has a tendency to say completely insane things, like claiming the proprietor of WUWT, Anthony Watts, is responsible for people being murdered.
Yeah, I'm not going to bother discussing her as a person. She's messed up, but what really matters for us today is the things she said in response to the post promoting my new book. Early in her post she says:
Anthony applauds a script kiddie who doesn't return the favour, and who spends some of his time hacking forums and much of the rest boasting about it and misrepresenting what he steals.
She doesn't actually explain what it is I misrepresented or how I misrepresented it. That's probably not surprising as the other things she says here are just ridiculous. For instance, I've never hacked into any forum in my life. She has no basis to claim otherwise. She's probably mixing me up with some other person who has hacked into a forum, but... yeah, I don't know how she'd make that mistake.
The real kicker is that she claims I spend much of my time "boasting about" hacking into forums. This is probably a reference to comments I've made in the past, epitomized by a blog post I wrote which began:
I’ve got mad haxor skillz. I’m a l33t hacker paid by evil organizations and shadowy conglomerates. That’s how I found Skeptical Science’s secret stash of Nazi fantasies. Or so some would have you believe.
I'd like to think most people seeing me say I have "mad haxor skillz" would understand that is not me bragging about being some "l33t haxor." I'd like to think most people would understand the facetiousness of my remarks, recognizing the over-the-top and completely silly terminology as my way of mocking the idea that I hacked into anything.
Sou apparently didn't. She also appears not to have understood the sentence, "Or so some would have you believe" was meant to indicate me discussing the fact people accused me of being a hacker doesn't mean I actually think I hacked into anything, much less that I used a great deal of skill to do so. This should have been obvious as my post goes on to say:
That’s it. I got intrigued by a link I saw on an SkS post, and I followed a couple links I found from it. My l33t haxor skillz amounted to nothing more than being able to follow a few links.
It appears to at least this one critic of mine, this is me bragging. It's pretty bizarre. So is much of the rest of her post (and her site), but let's not get bogged down on her delusional fantasies and fabrications.
Instead, let's look at another critic of mine, Brandon Gates. He has a blog post discussing my book. It is rather meandering, filled with a lot of empty rhetoric, attitude and insults that don't contribute anything or have any real style or flair. When you strip that all away, along with his discussion of the administration of WUWT (while I agree the moderation of him was inappropriate, this post is about my book), you're left with very little.
I'd like to leave aside Gates's discussion of me as a person as, like he points out, my person isn't relevant to what I wrote in my book. However, I have to take a minute to highlight one thing he writes about me. It may seem somewhat trivial, and I do get why people will sometimes misspell my name, but it's really weird to see:
I don't know much about Shollenberger other than we have the same given name. I can't be arsed right now to properly research his background or prior writings
Oddly, or perhaps not so much as I dig into it, there's some bad blood between he and Anthony for comments Schollenberger made about WUWT
The final phrase, "whose one field of mastery is deluding himself into believing whatever idiotic things he finds most convenient at any given moment", is about the only thing I wholeheartedly agree with Schollenberger on.
Never one to let personal feelings get in the way of disseminating lies about "lies", Anthony himself weighs in on why he's promoting Schollenberger's new book:
It's available as an e-book for the low price of $0.99 on Amazon. With some credit due, Shollenberger also hosts it for free on his own blog.
Going back to Schollenberger's Please Die in a Fire post on his own blog:
I gather that Nuccitelli's comment was lifted from some of the files Schollenberger
I know that's a lot of text, but there is quite a bit more. If you're not seeing the problem, let me quote this sentence which highlights it beautifully:
Shollenberger engaged me directly on the WUWT thread. And I responded (Schollenberger's text in bold):
I don't mind that people misspell my name from time to time. I don't even mind if a person spells my name wrong every time. But come on! How do you keep switching between spellings? How do you go so far as to write a sentence in which you spell a person's name two different ways? It's clearly not a slip of a finger while typing. He does it over and over and over. It's almost like he doesn't know how to spell my name so he figures he'll just use both spellings so at least he'll be right half the time.
I know that's not a minor thing, but I find it incredibly distracting. Also, I find it entertaining the first time he wrote my name was in this sentence:
other than we have the same given name. I can't be arsed right now to properly research his background or prior writings
It's good to know he apparently "can't be arsed right now to properly research" little things like how to spell the name of the person he is writing an entire post about. I feel like that might say something about how credible his post is, but let's just try to move on. After all, Gates's criticisms of my book are what truly matter.
I'll be kind and not discuss Gates's criticisms that don't even attempt to address any of the points made in the book. If he wants to resort to petty insults and snickering, he can, but I'd rather look at what he says in reference to the images photoshopped to portray Skeptical Science members in Nazi regalia:
[... ] take a look at the sort of things I happened to find when poking around in publicly accessible portions of Cook's websites. Here is an image of him, created by him or one of his Skeptical Science group members and posted to his website:
Link in the original. Top of pg. 5 in the book shows one of the images, John Cook's face photoshopped into a vintage portrait of an Nazi SS officer, with the insignia replaced with various Skeptical Science logos. Skeptical Science. SS. Get it? Poking fun at their detractors who in seriousness compare the SkS team to murderously xenophobic nationalistic fascists.
There aren't enough irony meters in the world. It gets better. Going back to Schollenberger's Please Die in a Fire post on his own blog:
Anthony Watts, this is shameful. You’ve just promoted an article in which a man is smeared for things like, having had a divorce and supposedly being brain damaged That much might just be disreputable, but what reaches the levels of truly disgusting is promoting this article when it smears a person for his father having fought in the German army in WWII to make a Nazi smear.
There’s far more to say, but given how dishonorable and disgusting this is, I don’t think there’s any point. Anyone who thinks this piece is acceptable, much less deserving of promotion and support, is a vile, wretched soul who shut up and go away. And that’s the nicest thing I can say about this obscene hit piece.
My bold, to emphasize the distinct lack of self-awareness. And yes, this is me at my most diplomatic, giving-the-benefit-of-the-doubt, self.
Unfortunately the bolding seems to get stripped inside blockquote tags due to the text formatting used on this (I've been meaning to fix that for ages now), but it should be clear enough without the bolding. Gates is making a big deal about how I'm supposedly a hypocrite for saying it is wrong to compare people to Nazis because I showed people the Skeptical Science group had images on their server in which the Skeptical Science group were portrayed as Nazis.
Reread that a few times if it doesn't make sense to you. It's hard to convey Gates's position here because of how nonsensical it is. Pointing out people possess images of themselves Photoshopped into Nazi regalia is not comparing them to Nazis. It is perfectly reasonable to condemn comparing people to Nazis while discussing the fact people have Photoshopped themselves into images depicting themselves as Nazis.
Moving on, Gates makes the remarkable claim:
After a number of pages devoted to not-Nazis, musing about when hacking isn't and other irrelevancies, he gets to his central point:
They came up with their categories so they could examine both ideas. In fact, Nuccitell specifically said:
The way I see the final paper is that we’ll conclude ‘There’s an x% consensus supporting the AGW theory, and y% explicitly put the human contribution at >50%’.
If we plug in the numbers from their study into Nuccitelli's proposal for how to publish their conclusions, we get:
There’s a 97% consensus supporting the AGW theory, and 1.6% put the human contribution at >50%.
I gather that Nuccitelli's comment was lifted from some of the files Schollenberger obtained from SkS servers.
Again, I never hacked into any forum. I quoted remarks from a person, Dana Nuccitelli, from a forum which was hacked, but it was hacked by someone else entirely. I didn't even obtain a copy of the files until years later. I don't know where Gates "gather[ed]" this idea from, but it's completely untrue and has no basis in anything at all.
It's pretty remarkable the only two critics of this book I've seen write a post about it so far both appear to be accusing me of doing things without any evidence whatsoever. Running afoul of the "consensus" isn't just getting me accused of committing crimes for doing things that are perfectly legal, it's also getting me accused of committing crimes for things nobody has any reason to think I did.
But let's move on. The key issue of my book is quite simple. As I explain in it, the authors of the most famous "consensus" paper write things like:
Of the 4,014 abstracts that expressed a position on the issue of human-induced climate change, Cook et al. (2013) found that over 97% endorsed the view that the Earth is warming up and human emissions of greenhouse gases are the main cause.
That was written in a paper published by the lead author of this paper, John Cook. It shows how the Skeptical Science group has been trying to portray their "consensus." They keep trying to convince everyone they found a consensus humans "are the main cause" of global warming. That's completely untrue. They didn't find anything of the sort. I address this in my book by saying:
Nuccitelli and Cook were clearly aware of the distinction between the idea humans cause some amount of warming and the idea humans cause most of the warming. They came up with their categories so they could examine both ideas. In fact, Nuccitell specifically said:
"The way I see the final paper is that we’ll conclude ‘There’s an x% consensus supporting the AGW theory, and y% explicitly put the human contribution at >50%’."
If we plug in the numbers from their study into Nuccitelli's proposal for how to publish their conclusions, we get:
"There’s a 97% consensus supporting the AGW theory, and 1.6% put the human contribution at
That is the entire point of my book. The Skeptical Science group came up with a rating system to allow themselves to quantify the level of "consensus" on two different issues: 1) Humans cause some amount of global warming; 2) Humans cause most global warming." When we examine their data in that way, we find there is only a 1.6% "consensus" humans are the main cause of global warming.
That's a big deal. The authors of this paper go around telling everyone there is a 97% consensus humans are the main cause of global warming, yet when we use a method of examining their data they designed, we find that number is only 1.6%. Pretty big deal, right? And pretty simple, too, right? I mean, nobody should have trouble understanding this... right?
Wrong. Apparently Gates doesn't understand it at all. He says:
And from this, that the cardinal sin committed by Cook et al. (2013) is that they didn't stick with how Nuccitelli "originally" envisioned the results.
Seriously, that's it. He expects what researchers say in private when putting together a study to stand, set in concrete, until the thing is complete, peer-reviewed and published.
Uh... no. I don't have the slightest idea how Gates came up with this idea, but the issue I raised obviously isn't that people changed their approach to a project. The issue I raised is when you analyze their data in an honest way, such as in the way they themselves designed, you get a radically different result than the one the Skeptical Science group presents to the public. Gates manages to ignore that, peppering his post with remarks like:
For shit's sake. We'd still be using stone hammers if that's how scientific enquiry actually worked, if that.
But where things get truly remarkable is in a comment Gates had apparently posted which got moderated out by WUWT for some reason (an action I don't agree with at all) in which he said (in part):
Here, again, is the crux of my argument to date:
"Why should your own subjective categorization be any more valid than theirs? Since when is a difference of opinion an a priori example of malfeasance?"
This isn't about some disagreement over a "subjective categorization." The Cook et al consensus paper rated any paper as endorsing the consensus as long as it at least acknowledged that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas. Seriously, that's all it took. Acknowledge the greenhouse gas is real, and the Skeptical Science group would claim you're endorsing the "consensus."
It is not a matter of "subjective categorization" to point out papers which do nothing more than acknowledge the greenhouse effect is real are not claiming humans are the main cause of global warming. Just looking at the categories used by the Skeptical Science group would confirm what I say. But instead, Gates "can't be arsed... to properly research" what I said, what the paper says, who committed what crimes, how to spell people's names or probably anything else. Instead, he just wants to say things like:
Alright, enough of this self-important bullshit. Main point is, next time one of these gibbering twits trots out a sob story about how they've been "censored" at a consensus AGW blog for raising "inconvenient 'facts'", I now have the perfect anecdotal antidote.
Bravo Brandon Gates. You and Sou are the first critics this book have had! I suspect you're also going to be the most deranged.