2011-05-13 11:22:33Anthony Watts will only stop denying climate science if we apologise for calling him a denier
John Cook


Great Slate article which I will blog about as I've thought of a few other "converts" since that interview:


Anthony Watts is classic:

I asked Anthony Watts, the meteorologist who runs what may be the most popular climate-skeptic blog, Watts Up With That, what could lead him to accept climate science. A "starting point for the process," he said, wouldn't begin with more facts but instead with a public apology from the high profile scientists who have labeled him and his colleagues "deniers."

The traditional Mexican stand-off: Watts will only stop denying climate science if we apologise for calling him a denier. Considering his "explain yourself sah!" email and the Slate response, the man seems obsessed about the fact that he's called a denier. How to get people to stop calling him a denier is pretty obvious.

2011-05-13 11:32:42
Alex C


Wouldn't consider it if he payed me.  Asking for (unwarranted) redress in exchange for consideration of the science only epitomizes the reason he wears that badge.  He's acting as a child.

I would personally be very disappointed if we conceded.  Or if anyone did.

2011-05-13 11:46:57No intention of apologising
John Cook


But I think it's a tragedy that much of the driving force of prominent climate bloggers is pique and ego. Watts in a huff about being called a denier. McIntyre in a huff because scientists didn't immediately respond to his data requests. How does one estimate the damage done to future generations due to these bruised egos?

2011-05-13 12:16:07
Dana Nuccitelli
Child is a perfect description. I love how he admits he doesn't want to hear any facts. He just wants scientists to apologize for being big meanies. Pathetic. never mind all the climate scientists he's slandered.
2011-05-13 13:33:03Have a look at this
Glenn Tamblyn


Before you get too deep into this, here is a radical idea. Stop calling him a denier!

You might want to read this post I just put up on the other thread



2011-05-13 15:38:54
Julian Brimelow

Watts is using a Thomas Fuller tactic-- 

This is a tactic I have seen other dubious characters doing the internet climate change debate circuit. It goes like this, "you were mean to me (forgetting that I provoked you), so I a) do not have to believe you and b) I'll only listen to you or consider changing my view if you apologise, and sometimes even c) you were eman to me so you are wrong.

Again, they taunt and incite people until they say something mean or negative or personal out of frustration, and then promptly use it as a crutch to dismiss their opponents facts and argument.

2011-05-13 16:03:14"Stop calling him a denier"
John Cook


For the record, I never called AW a denier (publicly). I said in the Guardian article that people who look at photos of weather stations near car parks but deny the full body of evidence for warming to say warming is not happening are deniers. He can take that however he wants.

2011-05-13 17:05:50


I agree with Glenn's proposal to play the review of the Surface-Station paper straight.

However, on the other hand, I don't think that the "Stop calling me a denier!" issue is real: It's just an excuse to keep doing what they were going to do anyway.

No apologies are in order. Let's just try to handle the SS paper properly.

2011-05-13 20:21:43Nothing personal JC
Glenn Tamblyn


Nothing personal John. More a general observation about how AGW advocates generally could deal with egotistical denialists.

Childish fantasy. AW sees that his pet project has turned into a damp squib. He sniffs the wind and sees his star is at risk of being on the wan except among the wingnuts. For AW his 'star' is everything. So he has a bit of a Road to Damascus conversion (I said 'a bit') and decides that the best path for him is to take the road that he has been providing a resource for 'checking' the claims of the AGW advocates - look what we were able to do with the surface stations. Anthony Watts - The Peoples Skeptic Champion! But definitely not a Denialist.

Let AW see that he might be on the loosing side and see where his ego takes him.

Just a fantasy.


2011-05-13 20:34:07


Sun Tzu, The Art of War: "Never cut off your enemy's retreat."

2011-05-13 23:19:07


"Hosti non solum dandam esse viam ad fugiendum, sed etiam muniendam´╗┐"

or "to the enemy, not just allow the escape route but make it safe."

Scipio Aemilianus

2011-05-14 03:44:17
Rob Honeycutt


I wonder if we can collective get this same message over to Joe Romm.  My sense is Romm's inclination will be to trap Watts in a canyon and let loose with all guns blazing.

We all know that there is ultimately no escaping AGW for the entire denier crowd.  AGW is a reality.  There is no way around it.  The last thing the climate change issue needs is Joe Romm manufacturing a My Lai Massacre in the process.

2011-05-14 03:59:11


Does anyone have any contact with Romm?

I don't: I can't even get posted at his site, my comments rot "in moderation" forever...

2011-05-14 04:03:44
Rob Honeycutt


John probably has cred with Joe.  And I guess a little dash of those quotes above from Sun Tzu and Scopio Aemilianus might resonate with Joe as well.

2011-05-14 06:07:12
Paul D


I couldn't resist commenting over at Deltoid:


2011-05-14 06:13:44I don't think I have that much cred with Joe
John Cook

We've corresponded in the past but he's a pretty busy guy, he doesn't always respond to my emails.

In this case, I don't think anyone could persuade Joe from running in both guns blazing.

2011-05-14 06:36:52
Julian Brimelow


If it is any consolation my comment there (CP) almost always go into moderation, some never eto see the light of day. Joe knows that I am onside too....

This has probably ben dealt with before here, but what is the philosophy behind allowing "Never cut off your enemy's retreat."?

2011-05-14 06:42:02
Daniel Bailey
Daniel Bailey

"...what is the philosophy behind allowing "Never cut off your enemy's retreat."?"

I believe it was nealjking who said that somewhere earlier, quoting Sun Tzu

2011-05-14 06:57:22
Rob Honeycutt


I believe the philosophy of allowing your enemy a path of retreat is that, if you don't, you extend the battle.  You lose more of your own troops.  You may completely crush that enemy but you will end up with a weaker army as a result, and thus leave yourself open to attack from other fronts.

2011-05-14 07:16:45


A slightly different interpretation of the Sun Tzu quote: The point is to keep in mind what you are trying to do. If you are trying to drive the enemy out of an area, you want to do that with minimal effort and risk to your own forces: So arrange things so that the enemy finds it most attractive to go the way you want him to go anyway.

The opposite approach: Try to wipe the enemy out, cut off his escape, so his back is to the wall. What's he going to do? Fight to the death: What choice does he have? The result could still be a victory - but a Pyrrhic victory, summarized by the quote: "Another victory like that, and we are undone."

(To be honest, I've only glanced at the book, so the meaning I'm attributing may be just my own. If that turns out to be the case, then you can quote Nealstradamus instead of Sun Tzu!)

2011-05-14 07:57:00
Julian Brimelow

Thanks guys, that makes sense.  Now I know why I am not a military strategist ;)

2011-05-14 18:27:30
Pete Murphy

Riccardo  -  on  "Hosti non solum dandam esse viam ad fugiendum, sed etiam muniendam´╗┐"  ... or "to the enemy, not just allow the escape route but make it safe." -

Scipio Aemilianus

Err  .... I'm not so sure Scipio was such  a reasonable  commander   .. this is the same Scipio that was responsible for the total  annihilation of Carthage   and the sowing of the local fields with salt 

2011-05-14 19:00:06



You're missing the point.

The point is NOT to "be nice" to the enemy.

The point is to get him to do BY HIMSELF what you want him to do anyway.

Carthage and Rome were locked in a competition for rule in the Mediterranean, so, yes, they did want to wipe each other out. Thoroughly.

(It is interesting to note, by the way, that the Phoenician language is closely related to Hebrew, so one can reasonably conclude that the Phoenicians were related to the Hebrews. This may add another perspective to the Roman war on Judaea and the Jews.)

2011-05-15 03:21:25Comment
Robert Way


I saw that too in that article. The egos on those guys are ridiculous. Personally though I wouldn't mind watch JR and AW fight each other in a Canyon haha....

Sometimes I wonder who does more damage to our cause, AW or JR. Romm is smart and gets the word out but man he certainly knows how to piss off the other side to the point of hatred. I'm glad he's the one who takes all the heat instead of us.

If AW isn't a complete denier then he should do a post on it cause im pretty sure his monkeys in the comments think he's a denier.

2011-05-15 05:04:02
Andy S


It will be interesting to see if Watts tries to transform this into a meta-discussion of the politics of science, as did O'Donnell et al for their Antarctica paper. What drives Watts and McIntyre is, I think,  their feelings of resentment against the establishment "team". It would be a pity if Romm, RealClimate, Tamino etc responded to this paper with snark since that would just be feeding Watt's sense of injury, at a time when he must be suffering from an acute case of anti-climax and post-partum depression. (I doubt that everyone will be able to restrain themselves, however. Since we are using sayings from other languages, I can't help think that Romm is indulging in abit of reculer pour mieux sauter and we'll be hearing from him soon.)

Watts's whole case, that poorly-sited weather stations have exaggerated warming, has been undone by none other than himself. Such is the power of the scientific method!

2011-05-15 06:07:06
Daniel Bailey
Daniel Bailey

Nealstradamus, my memory of the book matches your interpretation.  That being said, it's been 30 years since I read Sun Tzu, so mayhap my memory lieth like the proverbial dog.  Pyrrhic victories are painful.

I'll try to find my copy tomorrow; right after I stop procrastinating... 

2011-05-15 09:51:58
Rob Honeycutt


Maybe we could do a post saying, "Oh! You thought we were saying 'denier' as in 'someone who denies something that is blatantly obvious and extremely well proven through application of the scientific method and extensive research.'  We all just thought you looked like the old French coin, a 'denier.' ...Never mind!"  :-)

2011-05-16 14:15:47Apologies for the length & being OT
Daniel Bailey
Daniel Bailey

Sun Tzu

The Art of War

Samuel B Griffith translation

Oxford University Press



Chapter 7: Manœvers

Verse 27:  When he [the enemy] pretends to flee, do not pursue.

Verse 29:  Do not gobble proferred baits.

Verse 30:  Do not thwart an enemy returning homeward.

Verse 31: To a surrounded enemy you must leave a way of escape.

"When a city is surrounded, it is essential to show the besieged that there is a way to survival.  The city is strong and has a plentiful supply of food.If we attack them many officers and men will be wounded.  If we persevere in this it will take many days.  To encamp the walls of a strong city and attack rebels determined to fight to the death is not a good plan."

Ts'ao Ts'ao followed this advice and the city submitted.

Verse 32:  Do not press an enemy at bay.

"Wild beasts, when at bay, fight desperately.  How much more is this true of men!  If they know there is no alternative they will fight to the death."

Chapter 8:  The Nine Variables

Verses 17:24  Dangerous traits in the character of a general

  1. Recklessness
  2. Cowardice
  3. Hot-headedness
  4. Overly concerned with reputation
  5. Too compassionate


AW certainly possesses the first 4 of these flaws.