Thursday, February 07, 2008

Ethon brings news

After a short visit in Ethon flew in bearing a letter from the Registrar of Cambridge University in England (he went up there to bird on the fens and visit Stoat. Stoat is taking inventory of the much depleted larder. Eli had been wondering about our friend Richard S. Courtney, often called doc by Marc Morano and other basic denialists. Based on his own description, Richard is clearly no Ph.D. or D. Phil, but maybe he is a DiplPhil (holder of a Diploma - a low post-graduate qualification)

Richard avoids confusion about him in his scientific and religious activities by rarely citing his academic achievements, but his material science qualifications include a DipPhil (Cambridge), a BA (Open) and a Diploma (Bath).
The Registrar writes
From: "Student Records' Secretary"
Date: February 6, 2008 5:52:04 AM CST
Subject: RE: Degree Verification for Richard S. Courtney

Dear Sir,

Richard S Courtney

Further to your letter dated 5 February 2008, I am writing to say that we have no record of the above named as having registered as a student at this University under the spelling of the names you have given.

We wish to advise you that the Dip.Phil is not a degree that is offered or awarded by the University of Cambridge.

Yours sincerely,
Judith Dyer
Senior Records Assistant
Student Administration & Records
10 Peas Hill
So which university in what Cambridge did Richard Courtney get a Diploma in Philosophy from in which department having to do with materials science and when? This is not exactly an idle question as Courtney has testified before both houses of the UK Parliament as well as the US Congress as an expert on climate related matters.


Anonymous said...

John S had a copy of Courtney's degree (a document to always have handy, for sure), which accidentally got stuck in ice during a field trip in the recent but tremendous Arctic ice pack. Conscious of how precious to the cause the document is, he attached a GPS locator to it. However, the degree can't be shown until next September, at best. If cooling persists, it will be forever frozen.


Anonymous said...


This may already be appreciated, but one possibly needs to read that excerpt about Courtney's qualifications from Wind Farms Provide Negligible Useful Electricity very carefully.

Is he really saying he has a materials science qualification?

Does he mean material as in relevant here (or perhaps that should read irrelevant)?

One might, I suppose, approach the Open University Registrar to ascertain what units made up his BA (but perhaps they won't divulge that info) or the year he gained it.

The BA award might be made up of science units (which actually could include materials science elements), there might be Arts/Humanities units, there might be Mathematics units, or there might be a mixture of all of them. They started to issue BSc degrees in the late 80s I think. So, before the change to awarding BSc, the BA could be heavily science/maths based. It becomes a little more complicated after that, as, IIRC, there may have been a period where you could still choose to be awarded a BA even if the degree content was heavy on the science/maths. Latterly (maybe a decade or so), the BSc became the norm for a prescribed science path and the BA could be Arts or an individually chosen mixture.

(BTW, this is in no way meant to denigrate his BA(Open) achievement, whatever the make-up. OU degrees are well thought of.)

Cymraeg llygoden

Dano said...

I think this is called "auditing". I appreciate you auditing the data, Eli. I suspect others do, too.

Surely Morano will, Eli, send you on either a Heritage Victory Tour or the Marshall Momentum Speaking Tour.

We need more amateur auditing, see.



skanky said...

I seem to recall (I could be wrong) that Jeffrey Archer used to claim that he had a degree from Oxford, which turned out to be the then Oxford Polytechnic (not that there's anything wrong with Poly qualifications I have one, but don't let that count against them).

Maybe Courtney got his thingamy at APU (Anglia Polytechnic University) which used to be Anglia Polytechnic and is now Anglia Ruskin University.

Anonymous said...

The following should probably be in On the astounding DipPhil Courtney, but that's a bit too far down the page for my liking now (without a recent posts listing!), and it's not entirely out of context here.

Anyway, Ray Pierrehumbert asked Dick Courtney (at least indirectly) down there (well, at really) "If I have overlooked anything I should have discussed, please do let me know and I’ll have a look at it."

A little digging brought up this peer-reviewed and rejected Letter to Nature. The Word doc version with figures can be downloaded from this link.

Have funny bunnies.

Cymraeg llygoden

David B. Benson said...

I had no success whilst exploring the Anglia Ruskin University web site.

Anonymous said...

A Tale of Jobs and other Things

I know someone who started out life in a large nationalised industry in the UK, finally reaching the heady heights of senior metallurgist/materials scientist.

This person got their degree-level qualification part time, too.

This person then ended up as a "Technical Editor".

Might this sound a vaguely familiar story to anyone?

It's all true, but you can hide a lot of things and imply a lot of things with overblown and exotic-sounding job titles. I should know. I just have.

It's not the whole truth in my case, though (or should that be 'either'?); there's much more to my education history and employment in industry and research.

But it never occurred to me that I could get to be an expert IPCC reviewer as well.

Cymraeg llygoden

Anonymous said...

Don't you need a signed release form to get private info about an individual?

Some are reaching new levels of lowness. Asking for proven 'qualifications' while all the time hiding in such a manner that no one may judge your qualifications. Plus at the same time also pointing out who are and are not 'qualified'. How are we to be able to determine if you are or are not qualified to be telling anyone who are or are not qualified.

How might we verify the degrees and peer-reviewed publication record, in 'qualified' research ares and journals only of course, of Eli, Dano, and tamino?

Anonymous said...

Degree awards are a matter of public record (in the UK) unless, IIRC, a student indicates that they do not wish their name to be included on the published list.

As long as no personal information (e.g. mail address, e-mail, NI no., political opinions, etc.) are divulged, then the (UK) data protection laws are not broken. So anyone can check a qualification.

Next time (if you are in the UK), look at your doctor's certificate on the wall and make a note of their registration number, then check on the GMC's website whether they are actually licensed to practise medicine.

As to "verify[ing] the degrees and peer-reviewed publication record, in 'qualified' research ares [sic] and journals only of course, of Eli, Dano, and tamino". You may have a point there, but I reckon the individuals may reckon it's a specious point (for various reasons). That is for them to comment on.

But in their professional non-anonymous lives, when writing papers for peer review, when on committees (or whatever), their personal qualifications and experience will be on view for all to check on veracity. That, I would suggest, is the main point.

guthrie said...

When I graduated, my name was, along with hundreds of others, printed in "The Scotsman" newspaper, sorted out by degree type.

Besides, I'm sure our anonymous poster is sufficienly intelligent to know the difference between someone who makes no claims regarding their own qualifications, and someone who appears to claim qualifications that they do not in fact have...

Anonymous said...

Just for the record. Anon 7:20 am was me, Cymraeg llygoden. :-)

Regarding Dick Courtney and "Dr". I don't know when he seemingly last used it himself (it certainly seemed to be in June 2004 from a limited trawl, when he was talking alongside old Dr The-glaciers-aren't-melting-worldwide -- another opponent of wind power). He's not listed as a "Dr" in the E&E editorial listing, and (being charitable, as I am wont) it may be that the author of the 399 list (Morano) used out-of-date info from the web in compiling the list. Of course, no erratum has been issued by Morano (has it?), and Dick Courtney seemed to have ample opportunity over at to clear things up once and for all ... and didn't. So ...

However, one has to admit to a slight feeling of schadenfreude in this issue, considering the antics of the George C. Marshall Institute and others of their ilk and persuasion over the years.

Cymraeg llygoden

PS You seem a charitable chap, there, guthrie.

Anonymous said...

Maybe he meant to say that he likes Philly dip.

Horatio Algeranon said...

People like Courtney dance round in a ring and suppose, ButJames Hansen sits in the middle, and knows.

Anonymous said...

Still listed as "Dr." as of today here, one of Inhofe's sources:

Understanding Climate Change: The Natural Resources Stewardship ...
26, Dr. Richard Courtney, Climate and atmospheric science consultant, IPCC expert reviewer, U.K. ...

He does make sense in opposing head-to-head debates, here:
"... in scientific disputes both ‘sides’ are usually right to some degree and wrong to some degree. Challenge of the other ‘side’s’ views is useful to highlight the nature of the disagreement, but once that challenge has been made then co-operation to resolve the disagreements is usually useful. The suggested ‘head-to-head’ debates would provide the highlight but discourage the needed subsequent co-operation (people could be encouraged to 'dig-their-heels-in'. This could exacerbate the difficulties between supporters and opponents of the IPCC view..."

Anonymous said...

Yes, Hank, I realise he's still listed at various places as of now as "Dr", but how much of that is just lifting from previous publications without checking? I didn't quite make that clear above. That was my point there. There's little or no variation in some of the attributions, which makes me think there's a certain laziness involved. But in 2004 (at least), in Country Guardian, the attribution in discussion of a Wind Farm Action Group Conference seems more definitely a self attribution. But, as I also said, he did have the chance at (and probably elsewhere in the last few years) to lay the ghost and he opted out.

And whilst making sense on the good nature of debate in your link, he doesn't appear to make much science sense later down when the "non-Dr" says "The rise [in CO2] may be anthropogenic, but other more likely causes of the rise are also possible." Still, that's debate I suppose.

Cymraeg llygoden

guthrie said...

I was scanning the dotearth wasteland for stuff and found this possible Loony Monckton quote:

It would be wiser to publish more from the counter-”consensus” side of this debate, and also wiser to remember that the AGU and suchlike bodies are rent-seekers claiming to speak on behalf of scientists nearly all of whom derive nearly all of their research funding from the taxpayer via various bureaucratic-centralist funding agencies.

As global temperatures fail to warm for the tenth year running despite record increases in the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide, even the dimmest apologist for the theory of dangerous “global warming” must by now be starting to suspect that the hysterical calculations of the IPCC must have a couple of black holes in them. So, indeed, they do. First, the IPCC’s estimated value of the no-feedbacks climate sensitivity parameter would imply that global temperatures should be around 20F warmer than they are. The IPCC has in effect repealed the Stefan-Boltzmann radiative-transfer equation by making the assumption - directly countered by that fundamental equation - that each additional degree of temperature increase required a smaller forcing to achieve that increase than the previous degree. Secondly, very simple calculations establish that the IPCC - without giving reasons - has increased by more than 50% the impact of feedbacks on radiative forcing and hence on temperature. These two very large and unjustifiable errors have, according to a string of recent papers in the peer-reviewed literature, approximately tripled the true effect not just of CO2 but of all greenhouse gases on temperature. Not one of the relevant papers has been reported by the New York Times, which has concentrated exclusively on reporting the baseless alarmism of the environmental movement. If the Times is to retain any credibility in future, as global temperature continue to rise at a harmless rate that will be well below the IPCC’s currently-exaggerated and erroneous projections, a little more perspective and a lot more balance and a lot less childish panic-mongering would be most welcome. - M of B

— Posted by Monckton of Brenchley

Note the impossibly wrong claim about 10 years of falling temperatures, the accusations of stealing money from the poor taxpayer, the lack of understanding of physics, the slagging off of the NYT.

Anonymous said...

It is interesting that he uses the time honored tactic of insisting on "balance" to get equal time from the press.

If the Times is to retain any credibility in future... a little more perspective and a lot more balance.."

As Naomie Oreskes points out in this video, that tactic has been very effective to date.

Monkton may not be as loony as some believe. he knows how the system works and is playing it for all it is worth.

Anonymous said...

anon 4:25 am wrote: "How might we verify the degrees and peer-reviewed publication record, in 'qualified' research ares and journals only of course, of Eli, Dano, and tamino?"

Easily. I've seen Eli's and Tamino's. I haven't looked for Dano's, but I don't know that he publishes and IIRC doesn't claim a PhD.

Anonymous said...

Actually, we can judge their arguments on the merits, without seeing the CV's.

That's the great thing about science.

Over the years, I've seen more than my share of arguments made by people with PhD's that were just absolute nonsense: eg: McKitrick and pals using Celsius temps in Stefan-Boltzmann.

Anonymous said...

Lest this this link lets rip here the ID genie out of the Darwinian bottle (for which our host will likely make good use of his editorial implement), this info is only given with respect to the thesis that, for some, PhD indubitably sometimes stands for "phreaking dunderhead".

Life's about choice. Some people plainly just make the wrong one.

Cymraeg llygoden

Anonymous said...

Steve Bloom,

Yet another example, with the exception that you might not be anonymous. How are we to know that you are qualified to judge the secret publications and accurately report back to us?

And anonymous at 7.58 pm

"Actually, we can judge their arguments on the merits, without seeing the CV's."

Isn't that exactly the way it should be. So why do Eli, Dano, and tamino have such a screwed-up focus on just about everything except the arguments? Just scroll around this blog. Go over to tamino and see the focus on labeling everyone. And Dano is so anon that we don't even know where to find any writings so that his arguments can be judged.

Pot. Kettle. Black.

Anonymous said...

"Maybe Courtney got his thingamy at APU (Anglia Polytechnic University) which used to be Anglia Polytechnic and is now Anglia Ruskin University."

Anglia used to be Cambridge College of Arts and Technology. No connection to Cambridge University (but it's still a decent school). But a non-zero number of its graduates did use the "I got my degree from Cambridge" bluff.


Anon aka. Sock Puppet of the Great Satan

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:43, the problem arises when "skeptics" put forth an individual, or a list of individuals who are supposed to be, somehow, authorities. If someone is presented as an authority, one would normally check what exactly makes it an authority.
It's kinda funny that they go against the grain of a cherished skeptic argument saying that appeal to authority is a logical no-no. Yet they do it anyway, but they really suck at it.
Tamino and others are exactly in the heart of the argument that no matter your degrees, the argument stands on its own merit. If you think that Tamino's maths are wrong, point out exactly what is wrong, your argument will stand and noone will care if you post with your name, your degrees, whatever.

Skeptic:"Lots of uncertainty here and there in your theory/data/ whatever."
Science: "Yes, but that uncertainty has no bearing on such and such physical phenomenon, and it can be constrained within such and such limits, which still leave this much to this phenomenon."
Skeptic: "My opinion is that such and such factors may affect things more than this phenomenon. The fact that there is greater uncertainty, less constraint and a lack of physical mechanism is not a problem."
Science: "I disagree with that, because, it's been shown that so and so, and so and so..."
Skeptic: "I have a list! All these people, are top notch scientists (authorities) and they agree with me!"
Science: "That list is kinda short compared to just the number of people who regularly work in the field, have current knowledge, and know what's going on. Many of these people have different areas of expertise. Some aren't scientists at all."
Skewptic: "I have an even bigger list!. And it's got Courtney on it! And Lintzen! And Baliunas! You're wrong and I'm right because they say so, just like me."
Science: "Whatever, dude."


Anonymous said...

I wonder if Courtney is even being honest in claiming (so vehemently) he has never been in Epsom, Surrey. I went over to Sourcewatch, which is a wiki, with the intent of correcting the address they list there, but first I checked the link they got the address from. The link is to an op-ed Courtney published in an Australian paper, and that article lists the following as an address:

*Richard S. Courtney is Technical Editor, CoalTrans International,
42 Rutherwyke, Epsom, Surrey, KT17 2NB, England,

See that? Epsom, Surrey. Maybe the guy doesn't live there, but given that he is or was employed by CoalTrans International, it's strange that he has never, ever been to his place of employment. Not impossible, but certainly strange.

By the way, somebody ought to go over to SourceWatch and update their article on Courtney to reflect his preferred address stated on Dot Earth, and to reflect the new information that has come out in recent discussions.

Ordinarily, published arguments trump qualifications, but when one has no published arguments worth speaking of, and when one argues from authority instead (as Courtney does) there's no alternative but to look at the basis of that authority.

Anonymous said...

This post reminds me of an incident a few years ago. I was attending a meeting in Cambridge, and having been an undergraduate there (yes really!), I thought I'd have a look around the University Library. It turned out that, in order to use the library facilities, I had to join the library, which required an interview with the head librarian. I duly went at the appointed time and was asked if I had ever been a member of the university (which seems to pretty well give automatic membership of the library). I gave the dates when I was an undergraduate and the interviewer selected a weighty tome from the shelf, entitled "Cambridge University List of Member up to ....", and quickly verified that I had indeed been an undergraduate in the 1960s. With my membership of the library organised, I went to the Reference section, found "Cambridge University List of Member up to 1 July 1998" (published 1999), looked up Richard Courtney (it should be on page 172) and guess what? - no Richard Courtney. Well I never .....

Marion Delgado said...

steve bloom:

I have noticed the denialist side has inflationary resumes on the brain since "Dr." Ben Wattenberg did his John Stossel act on public TV ... his was an honorary doctorate from the same college (Hobart) that gave him his MBA.

The reason you pay attention to credentials is the same reason regulations are needed. No one has time to be a perfect generalist.