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  1. That’s Müller, not Muller.

    [Response: Oops. fixed. Thanks. - gavin]

    Comment by Nick Barnes — 5 Jul 2011 @ 7:50 AM

  2. I think that this story illustrates the perils of overspecialization. Specialization in research is a necessity, but when you become so specialized that you lose sight of the big picture of your discipline – in this case it appears that Lu lost sight of both the big picture of atmospheric chemistry and basic logic (since even if CFCs did have a role in warming, logically that does not preclude a role for CO2). A lot of climate skeptics seem to make the same basic error – using the type of logic that “if the sun, then not CO2″, rather than “if the sun, then possibly the sun and CO2″.

    The big question is, of course, how can people gain extremely specialized knowledge, yet still keep the big picture in sight?

    Comment by Andy Park — 5 Jul 2011 @ 9:23 AM

  3. That assumes that your interpretation of the big picture is correct.

    [Response: Hmmm.... Let's think about the two options - nobody knows anything about anything in which case everyone's opinion is just as valid as anyone else's, or there is a scientific method which allows opinions/theories/hypotheses to be tested and for the ones that don't work very well to be put aside allowing us to ratchet up to a better state of knowledge over time. Or it's all a conspiracy. Your call. - gavin]

    Comment by Bushy — 5 Jul 2011 @ 9:42 AM

  4. The answer to the big question posed by at the end of the post by Andy Park [#2] is: “Read widely.”

    [The extended version is: "Read widely, but stick to the best of the best of peer review."]

    Comment by Donald Oats — 5 Jul 2011 @ 10:00 AM

  5. Well, Gavin, you gave me three options there, not two.
    I will discount the conspiracy theory as well as the “nobody knows anything about anything thing”.
    However science and progress has shown time and time again that informed dismissal of hypotheses has not been productive in so many scenarios.
    The whole CO2, Ozone, feedback issue is so mired in uncertainty that I fail to see where you can even start to discount this chaps work without at least giving it some consideration or at least. If you are going to discount it so forcefully in public – your scientific rebuttal instead of just contempt and dismissal is required.

    Comment by Bushy — 5 Jul 2011 @ 10:43 AM

  6. Yes, it is very important to rebuttal bad literature since there are so many people out there making false claims. How do you distinguish what literature is “bad” though?

    Comment by Lauren — 5 Jul 2011 @ 11:19 AM

  7. Looked at your reply again and option 2 0f 3 is best of a bad bunch.

    Comment by Bushy — 5 Jul 2011 @ 11:29 AM

  8. Why do you feel that it is ok to just edit and distort the comments by your readers? The comment at 6 is not what I said except for a cherry picked few words that are useless without context. Good heavens chaps, you have to man-up or state your case. Obfuscation is going to get you absolutely nowhere. You are being observed by so many.

    [Response: I have no idea what you are talking about. If comments are edited it is noted clearly with an "[edit]” and this is only done in the event that an interesting point is obscured by something off-topic or abusive. Your comment #6 was approved without delay and was not edited by anyone. You did have a comment that got caught by the spam filter (which happens) which I have pulled out. – gavin]

    Comment by Bushy — 5 Jul 2011 @ 12:18 PM

  9. Bushy. If all three of Gavin’s choices make up a bad bunch, I would be fascinated with what you think is a good fourth option. Steve

    Comment by Steve Fish — 5 Jul 2011 @ 12:51 PM

  10. Lauren #5 Did you read the article? Did you notice that Lu’s hypothesis didn’t stand the test of observation? Pretty straightforward really. Once you get the hang of it you can apply this method to all sorts of things.

    Comment by One Anonymous Bloke — 5 Jul 2011 @ 12:54 PM

  11. In my undergraduate days one of the post-grad students I knew well plastered his office door with all sorts of weird rantings on a Sunday afternoon. We all thought he’d been taking something less than completely legal and looked forward to telling not to be such a twit when he came down. In a way he had been: in effect his sports training and intense approach to his work had resulted in some condition where he basically overdosed on his own adrenalin. Luckily for him the lab manager’s son had had a similar problem so she recognized what was going on and medical intervention was arranged by the end of Monday morning.

    Obviously it’s impossible to tell from a distance but I do wonder whether some other scientific careers aren’t blighted by similar but less acute problems. It raises all sorts of questions about how feedback should be given and if, after help, it’s possible for somebody’s career to be put back on track.

    The rather intensely polarized atmosphere surrounding climate science would, presumably, make dealing with this sort of thing even harder.

    Comment by Ed Davies — 5 Jul 2011 @ 1:10 PM

  12. Lauren – either you need to be a little bit smart and do some hard work to check the literature, or you need to be really smart and do a little bit of work to check the literature. The key here is work. You might have to, get a calculator out, or look things up, or think carefully about the logic behind conclusions to see if they hold.

    you might even have to go to the lab or into the field and take some observations and perform experiments!

    Comment by Jack Mott — 5 Jul 2011 @ 1:10 PM

  13. #2 Andy

    “A lot of climate skeptics seem to make the same basic error – using the type of logic that “if the sun, then not fairies at the bottom of the garden″, rather than “if the sun, then possibly the sun and fairies at the bottom of the garden″.”

    Comment by simon abingdon — 5 Jul 2011 @ 1:20 PM

  14. I’m repeating myself here (from posts long past), but I’d still like to see a very simple database that merely cross references papers that reference, support or rebut other papers, with the intent of being able to see not only if a paper has been published, but if it has stood the test of time.

    It’s far too easy these days (on the Internet and blogosphere, mind you, I’m sure not among real scientists who keep up with their fields) to cite a paper just because it’s been published somewhere by someone. I still run into people citing Lindzen and Choi (2009) as the final nail in the AGW coffin.

    I’d love something like google.scholar with simple refute/support checkboxes on the search, or columns/tags on the search results.

    Of course, I suppose then people would just publish as many supporting papers as they could at the Journal of Saying What I Want To Hear Said (which is probably the most prestigious and long standing journal I know of).

    Comment by Sphaerica (Bob) — 5 Jul 2011 @ 1:57 PM

  15. Simon at comment 13 demonstrates nicely another denier (I refuse to use the term skeptic) approach, which is to view anything they don’t want to believe as pure magic, so magical that they view it as beyond even being worthy of dispute. The witch scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail always comes to mind when I see such displays of ignorance scientific acumen.

    Comment by Sphaerica (Bob) — 5 Jul 2011 @ 2:13 PM

  16. How do we simulate cosmic rays in the lab? With a particle accelerator beam. We could do the experiment, but it seems pointless.

    It seems to me that solar particles have plenty of energy to create and destroy ozone and destroy CFCs, so what would be the difference? The energy required to do chemistry is very low compared to cosmic rays. We use high energy machines to probe things much smaller than molecules.

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 5 Jul 2011 @ 2:50 PM

  17. #15 Bob

    Did you consider whether I might be supporting Andy’s position? Or did you not?

    Comment by simon abingdon — 5 Jul 2011 @ 3:06 PM

  18. Only an imbecile could equate “fairies at the bottom of the garden” with CO2 in an analogy.

    Comment by Jim Eager — 5 Jul 2011 @ 3:38 PM

  19. #15 Bob

    It’s evidence that convinces me, not appeals to Monty Python.

    Comment by simon abingdon — 5 Jul 2011 @ 3:43 PM

  20. Lu is a truly special case. Does his university still put out the fawning press releases about how he is changing our understanding of atmospheric chemistry with his groundbreaking research?

    I never read Lu 2010, despite his climate claims, but Lu 2009 (in PRL) was just scary. Actually, Lauren and others, if there was more time in the world, I wish I could go through and chart the logic of the paper, to show you how illogical it is if you just strip the jargon away. If you are really interested, get the article here:

    http://www.science.uwaterloo.ca/~qblu/Lu-2009PRL.pdf

    and look at how Fig 2 is interpreted on in the paragraph beginning “One might argue…” at the end of p 3.

    A) if you plot two periodic phenomena with similar frequencies next to each other, especially for 1 – 3 cycles, you have not proved causation

    B) you cannot quantitatively diagnose non-linear systems with simple linear arguments, that just does not make sense.

    Scary.

    And, agreed…Rolf Müller’s work has been tireless to document that these articles are meaningless, illogical speculation.

    Comment by David McCabe — 5 Jul 2011 @ 3:44 PM

  21. Simon Abingdon #19 Legions of policy makers are salivating with anticipation of your decisions, are they?
    “Carbon tax or cap and trade?”
    “Hmm, I’m not sure, we’d better check what Simon Abingdon thinks…”
    “Are you sure he has the technical expertise to assess the evidence?”
    “He must have, he comments on blogs!”

    Comment by One Anonymous Bloke — 5 Jul 2011 @ 4:57 PM

  22. > It seems to me that solar particles have plenty of
    > energy … compared to cosmic rays.

    Logic leads you astray; these are not large objects with fixed diameters like hailstones or bullets, where being hit is fairly certain and damage follows.

    At the scale of atoms and molecules, most of everything is space — empty — and a higher energy particle is more likely to pass through more material interacting, while a lower energy particle meandering through the same stuff has a higher chance of an interaction.

    Search term suggested:
    “capture cross section: A measure of the probability that an incident particle or photon will be absorbed …”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 5 Jul 2011 @ 5:50 PM

  23. What bothered Eli about the Physics Reports paper was that Sigrid Peyeimhoff, the editor who oked it maybe because Lu traced his idea back to a paper of hers. Peyerimhoff is no slouch but she let Lu off the leash in the last half of a review paper on dissociative electron attachment.

    There were lots of reasons for not taking Lu seriously, and Eli named a lot of them at the time, but the damage was done by how the rejectionists ran with the paper.

    Comment by Eli Rabett — 5 Jul 2011 @ 9:37 PM

  24. @Bushy
    “If you are going to discount it so forcefully in public – your scientific rebuttal instead of just contempt and dismissal is required.”

    Um, isn’t that rebuttal provided in Grooß and Müller (2011) which is linked above? Or do you think Real Climate needs to come up with more reasons that Lu’s work is incorrect?

    Comment by John D. Wilson — 5 Jul 2011 @ 10:15 PM

  25. Regarding Sphaerica (Bob)’s request that “I’d still like to see a very simple database that merely cross references papers that reference, support or rebut other papers”, there is such a listing for debunked drivel. Try looking at:

    http://agwobserver.wordpress.com/anti-agw-papers-debunked/

    Comment by WVhybrid — 5 Jul 2011 @ 10:59 PM

  26. Eli has done a quick read through and provides some detail, in addition to the detail from earlier on.

    Comment by Eli Rabett — 5 Jul 2011 @ 11:37 PM

  27. Bushy

    Actually it looks like you lean toward the conspiracy side. With well crafted spin to wrap it in so that it looks innocuous. Sort of the, I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but I do run into these folks like ‘Gavin’ who are editing my comments to ‘hide the truth’ thus supporting the conspiracy theory that … and I’m not saying it’s a conspiracy, but hey look my comments are mysteriously being edited…

    This line of inferred reasoning reads like Fox News reasoning on how they would never use Nazi references on their broadcasts:

    http://uscentrist.org/news/irony/2011/january/24-hour-nazi-party-people

    It’s a style of inferred argument that I find quite distasteful.

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 6 Jul 2011 @ 4:52 AM

  28. Re #24

    there is such a listing for debunked drivel.

    antitled:

    Anti-AGW papers debunked

    But Solomon et al’s paper is neither drivel nor an anti-AGW paper.
    I think it is a mistake to include a minority of papers classified with a little (M) meaning a misunderstood main stream paper. They should be put into a separate list to avoid confusion.

    Otherwise it won’t be long before you see the authors of such (M) papers claimed by contrarians as supporting their position.

    Comment by deconvoluter — 6 Jul 2011 @ 5:07 AM

  29. 25 WVhybrid,

    Thanks, I was aware of that. I was actually thinking of something more comprehensive, and more scientific (i.e. not “blog” rebuttals… the deniers would have a field day making every real paper that contributes to the science look like it’s been “debunked”).

    And I’d think it would apply to papers regardless of what they prove. There are lots of things that science “believed” ten years ago that are now being reconsidered, and my interest applies to those cases as well as papers that are quite simply wrong the day they’re published. I’d just like a way of making sure that I’m always referencing all of the most current and valid knowledge, rather than something that has either since turned out to be less solid than once thought, or was perhaps (as in Lindzen & Choi, 2009) immediately refuted.

    I would think such a tool would be useful to grad students, and to professional scientists who are doing research or applying factors from outside of their usual area of expertise.

    Comment by Sphaerica (Bob) — 6 Jul 2011 @ 10:13 AM

  30. > I’d just like a way of making sure that I’m
    > always referencing all of the most current and valid knowledge

    Say you do find someone who claims to be providing this service for you.
    You’d trust them to be doing it for your benefit?

    Nobody will do this for you.
    The world changes every day.
    Any summary, review, consensus statement, or article is out of date.

    Ask a librarian.
    Learn how to use the tools.

    Yes, publish/print/post what you find citing your sources.
    But the next person along still has to check what _you_ claim.

    You may be able to trust the various different services that give you “cited by” lists for articles — but their lists differ, and the lists have to be updated by people, it’s not magic.

    Your choices: do the work, or wait patiently for the Google “Wisdom” button to be implemented.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 6 Jul 2011 @ 12:42 PM

  31. Andy #2
    The common way a researcher can cover broad areas necessary for publishing a paper with implications beyond one’s specialty is to collaborate with experts in those areas. Someone who publishes by themself is either writing something wholly-contained within their expertise or is a crank.

    Comment by Anthony David — 6 Jul 2011 @ 2:23 PM

  32. Hank cries hammock and looses the librarian avengers.

    Comment by Eli Rabett — 6 Jul 2011 @ 3:08 PM

  33. Sphaerica (Bob) said ” I was actually thinking of something more comprehensive, and more scientific”.

    Over the years several rebuttal articles have been discussed on this blog. The archives probably contain many if not most of the peer-reviewed rebuttals you are talking about. Bob, please don’t let me stand in your way of developing the database you are talking about. Maybe you could even get some of the contributors to this site to help with it. For instance, I might help.

    Comment by WVhybrid — 6 Jul 2011 @ 10:49 PM

  34. Sphaerica (Bob) et al. Aren’t you describing Wikipedia or something similar? To my ‘mind’ synergy is better than invention. “Wikipedia Scholar???”

    Comment by One Anonymous Bloke — 7 Jul 2011 @ 12:56 AM

  35. Re: 34 One Anonymous Bloke

    Are you suggesting a Wikipedia article about a climate issue? Ah, you go first. I’ll check your spelling.

    Comment by WVhybrid — 7 Jul 2011 @ 7:10 PM

  36. The classification of “Not Even Wrong” may apply. Nicely described by Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Not_even_wrong

    “The phrase implies that even a wrong argument would have been better than the argument proposed, because an argument can only be found wrong after meeting the criteria for a scientific hypothesis (proper assumptions, falsifiable, makes predictions). Arguments that are not even wrong do not meet these criteria.
    The phrase “not even wrong” is often used to describe pseudoscience or bad science and is considered derogatory.”

    Comment by richard pauli — 11 Jul 2011 @ 1:04 AM

  37. Bushy says: 5 Jul 2011 at 10:43 AM “…scientific rebuttal instead of just contempt and dismissal is required.”
    simon abingdon says: 5 Jul 2011 at 3:43 PM “It’s evidence that convinces me, not appeals to Monty Python.”
    Back in 2009, I downloaded monthly data from Jan 1969 through fall 2009 (ozone from ftp://ftp.tor.ec.gc.ca/summaries/TotalOzone/ and GCR from http://cosmicrays.oulu.fi/) and did a scatterplot using Appleworks. I’ve put it on the net at http://www.imagenerd.com/uploads/o3vsgcr-CVF6u.jpg. I’ve also compared Oulu GCR to HadCRUT(from http://www.woodfortrees.org/data/hadcrut3vgl). There’s not an obvious correlation between O3 and GCR; if anything, there’s a slight indication that higher GCR rates give higher temperatures, but the error bars are large; and increasing CO2 correlates to increasing temperatures, expected from the radiation physics.

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 11 Jul 2011 @ 2:49 PM

  38. Wups – in my comment @2:49. I left off the link for Oulu vs HadCRUT – http://www.imagenerd.com/uploads/oulu_vs_hadcrut-VAtUg.jpg

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 11 Jul 2011 @ 3:38 PM

  39. A query concerning the global temperature anomoly for June 2011. The NOAA puts it at 0.58C which makes it the 5th warmest on record. NASA/GISS on the other hand puts it at just 0.5C. Which is likely correct or is there a misprint on one of them?

    [Response: The anomalies on each data set are with respect to different baselines, and so you need to adjust for that prior to comparing the numbers (reduce NOAA by 0.03). Additionally, the methods, interpolations/extrapolations are performed differently so that on a month to month basis you don't expect them to be identical - although the correlation is pretty high (0.96 or so). - gavin]

    Comment by DP — 17 Jul 2011 @ 1:21 PM

  40. WVhybrid, I think the wikipedia model might be useful, yes. I don’t think a database like this would be comprehensive unless it were the work of a group (a bit like science, really), although I don’t think it would be a good idea to have editing privileges so widely distributed.
    If the idea is that junk gets debunked, you have to display the junk too.

    Comment by One Anonymous Bloke — 17 Jul 2011 @ 6:14 PM

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