Author Archives: Brandon Shollenberger

Prius Too Fast

So I nearly got in a pretty bad car wreck today. Some guy in a sports car decided I was going too slow in my Prius. No prob. He can just go around me. We're on a highway with two lanes going our direction. It's not even a problem he decides to swing back into the right lane even though the left lane was completely clear.

The problem is, somehow, in his nice little sports car, he doesn't accelerate enough so when he swings back into the right lane, he's less than a foot from my car. Panicked, he yanks the wheel left and goes into a full spin, landing in the grass (unharmed). Naturally, when I go to check on him he speeds off before I can even get to his car.

I'm fine as he managed to just barely avoid clipping my car, but I can't get over this. How in the world did this guy wind up in a situation where he would have to say, "The Prius was going too fast"?

November 19, 2017 9:45 Update: This morning when I saw my car, I realized the phrase "close call" might not be entirely accurate:

Lying is Not Okay

A couple days ago I came across a link on Twitter to a post on Judith Curry's blog saying a scientist was suing critics to shut them up. Naturally, I was curious. I went to the blog post and saw it starts off:

Mannian litigation gone wild. — Steve McIntyre

Details given by Michael Schellenberger in Environmental Progress:

Stanford University professor Mark Z. Jacobson has filed a lawsuit, demanding $10 million in damages, against the peer-reviewed scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) [link to published paper] and a group of eminent scientists (Clack et al.) for their study showing that Jacobson made improper assumptions in order to claim that he had demonstrated U.S. energy could be provided exclusively by renewable energy, primarily wind, water, and solar.

A copy of Jacobson’s complaint and submitted exhibits can be found here and here.

What Jacobson has done is unprecedented. Scientific disagreements must be decided not in court but rather through the scientific process. We urge Stanford University, Stanford Alumni, and everyone who loves science and free speech to denounce this lawsuit.

The idea presented here is quite serious, but I wanted to do a little checking before drawing conclusions as filing a lawsuit is not trivial a thing to most people. Why would someone file a lawsuit like this? Would they think they could shut their critics up just by filing baseless lawsuits?

I know plenty of people like to act as though the answer to that question is yes. Anthony Watts ran a post about this lawsuit titled, "UGLY: Disputing peer review by lawsuit" and began it by saying:

Wow, just wow. Some scientists and their egos. Sheesh.

Another blog ran a post titled,

Academia Stunned As Science Anti-Free Speech Neurosis Flares…”Eminent Scientists” Sued Over Dissident Paper!

While quoting the reaction of only one academic (Judith Curry), which seems odd for an article saying academia as a whole is having any particular reaction. There doesn't seem to have been any effort to gauge how academics feel about this in general, much less an effort to examine what the lawsuit is really about. It's just more of the typical lazy talking points with no substance. It makes me wonder, is that all there really is?
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Was Clinton's Server Hacked?

I've been silent on this site recently because as of late I don't think anything I say matters. As I've mentioned a few times lately, the blog I respected the most used to be Cilmate Audit. It and its proprietor, Steve McIntyre, had a huge impact on me as I grew up.

I discovered McIntyre's first website back when I was in high school, and I followed his the subsequent blog for well over a decade. Following it taught me a great deal, both about technical matters and how the foibles of people shape aspects of our world. I could go on, but I don't want to as I've lost any and all respect for the site as of late.

To demonstrate part of why I've become disillusioned, I'm going to discuss the question of whether or not Hillary Clinton's private mail server got hacked. Following from this, I'll ask, did someone commit a felony by destroying the evidence which would have shown whether or not that server was hacked? Finally, did the person investigating this topic ignore such a felony to cover things up? Thses may seem like strange questions, but they stem from McIntyre stating:

Comey whitewashed the situation, saying that there was no evidence that the Clinton server had been hacked. “No evidence” because all the server logs had been destroyed. Comey ignored the obstruction of justice.

According to McIntyre, the head of the investigation into Clinton's use of a private mail server, James Comey, whitewashed the situation by ignoring a felony then misled people by saying there was "no evidence" Clinton's server had been hacked when that was tautological as the evidence which would have shown such was destroyed. This narrative is delusional.
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So Silly

Yesterday I talked about how misquotations are bad because I wanted to show a strange one I found at Climate Audit whose author, Steve McIntyre, chose to ignore. Instead, after the second time I said there was a misquotation, he changed his post to fix a problem he found because of what I said. He then proceeded to say absolutely nothing to anyone about the change he made.

The result was it went completely unnoticed, even by me, until I wrote yesterday's post. I was, I believe understandably, perturbed by this. By changing his post without giving any indication, McIntyre would alter the apparent meaning of my remarks. Anyone who saw me point out problems then looked at the "fixed" version would be misled about what I said. McIntyre defends this, saying:

This denial doesn't deny any facts I alleged. McIntyre claims he didn't make a change secretly, but he doesn't say how anyone could have possibly been aware of the change. On top of this, he doesn't mention the fact he made an additional change to his post which I hadn't noticed. Nobody had.

According to McIntyre, he didn't make any secret change to his post, yet even as he said this, he knew neither I nor anybody else had noticed the second change which I'll discuss today.
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Misquotations are Bad

I have a couple topics I'm supposed to be writing posts about (does anyone remember my correlation series?). I regret how little progress I"m making on them. However, the nonsense going on at Climate Audit has been keeping me distracted. I love that site. It has had more impact on my life than any other site on the internet. It's also going to hell due to the things its proprietor, Steve McIntyre, has been saying and doing of late.

I don't want to talk about all the nonsense that's been going on there lately. If I talk about things like how denying Russia invaded Crimea is both insane and morally repugnant, I might start getting bitter and angry. I'd rather focus on something that at least has some humor in it.

Namely, I'm going to talk about a bizarre case of misquotation. All misquotations are wrong, but what effect they have can vary greatly. Soemtimes a misquotation involves a minor error which doesn't impact the meaning. Other times it can change a person's meaning to the point of libeling them. Then there are cases where the misquotations are... just weird.
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That is Not a Correction

In my last post, I pointed out an untrue statement made in an article by a climate researcher which the author obviously knew was untrue. I also predicted in a comment:

It should be interesting to see if he directly acknowledges what he wrote was incorrect and tries to fix it. I'm cynical so I expect he won't. I expect neither he nor anyone else who recognizes what he wrote was incorrect/misleading to do a thing about this. That's been the result in most cases in my experience. My experience is people usually refuse to squarely deal with errors/mistakes.

Sometimes I think my cynicism is excessive, but the researcher posted a "correction" to his article which proved my expectations correct. I'm going to show how the "correction" he posted didn't actually correct anything.
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So Informative

This is a hasty post as I'm currently living in fear for my life from some wasps that keep harassing me. I just wanted to throw it up on here because I think it's funny. Read this statement:

The figure above shows model runs for the A1B scenario (which is the only scenario with model runs readily available, though its 2016 CO2 concentrations are nearly identical to those of the A2 scenario). AR4 projections between 1970 and 2016 show warming quite close to observations, only 8% higher.

This was in regard for a 2007 set of climate models. It turns out models used for a 2007 report managed to get temperatures largely correct for the period of 1970-2016. Who would have guessed?
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Totally Plausible

Hey guys. I've been spending way too much time over at Climate Audit this last week or so because they've been discussing the (supposed) Russian hacks of various computer networks within the United States. System security is a topic I've long been interested in so naturally I was curious what people were saying there. I regret have even looked now.

The quality of the discussion for the last few posts at Climate Audit is surprisingly low. It's nothing compared to what used to be found on the site, which is a shame as I alwlays held the site in high regard. Don't worry though. I'm not going to start some inter-blog argument today. Today, I just want to show you one of the most hilarious arguments I have ever seen anyone make, an argumend endorsed by Steve McIntyre, proprietor of Climate Audit.
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Tired

So a couple days ago my attention was drawn to this:

http://climatescience.oxfordre.com/view/10.1093/acrefore/9780190228620.001.0001/acrefore-9780190228620-e-328

I'm trying to work out a detailed response pointing out the errors/inaccuracies/misrepresentations in it, but it's so tiring. I don't understand how people can get away with making claims they know to be false over and over. People say science is self-correcting, but just how long is that supposed to take?
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My Conspiratorial Thinking

The tweet which led to my last post also led to an exchange on Twitter which I found somewhat peculiar as it involved things like being told I was promoting conspiratorial nonsense. Despite my best efforts, I was unable to find out what this nonsense was, and alas, it appears we may never know what conspiracy theories I have been espousing.

That mystery aside, the exchange allowed me to state why I think people deriding the pursuit of e-mails from climate scientist via legal means like Freedom of Information requests are in the wrong. It's not that I care about the e-mails themselves. I don't. However:

There has been a long history of climate scientists involved in the global warming debate refusing to share information/data. One of the most famous examples was when climate scientist Phil JOnes responded to a person asking for data by saying:

We have 25 or so years invested in the work. Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it.

This sort of reaction is not limited to climate science. Examples of it have been discussed in many fields. I think it's silly. If you're a scientist who believes in his/her work, you should have no problem with people examining it. Refusing to share information/data with people, especially because of perceived traits you believe that person has, is completely unscientific.

When scientists behave in such an unscientific manner, I see no problem with people trying to get access to information they were denied in other ways, such as using the legal system. I don't think that's a remarkable view, but my tweet above led to this response:

I think that question is silly as it seems it should be easy to see at least some examples of what i referred to. If a person publishes a paper and refuses to archive the data used in it, the lack of such an archive can often be apparent. If an author of a paper fails to describe steps they took in their analysis, that can often be apparent. So forth and so on.

That said, the person I was exchanging these tweets asked me to state what data I cannot find several times so I offered to write a post highlighting some examples. What comes next will be a list of just a few examples of data and/or information I have wanted to examine but been unable to because researchers refuse to share it.
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