RealClimate logo


Weblog awards

Filed under: — group @ 5 January 2009

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 Responses to “Weblog awards”

  1. 51
    Former Skeptic says:

    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.

  2. 52
    Rod B says:

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

  3. 53
    Ray Ladbury says:

    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.

  4. 54
    Brian Klappstein says:

    “…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

  5. 55

    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.

  6. 56
    Hank Roberts says:

    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?

  7. 57
    Demesure says:

    @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]

  8. 58
    Hank Roberts says:

    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.
    ________________________

  9. 59
    Ray Ladbury says:

    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.

  10. 60
    Geoff Sherrington says:

    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]

  11. 61

    “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.

  12. 62
    Ron Cram says:

    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?

  13. 63
    Ray Ladbury says:

    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?

  14. 64
    spilgard says:

    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.”

  15. 65

    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.

  16. 66

    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.

  17. 67
    Nylo says:

    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]

  18. 68
    Magnus says:

    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

  19. 69
    Hank Roberts says:

    > 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”

  20. 70
    Timothy Chase says:

    Re #69 “great Holmes”

    ReCaptcha commenting on your detective work, apparently…

    And thanks for suggesting Zotero.

  21. 71
    Raven says:

    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.

  22. 72
    Ray Ladbury says:

    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.

  23. 73
    Raven says:

    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.

  24. 74
    David B. Benson says:

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

  25. 75
    Hank Roberts says:

    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.

  26. 76
    P J Stanton says:

    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.

  27. 77

    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.

  28. 78
    Al Z says:

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

  29. 79
    Ray Ladbury says:

    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?

  30. 80
    Ray Ladbury says:

    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.

  31. 81
    PHE says:

    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.

  32. 82
    John Philip says:

    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.

  33. 83
    Fred Staples says:

    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]

  34. 84
    SecularAnimist says:

    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.

  35. 85
    Marcus says:

    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.

  36. 86
    Khebab says:

    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.

  37. 87
    Ron Taylor says:

    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.

  38. 88
    Ray Ladbury says:

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

  39. 89
    Eric (skeptic) says:

    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.

  40. 90

    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

  41. 91
    PHE says:

    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.

  42. 92

    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.

  43. 93
    Hank Roberts says:

    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

  44. 94

    #90, 92-

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

  45. 95

Switch to our mobile site