Weblog awards

The 2008 Weblog AwardsRealClimate is a finalist for “Best Science Blog” in this year’s Weblog awards. As in years past, we are happy to have this chance to widen our readership over the voting period and we welcome anyone who is visiting for the first time. To get an idea of what we are about, start with the ‘start here‘ button, or look at the index for climate-related topics that you might find interesting. Our goal is to add more context to climate stories that you might see – something that is often missing in mainstream coverage – and give some insight into what the climate science community is thinking and talking about.

As for this poll, historically winners appear to be mostly determined by whose devotees are most adept at voting from multiple machines or writing scripts, so we aren’t too concerned about our eventual placement (and we are especially eager not to emulate last years contest). [Update: We should note that security updates in this year's poll should prevent that scripting hack from working, and that we aren't encouraging people to find new ways around the system.]. The voting widget is below the fold (you are allowed to once every 24 hours from a single IP address), and don’t forget to check out other blogs nominated in other categories that you might find interesting.

Finally, a comment on the nature of science blogging: Science is the process of winnowing through plausible ideas, testing them against observations and continually refining our understanding. It is not generally marked by hasty jumping to conclusions; accusations of bad faith, fraud and conspiracy; continual and deliberate confusions of basic concepts (climate vs weather for instance); and the persistent cherry-picking of datasets to bolster pre-existing opinions. Science blogging can play a role in improving science – whether through education, communication or through harnessing the collective endeavors of ‘citizen scientists’ – but the kind of vituperative tone that dominates some blogs greatly diminishes any positive contribution they might make. Science (even climate science) should be about light, not heat. Online voters might want to bear that in mind.

95 comments on this post.
  1. Maiken:

    Good luck to you! You definitely deserve to become the winner; even though the winner isn’t as important as the fact that you are finalists, and thus that people realize the huge importance of your contributions. Thank you so much for all your great work, helping us to have answers to the skeptics that still persist.

  2. Mark:

    I have mixed feelings about online polls like this. On one hand, there’s no doubt that the contrarian crowd will trumpet the results of the poll to any willing media outlet if one of their dubious blogs wins, which isn’t good for science. This is a good reason to participate. On the other hand, it’s a highly-unscientific poll. It’s easily rigged, allows multiple votes, with results padded by those who are aware the poll exists (RC isn’t the only entry informing their readers) and care – a severe form or response bias. So from a scientific viewpoint, voting on the “best science blog” in a very unscientific poll is a bit ironic.

    For the record, if I did vote, I’d vote for RC.

    [Response: Agreed. One shouldn't take these things too seriously. But it can be a showcase of sorts, and some people might find their way here who wouldn't have done otherwise. - gavin]

  3. Gary Fletcher:

    I wonder how the finalists are chosen? There are (at least) two AGW “skeptic” sites chosen (Climate Autdit and Watt’s Up With That. Kind of dampens the enthusiasm of being a finalist, no?

  4. Chris McGrath:

    Well said that “Science (even climate science) should be about light, not heat.”

    I am sure I am not the only one you sent searching for a dictionary to look up “vituperative” (to use abusive language). As a lawyer, I’ll have to file that in my memory banks as, sadly, people often take that approach in my profession.

    Well done on the nomination too. A deserved acknowledgment even if it uses an unscientific method.

  5. JB:

    While this nomination is an excellent indication in regards to this sites impact, I would also like to point out that the collective work employed by climate scientists within the blogosphere has acted to increase environmental awareness on a vital and broad level: business. I am a meteorology student, but on some of my down time I analyze prospective companies, looking for ways to invest. Over the years I could not help but notice the increasing influence that environmental awareness has had on all businesses, in virtually all sectors of the world’s economies. It is truly remarkable how quickly consumers, and then as a result-businesses- began embracing renewable energy in product creation and exploration into technologies that can function efficiently while consuming less energy. This, I believe, is the ultimate testament to the success of climate science blogs such as the one here maintained by Real Climate. Excellent job fellas, and keep doing what you’re doing.

  6. Terry:

    Re #2 and #3 I think it is good that CA and WUWT are also in the running. Both of those blogs do good work, albeit sometimes a little off the mark. You also have to remember that there are those on both sides that will not budge on pre-conceived ideaologies no matter what. And in any case skepticism is healthy for the scientific process. I have a mind to vote for all 3.

  7. Jim Galasyn:

    Gary, I also wondered how the sites are chosen. How does an anti-science site end up in the “Best Science” category? Why isn’t the Discovery Institute represented?

  8. Edward Greisch:

    I tried to vote for RC, but it seems to go around in circles or link back to RC. Are any of those others worth anything? I never heard of them before. Do you need Active X or Java to vote?

  9. Jon:

    Congratulations. I have written a couple of critical comments but I appreciate both your posting them and replying to them in a calm, fair and constructive manner. I must admit that when I came across your site I was ready for something like the anti-smoking sites I am familiar with, particularly as those who control wikipedia often try and associate “skeptics’” with pro-tobacco. At first I made the mistake of lumping your articles together with the less impressive comments of some (by no means all) of your followers. As I have said before, the best way to bring people round to your way of thinking is to stick to the the facts and gain their trust. As someone with no axe to grind, I look forward to being educated throughout the coming year.

  10. Kevin McKinney:

    The link worked perfectly for me, FWIW.

  11. S. Molnar:

    Re #3, the people who run the awards have clearly made a category error: Climate Audit, Watt’s Up with That, and Improbable Research all belong in the Best Humor Blog category.

  12. AP:

    Is this what you meant by vituperative tone?

    http://climateprogress.org/2009/01/05/anthony-watts-up-with-that-anti-science-denier-website-weblog-awards/

  13. Tuukka Simonen:

    Watts up with that is leading that poll. If it wins the best science blog it will be both ridiculous and sad. It is clearly visible that the denialist machine has moved from other medias to the internet, is alive and well. Luckily their arguments haven’t improved.

    More than 50 % of the voters have voted for CA or WUWT. That’s crazy.

  14. Ray Ladbury:

    Tuukka Simonen says: “More than 50 % of the voters have voted for CA or WUWT. That’s crazy.”

    No, more than 50% of the votes cast have been for CA or WUWT. I would contend that this indicates that CA and WUWT contributors are more likely to subscribe to the old Chicago “vote-early-vote-often” school. That is fine. Mc**** [edit] and Watts-up-my-A** provide a very useful service of giving the tin-hat crowd the illusion of doing science. This keeps them busy and allows the adults to do–and learn about–the real thing. It’s kind of like the outlet that “The West Wing” provided to liberals during the Bush debacle.

  15. Kevin McKinney:

    AP asks about vituperation, a quality characterized as “bitter and abusive.” I’d say the linked screed is bitter, all right, but perhaps a little too much of a fair comment to be called “abusive.” After all, it (perhaps charitably) avoids any accusation of fraudulence, which I have frequently seen denialists level at basically the whole climate science community. I think the prevalence of that accusation largely accounts for the Climate Progress post’s bitterness.

    That said, I fear that the post won’t change any minds for the better–though it may amuse those who already agree. (As it did me.)

  16. Tony:

    RealClimate will be getting my vote. I discovered this site in 2008, and have learned a lot from it, thank you. The award itself may not be so prestigious, given the nature of other finalists, but anything that brings publicity to a good site such as this is good news. The more publicity it receives, the better.

  17. Rod B:

    Scientific poll or not, as a member of the loyal opposition (well, kinda…) I think RC richly deserves this.

    I assume that part of the criteria might be simple journalism (layout, control, usability, etc.) which is why (maybe?) some of the so-called skeptic sites were nominated. Though I fully understand the vituperative (to coin a term ;-) ) response by some here.

    An aside: Ray, am I out of line being a (mostly) conservative who thought West Wing was the best on TV for a bit???

  18. Ray Ladbury:

    Rod, Never watched it. In fact the only TV show I’ve watched with any regularity in the past 2 decades is “The Big Bang Theory”, which never fails to elicit at least one belly laugh and at least one “Damn, I work with those people” per episode.

  19. PHE:

    I agree with you 100 per cent, when you say:
    “Science is the process of winnowing through plausible ideas, testing them against observations and continually refining our understanding. It is not generally marked by hasty jumping to conclusions; accusations of bad faith, fraud and conspiracy; continual and deliberate confusions of basic concepts (climate vs weather for instance); and the persistent cherry-picking of datasets to bolster pre-existing opinions.” Hats off!

  20. Thomas Lee Elifritz:

    Science … should be about light, not heat.

    Unfortunately, where there is light, there will always be at some heat, even if you are extremely clever. I thought you guys were supposed to know about those things.

  21. Geoff Sherrington:

    This is a poll. Maybe you should not vote unless, like many of us, you have read all of the finalist blogs sufficiently to understand them.

    Would you bet on a horse race because you know just one horse?

  22. Ray Ladbury:

    Geoff Sherrington, It would depend on how fast the horse was. And certianly when I see a swift horse pitted against two posterior portions thereof, the choice becomes easier.

  23. ccpo:

    Wow! Denialists are either radicalized or cheating like heck:
    Wattsupwiththat? is WAY ahead.

    Bad science and, to be polite, obfuscation, pay, apparently.

    Sad.

    Cheers

  24. Curious:

    I would suggest a “conspiracy theories” or “scientific-disguised” category, so that CA and WUWT would compete with their scientific equals: humans have never reached the moon, there is a hidden military base on the dark side of the moon, aliens are among us, intelligent design, aliens built the pyramids…

    WUWT is leading by far. It is really sad. Here in Spain a lot of educated people (geologists, engineers…) embrace this theory of “climatology is not science”. At least public authorities, scientific research and investement do go in the scientific direction.

    You people at Real Climate are doing a great job in spreading science and I’m learining a lot with you. Thank you very much.

  25. Jack Smith:

    Sour Grapes Ray!!! The poll results show that WUWT has a lot of readers who are obviously very interested in the subjects discussed there. This heavily censored echo-chamber might give the impression that there are just a few heretics out there but we are the majority. At the environmental research institute where I am employed most of my colleagues are heathen ‘denialists.’

    [Response: That's just a shame. Revelling in ignorance is never a good idea. - gavin]

  26. Jim Galasyn:

    Jack Smith, which “environmental research institute” could possibly employ a majority of denialists?

  27. jyyh:

    My private (now publicized) goal in this horse race is to vote all the sites, in the order of preference. Of course, I have to read a piece of every blog to do this, but my first two votes have been to RC and Pharyngula, as I know some people who read that one… , else I may not have time to do it ;-). Thank You! The glimpses you give on the development of the models are very good reads, while some other blogs concentrate more on the observational data. The fact that geoengineering done wrong is a wasteland, or a local ash flood, gives me enough reason to support modelling. Again, Thank You!

  28. Jack Smith:

    [Response: That’s just a shame. Revelling in ignorance is never a good idea. - gavin]

    That, of course, is a matter of perspective.

    [Response: Not really. Perhaps you could point to an example where self-congratulatory mass refusal to face reality has worked out well? The sub-prime crisis? Easter Island? Tulips? ... - gavin]

  29. Ray Ladbury:

    Jack Smith says “At the environmental research institute where I am employed most of my colleagues are heathen ‘denialists.’”

    Well, then it’s not much of an environmental research institute, is it? How about we just drop the “enviro” and call you mental. Do you really think physical reality cares how the majority votes?

  30. spilgard:

    On the plus side, the WUWT site offers our best chance of answering the age-old question about monkeys and typewriters: if they type long enough, will they, by random chance, produce a comprehensive peer-reviewed refutation of all climate science?

  31. MG:

    While I feel that there is ample evidence that greenhouse gases should lead to climate warming, I also agree that the issue has been politicized, that there is a tendency for proponents to treat the theory with the type of emotion and defensiveness normally restricted to the pious defending their religion, or the activist defending his or her point of view. Words like ‘denialist’ are applied to anyone who questions the theory. Examples of this exist on this very blog. Look at the reaction to Jack Smith’s mildly confrontational comments. He was called ‘ignorant,’ told that he refuses to ‘face reality,’ told that if his research institute isn’t towing the party line that it’s not worthy, called ‘mental,’ compared to religious zealots and believers in the paranormal, told that he should remove ‘enviro’ from the title of his organization, and compared to a monkey. If a more ‘skeptical’ science blog had made these comments about one of us, I can’t imagine your reaction. It also sounds a bit defensive, doesn’t it. Greenhouse gases are but one component of climate variability. Anyone who challenges its supremacy as a factor having caused the climate changes of the 20th century is branded a heretic, has difficulty getting published. If we are the real scientists and this is the way we act, then how on earth would his organization’s theories ever get published. It’s political, it has become a religion, and we must improve our behaviour. Otherwise, if we’re wrong (and we could be), it will do serious damage to all of science.

    [Response: I agree that tone is important - and personalising things coarsens things further. But you are simply wrong about many of your claims. Lots of bad papers get published - some of which we have discussed here and comments have appeared in the literature. There is no conspiracy to block people with different opinions from publishing papers, though there is a conspiracy to block people making illogical or ill-founded claims in the literature (it's called peer review). And as for this 'religion' meme - it's simply a red-herring thrown up so that people can pontificate while avoiding actually discussing anything real. It plays no part in climate science. Thanks for your concern. - gavin]

  32. Lynn Vincentnathan:

    It’s possible the anti-religion sites, such as Pharyngula, are as harmful to global warming mitigation as the denialist sites — so all consumed with hating religion (and not just the religious right, but the religious left, and even religious folks trying to mitigate GW) that they have no (expressed) interest in mitigating global warming. (If you go there and find someone suggesting that we focus on mitigating global warming, it’s me.)

    Also their idea re religion as a dangerous, infectious “meme” is bad science. I mean, I wouldn’t pretend to be a climate scientist or biologist, fiercely promoting science theories based on my lack of education in those areas. They shouldn’t pretend to be cultural anthropologists promoting ideological determinism (which even Marx rejected). While I do agree folks claiming to be religious can do some pretty evil things (and I myself have to work against hating the religious right), there are many other things that impact people to do evil, aside from religion or ideology, such as the psychological, social, biological, and environmental dimensions (the latter 3 also known as “the reality principle” in psychology).

    But it seems there’s a pattern here — the sites that are more passionately anti-something in harmful rather than helpful ways do better. Doesn’t speak well of our human nature :(

    So I guess we need to do this Chicago-style: vote early, vote often for RC! (Wish I could put in some negative votes for the top 2)

    ReCaptcha: PICKING early

  33. Ray Ladbury:

    Uh, MG, you are ignoring one thing: EVIDENCE!!! On the one hand there is copious and cogent evidence that increasing anthropogenic CO2 is the dominant contributor to the current warming epoch. On the other side… well bupkis. Now perhaps you have a better label for people who deny that mountain of evidence than “denialist”. If so, I’d like to hear it.
    How, pray, can it be a good thing to ignore incontrovertible evidence when making policy?

  34. Maya:

    Well, fwiw, RC got my vote!

  35. Kevin McKinney:

    Me, too, Maya.

    Actually, times 3, since you can vote daily under the rules.

  36. MG:

    Ray: I should reiterate that I *do* think that the bulk of the evidence suggests that our theory is correct that rising greenhouse gas concentrations were the largest contributor to warming in the 20th century. I do retain a small dose of skepticism, due to (i) my own lack of understanding of the specific details on exactly how every parameter of the Arrhenius equation is calculated, due to the apparent inaccessibility of this information even in papers that are cited by the IPCC as having provided thesse values (the literature is especially vague on how alpha is calculated and even a Nobel laureate climatologist I asked didn’t know where the answer could be found), (ii) the strong historical correlation between solar cycle length and temperature anomalies (I concede that there is a significant deviation in at least the 1980-1998 period that could be explained by a CO2 signal – perhaps with an added effect of El Nino dominance – though it still implies that the Sun matters to some degree – and my understanding is that solar variability is generally not adequately represented in the models), (iii) the apparent limitations to our ability to model the vertical distribution of temperature changes (with the concession that data quality is so poor here that we shouldn’t make too much of this) and the myriad of other effects of humanity on climate (especially land-use).

    It’s not that I don’t believe the theory. I do! It’s more that when I, as someone who wants the details on the models, but who actually now studies a distinct related field and therefore have a certain level of ignorance, bring up the uncertainties or incomplete knowledge I have with respect to climate change, I don’t get the same responses from my expert colleagues that I do when I have questions in other scientific realms. Each of these questions has actually been addressed in this very blog, and the answers provided often just aren’t entirely convincing to me. Maybe I’m just genetically programmed to be a skeptic (I’m a ranting atheist too), which makes me prone to tremendous frustration when I am given half-answers about the limitations to our ability to model climate. If I question any problem at all with our understanding of climate change, I immediately receive sarcastic and superficialt responses regarding the biased and unscientific bozos of the world who have held some of the same concerns, instead of being given concrete answers. When I ask for specifics (such as that above), they generally do not have the answers!!! So why, then, are they so confident? Is it because 2500 scientists agree and because there is a consensus established since 1996? I hope not. We used to think the Sun revolved around the Earth too, right, and I bet there was a consensus?

    The only explanation I have for this type of behaviour is that maybe it’s political. Maybe we are so trained to expect the worst after years of attacks from oil-funded pseudoscientists that we are in attack mode 24/7… but this is potentially problematic. If I ask astrophysicists questions about black holes or if I question an economic theory to an economist, I do not get the same emotional responses that I receive when I ask questions about climate change to proponents of this theory (even though I agree with its fundamental underlying principle). To be frank, sometimes it seems that I understand more of the physical theories than some of my colleagues who have become borderline famous for discussing climate change! It’s just so frustrating. I left climate science in the 1990′s precisely because I felt that I could not relate to the politicization of the issue. I think the problem is still getting worse.

    To get back to the thread re: voting for the best science blogs… notice how many of these are related to the climate change issue. Perhaps, this is warranted and climate change is the number one threat facing humankind today. But there are other environmental issues, including the sixth mass extinction due to human land use + deforestation, the annihilation of our oceans (which represent a huge area of unknown for scientific discovery), air pollution + acid rain, water pollution, overpopulation + population growth, inequity in the distribution of wealth, invasive species etc. As the media equates carbon with environment, these issues are moving to the backburner. The best way to protect against climate change is conservation and so little attention is paid here compared to the past. Then there is the issue that there are other areas of science that deserve intense media attention rivaling that of climate change (those that promote eradication of disease, space travel, quantum physics, astrophysics, genetics advances etc.). These issues are fighting desperately for air time. I think it’s great that climate change is getting the attention it deserves, but, as we vote for the best science blog, we should consider the exciting fields that are being overlooked. I like your blog, and apologize in advance for my critical diatribe. I think it’s a worthy message. You can take it or leave it.

  37. MG:

    If someone can provide me with the specific methodology, complete equations and data sources used to determine the alpha parameter of the Arrhenius equation, I will vote for RC as many times as I can. I asked a lead IPCC science author this question in person and he couldn’t lead me to the answer. I asked colleagues who are regularly on the road and in the news talking about climate change and they couldn’t give me the answer. I asked on RC, and I was provided with a few publications that describe the new values that were determined over the past decade or two, but instead of providing exacting methodologies and equations, they referred to other papers which were also lacking in detailed methodology. This must exist somewhere, and it couldn’t be too hard to find, given that it is one of the most critical and accepted parameters in determining greenhouse gas-induced forcing. Is there a kind and informed individual who has this information for me? In my opinion, it should be explained in exacting, clear detail, smack dab in the IPCC reports, but, alas, it is not.

    [Response: Do you mean the number that Arrhenius calculated? Or are you describing F=alpha*log(C/C0) as the 'Arrhenius equation' (which would be new to me). The number currently is defined as a fit through radiative transfer calculations as described in Myhre et al (1998). - gavin]

  38. MG:

    Gavin: Sorry. I meant the latter alpha. I’ll take a look at the Myhre (1998) paper tonight or tomorrow morning, though I think I might have been referred to this same one before, and, for details, the reader was referred to previous work that was equally unclear. I could be wrong, so I’ll read the paper before I comment any further. And what the heck, it was such a quick response that I’ll throw a vote your way (thereby compensating for a vote I already threw to one of your competitors ;) )

    [Response: I don't think you are going to be satisfied then. Since alpha is a fit to complex calculations, what you actually want are the complex calculations themselves. For this you need a line-by-line radiative transfer model. There are a number of them around - see Collins et al (2006) for an intercomparison, but I don't know that any are online and downloadable. MODTRAN might be usable - but I don't know that it can easily calculate adjusted forcings, tropopause forcings would be a reasonable substitute, but even so, it won't give exactly the same thing. FYI there is about a 10% uncertainty in alpha that comes in because of the spatial averaging and assumptions about cloud/water/aerosol/ozone distributions. - gavin]

  39. MG:

    Okay, but this is useful. I now know that there is a good reason why the equations couldn’t realistically have been included in the publications (conspiracy theories were running through my brain), and I know what I have to learn to figure out my answer.

  40. tamino:

    Re: #36 (MG)

    Maybe part of the reason you get a “cool” response is that some of the opinions you espouse, just ain’t so. For example you speak of “the strong historical correlation between solar cycle length and temperature anomalies.” I’ve looked at the data closely and it just ain’t so. I’m not just talking about the complete breakdown of any correlation after 1980, even up to 1950 it ain’t that good. Really. I don’t know whether you got this impression from out-of-date or sloppy research, or from some denialist propaganda, but either way it ain’t so and if you’ve asked about it, I’m not at all surprised by a rather cool response.

    You say “it still implies that the Sun matters to some degree.” That phrase implies that climate scientists claim otherwise. Couldn’t be further from the truth.

    You say you mostly believe so you’re not a denialist, and I see no reason to doubt that. But maybe you’ve been getting misinformation from bad sources, which could make you sound like a denialist, and explain the “emotional responses” a lot better than any politicization of climate science. Apply some of that healthy skepticism to what you think you already know.

  41. Ray (not Ladbury):

    The results of this poll reflects the rapid growth in viewership Wattsupwiththat has enjoyed and could be a sign the consensus (if there ever was one) is being questioned, thats valid, thats science.

    Watts has built a quality site that is populated with very competent people who dissagree with aspects of AWG. Give them their say…we may all learn something.

  42. Ray Ladbury:

    Dude, It would have been pretty obvious that you were not me when you called the tin-hat crew over at WUWT competent. Pray, what is competent about trying to draw conclusions about climate with 8 years of data?

  43. Jim Eager:

    Re Ray @41, The consensus wasn’t and isn’t among bloggers, but among actual working scientists. I doubt they have time to waste at wattsupwiththat.

  44. Marcus:

    I have tried a couple of times to correct some of the most egregious science errors on wattsup in the hopes that the the bloggers there could actually be persuaded to channel their skepticism into areas with _actual_ uncertainty, but gave up after finding out that they don’t even understand how a continual addition of 8+ gigatons of carbon into an atmosphere that only increases at half that rate must mean that the natural system is a net sink. It seems like there is a critical mass of those bloggers who believe that the increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is due solely to oceanic temperature increases. Those kind of apparently uncorrectable simple logical fallacies really kind of frustrate and depress me.

  45. Barton Paul Levenson:

    MG writes:

    If I ask astrophysicists questions about black holes or if I question an economic theory to an economist, I do not get the same emotional responses that I receive when I ask questions about climate change to proponents of this theory (even though I agree with its fundamental underlying principle).

    Try asking astrophysicists about the Electric Universe Theory, or Velikovskian astronomy.

    CAPTCHA: “reasons curled”

  46. Barton Paul Levenson:

    Marcus — try landshape.org, where I now have three crackpots insisting that back-radiation from the atmosphere constitutes a violation of the second law of thermodynamics.

    I’m beginning to think “crackpot” whenever I hear the 2LT mentioned. Creationists and climate denialists have it in common so far. I’m waiting for some Electric Universe guy to say the Big Bang or stellar evolution violates it.

  47. Ray Ladbury:

    BPL says: “I’m waiting for some Electric Universe guy to say the Big Bang or stellar evolution violates it [2nd Law of Thermo].”

    Been done, mostly by creationists arguing against the Big Bang. OK, in fairness, the 2nd Law is subtle, but I think we ought to be as careful giving subtle ideas to idiots as we are giving them straight razors.
    My reply to creationists who contend the 2nd law precludes human evolution: “You never changed a diaper, did you?”

  48. Ray (not Ladbury):

    Ray Ladbury @ 42 “Pray, what is competent about trying to draw conclusions about climate with 8 years of data?”

    Pray what is competent about drawing conclusions about climate from models being mocked by reality.

  49. David B. Benson:

    Ray (not Ladbury) (48) — Climate modeling and the data agree within the prescribed error bars.

  50. Hank Roberts:

    We’re seeing the “missing link” argument tactic dragged over from the creationist threads to the climate threads: assert on faith that there has to be something missing, then demand that the scientists explain it.

  51. Former Skeptic:

    R(nL) @ 48:

    That’s a nice try at avoiding the question, but sadly it does make you look foolish. And besides, where’s your proof that models are mocked by *chortle* “reality”?

    Your Obi-wan-esque “these are not the droids you’re looking for” tactic may make you popular in the denialsphere, but it won’t win you much support in the virtual world away from WUWT and CA, and much less in the real world.

  52. Rod B:

    Hank (50), I like it!! :-P

  53. Ray Ladbury:

    The OTHER Ray says “Pray what is competent about drawing conclusions about climate from models being mocked by reality.”

    Would you even recognize reality if it bit you on the tuckus.

    Actually, your little squib reminds me of a story:
    One time, Dirac was Lecturing during his declining years in Florida. In the course of his lecture, he had a tendency to say “In reality…” several times. A smart-ass kid in the class piped up: “But Professor Dirac, what is reality?” Dirac looked puzzles for an instant, then replied: “Why it’s a ray in Hilbert Space.”

    Believe me, if you’re a physicist. It’s funny.

  54. Brian Klappstein:

    “…historically winners appear to be mostly determined by whose devotees are most adept at ….writing scripts”

    I would guess that CA readers are more adept at scripts than RealClimate readers, but that RealClimate readers are more adept than WUWT readers. I guess you could argue that RealClimate readers are too honest to write scripts which would fit with your “we’re more moral than the denialists” view of the world.

    Regards, BRK

  55. Kevin McKinney:

    My latest horror story involves a guy who keeps insisting that pretty much everything in AGW is untrustworthy because “it is CALCULATED not MEASURED.” I replied, “Much like Earth’s gravitational constant?” and “Yes, I understand this has been pretty fashionable in science since the 17th century or so.”

    Snappy enough, I suppose, but if you have any more persuasive arguments, I’d appreciate them. I’m tired.

  56. Hank Roberts:

    Brian K, the clickable links in the first post suffice for anyone who cares to know the facts. Your trolling will please or insult only those who didn’t check. Perhaps you’re playing to the wrong audience?

  57. Demesure:

    @55,
    Kevin, your argument is not persuasive, it’s false. Earth’s gravitational constant is MEASURED. There is a huge Foucault pendulum in the Pantheon in Paris to do that back in the 1800s and the experience a been repeated all over the world to check Newton laws.

    [edit]

  58. Hank Roberts:

    Kevin, try pointing the netwitterers to something like
    http://www.makingthemodernworld.org.uk/learning_modules/maths/06.TU.02/?section=6

    “… the gravitational constant … has a value
    of 6.67300 × 10-11 m3 kg-1 s-2…. experimentally determined … by Henry Cavendish, using a torsion balance. ”

    I doubt they’ll be able to explain how this could be “measured” without being “calculated.” But I’m sure it won’t make any difference.

    Some blogs are so popular with the nettwitterers that nobody goes there any more for science. Save your energy for useful work.
    ________________________

  59. Ray Ladbury:

    Demesure, what is measured is the period of oscillation, from which, given theory, the gravitational acceleration (not the constant) can be estimated.
    Likewise, empirical data are input to climate models and the output is examined to determine whether they reproduce trends. They do.

  60. Geoff Sherrington:

    Re #46 BPL

    Then why do you not write a high-level, competent rebuttal of the Miskolczi paper, summarising your occasional partial forays into a coordinated whole?

    The reason Miskolczi is being studied by so many people is that he attempts to answer some important questions that RealClimate has not been able to provide. See #38 above.

    The reason you will decline this challenge is that your oppenents, who are sneeringly named “denialists” have, in aggregate, some formidable knowledge. That some are more competent than others is life, but look to respond to the high quality contributors.

    [Response: No. The reason Miskolczi is being 'studied' by people is because it is only through obscure and illogical treatises that they can continue to convince themselves that the mainstream view is incorrect. If M does not explain where his equations come from or how he applies inapplicable theorems, the errors are not as obvious and plausible deniability can be maintained. His methods have already been shown to be very clearly incorrect. -gavin]

  61. Kevin McKinney:

    “Kevin, your argument is not persuasive, it’s false. Earth’s gravitational constant is MEASURED. There is a huge Foucault pendulum in the Pantheon in Paris to do that back in the 1800s and the experience a been repeated all over the world to check Newton laws.”

    But the acceleration is not *directly* measured: distance and time *are* measured directly and acceleration is derived by calculation from these quantities. We often forget that our direct measurements are proxies of a sort–inches (or rather centimeters) of mercury, not kilopascals, etc.

  62. Ron Cram:

    Ray @#47
    What does changing diapers have to do with the second law? And creationists do not have a problem with the Big Bang theory as far as I know. Read Jastrow’s book “God and the Astronomers” and it will explain why the Big Bang was a problem for evolutionists. Where did all that Big Bang energy come from?

  63. Ray Ladbury:

    Geoff Sherrington suggests: “The reason you will decline this challenge is that your oppenents, who are sneeringly named “denialists” have, in aggregate, some formidable knowledge.”

    So, Geoff, how shall we judge the denialists’ considerable knowledge? How about in terms of publications on topics relevant to climate science? Oops, just lost a bunch. How about by looking at the quality of the journals they published in? Miskolczi? You there? Nope. How about by cites to the publications they’ve made? Contributions to understanding the climate?

    Anyway, thanks for the chuckle.

    Hello? Anybody there?

  64. spilgard:

    Re #60:
    Sorry, but I don’t see a formidable aggregate of knowledge. About 9 months ago, you dropped a reference to (sic) Martin Gardiner. While perusing the offerings of sites such as WUWT, I’m often reminded of this passage from Chapter 7 of Gardner’s early book “Fads & Fallacies in the Name of Science”:

    “Like similar literature opposing Newton and Darwin, it is the product of peevish, ignorant minds. It betrays no understanding of the views opposed, although the authors have had every opportunity for acquiring such knowledge. Even should Einstein later be found wrong in his major assertions, it would not elevate this literature into the realm of acceptable scientific controversy.”

  65. Barton Paul Levenson:

    Geoff Sherrington posts:

    why do you not write a high-level, competent rebuttal of the Miskolczi paper, summarising your occasional partial forays into a coordinated whole?

    I have. Take out the hyphen and paste this into your browser’s address window:

    http://www.geocities.com/bpl1960/Miskolczi.html

    One problem I didn’t note in the paper is that, if you follow Miskolczi’s algebra, his theory requires the atmosphere to know where each source of heating is coming from. IR from below gets radiated back down, but sensible and latent heat gets radiated up. Aside from a sentient, psychic atmosphere I can’t think of a way this could possibly work in reality.

  66. Kevin McKinney:

    Ron, given that “evolution” in its primary sense is a *biological* theory, how can anything from the pre-biological era (such as the Big Bang) pose a problem for it? It would be simply beyond the domain of the theory.

  67. Nylo:

    After watching Gavin try to explain that geological data which shows CO2 increases lagging temperature increases by hundreths of years, were a proof that CO2 causes temperature increases, I don’t really think that there is any basis to claim that Real Climate is any more scientific than CA or WUWT. The shameful post is here:

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/12/hot-off-the-projector-3-atmospheric-co2-to-800-kyr-ago/

    [Response: Very curious. Perhaps during your recent absence from commenting your reading comprehension skills have atrophied? In the precisely 3 comments I offered on that post, I am unclear which of these are 'shameful', or even remotely relevant to the claim that you would have me make. Do please try harder to make sense. - gavin]

  68. Magnus:

    Marcus: ” It seems like there is a critical mass of those bloggers who believe that the increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is due solely to oceanic temperature increases. Those kind of apparently uncorrectable simple logical fallacies really kind of frustrate and depress me.”

    A calculation:

    http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3019/2730940923_d532022b57_o.jpg

  69. Hank Roberts:

    > A calculation

    Yeah, but: put Segalstad in the search box at the top of the page here, since whoever did that calculation cites him.

    Oh, wait, that calculation is for “Moana Loa” — wrong mountain?
    ______________
    “great Holmes”

  70. Timothy Chase:

    Re #69 “great Holmes”

    ReCaptcha commenting on your detective work, apparently…

    And thanks for suggesting Zotero.

  71. Raven:

    I find these attempts to compare to AGW skepticism to creationism to be quite rediculous. Creationism is nonsense and anti-scientific because it seeks to use an unquantifiable diety as a catch all to explain anything we don’t understand. This kind of thinking is hinders science because it implies that we don’t need to find rational explanations for what we don’t understand because we always have the ‘god-did-it’ excuse.

    AGW skepticism is complete opposite of creationist thinking because it rejects the notion that we understand climate enough to make any definitive claims about the role of CO2 and that we have to do a lot more research. If anything, people who insists that we already have the answers and that no further investigation is required are closer to the creationist mindset.

  72. Ray Ladbury:

    Raven, AGW denialism and creationism both require their adherents to ignore the mountain of evidence. Neither proposes a useful counter-theory. Denial is not the same as skepticism.

  73. Raven:

    Ray,

    There is nothing in the scientific method that says one must have an alternate hypothesis before one can reject another.

    Evidence is also subject to interpretation and proponents of all hypothesis have a habit of interpreting evidence in ways that suits their hypotheses. AGW proponents are no different.

    As I say in my previous post – creationism is non-scientific because it uses the “god-did-it” excuse to discourage investigation into things we don’t understand. Interpreting evidence in different ways or disagreeing on the signficance of evidence is an essential part of the scientific process.

  74. David B. Benson:

    Raven (73) — I fear you have it rather wrong. Instead, read Weart’s book, first link in the Science section of the sidebar.

  75. Hank Roberts:

    Let me try to paraphrase that:

    CO2 denial is nonsense and anti-scientific because it seeks to use minor, or unknown, forcings as a catch all to explain effects straightforwardly attributable to CO2. This kind of thinking hinders science because it implies that we don’t need to find rational explanations for what we don’t want to understand because we always have the ‘Sol-did-it’ excuse.

  76. P J Stanton:

    Having come by here in looking at the weblog awards, I’m a bit suprised to find such a negative attitude to questions on the data/science. It seems to me that whole point of science is to be open to the possibility of something new.

  77. Kevin McKinney:

    PJ, that hasn’t been my experience in general. Questions which appear to be agenda-free generally receive supportive responses. “Questions”–meaning disguised argumentation–not so much.

    Unfortunately, the highly politicized nature of the debate today–especially in the blogosphere–tends to over-sensitize folks on both sides. Repetitions of long-debunked ideas, conspiracy theories and accusations of fraud, and apparently willful mischaracterizations of theories, data, or people *are* all apt to raise hackles by now.

  78. Al Z:

    PJ – Read the last paragraph of this post for the “point” of science and science blogging.

  79. Ray Ladbury:

    Raven says: “There is nothing in the scientific method that says one must have an alternate hypothesis before one can reject another.”

    Actually, Raven, there is. Statistical tests are pretty much all comparative. That is why you have to have a null hypothesis. The difference between the climate scientists and the denialists (since they don’t publish in refereed journals for the most part, I don’t deign to call them scientists) is that the former have strong evidence for their position. The latter simply ignore or deny the evidence, offering no alternative explanation or predictions.

    And actually, the reason creationism cannot be science is because it offers no testable hypotheses–which is precisely why AGW denialism is not science either. So, your choice, do you prefer denialists or ignoramuses?

  80. Ray Ladbury:

    P. J., Howdy and welcome. One of the best ways to ensure a positive reception here is to use the site as it is intended–to learn about Earth’s climate. As such it is best to click on the “Start Here” link in the upper right corner of the page. This connects you to absolutely wonderful resources to acquaint you with the basics. It also keeps you from asking questions that the contributors, moderators and commenters have heard a thousand times before–mostly from people who didn’t really want to know the answer to begin with. This avoids hijacking threads and pissing folks off. If you get stuck on something specific, ask away. People are happy to help as long as it doesn’t derail progress.

    If you want to learn about climate, there’s no better place. If you want to rail against conspiracy theories, you’d probably be happier someplace else.

  81. PHE:

    PJ Stanton. One of the best ways to ensure a positive reception here is to follow the advice and wisdom of Ray Ladbury and Hank Roberts – which you will find highly impartial and reliable.

  82. John Philip:

    Getting back to the original topic, it seems that Anthony Watts’ blog has romped home, with votes roughly in the ratio 10:1 compared to RealClimate. Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the competition was the turnout. Watts won with just 14,150 votes, in a system which allowed one vote per IP address per day, so you have to figure the number of discrete individuals who supported the site as substantially less than this, possibly a 4 figure number.

    Given the global reach of the internet this seems a woefully low level of interest. Hopefully this is a reflection of the ‘blogging’ part of science blogging, not the science.

    As I write, the lead story on WUWT is a plainly nonsensical story about the statistical distribution of digits in the GISTEMP dataset, meanwhile there is a stange and eerie silence on the actual Meteorological/Climatic news story tonight…

    “NASA climate scientist James E. Hansen has been chosen by his peers to receive the 2009 Carl-Gustaf Rossby Research Medal, the highest honor bestowed by the American Meteorological Society (AMS).,

    “The debate about global change is often emotional and controversial, and Jim has had the courage to stand up and say what others did not want to hear,” Einaudi added. “He has acquired a credibility that very few scientists have. His success is due in part to his personality, in part to his scientific achievements, and in part to his refusing to sit on the sidelines of the debate.”

    http://www.nasa.gov/centers/goddard/news/topstory/2009/hansen_ams.html

    I congratulate Mr Watts for his powers of communication and pursuasion, and I sincerely congratulate Dr Hansen for his exemplary application of the scientific method to the single most significant scientific/environmental challenge facing humanity.

    One of these achievements will be remembered.

  83. Fred Staples:

    The “achievements” to date by Watts and Hansen (82) are, indeed, mutually exclusive. The theory that infra-red absorption in the mid to upper troposphere by additional CO2 can significantly effect surface temperatures is speculative, at best. Like all theories it can be confirmed and rejected only by experimental evidence.

    There are three independent sources of relevant temperature measurement (none of them actually at the surface) – satellites, radio-sondes, and thermometers (or their modern equivalent).

    All of them are subject to significant experimental errors, but anyone who has been responsible for regular, routine, temperature measurement will know that good quality control is essential, both for the instruments themselves and their immediate environments.
    For ground-based readings we are trying to measure changes in global averages, over many decades, with procedures which, frankly, you could not make up. My own favourite is “ How not to measure temperature, part 79, NOAA USHCN COOP weather station #298107” on the Watts site.

    We are looking for changes of around 0.3 degrees centigrade per decade. Anyone with an external temperature gauge can measure the urban heat island effect of driving into a town. Along the Thames Valley into London you can observe an increase of more than 2.0 degrees centigrade. And then, of course, there are the natural variations. I came across this on the Watts web-site:

    Emmanuel ROBERT (00:15:10) :
    Even if MSU temps records seems more reliable than surface stations, there are still problems with temps measurements :
    Paris, last week : -9°C.
    850 hpa temp above Paris : 0°C
    In french this is called “inversion thermique”. Which was strengthened with the albedo – snow on the ground.

    [Response: Alors, l'existence de l'inversion thermique est la preuve que CO2 n'a aucune effet sur la bilan radiatif du planete? Got it. - gavin]

  84. SecularAnimist:

    Raven wrote: “AGW skepticism … rejects the notion that we understand climate enough to make any definitive claims about the role of CO2″

    Well then, “AGW skepticism” as you define it is plainly, simply, demonstrably wrong.

    Because, in fact, we do understand climate enough to make definitive statements — not “claims” but empirically verified statements of fact — about the role of CO2.

    If you believe otherwise, you are simply ill-informed or misinformed. You can remedy that by studying the actual scientific information that this site makes readily available to you.

  85. Marcus:

    Magnus (#68): Thank you for providing an example of an easily disproved calculation that is being circulated around the blogosphere… I hope you let whatever forum that calculation came from know that whoever wrote the calculation forgot about the exchange of CO2 between the atmospheric reservoir and the ocean + ecosystem reservoirs.

    A simple example: I have a box of 600 balls that is the atmosphere. 594 balls are white (C12), 6 balls are black (C13). I have another box of 900 balls that is the surface ocean, where 9 of the balls are black. Now, once a day, let’s take 70 balls from the atmosphere box and swap them with 70 balls from the ocean box. We can do this for a while, and on average both boxes will still have 1% black balls.

    Now, we start adding in 7 white balls per day. Keep on swapping 70 balls between the ocean and atmosphere once a day. The atmospheric percent of white balls will increase, but not as fast as if there was no swapping with the ocean, and the ocean percent of white balls will also increase. Also, the total number of balls in the atmosphere box will increase at 7 balls per day. Voila! It is a little homemade model of the carbon cycle, perhaps a little easier to understand for people!

    More (real science) details can be found at:
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=81
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=87
    Figure 7.3 in AR4 WGI report.

  86. Khebab:

    I’m quite shocked that WUWT has won the award with such a large margin. In my opinion, WUWT is the equivalent of The National Enquirer for scientific blogging, lots of sensational headlines on a very weak scientific basis.

  87. Ron Taylor:

    I tried to vote for RC three different days and could never get in. Someone was really saturating the website, making me believe the whole thing was a farce.

  88. Ray Ladbury:

    Fred, do you really think that remaining utterly ignorant of the science enhances your objectivity?

  89. Eric (skeptic):

    While I generally agree with Gavin’s reply to MG in #31, the tone is
    probably more important than he admits. Speaking personally, the tone
    here has made it quite unpleasant to post here and I would not vote
    for this site. OTOH, there is an almost universal constructive tone
    towards new skeptics as well as textbook denialists who show up here.
    Also, scientists who have other opinions are treated respectfully
    especially if they use their own names. The few exceptions to that
    have been confrontational themselves. But you could do even better.

    My example is in this thread at posts 63 and 115
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2008/08/hypothesis-testing-and-long-term-memory/

    Part of the reason may be technical, the moderation is 100% manual and
    takes lots of time. But there is also a missing element of self
    policing. The same people who diligently respond to newbie after
    newbie ought to spend a bit of time with a few of their regulars
    instead of letting such obvious flamebait lie unchallenged.

  90. Barton Paul Levenson:

    Fred Staples writes:

    The theory that infra-red absorption in the mid to upper troposphere by additional CO2 can significantly effect surface temperatures is speculative, at best. Like all theories it can be confirmed and rejected only by experimental evidence.

    The experimental evidence was provided by John Tyndall in 1859. Or you can read this (take out the hyphen before pasting into your browser’s URL window):

    http://www.geocities.com/bpl1960/Saturation.html

  91. PHE:

    Re BPL (90). I don’t see any reference to John Tyndall or 1859 in that link. What I do see is your comment that: “The Earth has enjoyed a fairly stable climate for something like 10,000 years.” That’a a revelation to me.

  92. Barton Paul Levenson:

    PHE — The condition was that “The theory that infra-red absorption in the mid to upper troposphere by additional CO2 can significantly effect surface temperatures is speculative, at best.” My article shows why that’s a crock. What I did was done in the professional literature in the 1940s and 1950s. You might try looking up the work of Gilbert N. Plass, for instance.

  93. Hank Roberts:

    PHE, I’m surprised you’re not aware of the unusually stable period, it’s widely discussed and likely the reason hominids were able to develop agriculture rather than follow wild game — stable climate.

    Try any of these. John Baez’s piece is rather good.
    http://www.google.com/search?q=Earth+stable+climate+10%2C000+years

  94. Kevin McKinney:

    #90, 92-

    A very nice illustrative example on the “saturation” argument, BPL!

  95. Barton Paul Levenson:

    Thanks, Kevin.