Roger Pielke Sr at the A dark day in the climate science debate

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The propaganda website ‘’, or in short, strives to serve as a ‘one-stop shop for all consensus communication needs’ kind of an outlet. Emerging ideas based on published papers or opinions, that run counter to a perceived consensus are monitored for, and various authors who work for the website churn out superficially plausible, scientific-sounding ‘rebuttals’ to these positions.

One of the main selling points of the website, is a falsetto neutral demeanour in design and tone.

More recently however, the tone at SS has turned shrill. The main proprietor John Cook, who is a climate change communication award winner, apparently approves. These changes have especially been noticeable after a certain ‘dana1981’ – likely referring to the author being born in 1981, began his contributions to the website.

An example can be seen in this passage:

It’s been a rough few weeks for climate “skeptics.” The first week of September began with the editor of Remote Sensing resigning in order to take responsibility for publishing Roy Spencer’s fundamentally flawed paper. Just a few days later, Andrew Dessler’s paper was published, demolishing the flawed Spencer paper, another flawed Lindzen paper, and the “internal variability” argument in general. Climate “skeptics” did not react well to the news, attacking the journal for publishing the paper at its normal pace (how dare they!?). With Spencer and Lindzen debunked by a peer-reviewed publication, it’s only fitting that the other prominent “skeptic” climate scientist, John Christy, would join the party.

In science everyone has opinions. These are expressed, generally, in the strongest of terms when addressing the argument whereas the gentlest of words are in turn, are reserved for the people making those arguments. In the real world sometimes, the line between the two is not fully respected – sometimes your reasoned counter-arguments are taken personally by your opponent. At other times, you are driven by anger to attack your opponent personally. Famous feuds in science rage for years. Battles in academia can be among the nastiest – because what is at stake is the realm of ideas, personal pride and reputations. But the attempt is always made – scientists, more than anyone else, recognize how their ideas can grip and consume them and seek to defend against it.

Those outside this process however, can simply fail to distinguish an attack on a person, and attacks on ideas. In other words, this distinction is habitually missed. From a systematized demonology instead, a simplistic world-view arises: “wrong ideas are expressed by bad people”. Such a demonology finds it easy to attach labels or tags to individuals.

An example can been seen on the SS website sidebar graphic, which contains such puerile captions as shown:

Labeling of scientists

The juvenility on display was objected to, by climate scientist Roger Pielke Sr. He observed that had failed in its mission to “explaining climate change science & rebutting global warming misinformation”, if it had sections running tittled “Spencer Slip-ups” and “Christy Crocks”., and cast aspersions on scientists Roy Spencer and John Christy. The post was published on the 12th of September.

Several interesting developments have followed. replied with an article on the 16th of September, written by ‘dana1981’, with the interpretation that the Roger Pielke Sr criticism was misplaced. never attacked the satellite temperature data presented by Spencer and Christy, and therefore Pielke Sr’s criticism was invalid – the article declared. Pielke Sr’s larger point that Skeptical had failed in constructive engagement and in its own stated mission, was lost. Responses from several commenters suggesting that calling scientists names being a bad idea were overturned as well.

What was more, the website moderators allowed Pielke Sr’s posts to remain, but struck out the text, for the purposes of thread moderation. A persistent, repetitive demand, worded in un-parliamentary language, was attached to his comments:

Dr. Pielke, this thread is about your selective and one-sided skepticism and misplaced accusations of ad hominems towards SkS. Now please begin to address those. Sir.

The crossed-out posts:

A bizarre and Kafkaesque scene unfolded as different commenters repeatedly demanded Pielke Sr answer the single question: “why did you say we attacked the (Spencer and Christy’s) UAH temperature work when we did not?”. “Answer us or apologize”. “Retract”. The same commenters logged in as moderators themselves, inserting editorial comments, and replying to each others queries.

One may perhaps be very convinced of being right and express opinions strongly, but to indulge in a blatant, abrasive attempt at censorship and controlling replies posted by a senior scientist … I cannot recollect a similar obnoxious event in the climate debate in the recent past.

Indeed, those who are familiar will no doubt be reminded of the notorious blog which practices a wide array of similar ‘moderation’ practices on comments difficult to its stance.

And to top it all, in their narrow and monomaniacal attempts at interpreting Roger Pielke Sr’s blog posts, the readers/moderators and authors including ‘dana1981’ were completely blinded to the fact, that one of them – ‘dana1981’ – had in fact, carried out the very same thing they so vehemently denied.

In a post titled: “Santer et al. Catch Christy Exaggerating” published on the 14th of September, under the article category “Christy Crocks”, author dana1981 wrote the following, about Spencer and Christy’s UAH record:

This article appeared after Roger Pielke Sr pointed out the ad-hominem nature of using derogatory labels, and defending Spencer and Christy against insinuations about their UAH temperature work – a clear indication that his message to had had no effect.



  1. Peter Hartmann

    It’s abbreviated SkS. The SS was a mass-murdering Nazi institution. Imagine your rage if the “other side” called you a Nazi mass murderer. please refrain from such embarrassing Godwin hype.

  2. omnologos

    It’s never been abbreviated SkS until a few days ago, coincidentally when I made the point on WUWT that their main purpose is to inspire jokes about the Protection Squadron (of Climate Orthodoxy, rather than of Adopt, but then…).

    If the thought of S-keptical S-cience been abbreviated as an organization of Nazi mass murderers never crossed Cook’s mind, well, I suppose climate science ain’t the only science he’s unfamiliar with. I suppose it happens to school dropouts?

    PS what’s not-Nazi in the 10-10 video for example? Any attempt at deleting your opposition from history, including crossing out a comment on a website, is just another step in Adolf’s direction. Remember, the SS were officially protecting, just like the eugenicists (some of them not even members of the Nazi party) were officially just defending the Aryan Race. Nowadays it’s the climate that needs protection isn’t it.

  3. Euan Gray


    >> Imagine your rage if the “other side” called you a Nazi mass murderer<<

    You mean like calling skeptics "deniers" is a clear and tasteless Gramscian attempt to equate them with Holocaust deniers? That kind of thing?


  4. Lewis Deane

    If you remember ‘skeptical ( the American spelling) science’ was set up after the climategate affair – as a counter to…However, I do remember ;their pretence to be, to use Keith Kloors’ phrase, ‘above the fray’. And in Cif they are like the Bible ( or rather one of the holy fathers, interceding between the sacred ‘truth’ and we idiot smellies!)! So, to us this purient and infantile behavior is, if shocking to one so respected as Mr Pielke Snr, not surprising. The question we always ask is, is this symptomatic of the ‘science’ itself and, unfortunately, we find the answer is more than often ‘Yes!’egate affair – as a counter to…However, I do remember ;their pretence to be, to use Keith Kloors’ phrase, ‘above the fray’. And in Cif they are like the Bible ( or rather one of the holy fathers, interceding between the sacred ‘truth’ and we idiot smellies!)! So, to us this purient and infantile behavior is, if shocking to one so respected as Mr Pielke Snr, not surprising. The question we always ask is, is this symptomatic of the ‘science’ itself and, unfortunately, we find the answer is more than often ‘Yes!’

  5. PaulM

    Shub, I have another example of the dishonesty of ‘skeptical science’ you might be interested in.
    Your contact form does not seem to work – can you email me?

  6. O2BNAZ

    The SS’s existence, and the collaborators, had depended upon being seen and heard as the smartest people in the room, now it’s about being feared. It’s was not about being smart with science they were never smart with the science. It was about being smart with the politics, but they weren’t smart with the politics either. The grossly exaggerated doomsday scenarios foretelling unprecedented human catastrophe by enviroprophets living in multi million dollar seaside estates was a huge, arrogant overreach. Now they have lost the political argument and they are furious, angry, petulant…no more environmental justice, no new global enviro government, no wealth transfers and most importantly, no more power. It’s all gone… and gone forever. Not only have they destroyed their own environmental movement they may well bring down the entire progressive socialist movement with them.

  7. Alex C

    >>>It’s never been abbreviated SkS until a few days ago

    Actually SkS has been in use for several weeks now, the weekly summaries are labeled “SkS Weekly Digests.” There have been over a dozen so far, so that’s a quarter of a year.

    If the idea never crossed John’s mind then apparently he overestimated the maturity levels of “skeptics.” Of course we already have precedence, Lord Monckton for instance has been a fan of resorting to Godwin’s Law.

    Who said anything about the 10-10 video as well? Skeptical Science has not published anything condoning the video, perhaps you should stay on topic instead of constantly making false equivalencies and ad hominems (which is very ironic considering the very topic of Pielke’s initial criticism).

    FWIW the comments policy at SkS disallows discussion of topics on threads that the thread is not about, many of the responses by Daniel Bailey brought up this point and encouraged Pielke to post on other threads if he had an issue with those aspects of the science. Also, he was not the only one subject to moderation, there were also mass deletions of AGW proponents’ comments that violated the comments policy.

  8. omnologos

    Alex C – your “FWIW” doesn’t make sense. If it did, it would have been used as explanation by the SS Moderators already and from the first “deletion” (perhaps, even in a more civilized manner, pointing the commenter to a link to the aforementioned policy).

    Actually, if such a policy exists, then the reaction to Pielke Sr looks now even more childish.

    As for the abbreviation, the claim was that SS was never called SS, when in fact it was, and it’s been for a long time. If and when that changed, it’s only now surfacing, and nobody ever worried about correcting SS into SkS (or perhaps it should be StS, as in the DDR “Stasi”?).

    It’s like calling a site CCCP and wondering why people have a laugh about it.

  9. Alex C

    >>>perhaps, even in a more civilized manner, pointing the commenter to a link to the aforementioned policy

    It was at one point, from Pielke’s post at his site complaining about the moderation one of the last posts was more explicitly answered to with:

    “[Dikran Marsupial] We are very happy for you to discuss the science with us here at SkS, however please do so on the appropriate thread. SkS is organised this way in order to keep the discussion focussed. As we are unable to comment on the article on your blog it seems reasonable to have an article here devoted to the issue of your accusation of ad-hominems, so on this thread, please restrict your comments to that topic and that topic only. If our reporting of the science is incorrect then I strongly and sincerely encourage you to join the discussion on the relevant threads, your contribution will be greatly valued.”

    A follow up post by Pielke to this was responded to with:

    “[Dikran Marsupial] The discussion of the science is only discouraged on this particular thread. I (and I suspect many others here) would be very happy to discuss the scientific issues with you on the relvant threads). Your further participation here is very much encouraged.”

    Again, these can be found on Pielke’s blog where he gave a more comprehensive list of comments.

    >>>it would have been used as explanation by the SS Moderators already and from the first “deletion”

    None of Pielke’s responses have been deleted, the text is still there but it is crossed out. They appear on comments page 2 of the “One-Sided Skepticism” post:

    >>>the claim was that SS was never called SS

    Hartmann never said that, nobody did. The abbreviation is quite valid and acceptable – the extension as a platform for comparing Skeptical Science to Naziism is deplorable. That is what I and Hartmann had a problem with. Anyways, SkS has been in use for quite some time, I shouldn’t need to repeat my examples.

  10. Alex C

    Moderator admission:

    “[Daniel Bailey] And I have (and will again) deleted many comments belonging to other SkS authors (apologies to all in advance).”

    Response to (currently) comment 74, by Dikran Marsupial.

  11. chris y

    CCCP = Catastrophic Climate Change Policy
    CACC = Catastrophic Anthropogenic Climate Change
    CACA = Catastrophic Anthropogenic Climate Alarmist

    This allows such phrasing as-
    “the CACC has really hit the fan”.
    “the hypothesis of CACC is swirling in the bowl”
    “Mainstream media spew unending streams of CACC.”

    Climocoprophagia = the syndrome of enjoying the consumption of CACC science.

  12. omnologos

    Alex C – so you’re admitting they first deleted (crossed out, whatever) Pielke’s comments, and only after a while explained why they would do so (on Pielke’s blog, at least at first). How convenient.

  13. Alex C

    Edit: Sorry, I misinterpreted your quoting of “deletion,” and recognize that the article above has acknowledged the posts were not deleted.

    I invite people to read the comments though, there are several more responses to Pielke that have not been accompanied by crossing out the text, many more than ones that were crossed out. The same message is being given – this thread is about a topic that Pielke keeps diverting from. Pielke has been treated fairly.

  14. Alex C

    Not sure where I said that, but apparently I need to clarify either way and add some more info (that can all be found by reading the comments on the SkS article in question):
    – Pielke’s first comment (now #62) was responded to with:

    “[Daniel Bailey] Dr. Pielke, this thread is about your selective and one-sided skepticism and misplaced accusations of ad hominems towards SkS. FYI.”

    No crossed out text.

    – His next post was similarly responded to, he went off topic again.
    – Similar responses were given to SkS authors/AGW proponents, such as Dikran @#70 and KR@75.
    – There were only 3 comments crossed out – no deletions, to just make that point clear to people. It’s also easy to read the text behind the single-line cross out.
    – If you’re going to comment at a site then it is expected you already understand the comments policy. Pielke did not it seems, but he WAS told about the commenting policy. He then kept breaking it.

  15. Shub Niggurath

    The same message is being given – this thread is about a topic that Pielke keeps diverting from. Pielke has been treated fairly.

    Dr Pielke’s original contention was that the skepticalscience website failed to constructively engage in the climate debate.

    How is deleting comments where he is attempting address this issue, on a thread devoted to his approach, “fair”?

    Framing and narrowly defining Pielke Sr’s objections as though he talked only about an alleged attack on the UAH dataset, was skepticalscience’s undertaking.

    Since, by their own admission, they were not the originators of the whole question, how exactly is it that they demand that Pielke Sr stick to what they define the topic is?

  16. Shub Niggurath

    Alex C

    This is a commonly seen problem in debate – repeatedly contending that what boundaries one declares, define the discussion.

    Pielke Sr obviously disagrees. Such things happen.

    To strike out comments in an attempt to bring your opponent to your line – simply because one hosts the debate and has moderator privileges – is indicative of a poverty of approach. And it is a shabby way to handle discourse with someone who is willing to engage.

  17. Alex C

    – Dr. Pielke’s first comment that was crossed out (@81) had nothing to do with the topic of the thread, nor his initial criticism of SkS at his own blog.
    – Dr. Pielke’s second comment crossed out (@82) was in response to a question posed by another user, who was similarly addressed as being off topic (@70).
    – Dr. Pielke’s third post tat was crossed out (@83) was a response to @76 user “KR,” who I think started to go off topic myself and should have been corrected. In either case, that response is OT; the rest of it is copy/paste of his several questions that he asked in his post at his blog before this most recent one complaining about moderation.

    All of these are valid, these comments had nothing to do with the initial criticism. So, “fair.” I’ll reiterate he was not deleted, there was no censorship.

    >>>Framing and narrowly defining[…]

    It was not their undertaking. First off this summarizing point of Pielke’s rested upon several complaints, mainly that (a) the titles were ad hominem, and (b) SkS has called into question the MSU data. The latter was addressed explicitly, and the former was addressed indirectly by pointing out that the material of the series is what is most important, not the titles. I agree that “Crocks” is too harsh, but Pielke did not come up with specific arguments against what SkS has said. Saying SkS reframed the debate away from the assertion that SkS was not being constructive is to completely miss this point – what is SkS actually guilty of? Pielke gave very poor and sparse reason to justify his criticism.

    >>>how exactly is it that they demand that Pielke Sr stick to what they define the topic is?

    They demand he stick to the topic of the post. The post is about his unjustified accusations of ad-hominem (Pielke did make those claims), and about his selective skepticism with regards to Spencer and Christy (which originates from the needed discussion on the actual material of the series, which Pielke left out in his original post). The topic of constructiveness depends on the sub-topics that the SkS article elaborated upon. If Pielke can support his claim of ad hominem attacks or address specific problems in the posts, his stance of non-constructiveness would hold well.

  18. omnologos

    When somebody violates a site’s comments policy, the Moderator should point out explicitly to the comment policy’s web page, detail what the violation is, and tell the commenter that all future violation will be crossed out or deleted.

    Crossing-out a comment before doing all of that is of course a puerile reaction. And nobody should expect a commenter to post a comment before reading all of a web site’s comments policy. I for once haven’t read many comments policies and only do so when told I have not followed this or that rule.

  19. omnologos

    And wait a moment…how exactly is not ad-hom to define Christy and Spencer as “somewhat infamous” when the corrections to their work were done, among others, by Christy and Spencer?

    I know that in warmist circles it’s anathema even to consider oneself slightly mistaken, but is that a mark of infamy?

  20. Alex C

    Yes, but this problem could easily be rectified if Pielke would open up comments on his own page. SkS is not now choosing to enforce this part of their comments policy, it’s been a major aspect and if you read through other pages you very often see such moderator comments come up. I don’t see a problem with the SkS article’s focus, but if there was then that somehow disqualifies the comments policy? I don’t think that’s a good conclusion to draw – at worst it would be a shame that the SkS article did not address the correct points (again, it did!), but it says nothing to the moderation when it is still enforced according to the long-existing comments policy.

    >>>To strike out comments[…]

    The comments simply don’t have to do with the topic of the post or the topic of his own initial article.

  21. Alex C

    I in general agree with you here, but (a) the crossing out was not a pure censorship, and (b) the crossing out was done on comments that were WAY off topic to both the post and the initial criticism.

    Could it have been more explicit? Yes, of course, and earlier too. I agree, but such a lapse is is leaps and bounds away from being an attempt to censor.

  22. Alex C

    Well, that paragraph did point out Spencer and Christy found some of their errors. However, just as a history recall, they did purport for the longest time that the discrepancy between the satellite data and models was due to errors in the latter – it turned out to be the other way around. So, “infamous” as in “insisted they were right when they weren’t” is valid – even nowadays Christy pushes the same false claim, he did so in his testimony to Congress back in March.

    Calling it ad-hom would be an exaggeration, considering that the statement was supported in the series. SkS hasn’t phrased its articles like “He’s wrong because he’s infamous,” but “He’s infamous because he’s been wrong (and still makes wrong statements).” That’s the distinction between being abrasive and resorting to ad-hom.

  23. Alex C

    FWIW I’d like to thank people here for engaging in conversation, sometimes on other blogs it can get out of hand with insults being thrown back and forth. I’m afraid that at the moment I must leave as I’ll be busy for a bit, but thanks omnologos and Shub. Hope this doesn’t seem like a hit and run 🙂

  24. Shub Niggurath

    The post is about his unjustified accusations of ad-hominem (Pielke did make those claims), …


    That is the whole point you are failing to grasp.

    Are Pielke Sr’s ‘accusations’ of ad-hominem, justified, or not? That is the question.

    You don’t carry out a conversation by saying: “Tell me, Dr Pielke Sr, why did you make those unjustified allegations? We won’t allow anything else”. You don’t argue with an opponent by gagging him.

    Moreover, as pointed out in the post, dana1981 himself did the very same thing that he denied ever doing, two days later.

    This reflects a habituated, boilerplate approach to attacking Spencer and Christy – at any given opportunity, simply label them ‘incompetent’, ‘infamous for making errors’ etc pointing out the UAH dataset. SkepticalScience is not even self-aware of such biases that have crept in.

    It is this approach exactly, that Pielke Sr critiqued.

  25. omnologos

    Thanks to Alex C too. I still think it’s ad-hom to define somebody as “infamous”. And let me state it again, the Himmler reference is a joke 😎

  26. Shub Niggurath


    Why the contortion?

    skepticalscience claimed they never attacked Spencer and Christy over UAH data, when just two days prior, they had done exactly that.

    Pielke Sr totally disagrees with your characterization that Spencer supported errors for the “longest ot time”. He clearly offers an account of how Tom Karl and others made it a deliberate point to attack Spencer over a trivial error

    I don’t buy your view. You are likely to defame Spencer, and Christy to support skepticalscience, now that you have made your stance. I’d rather go with Pielke Sr on this – he says he was in the room and saw what was done.

    I’ll go with the guy who saw things first hand.

  27. muoncounter

    Its always a sure sign that you’ve lost the argument when you have to pull out the nazi references. And there are no jokes about Himmler.

  28. omnologos

    I understand Himmler had a reputation for not liking the jokes circulating about him, so people got in trouble for mentioning him. I was just hoping the situation had changed since.

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  30. klem

    “Imagine your rage if the “other side” called you a Nazi mass murderer.”

    Yea, you mean like being called a climate denier. No allusion to the holocaust there.

  31. klem

    “Now they have lost the political argument and they are furious, angry, petulant”

    yes, that seems to be it exaclty. They’ve lost, they know they’ve lost and they’re mad about it. Payback’s a bitch.

  32. klem

    “How is deleting comments where he is attempting address this issue, on a thread devoted to his approach, “fair”?”

    You know, this is exaclty what the skeptic bloggers put up with for years until Climatgate. Posting any non alarmist comments on alarmist blogs resulted in imediate deletion. There were no skeptic reports in the media untill roughly Climatgate happened. Even today many alarmist blogs delete skeptic comments, or more frquently they require a full login to be allowed to make a skeptic post. I see few skeptic blogs doing that.

  33. Doug Proctor

    Political sites, like James Delingpole’s English one, are commonly outrageous and reputation-ripping – because politics is ego-with-a-stick. Technical sites should be less so, but they can’t be zero or nobody would read them except technogeeks. Human interest requires human passions.

    SkS is a site with a very large and obvious political or social position. Climate Depot is another. The difference is that CD counters with facts (you may think irrelevant or incorrect, but still are things rather than simple personal smears) and the opportunity to disagree.

    If SkS simply admitted that they were like RealClimate, we could deal with them as such. Pielke’s piece is about hypocrisy. SkS hides its agenda.

  34. Steven Mosher

    Are you really asking people to go through all the threads and see if they follow their own standards? really? Are you really asking people to audit every thread. That might get fun. Then the debate about the science would really get lost.

  35. Dave Springer

    More apt names for the site:

    SKank Science
    SKateboarder Science
    SKeedaddled Science
    Skeletal Science
    SKetchy Science
    SKewed Science
    SKewered Science
    SKimpy Science
    SKinny Science
    SKipped Science
    SKittish Science
    SKulking Science
    SKunkweed Science

    My favorites are Skateboarder Science and SKunkweed Science as those seem to best reflect the age and mental state of the owners/moderators.

    Just sayin’

  36. papertiger

    “The SKS is a Soviet semi-automatic rifle chambered for the 7.62x39mm round, designed in 1945 by Sergei Gavrilovich Simonov. SKS is an acronym for Samozaryadnyj Karabin sistemy Simonova, 1945 (Russian: Самозарядный карабин системы Симонова, 1945; Self-loading Carbine of (the) Simonov system, 1945), or SKS 45. The Soviets rather quickly phased the SKS carbine out of front-line service, replacing it with the AK-47, but it remained in second-line service for decades afterwards. It remains a ceremonial arm today. It was widely exported and produced by the former Eastern Bloc nations, as well as China, where it was designated the “Type 56”, East Germany as the “Karabiner S” and in North Korea as the “Type 63”. It is today popular on the civilian surplus market in many countries. The SKS was one of the first weapons chambered for the 7.62x39mm M43 round later used in the AK-47 and RPD.”

    If they’d rather be known as an obsolete assault weapon of the Soviet Bloc, who would argue?

    Communist tools of mass destruction – alternate definition.

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  40. Doug Jones

    I believe you’re mistaken, muoncounter:

    “Hitler- has only just one ball
    Goering has two, but very small
    Himmler, has something sim’lar
    but Goebbels has no balls, at all!”

  41. Evil Denier

    He is. Doubly.
    omnologos September 18, 2011 at 10:23

    omnologos September 18, 2011 at 15:29
    and it even has a smiley! (for the humour-challenged)

  42. STW

    SS is also an abbreviation of Steam Ship, maybe that’s what he was refering to in which case you would be the one bringing the Godwin hype:D

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  46. Felina Flash

    I know what a falsetto means … I am a singer and musician. I know what neutral means, I drive a car. But I have no idea what “a falsetto neutral demeanour” could possibly mean. I am seriously requesting that you ‘splain it to me. I am a student of the English language. I have never heard of a vocal singing range having a neutral disposition or quality let alone attached to a demeanor. Please help here … Anyone ….. Bueller … ?