Friday, November 10, 2006

Dan Johnson wins....or virtue rewarded...

As some of you may remember and fewer care, Tim Ball has sued Dan Johnson for telling the truth about him in print. DeSmog Blog has many of the details as well as various writs and replys. Ear tip to Richard Littlemore who has been on top of this issue. Among the various '''embellishments''' to Ball's resume are claims that he was the first Canadian Ph.D. in climatology, that he was Professor of Climatology at U Winnipeg for 22, 24, 26, 26, 32 or maybe 64 years and that he has lots and lots of scientific publications (he has 4, as far as anyone and ISI can tell).

Well, you ask, why hop along well trod paths? Interestingly, since Tim has folded his Potemkin Village Friends Foes of Science organization, and taken up with Tom Harris in the new development, National Resources Stewardship Project.
Tim Lambert had some fun with this, pointing out that it was about Not Really Secret Payments, but that appears rather forced to Eli. It does have the virtue that it enraged Tom Harris, so we set the wordsmiths in Rabett Labs on the case and came up with

Needy RapaciousReprehensible Scientists and Publicists
UPDATE: The wordrabett unit in our lab has upgraded the beta to 1.1 substituting reprehensible for rapacious.
The lab bunnies (aka grad students) also noticed something interesting, in the Sherlockian sense about Tom Ball's NRSCP people page. He has put up a new CV. Guess how it starts:
Dr. Ball is a renowned environmental consultant and former professor of climatology at the University of Winnipeg. Dr. Ball has served on many local and national committees and as Chair of Provincial boards on water management, environmental issues and sustainable development. Dr. Ball has given over 600 public talks over the last decade on science and the environment. He is the co-author of the book Eighteenth Century Naturalists of Hudson Bay (2004 - McGill/Queens University Press) with Dr. Stuart Houston, one of the World's leading authorities on arctic birds.

Dr. Ball’s extensive science background in climatology, especially the reconstruction of past climates and the impact of climate change on human history and the human condition,
Well, we could argue about the extensive......or just laugh a lot. The former wonderful things about Tim Ball have gone missing, but in those four papers he got a lot of things done.
Dr. Ball is a researcher/author of numerous scientific papers on:
  • climate (especially historical climatology);
  • long range weather patterns;
  • impacts of climate change on sustainable agriculture, ecosystems, air quality;
  • untapped energy resources;
  • silting and flooding problems;
  • bird migration patterns;
  • historical sites development;
  • impact studies on flooding of aboriginal lands in Manitoba.
Two major areas of real expertise per paper. Good work if you can get it and pity no one else noticed as the number of cites is between zero and zero (Dear Ball lawyers: this is exaggeration for effect, but the number was orders of magnitude less than 10).

Ball is a fine example of the molehills to reams of paper ability of academics. As one of those who just does the damn stuff, this tendency is somewhere between amusing and enraging depending on whether it is my department or yours.

Johnson's lawyers should get a screen shot of Balls page at the Needy Rapacious Scientists and Publicists society, as it proves just about all of Dan's contentions. Every earlier description of Ball that Ball had a hand in contained one or more of the claims that Johnson called him on. This one? Sadly No?


Anonymous said...

Eli, Tim Ball's only scholarly contribution to the climate change debate was his hit and run book review of 1995, when he mistook his ignorance of the data and methodology for a lack of substance in the area (and did a masterful job of repeating the shibboleths of his current friends). His version of the argument from ignorance?
Interestingly, he's part of the vast left-leaning, green network by Wegman standards, as he had a chapter (on Hudson Bay climate records, natch) in a book edited by Bradley, of MBH'98. When his current companions find out that he's rubbed shoulders with the enemy, he'll be outed as ideologically untrustworthy and politically incorrect. (Alternatively, perhaps he's knowledgable about Hudson Bay in the 18th century, and chooses not to be aware of anything since).

Any word on the status of the Johnson-Ball affair? I may want to book a day off from work to watch.

Anonymous said...

Wow, another astroturf organisation is born.
Scarily, it reminds me of the Creationist organisation currently trying to get Creationism taught in schools here in the UK. The same carefully worded mush that avoids issues, the same emphasis on PhDs of experts, the same lack of immediate information on who has paid for it all.