Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Bunny Bait

The Weasel has opened the Why Watts New Paper is Doomed to Fail Review season, so Eli thought he might contribute a scientifical entry.  To start, of course Bunnies, Eli went and RTFR and a review previously linked by Victor Venema.  The Rabett also thought about Tony's Elevator Speech, cut and pasted directly from the breathless press release

The new improved assessment, for the years 1979 to 2008, yields a trend of +0.155C per decade from the high quality sites, a +0.248 C per decade trend for poorly sited locations, and a trend of +0.309 C per decade after NOAA adjusts the data.
However, and of course there is a however with anything Watts or his svengali, Pielke Sr. touches, the press release is based on raw data, which, as everybunny knows is not necessarily a hot thing to do and provides a very interesting answer to the question of why.  Venema shows a table of results when NOAA adjusts the data

Table. The mean temperature trends from Figure 17 of Watts et al. (2012) in °C per decade.

Class 1/2 Class 3/4/5 Class 3 Class 4 Class 5
Urban 0.302 0.294 0.318 0.299 0.218
Semi-urban 0.341 0.311 0.327 0.325 0.249
Rural 0.314 0.321 0.327 0.316 0.319

and notes that the successful application of homogenization confirms, rather than falsifies the NOAA adjustments, as did Tony's previous essay
Also in Falls et al. this trend was about 0.3 °C per decade. Also in Falls et al. the tend in the raw data was 0.1 °C per decade smaller. Thus I cannot see this manuscript as unprecedented. Leroy (2012) will be happy that his new siting quality classification seems to work better as judged by the larger difference in the trends between the categories. That seems to be the main novelty. This result is worth a paper, I am not sure if it worth a press release.
In that, of course, Victor is wrong, today every paper is worth a press release and an NSF highlight to be posted.  One can get a hint of what is happening by looking at the same Figure 17 from the paper that Venema does.

Eli has added some dotted lines and words to divide the figure into three parts, the mean trend on the left (he has emerged from your monitor in pursuit of carrots), the trend of the maximum temperatures in the middle and the trend of the minimum temperatures on the right.  The blue line shows the adjusted NOAA estimate.  As many have pointed out the use of unhomogenized data to calculate meaningful trends is problematical, and as many have pointed out in the few days since Sunday the time of observation correction is among the most important, but the question remains as to WHY Tobs affects the rural stations more than the suburban or urban ones.

Update:  Turns out that one of the Anonymice at Variable Variability (VVenema's blog) had spotted this yesterday.  Gazumphed!:)

Update:  Zeke Hausfather provides a link to this poster, on which Ron Broberg is also an author, and also this post of his discusses changes in the time of observation over the years.

With this sharpening of the issue, Eli went a merrily googling. What is it, if anything, that makes rural stations more subject to Tobs bias than urban or suburban ones.  Fortunately, Ari Jokimäki, or more precisely Thomas Karl, had already answered that question.  In his AMS lecture (video here), Karl pointed out that
The time of the observation also causes a problem for the analysis. Early in the morning temperature usually is lower than in the afternoon. If the observation time of some station changes for example from morning to afternoon, it causes a warming bias to the data of the station in question. This has caused a false urban heat effect. There is practically no time of observation bias in urban-based stations which have taken their measurements punctually always at the same time, while in the rural stations the times of observation have changed. The change has usually happened from the afternoon to the morning. This causes a cooling bias in the data of the rural stations. Therefore one must correct for the time of observation bias before one tries to determine the effect of the urban heat island. Karl shows a comparison between urban and rural stations after the time of observation bias has been corrected, and there’s hardly no difference when the situation of the USA is considered. In the global analysis the rural stations even seem to show slightly more warming than the urban stations. Stations are being classified as urban or rural with assistance of satellite measurements where the amount of light pollution is measured in different areas. Also some other information are being used, such as maps, population statistics, etc.
Update:  Victor Venema has a short introduction to time of observation bias.

Update: Victor Venema's comment from below
 No Nobel price for Anthony Watts?

An experienced colleague, knowledgeable about the US network gave me the tip to look into the time of observation bias (TOB). Thus this may well explain much of the differences in the trends of the raw data.

If this is really an important effect, I do not see it as an excuse that Anthony Watts is not an academic insider. This is something one should check before publishing and I would see this as a lack of rigor. That there is an TOB in the US network is no internal secret, but known from the literature, for example, studied in Vose et al. (2003).

Thus we now have three reasons, why the technical problems may cause a difference in the trends of the raw data:
1. Time of observation bias stronger in rural stations.
2. More problems due to the UHI in the bad stations.
3. Selection bias (bad/good stations at the end of the period may have been better/worse before)

Sounds like the first two problems can be solved by homogenization. And the third problem is only a problem for this study, but not for the global temperature trend.

Time for the Team Watts to start analyzing their data a bit more.

Russell S. Vose, Claude N. Williams Jr., Thomas C. Peterson, Thomas R. Karl, and David R. Easterling. An evaluation of the time of observation bias adjustment in the U.S. Historical Climatology Network. J. Geophys. Res., VOL. 30, NO. 20, 2046, doi: 10.1029/2003GL018111, 2003. 
The take home, of course, beyond confirmation bias, is the same one that Eli discovered a long time ago when Tony, Monckton, Steve and the rest of the crew were all agog at the stamp collection of early CO2 measurements assembled by Ernst Beck

What amateurs lack as a group is perspective, an understanding of how everything fits together and a sense of proportion. Graduate training is designed to pass lore from advisors to students. You learn much about things that didn't work and therefore were never published [hey Prof. I have a great idea!...Well actually son, we did that back in 06 and wasted two years on it], whose papers to trust, and which to be suspicious of [Hey Prof. here's a great new paper!... Son, don't trust that clown.] In short the kind of local knowledge that allows one to cut through the published literature thicket.

But this lack makes amateurs prone to get caught in the traps that entangled the professionals' grandfathers, and it can be difficult to disabuse them of their discoveries. Especially problematical are those who want science to validate preconceived political notions, and those willing to believe they are Einstein and the professionals are fools. Put these two types together and you get a witches brew of ignorance and attitude.

Unfortunately climate science is as sugar to flies for those types.


Sou said...

Thank you Eli. It didn't take you three days (let alone three years) to do all that, did it?

Looks as if having an academic background can come in handy.

(Not a robot = ItyWat - I kid you not!)

Anonymous said...

No bunnies should be surprised at this :P

Anonymous said...

-- by Horatio Algeranon

What "skeptics" lack
Is a single clue
Where it happened
Who did it too
What was used
To do the deed.
A little perspective
Is what they need

chek said...

"No bunnies should be surprised at this"

Indeed not. The only question left unanswered is why Tony Wassup thought his findings were "unprecedented". Not that anyone cares now.

Anonymous said...

"IgNobel Dreams"
-- by Horatio Algeranon

My findings are unpressindented
And will in Cambridge be presented
When I win my IgNobel
For snapping photos very well.

Ron Broberg said...

Graduate training is designed to pass lore from advisors to students.

Academia is proud of tradition, conservative, and slow to change. But unless as civilization continues down along the information highway, this will have to change. If you want to stay relevant, find another answer than "answers only provided in grad school."

Collecting table scraps of my betters is probably the main reason I hang around the climate blogs with some connection to the "institutions" of science ... you, rc, tamino, stoat.

Ron Broberg said...

Read "unless as civilization" as "as long as civilization."

EliRabett said...

Ron, Eli thinks the answer is

a) do the basic training in a structured environment with a professional teacher. On line courses may be part of this answer.

b) find a group of actual skeptics to bullshit with and learn how it is done. Scientists are skeptical by nature.

c) if you get an answer that disagrees with the prevailing, have a few people who ARE expert in the area to vet it. Part of doing this is to boil your work down into a simple key question rather than sending a 100 pp opus full of algebra where the key mistake is on pp59.

You can probably get an email answer to: Is there a Tobs negative bias in rural stations from Karl or Peterson or the equivalent. If you send them the Watts manuscript or one of Eschenbach's ramblers chirps.

Anonymous said...

So, are you guys trying to tell me that weather expert and high-school graduate Anthony Watts does not realize that on average, it's warmer in the afternoon than in the morning?

Jason Miller said...

I don’t even consider myself an amateur. I started reading climate blogs after Climategate and immediately saw that the “skeptic” blogs, while filled with vile and calumny, had very little, if any science. Their arguments just poked around the edges of climate science and if there was any uncertainty about a subject it was pretty much invalid to them.

I took a lot of science and math classes in college, so I do have somewhat of a feel of what makes scientific sense and what does not. While going though the comments at WUWT to see if any were critical (maybe two or three), I ran across this reply to a question in the comments concerning what data were used:

REPLY – Raw, no TOBS. ~ Evan

My jaw dropped because they had dropped a very important dimension from all their equations and algorithms. And I could not think of how anything useful would come from looking at the data without Tobs being taken into account. Thanks to Steven Goddard, this technique was very familiar to me. He loves conflating the temperature dimension on maps to either 1 or -1, which gave a anomaly of +12 the same scale as an anomaly of -1.

My question is how so many people can be blind to this type of deception. I think it’s right up there with cherry-picking.

Hank Roberts said...

>> the rural stations the times of
>> observation have changed. The
>> change has usually happened from
>> the afternoon to the morning

In the old days, the farmer got up, went out to the barn, milked the cows, and, after getting her hands warmed up, took the temperature reading.

Nowadays automated systems take care of both milking the cows and adding to the temperature record.

Anonymous said...

There are undoubtedly a few motivated folks who are able and willing to expend the considerable effort to learn the science (physics, chemistry, biology vs just math or computer programming, for example) on their own.

But they are almost certainly in a rather small minority.

Far more common (on the web, at least) are those who are either unwilling or unable to make even a minimal effort to come up to speed on the science (beyond, say, a junior high level).

Despite (or perhaps because of) their ignorance, many of the latter have adopted the "I'll show those elitist ivy tower folks a thing or two" attitude.

The only thing they show is their ignorance.

Rattus Norvegicus said...

Ah, but Watts does have a nobel price and apparently it is $88,000 paid by the Heartland Institute.

trrll said...

Based upon past performance of Watts and McIntyre, we have a pretty good idea of what to expect from them: a minor technical tweak (in this case, it seems, an improved station quality classification) to get it into a real journal, while carefully avoiding acknowledging that it has no appreciable impact on the overall evidence for a warming climate--coupled with wild unfounded blog claims that they don't have the nerve to subject to peer review--like "New study shows half the global warming in the USA is artificial."

Anonymous said...


Technically, that would prolly be a "Nobill Price".


dhogaza said...

Jeff ID chimes in.

Ignoring the ignoring of TOBS by Watts, even though he also posted in McIntyre's thread in which McI points out he screwed up by not noticing that Watts ignored TOBS issues.

And Jeff ID wants us to think he's one of the smart ones.

J Bowers said...

Speaking of Bunny Bait. O/T ends.

Sou said...

Bother - all you people have got me visiting 'skeptic' blogs. McIntyre distancing himself from the 'paper' and Jeff ID saying confusingly: "Consider the guts it takes to publish initially weak results followed by the fortitude to go back and discover what was wrong with the theory and republish."

Raises interesting questions. What is Jeff referring to when he talks about past shoddy work? Is there something I'm missing. Is he saying Fall et al (Watts' first attempt) was no good? He does seem to be saying he prefers this recent half-baked attempt to a published paper. Very mixed message, isn't it.

Confusing too is his use of the word 'theory' - so maybe he means something completely different because I don't recall any 'theories' involved in any of Watts' efforts.

dhogaza said...

" Is he saying Fall et al (Watts' first attempt) was no good?"

Yes, he is. New stuff showing 50% of warming isn't warming == good. Old stuff showing climate scientists are right != good.

Has to be because he's calling this a "major event in science" blah blah.

Sou said...

Poor old Anthony Watts, betrayed by Muller, deserted by McIntyre and backhanded compliments (at best) from JeffID.

What joy!

Anonymous said...

If TOBS of rural stations was the explanation for the differences in trend, then wouldn't that have caused Anthony's previous study to come to the same erroneous conclusion? Instead, last time Anthony found the trends between rural and urban stations to be the same. I don't think BEST found TOBS adjustments necessary to reconcile rural and urban stations either.

I've been looking for refutations of Anthony's new paper, but it looks like you all are stretching to find an excuse to dismiss it. Remember climate scientists have been known to hide things (hide being the offender's own word choice) like the fact that their proxy was giving falsely low temperatures for the last 50 years, while expecting us to believe the proxy was not falsely low 1000 years ago. They've also been known to go as far as to break the law to hide their methods and data. Worse, when caught red handed, there has been widespread defense of this misconduct in the climate science community, and even a continued acceptance of concealing code and data. You have to take not only the skeptics but also the alarmists research with a grain of salt.

Other than plain math blunders and the like, it seems the only likely flaw in Anthony's study might be in his method of selecting good stations. Cherry picking, even sub-consciously, is a major hazard in a study like this. Has anyone verified that his selection is biased? That could be a lot of work, so maybe I'm expecting too much this soon.

Anonymous said...

Tony's Theory is kinda like Anne Elk's Theory

"All surface stations have parking lots at one end, air conditioners in the middle and barbecues on the far end"


dhogaza said...

Sou, I posted this over at VV:

"And McIntyre is saying that now he'll just have to do the TOBS adjustments himself.

I foresee a soap opera developing: McIntyre properly corrects Watts' results based on incorporating TOBS adjustments. This will sink Watts' conclusion that 50% of the observed trend is "spurious".

How will this soap opera conclude? Watts backing off his proclamation and publishing a paper that says, hey, yeah, just as everyone else understands, there's nothing wrong with the NOAA temp trend cacluations? Watts ignoring McIntyre and trying to publish as is? Does McIntyre get his name off the paper in this case?

We're already seeing hissy fits over BEST. Mosher, once one of the most reliable denialists around (and one of the more intelligent) helped the BEST team out with R wrangling and the organizing and storage of the raw data. He's now being villified by the Wattsonian clique and the Currians. Even his co-auther Tom Fuller has said unkind things about BEST. Mosher called the stats work in Watts' paper - McIntyre's contribution - "hurried and sloppy" (which apparently McIntyre doesn't entirely disagree with).

Popcorn, people, popcorn."

I guess we can add JeffID to the mix (though I don't think the compliments are "backhand", I think he truly thinks Watts has overturned the world, though we should wait for his follow-on post, I guess)

Anonymous said...

Dr. Lumpus Spookytooth, phd.

"The change has usually happened from the afternoon to the morning. This causes a cooling bias in the data of the rural stations."

This is a nice opinion from Tom Karl but the temperature dropping from afternoon to morning is to be expected.

dhogaza said...

"This is a nice opinion from Tom Karl but the temperature dropping from afternoon to morning is to be expected."

Which is exactly why you must compensate for it.


dhogaza said...

Mosher gets medieval on McI's ass.

Anonymous said...

Lumpus Spookytooth: Not many days have a morning that follows an afternoon. You must be oversleeping big time on your afternoon nappy-time.

Rib Smokin' Bunny

Anonymous said...


You know what they say about sinking ships.


dhogaza said...

"If TOBS of rural stations was the explanation for the differences in trend, then wouldn't that have caused Anthony's previous study to come to the same erroneous conclusion? Instead, last time Anthony found the trends between rural and urban stations to be the same."

No. He didn't write Fall et al, but is listed as co-author because he did the classification work. Fall et al didn't make the same comparison ("good station raw data" vs. "bad station adjusted data") because the professionals working on the paper know that comparison is meaningless.

As does McIntyre, who is now saying he's either going to have to excuse himself from the paper or do the statistics properly from the ground up.

"I don't think BEST found TOBS adjustments necessary to reconcile rural and urban stations either."

They handle TOBS issues differently, by treating the before and after datasets as two separate stations.

Your second paragraph is well-refuted conspiracy-driven tinfoil-hat worthy drivel.

"Other than plain math blunders and the like, it seems the only likely flaw in Anthony's study might be in his method of selecting good stations."

No, the flaw is that he thinks that TOBS observations should not be done. From this, all else follows, making the paper an exercise in circular thinking.

Which is clearly bullshit.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Lumpus Spookytooth, phd.

@rib smokin bunny

that's a great point but you've got it backwards. Please see Tom Karl's quote. He obviously is talking about the change from a given afternoon to next day's morning.


I am furious about the TOB adjustments. To me, this serves as more evidence that the surface stations are crap. How can there even be a TOB? Don't these stations have powerful computers on them that are constantly updating real time temperatures?

because of the TOB, I don't trust any studies now that have used this data because...because the fact is, its the year 2012 and if they don't have running averages they are crap.

Anonymous said...

What matters for Watts, come check depositing time:


This was up on the home page US late evening of the 30th as one of the 3 second row stories with a graphic and tease text. (I checked, and I looked for something a few times over the afternoon and evening.) When last I looked, it was one of ~15 Features & Faces with a small graphic and headline links at the bottom of the page, having passed through the Latest Headlines section, mid lower on the page.

I’d say this isn’t much of a ripple, but this ol’ hound never had much of nose for sump’n other’n the sound of the dish afillin’.


Anonymous said...

How can there even be a TOB? Don't these stations have powerful computers on them that are constantly updating real time temperatures?

What kind of "powerful computers" were available for use with weather stations in the 1970's? The 1950's? The 1930's? The 1890's? You know the times when data subjected to TOB biases was collected.

As for that supposed phd -- it can't mean "Pizza Home Delivery". spookytooth isn't smart enough to find his way out of the pizzeria parking-lot, let alone get a pizza to someone's house before it is stone cold.

Sou said...

I am furious about the TOB adjustments.


Don't these stations have powerful computers on them

You mean like this?

J Bowers said...

"Don't these stations have powerful computers on them that are constantly updating real time temperatures?"

I'm just guessing, and that fence might be 50 feet high, but I don't think there's much room for a Cray in there. Maybe Jay should lobby Congress for more mon... oh, they're trying to defund everything to do with knowing what's going on with such matters. Shame, never mind.

Anonymous said...

Just to reiterate Venema’s original stake through the Watts creature’s heart, least it be forgotten in the panting pursuits along the 3 scent trails leading from the coffin in Eli’s update. Where is the refutation of the Menne et. al. (2009) calibration using the 107
USCRN sites?


Anonymous said...

Dr. Lumpus Spookytooth, phd.

well I'm sorry but I now have less trust in these stations than I did in the first place.


I am generally in favor of defunding everything, putting computers in these stations so we can have real time temperature updates would be worthwhile.

And in the spirit of the late great Friedman (note: this is a paraphrase)

"I'm for cutting taxes whenever, wherever and for whatever reason because I believe we can control gov't spending by only allowing them access to a certain amount of money."

I think the democrat party right now is saying alright we spend about $4 trillion, how can we bring in more money.

I think/hope the republicans are saying, we spend $4 trillion and it is too much, that amount has to come down.

Sou said...

putting computers in these stations so we can have real time temperature updates would be worthwhile.

You mean like this?

As described here:

Leo G said...

Lovely work gents. Open Peer Review!Nice to see science opperating in the daylight.


Ed Darrell said...

Hmmmm. I looked long and hard at Watts's press release headline: "New study shows half of the global warming in the USA is artificial."

Doesn't that mean that half of all global warming is man-made? Is that more or less than IPCC has argued?

So, I think it's fair to say that some of the words used simply don't mean what Watts and company think they mean -- but can we skewer them for mangling the language?

I also looked at the papers, and the PowerPoint (which could benefit from a wringing through the methods suggested at Presentation Zen -- but I digress). Basically, Watts says readings from cities are wrong, because UHI heat is fictional, somehow, and vented to space apparently by aliens (I can't find any other mechanism) -- so we should ignore readings from cities. Readings from suburban areas are almost as suspect, so we should disregard them. Readings from airports go into a special category, to get ignored for special reasons that sound a lot like blaming them for being urban heat islands despite the fact that many of them are in forested and wild areas (like O'Hare, DFW, Atlanta and Thurgood Marshall/BWI, ironically to those not paying attention).

So, ignoring the three areas of big heating, global warming isn't quite as severe as it appears in the real world, say when you're waiting for a bus in Dallas today at 105 degrees F.

My science chops are waning from disuse, I admit -- but am I really oversimplifying?

dhogaza said...

"Doesn't that mean that half of all global warming is man-made? Is that more or less than IPCC has argued?"

No, he means that half of the warming doesn't exist, not that it exists but isn't due to anthropogenic causes.

Watts doesn't do subtle - that might help you decypher him in the future :)

dhogaza said...

oh, sorry, missed your sarcasm, Ed. Funny post!

Actually we should make more noise about his claiming that the new classification system is golden, yet throws out airports despite their ranking at the top of the classification system "because I don't like the trend they give".

Anonymous said...


I have been waiting for this comment. I suspect the Tony ( or whomever he hired) spent a lot of time searching files to find a way to match their political/religious worldview.

By picking a narrow data base and ignoring eveything else , how is this not just silly cherrypicking?


Anonymous said...

In addition to the anonymouse who gazumphed Eli (linked in Eli's first update above) at Dr. Venema's page, I think credit is due to the anonymouse aka izen, who provided a more complete exposition of the TOB problem and called it for what it was: confirmation bias. Well done, Dr. Venema, anonymouse A, izen, and Eli!

Taylor B

Sou said...

MediaMatters round up from Washington Post and reputable blogs:-

Anonymous said...

How about commenting on Muller's messing up of UHI and dUHI, and correlation and causation ? Was his extremely naive regression really worth a global press blitz ?

Anonymous said...

Is there no other source for Thomas Karl's statements ? His work is decades old and there appears to have been no effort to verify and update on it. This is all about adjustments and nobody cared to check.

dhogaza said...

"Is there no other source for Thomas Karl's statements ? His work is decades old and there appears to have been no effort to verify and update on it. This is all about adjustments and nobody cared to check."

This is incorrect. I suggest you talk to Victor Venema about this, since he's been studying homogenization issues.

The point about Thomas Karl is that TOBS issues are old news, are well established, and accepted by the more serious people in the skeptical community (McIntyre, for instance).

Watts' attempt to sweep them into the dustbin ain't going nowhere.

dhogaza said...

"his work is decades old" yet here's a summary of a talk Karl gave a couple of years ago:


Rattus Norvegicus said...

"his work is decades old". In the comment thread at Lucia's referenced by Eli in the OP, someone pointed out that the need for a TOBS adjustment has been known for OVER A FUCKING CENTURY! The first paper published on this was in 190fucking9, bitch! As one of the satirical "motivational" posters said at one time: "Science, it works bitches!"

Meanwhile Watts is trying to weasel his way out of not including the TOBS adjustment, and cuts Zeke off in the first comment on this thread. I guess he doesn't want his fanbois to know what a cogent criticism of his work looks like.

Rattus Norvegicus said...

And, oh, yeah, he's sent his "major announcement" down the memory hole.

carrot eater said...

"That there is an TOB in the US network is no internal secret,"

Which Watts knew. This isn't a matter of not having that information.

"Rattus Norvegicus said...

And, oh, yeah, he's sent his "major announcement" down the memory hole."

is that so? Things get disappeared there with some regularity. Hopefully things are archived? I don't play with wayback machines much.

Anonymous said...

This tawdry affair demonstrates several things:

1) There's a reason why science is conducted by trained scientists, and not by creationists who think that they're biologists, TV presenters who think that they're climatologists, and T3 wingnuts who think that they're physicists.

2) Confirmation bias is a bitch.

3) Be careful whom you stand near.

I note that Watts is "very grateful" for the "hundreds of suggestions and corrections... [that] can only make the paper better". Frankly, if a 'paper' requires so much suggesting and correcting, then it isn't viable in anything resembling it's original form. If each problem was properly addressed, he'd find that all he's ended up with is work that others have done long before him, and that global warming was sitting there under his nose all along. "The Paper" would not be the same paper.

Indeed, given the profound flaws already pointed out, it's passed on. This paper is no more. It has ceased to be. It's expired and gone to meet it's maker. It's a stiff. Bereft of life, it rests in peace. If Watts hadn't nailed it to the perch it'd be pushing up the daisies. Its metabolic processes are now history. It's off the twig. It's kicked the bucket, it's shuffled off this mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisibile! THIS IS AN EX-PAPER!!

And yet Watts, bless his little cotton socks, thinks that now is a good time to question the validity of TOBs adjustments, and that he is somehow revolutionising homogenisation science. The truth is that he's crowd-sourcing all the intellectual input into his stuff, and the overwhleming majority of it simply shows what scientists have known for years, decades, and centuries.

He's like a little kids who yells "look, I've invented a square wheel", and who puts his fingers in his ears when his elders say "um, that was done a while back, and by the way they work better if they're round".

Bernard J. Hyphen-Anonymous XVII, Esq.

Brendan said...

Just a side note but, as a pedant, one I feel is important, that will undoubtedly add to the future credibility of this blog.

Surely the professorial Rabett mentioned leftwards is "unbeknownst" and not "unbeknowst"? Or am I missing a pun or other double meaning?

Please excuse the pedantry. I am a big fan of the blog and your work!

Steve Bloom said...

Eli is living proof that successful pedantry and spelling skill have a limited intersection.

dhogaza said...

"And, oh, yeah, he's sent his "major announcement" down the memory hole."

Yes, replaced by an announcement that Christy (author #5) will be testifying at tomorrow's EPW Senate hearing.

Presumably, Watts hopes, announcing his "bombshell".

If christy does so, his purpose if fulfilled, even if McI etc forces a redo or retraction of the paper.

We're seeing good politics here, people (watts has said he pushed posting of the paper because he was wrongly, as it turns out, told that Muller would be testifying. WTF else do you need to know about what he's about?)

Anonymous said...

The discussion of TOBS and other issues is interesting, but another important point is the mismatch between Watts' rate of T increase and the UAH (not to mention other data sets). Watts gets a very low slope, much lower than UAH, and explains it away by "amplification" of the tropospheric T rise. This "amplification" is known from strongly convective tropical oceanic regimes, not from CONUS. There is no physical sense to this argument, but he tries to pass it off as legitimate. Even McIntyre recognizes it's bogus. Not only are Watts statistics weak, but his physics are worse.


Anonymous said...

@Bernard J. Hyphen-Anonymous XVII, Esq.,

With respect to your 2nd par., tell us how you really feel: do you think there could possibly still be some glimmer of hope [/sarc] that Watts et al. (2012) could be patched up, resuscitated, brought back from beyond the brink, and submitted to JGR? I mean, given the supernatural level of support that Anthony's paper has received from RP Sr., whose update regarding the TOB issue informs us that "until this issue is resolved, the Game Changer aspect of the Watts et al 2012 study is tenative," surely a spark of life yet remains?

The fact that RP Sr.'s blog entry title still refers to "Two Game-Changing Papers" (Watts et al. and McNider et al.) and he retains his "bottom-line conclusion" that [the two] "papers have presented the climate community with evidence of major systematic warm biases in the analysis of multi-decadal land surface temperature anomalies by NCDC, GISS, CRU and BEST," should help Anthony sleep better, even though RP Sr.'s second update makes it abundantly clear that he is not a coauthor of the Watts et al. paper undergoing post-mortem trauma surgery. He only provided "suggested text and references," which apparently required no writing whatsoever.

Taylor B

Ari Jokimäki said...

I made a list of papers on time of observation bias. There actually is a 1890 paper on this.

Anonymous said...

Taylor B.

I can respond succinctly by referring again to my earlier muse...

"It's only a flesh wound."

Or from another authority of as much wisdom:

Miracle Max: ...it just so happens that your friend here is only mostly dead. There's a big difference between mostly dead and all dead. Please, open his mouth. Now, mostly dead is slightly alive. Now, all dead...well, with all dead, there's usually only one thing you can do.

Inigo: What's that?

Miracle Max: Go through his clothes and look for loose change.

Bernard J. Hyphen-Anonymous XVII, Esq. (with

J Bowers said...

Ari -- "I made a list of papers on time of observation bias. There actually is a 1890 paper on this."

I'd like to thank McIntyre and Watts for one of the best comedy moments in the AGW debate.

Anonymous said...

"The RMS Wattstanic"
-- by Horatio Algeranon

"Half of US
Warming's fake
An artifact
Make no mistake"

Now you see it
Now you don't
The ship was there
And now it's not

The stern is up
The game is changed
Wattstanic deck chairs

Anonymous said...

More on the continuing saga of our iconoclastaways:

"Gomer's Pile"
-- Horatio Algeranon's take on the Gilligan's Island theme song

Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale,
A tale of a "skeptic" trip,
That started from an icy port,
Aboard this Wattstanic ship.

The Mate was a mighty weather man,
The Auditor brash and sure.
Five passengers set sail that day
For a Surface Station tour. A Surface Station tour.

The icebergs started getting big,
The "skeptics" downed more beer
If not for the hubris of the clueless crew,
The ship would still be here, the ship would still be here

The ship set down on the ocean floor, underwater by a mile
With Anthony,
The Auditor too,
The Lord Viscount and his tripe,
The Cucci man,
A Professor named Murry and,
The rest of Gomer's Pile.

Now this is the tale of iconoclastaways,
They're here for a long, long time,
They'll have to make the best of things,
It's an uphill climb.

The first mate and the Auditor too,
Will do their very best,
To make the others comfortable,
In their final place of rest.

No physics, no stats, no analysis,
Not a single luxury,
The "science" of climate "skeptics"
Is primitive as can be.

So join us here each week my friends,
You're sure to get a smile,
From seven stranded iconoclastaways,
And the rest of Gomer's Pile.

Anonymous said...

Is McIntyre in possession of the siting station data for Watts 2012?

Anonymous said...

By that I mean the classifications for stations. How the hell can anyone audit this at all? How is this possibly a secret?

J Bowers said...

Hang on, how could a weatherman/meteorologist who sells weather stations for a living not think of TOBS? Is it really that esoteric?

Everett F Sargent said...


IMHO the site ID'a and classification (1 thru 5) is probably the LAST thing you will ever see from this group with respect to this study.


Because it's the easiest way to shoot down their entire effort from the get go.

That's why.

They want to show you 2D digital images of ponies, lots and lots of ponies, with their own very subjective visual charicterizations of the site ratings.

Expect to see very verbose written texts with very little actual boots-on-the-ground measured surface temporal spatial information.

They have already admitted the TOBS correction is necessary.

Then it will have to be the UHI adjustments that will need their attention.

Then it will be the station moves (spatial adjustments) that will need their attention.

Then it will be the actual boots-on-the-ground site adjustments (which IMHO they don't have a ghost of a chance of doing, as that historical documentation simply does not exist per the 2010 siting guidance).

Then it will be instrument changes that will need their attention.

Then it will be reconciliation with the satellite temperature observations (UAH/RSS) that will need their attention.

Then it will be ... (I hope you get the picture, and by that I don't mean recent 2D digital pictures of ponies either).

In short, and in the end, they will be forced to do their own homogenization effort.

Which has already been done by four FORMAL groups: CRU, NCDC, GISS and BEST. Six FORMAL groups if you wish to count UAH/RSS (that is, in terms of surface themerature time series).

Right now there homogenization effort consists of this zero bit code (between the arrows) --><--

So no, IMHO, don't expect to ever see the station ID's and classification numbers alone (the easiest part of their data set mind you, just ID numbers and classification numbers, two columns of ASCII text data, we know they have it, and it would be just so very easy to post) without a virtual Bible of their fudge factors thrown in for dramatic effect.

Anonymous said...


Regarding Christy's testimony to the US Senate

Looks like Christy will be spouting the usual BS, including (I shit you not) CO2 is plant food. And, of course, the warming trend is nothing more than UHI effect.


Everett F Sargent said...

Oops, forgot one very important "Then it will be ..."

Then it will be the subsection of total stations they used, versus the entire total network of stations available.

So the absolute height of hyprocacy is sitting at a desk 247 looking at 2D images of ponies, spoon fed to them no less, while at the same time critisising others (in this case NCDC) for sitting at their desks AND also doing all the real heavy lifting 247 (data collection, archiving, metadata, analyses, error detection, etceteras).

Anonymous said...

Anonymous J Bowers said...

Hang on, how could a weatherman/meteorologist who sells weather stations for a living not think of TOBS? Is it really that esoteric?

Expecting a guy who sells weather station equipment to know anything about stuff like TOBS is like expecting the Best Buy salescritter who sold you your laptop to be an expert C++ programmer.

--caerbannog the anonybunny, who knows enough C++ to get by, but would never consider himself an expert

Anonymous said...

caerbannog - the way the economy is the Best Buy salesman could easily be a C++ student! Maybe even have a PhD.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Ev,

I've done a bit more research at McI's and he has responded to people asking for that data. Apparently, he's trying to talk Watts into it. After Zeke H asked,

"Steve: Zeke, I’ll talk to Anthony about making the classifications public right now. He’s a bit sensitive from past experience, but I think that there’s a better chance of the classification being put to good use if it’s public now."

and after Mosher asked for it:

"Steve: Mosh, calm down. this is being dealt with."

Let's all take a moment to remember how much haranguing and harassment happened when CRU didn't release data that wasn't theirs.

I wonder if the decision not to release Watt's data is in writing or a friendly verbal agreement?

Everett F Sargent said...


Sounds very hypocritical to me, given their past behaviors towards others in that regard.

Now that the shoe is on the other foot ...

Give someone enough rope ...

When it comes to AW and Co., I do have rather Low Expectations.

Maybe Eli can do a "Watts Downfall" video? Just sayin' ;-)

Anonymous said...

caerbannog - the way the economy is the Best Buy salesman could easily be a C++ student! Maybe even have a PhD.

You definitely have a point there -- I guess I owe an apology to Best Buy salesfolks for comparing them to Anthony Watts (who seems to be doing OK in this economy despite a complete lack of technical talent -- so much for the idea of "meritocracy).

--caerbannog the anonybunny

Anonymous said...

Let's all take a moment to remember how much haranguing and harassment happened when CRU didn't release data that wasn't theirs.

And let's all take a moment to consider what they haven't done with the data they demanded in the year since they got it (except for Mosher, who, to his credit, actually crunched it and confirmed that the CRU was right all along).

--caerbannog the anonybunny

Anonymous said...

The past "bad experience" of Watts is that NCDC used his data to show that Watts' claims about that data were wrong.

I would understand if he wants to keep his current data set hidden, considering that experience ;-)


Anonymous said...


"Maybe Eli can do a "Watts Downfall" video? Just sayin' ;-)"

Oh yes please!

Anonymous said...

In further entertainment news, RP Sr. repeats his denials that he ever had sex with that Watt paper. He only provided recommended text, references, and a technical proofread. His further involvement with "that man" will be strictly limited to hand-holding while they sort out the TOB issues.

RP also takes time out to promote a new book by noted authority on plagiarism, Donald Rapp, who some bunnies may remember for his colorful coinages describing the "braying donkeys" and "Taliban of climate change."

Taylor B

Anonymous said...

One might get the impression (from the "rave and run" behavior) that some folks view Watts as little more than a useful idiot.


PDA (short for PDA's Dada Acronym) said...

dhogaza, he's up to the late medieval now.

Steve: Mosh, calm down. this is being dealt with.


Rattus Norvegicus said...


My favorite from that comment:

3. if, they want to release the data with limitations, that is fine to. I will sign a NDA to not retransmit the data, and to not publish any results in a journal.

Isn't that something for which they were taking CRU to task for not so long ago?

Anonymous said...


Hypocrisy and Irony
Together in perfect Harmony

And funniest of all: Mosher is an English major (and doesn't even seem to know his "too" from his "to" -- "that is fine to"[sic])


J Bowers said...

Nope, Watts was aware of TOBS as pointed out by vvenema at CA from the conclusions of the Watts paper.

“We are investigating other factors such as Time-Of-Observation changes which for the adjusted USHCNv2 is the dominant adjustment factor during 1979-2008.”

Victor Venema said...

Because the time of observation bias is now a hot topic, I have written a short introduction. I hope it is useful for the discussions.

Anonymous said...

Eli and readers,

Please help Roger Rabbit Junior understand that what is so very wrong with his attempt to smear Field.

Roger Rabbit Junior needs to do some more reading on extremes and attribution.


Andy Lee said...

TOB or not TOB. Watt was the question?

J Bowers, you insult clowns everywhere by comparing McIntyre & Watts to Laurel & Hardy.

Clowns are truly honourable people that heal by converting pain into laughter, often with great self-sacrifice.

John Mashey said...

Taylor B

I actually have a copy of Rapp's newest book because I could not resist. It sits on the shelf with "Roosters of the Apocalypse," and other such items. Some day, I may review it in more detail, but for now I merely quote from p.388:

'Throughout the period 2009-2012 he has continued to diligently read every significant new paper in climate change and he has monitored the discussions of climate change on the good blogs: climateaudit.org and judithcurry.com.'


Anonymous, never mind what has been said about rats and sinking ships in the past.

In the present case they have taken over the bridge.

carrot eater said...

"Nope, Watts was aware of TOBS as pointed out by vvenema at CA from the conclusions of the Watts paper."

Not only that, but you'll have seen mentions of TOB in the frequently-appearing posts complaining about USHCN at WUWT.

Watts knew about TOB. You can't not know about it, if you look at USHCN. He just doesn't know how to do anything resembling logical analysis.

Steve Bloom said...

Anon 4:28 PM, sadly that would involve giving RP Jr. the desired attention. Best to just let him stew in his own increasingly irrelevant juices.

Also, we can take heart from the fact that the last time he went after Field in public it was on the Beeb evening news. Far have the not-so-mighty fallen.

Steve Bloom said...

BTW, as background for a little denialist-batting elsewhere I finally read the Watts paper carefully. Two-thirds through I started saying to myself "Can this truly be as content-free as it appears?" In short, yes.

In someone's opinion, perhaps not mine but almost certainly Eli's, Our Tony is more than a little desperate from a loss of traffic.

ob said...

re rpjr. so there is a history. and I wondered about the intensity of rpjr's "corrections". stupid jumbuck me. Nvrthlss: Field could have done better. /OT

John Mashey said...

John N-G writes::

'Muller’s got a new paper out, Watts has a new draft paper out, and Hansen has a new peer-reviewed paper out. While I contemplate the various options (become a co-author, write a comment, etc.), I think I’ll go to China to do some real science.'

EliRabett said...

China is fun, but Singapore and Hong Kong are China with subtitles. Also, if you look at the BEST web page it looks like one of the first four is now accepted. Wheels of the gods and all that.

Lionel A said...

For those who missed the BBC-Wark Chris Field v Pielke Jr. 'discussion' alluded to by Steve Bloom look here:

BBC Newsnight 3 February 2010

Rattus Norvegicus said...

In which Tony shows that he *still* doesn't understand the difference between anomalies, absolute temps and temperature trends:


How can someone so stupid (or is this deliberate?) have so much influence? Please, don't answer that question, it might be too depressing.

Anonymous said...

Secure all hot beverages before you follow this link:


Rattus Norvegicus said...

And suddenly a press release turns into a WMO approved study. Yeah, right...

Anonymous said...

"Secure all hot beverages before you follow this link:"

Which goes to show that Watts' campaign has been successful: mission accomplished.

As long as there is, somewhere, an uneducated reporter prepared to regurgitate and reprocess any old nonsense, it matters not one whit if Watts is capable of science. All he needs to do is to tell people that he is, and the suckers will believe him.

I read last week that the reason that Nigerian scammers leave references to Nigeria in their emails when one might expect that it would be counterproductive, is that it dissuades any but the most gullible from bothering them, and that this latter cohort is sufficient to generate significant profit. It seems that denialism works on a similar principle - one doesn't want the intelligent gumming up your works, just the brain-dead who will help to spread the bullshit.

Describes WWWT to a tee.

I hope that CBS has a policy of issuing high-visibility retractions for bad reporting... Is there a complaints mechanism in the States?

Bernard J. Hyphen-Anonymous XVII, Esq.

Anonymous said...

"In which Tony shows that he *still* doesn't understand the difference between anomalies, absolute temps and temperature trends..."

But Rattus, as Billy Blofeld says on 3 August at 6:46 am

"Superbly written... I trust Anthony more because he writes in such a gentlemanly way."

Bernard J. Hyphen-Anonymous XVII, Esq.

Rattus Norvegicus said...

Even better is the very next comment from "tadchem" in which called the correct comparison (as made by the BEST team)incorrect!

"An even more funfdamental error, one which can only be accounted for through mendacity, is that they are plotting a histogram of *anomalies* (transient deviations), while the siting errors resulting in the five site categories would be expected to create *biases* (systematic deviations).
Apples and oranges…

You just can't argue with logic like that! No seriously, you can't argue with it.

Marion Delgado said...

The theory Watts is testing is attributed to Barnum et al., 1861, but the theory had been proposed and researched for decades before that ( Bessimer, Hannum, et al. 1840, Forepaugh, 1850) and was not expressed in its current form until M. C. McDonald, 1940:
"Don't worry about that, there's a sucker born every minute."

The first formulation of the theory, "there's a mark born every minute," allegedly appeared in unpublished manuscripts dating back to the early 19th century.

EliRabett said...

Eli prefers Mencken's second law: no one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public

Ed Darrell said...

Evan Jones tells me I'm wrong, that airports really do get the readings wrong. He's telling me that here:

If you're expert in these affairs, could you drop by and tell me where I err?


dhogaza said...

Wait until it is published, thus far it is all hand-waving and still essentially depends on dropping stations that disagree with their hypothesis that much of the warming trend can be explained by station siting issues.

We've been waiting quite a while for it to be published, come to think of it ... :)

Rattus Norvegicus said...


When I read the draft and got to the part where they explained why they threw out well sited stations with long records and few station moves because they didn't fit their preconceived notions my jaw hit the floor and my blood pressure shot up!

But I don't think that this paper will appear anywhere but E&E. It will never make it through any form of actual peer review.

Anonymous said...

Table. The mean temperature trends from Figure 17 of Watts et al. (2012) in °C per decade.

if that's for the hottest minute in 24h, or in the year; what about the other 1439 minutes in the 24h, they don't fluctuate as the hottest minute; that makes every minute just as important. ignoring all the other; makes you dishonest / inacurate

Unknown said...

and now the reprise ........