Skepticalscience – Rewriting History

“…resist the temptation to reply to [trolls].
Instead, do what the troll hates most — simply remove the comment.”

John Cook

The recent censorship episode at the brings an often overlooked aspect to the forefront. The target of deletion Prof Roger Pielke Sr, runs a blog. The actions of Skepticalscience were revealed because he posted them there.

What if a scientist or a lay person, interacted with websites like Skepticalscience and did not have a blog?

Consider what Skepticalscience did in reader Paul and AnthonySG1’s cases. In 2007, the website had an article explaining Antarctica’s cooling —a thorn in the pitch for a clean story about global warming— as an “uniquely” regional phenomenon. It talked of how ‘Antarctica was overall losing ice’, citing a peer-reviewed paper Velicogna et al 2003 for support.

The response in the comments section from Cook’s readers was simple: ‘Antarctic ice is increasing. You cannot take a paper that has three years worth of data and conclude that the continent was losing ice’. They cited references that Skepticalscience neglected – which showed an overall increase in Antarctic sea ice.

The rewriting that John Cook undertook is now recounted at Bishop Hill. In the first step Cook changed the entire article, taking off from the criticisms. Next, he deleted his original ‘responses’, and added new ones that made it appear as though these commenters did not know what they were talking about.

The rewriting of Skepticalscience history

After this was openly revealed, John Cook offered explanations for his actions. It went something like this: ‘I accidentally mistook my readers to have responded to my updated article. Thinking that was indeed the case, their comments sounded silly to me. So I ended up adding responses to guide new readers’

A closer examination of the threads on Skepticalscience, reveals a different picture. Let us begin by examining a few examples to get a sense of what these might be.

Let us start with the thread “Climate models are unreliable”. As is known, the website portrays skeptical arguments as such simple statements and offers rebuttals. The article was published sometime late 2007.

In July 2008, ‘poptech’ left a comment which questioned assertions made in the article. He quoted scientists at the Realclimate consensus blog:

Comment from reader 'poptech' - deleted in 2011

From mid-2008, Poptech’s comment remained intact on the thread till as recently as Feb 2011 . At some point afterward, the comment was deleted. Another of poptech’s comments upthread, to which three commenters responded (example) was deleted, leaving the responses hanging mid-air.

Consider the thread “Solar activity & climate: is the sun causing global warming?” In Sept 2007 reader Ben Lankamp left a comment supporting Cook’s assertions on the thread. It contained a graph of total solar irradiance. The comment remained intact for close to three years till Aug 2010.

Inexplicably, at some point afterward the comment was deleted. The next snapshot shows the article with Lankamp’s comment missing and changed graphs.

Was Cook deleting comments that didn’t play well with his changes? It is hard to say. Even innocuous ones seem to get the boot. For instance, observe once again Antarctic ice thread of 2007.  Reader ‘irkantska’s comment from Aug 2009 is still there in Sept 2009:

Look at the Jan 2010 entry next. The comment is gone. By this time, Cook has rearranged the conversation and added admonishing responses to readers who had provided links. He did not have any replies for irkantska. The comment was simply bumped off.

Is Cook merely deleting comments from his readers alone? Let us look at the Hurricane Katrina weblog entry titled ‘Did Global Warming cause Hurricane Katrina’. The changes made by Cook start getting complex.

Cook’s article on Hurricane Katrina came out in 2007. It claimed that global warming caused an increase in hurricane intensity. By November 2007 reader ‘Wondering Aloud’ (WA) had offered his comment,

WA, as can be seen, joked about the article’s title and said that climate science theory predicted a decrease of hurricane frequency and intensity with global warming. Cook asked if WA ‘knew of any papers’ that showed this.

WA offered a citation in the next post.

‘Wondering Aloud’ noted the irony of Kerry Emmanuel himself being the prime proponent of a theory of increasing intensity of hurricanes, when he was a co-author of the very Free et al 2004 that predicted no change in intensity.

You can look at the thread today. Comments 2 and 4 are gone. Comment 3 has been left behind and its content doesn’t make any sense (it was a response to Cook’s comment in 2). And presumably since comment 4 was deleted comments 5, 6, 7, and 8 by readers responding to WA’s point in #4, have all been deleted. They were present until Sept 2009. They were gone by Dec 2009.

If a reader stumbles on the Katrina thread at Skepticalscience today, he or she would not know any of the above. Instead, what one sees is a comment, with a response from Cook. The changes make it look as though ‘the science’ changed from 2004 to 2005 which Cook is helpfully pointing out.

The whole conversation has been turned on its head.

What’s more, Cook has gotten rid of his own comments in the process. In 2007, a more thoughtful Cook began his response to WA:  “Statements such as “Katrina was caused by GW or GW causes more hurricanes” are on shaky ground”.

These remarks are wiped clean from the historical record.

In a recent letter to a local newspaper editor, global warming professor Michael Mann guided its readers in Colorado to as an authentic source of information. He asserted that the true story about his hockey-stick graph was told there. Let us examine what did with their hockey-stick threads.

One of Cook’s earliest pages on the hockey stick came out sometime late-2007. There were hardly any reader responses, and by November 2009 the thread had accumulated a grand total of eleven comments. In Nov 2007 commenter ‘nomann’ had disagreed with Cook’s contentions, with Cook’s response following close behind. Commenter ‘Will Nitschke’ posted a series of comments pointing out aspects of the hockey-stick issue that were left out, and again Cook responded. Then notably, ‘saluki’ left a comment that drew attention to researcher Linah Ababneh’s dissertation, the proxy weightings used by Mann, and the problem with the stripbark phenomenon that affected Mann’s work. In early 2009, reader ‘sjkhayes’ posted a numbered summary of the issues with Mann’s work and inquired if there were any proxy reconstructions that were free from these problems.

In Jan 2010, all these comments were gone.

The page changed as well. McIntyre and McKitrick’s graph of a corrected-hockey stick, which Cook had used from a Michael Crichton page, was gone.

A fresh round of commenting began on the same thread.

By May 2010, in line was commenter poptech again, who posted a list of papers and reports which refuted, in part or in whole, the Mannian hockey-stick.

John Cook was obliging. He posted a response:

Poptech’s comment survived on the page till as recently as May 2011. On the current version of the page, it is gone. Again, the responses to poptech were left hanging in the air.

So, the problem is not confined to just a handful of comments, here and there. Whole batches of them are deleted at times. Is a strange computer glitch wiping out comments in bulk on the server?

Let us look at another topic on Skepticalscience that relates to Michael Mann’s paleoclimate work – the Medieval Warm Period.

The page came out sometime before October 2007 and this is how it looked in Sept 2009. Compare that with the current version which is here.

Cook has deleted virtually dozens and dozens of comments on this thread. None of them appear to be abusive, or offensive, or ‘ad-hominem’. The changes are simply too many to be adequately documented with screen captures. The comments are from late 2007 – early 2008 and the deletions occur somewhere between Sept 2009 and Dec 2009.

Take the exchange between ‘Adamski’ and ‘chris’ (comments 36, 37, 38, 39 originally):

Comments from 'Adamski' and 'chris' as they appeared in Sept 2009

Nov 2009 - the Adamski-chris conversation moves up due to bulk deletions! Comment #37 from chris goes missing

Feb 2010 - Comment #37 makes a comeback but chris has lost his name.

Sept 2011 - the comments as they are, in their final position

What is more: as can be seen from the screen captures above, Cook goes into the comments and deletes commenters’ references to each others’ posts. This is no computer glitch and it demonstrates he knew what he was doing.  Nor does this square with the explanations Cook provided at Bishop Hill. . Again, as before, parts of a conversation are deleted and altered in such a way, the end result looks like something that never happened.

Let us look at yet another page that relates to Michael Mann’s paleoclimate work – the ‘trick’ to ‘hide the decline’.

Scientist Phil Jones’ email about his using ‘Mike’s Nature trick’ in order to ‘hide the decline’ is famous. However, even the ‘trick it seemed could be defended by skepticalscience. Their initial page, published sometime before Mar 2010 was customarily simple and suggested that the whole thing was a non issue.

By Dec 2010, author James Wight had extensively updated the page. This is how he explained Jones’ actions:

Reader ‘JeanS’ now added the first comment, referring to the key claim in the last sentence:

John James Wight clearly understood his reader’s critique because he took its message to heart.

The main article was rewritten deleting all previous references to what exactly the “trick” was. Instead of the claim that the hiding involved the truncating of ‘unreliable’ tree ring data – which was the basis for claiming that no malfeasance occured, one now sees simply a proclamation from the Muir-Russell review to the same effect. The highlighted claim is missing from all three versions of the article.

Just as in instances before, JeanS’ comment has left hanging in the air referring to a statement that doesn’t exist.

Why does John Cook do this?

The deletions carried out by Cook don’t make sense as an exercise in moderation. They seem driven by an ardent need to present a clean and neat view of global warming. Of a need to reassure that no intelligent discussions exist, and all possible questions have (long) been answered.

The structure of Cook’s website appears to push things in his direction. In the beginning, pages are born as undemanding and easy arguments. Cook then seems to realize that the skeptical arguments are more involved and complex than the simplistic picture he presents. He updates the same pages with more detail. But messy comments have accumulated below the line, sticking out like sore thumbs. The ‘broad picture’ that Cook so wants to convey is sullied.

In the meantime fresh readers, oblivious to the confusing mish-mash of claim and counter-claim, arrive in greater numbers on the shores of the global warming debate. Journalists, policy-makers and other influential opinion-makers land up everyday at skepticalscience, looking for a quick grasp on the consensus position in climate issues. How does one protect these newcomers?

Cook’s solution: the inconvenient comments go flying out the window.

One clearly sees that the mission of the website underwent a change ~end of 2009. In the earlier years, Cook seems welcoming to comments. His interest it seemed was to point out findings from scientific papers, that he thought contradicted climate skeptics’ claims. By November 2009, Cook had arrived at a dramatically different viewpoint. He saw ‘global warming skepticism’ as a sort of a mental illness or a psychiatric condition, with the afflicted being beyond any hope. Psychologic diagnoses permeates his thinking from that point on.

Cook voices his thoughts on the shift in a post in November 2009. It is hard to fathom, why, anybody who ran a website and worked hard at attracting and nurturing an online community, would commit the most fundamental of indiscretions with his readers’ comments – deleting and moulding them at his own whim.

As seen in his response above, Cook viewed the comments section of his website topics as a resource, to be used for ‘educating’ the public.

From there on, editing, deleting and moulding the historical record probably did not seem any wrong to Cook.



  1. kim:)

    [ ” John Wight clearly understood his reader’s critique because he took its message to heart.’ ]

    Should be “Cook” ?

  2. Adam Gallon

    StalinScience, how very apt!
    Just like the way photographs were doctored to remove faces of “Non-people”.
    Everytime someone quotes SS (Think Zed over at Bishop Hill’s & the like!), they can be pointed to this page to show how trustworthy SS really is!

  3. JSmith

    Firstly, did you ask John Cook for a response before posting this ?

    Secondly, you do yourself no favours by believing that Poptech or his little list (especially anything produced by the politically biased E&E) have any connection with any form of refutation, especially “in part or in whole, [of] the Mannian hockey-stick”.
    In fact, what is a “Mannian hockey-stick” ? Is it any different from all the other ‘hockey-sticks’ that have been produced, e.g. this recent one ?

  4. JSmith

    No-one (or blog) has to respond to “demands”, especially those based on supposition. It would have been so much better (and less confrontational – unless that is what you are after ?) if you had informed John Cook of your intentions – perhaps you might have had some answers to your questions.
    I will wait to hear from Skeptical Science before making any decision. After all, any true sceptic would look at all sides before coming to any form of reasoned judgement, surely ?

  5. Fred Bloggs

    Well done Shub.

    Also, why should you ask Cook before publishing this. He can come here to explain himself or do so on his own blog.

    However when he tried to explain his actions last time on the BH blog, he was plainly being economical with the truth. So I am not sure I would believe him anyway.

  6. kim:)


    October 11, 2011 at 10:51

    [ No-one (or blog) has to respond to “demands”, especially those based on supposition. It would have been so much better (and less confrontational – unless that is what you are after ?) if you had informed John Cook of your intentions – perhaps you might have had some answers to your questions. ]

    Hmmmm…read dana1981 and Mr Cooks replies. In blogs such as WUWT ………………… OR follow the links here?

  7. hengistmcstone

    Or to cut a long story short the editor of Skeptical Science has been caught editing Skeptical Science.

  8. John Archer

    After all, any true sceptic would look at all sides before coming to any form of reasoned judgement, surely ?” – JSmith


    But maybe I’m jumping the gun here.

    So, tell me then, smudger, when you wrote that, did you look “at all sides before coming to any form of reasoned judgement” before deciding it was necessary to include the word ‘true‘?

    If so, it would be nice if you would give us your reasoning – especially as to precisely how it’s omission would have changed the intent of what you wrote?

    Meanwhile, and in the absence of any response from you, my “reasoned judgement” inclines me to the view that your statement above embodies a first-class irony – indeed, one to savour.

  9. John Archer

    I seem to have mislaid one of my apostrophes. Ah! There it is, above. Shub, could you post it back to me please – I’m running short of them and need to conserve my stock until new supplies arrive.


  10. Mark S update each ‘What the Science Says’ page in response to new papers and visitor feedback. Unlike a static webpage (e.g. the comments represent a minor problem because past discussions (some of them heated) look out of place and redundant over a period of time. I bet John Cook is angry with himself because now the focus is on sloppy moderation and not the updated ‘arguments’ themselves, which appear solid. My understanding is that SkS will implement a Wiki so visitors can keep track of future changes.

  11. PhilJourdan

    Excellent detective work. To the casual searcher, the purity of AGW will remain intact. It is through your efforts that the deception is exposed. I doubt Tim Cook will offer any explanation. To do such a hack job means he is not looking to hide it from the thorough researcher, just the willing faithful followers.

  12. Carrick

    JSmith: “Secondly, you do yourself no favours by believing that Poptech or his little list (especially anything produced by the politically biased E&E) have any connection with any form of refutation, especially “in part or in whole, [of] the Mannian hockey-stick”.

    Why does it matter? Why delete his comment or references? Why is that better than discussing other papers on the topic that present a different view.

    Is posting references a form of ad hominem on Skeptical Science now?

  13. Carrick

    JSmith: “No-one (or blog) has to respond to “demands”, especially those based on supposition”

    Similarly nobody is required to ask John Cook for his opinion on why he is intellectually dishonest.

    “After all, any true sceptic would look at all sides before coming to any form of reasoned judgement, surely ?”

    Since when is that a requirement for a “skeptic”? You form a judgement when you have enough information to form a judgement, not once you’re heard from every clown in the parade.

    It doesn’t require, in this case, John Cook prevaricating to us about why he can’t engage with skeptics in an intellectually honest fashion to form an opinion on the fact that he is unable to do so.

  14. Carrick

    There are rules for appropriate behavior for editors too. Simply because you are editing by redacting materials, doesn’t make the act ethical.

    What Cook has been doing does not follow standard practices for appropriate conduct of an editor, and nobody is fooled that it is, merely because it can falls under the rubric “editing”.

  15. Carrick

    Wikipedia is a perfect counter point. With Wikipedia, you can see old versions of the article and comments on the older version, as well as the new.

    This doesn’t count as “sloppy moderation”, it’s more much more akin to pure “hackery”.

  16. David S

    Nearly right for once, Hengist. You just missed the word “retrospectively”. Mr Cook is entitled to edit, or moderate, his website although as with RealClimate, readers are entitled to form their own views on whether the moderation policy is fair or reasonable. However when he starts tinkering with and rearranging the comments to create a different narrative misrepresenting the commenters, then that is prima facie evidence of dishonesty.
    Neither you nor he might care whether the website has any integrity, but policymakers must and the general public should.

  17. Pingback: On “Skepticalscience” – Rewriting History | Watts Up With That?
  18. JSmith

    “However when he starts tinkering with and rearranging the comments to create a different narrative misrepresenting the commenters, then that is prima facie evidence of dishonesty.”

    Come of it. That is prima facie evidence of you deciding that you ‘know’ what was done and why. Along with everyone else commenting here, you in fact do not know. But, like some others, you are projecting what you believe you think you know – or what you want to be the case.

    To the author of this blog : Do you agree with the accusations of “hack job”, “deception”, “hackery”, “economical with the truth”, “intellectually dishonest” and “StalinScience” – all made without any substantiation whatsoever.

  19. O2BNAZ

    Hey lets look on the bright side Shub; you’ve stumbled upon a new scientific methodology “Mannian”. Think of all the applications. Historians can say “in the late 1990’s humans abandoned the painstaking Einsteinian for the relative simplistic “Mannian” methodology.” Philosophers will now have three choices; inductive, deductive and “Mannian” reasoning. We will look back on this point in history and discuss how the “Mannian” effect can be accounted for in scientific outcomes. And my favorite will be the “Mannian” constant; the amount that must be subtracted from all warming claims.

  20. O2BNAZ

    One more… truncating comments and adding new comments at the end, to hide the discourse will be referred to as the “Mannian prerogative”.

  21. Poptech

    Nice article. I tried early on to comment there but the censorship made it impossible so it was pointless to continue. I am surprise they are going back and censoring four year old posts. They really cannot have anyone reading something they do not approve of it.

  22. Carrick

    There was substantiation, plenty of it. So you’re just going to lie and assume nobody notices?

    That’s both a pathetic and unworkable strategy on your part.

    Nobody is being fooled by your prevarications and ham-handed slight of hands.

  23. Viva la Resistance

    Can’t be long before the SS Greenshirts start blocking the Wayback Machine.

  24. Die Zauberflotist

    Saving the planet is going to be a lot tougher with Woodward/Bernstein tattletales like you gumming up the works.

  25. Shub Niggurath

    To the author of this blog : Do you agree with the accusations of “hack job”, “deception”, “hackery”, “economical with the truth”, “intellectually dishonest” and “StalinScience” – all made without any substantiation whatsoever.

    I don’t know what it is, but I can tell you, it looks like all of the above.

    And there is lots of ‘substantiation’. How many more examples do you want to consider?

  26. JSmith

    To the blog author : Accusations of lying against those who comment on here (again, without substantiation) are a sad indictment of the quality of ‘debate’ allowed on your site, but such is your prerogative.

  27. hengistmcstone

    Sorry Carrick I didn’t know that. Could you point me to the Rules for Editors on the Internet please.

  28. Mike Davis

    All I need is to have Cook from the SS site show up and another tub of popcorn for my afternoon entertainment.
    My impression of the proper way of updating information is to start another thread and refer to the older one without deletion. To keep the site clean just delete older posts and replace them with complete new ones, of course that would appear as if one did not know what they were pushing to begin with and they were leafing their theories, Blowing whichever the prevailing winds blew, fair or foul.
    The practice being displayed is selective history which follows the IPCC plan of action, create the history that supports the cause.

  29. Poptech

    Poor Jsmith, desperately trying to discredit peer-reviewed papers. Energy & Environment is not politically biased. Unless of course you mean by the editor who happens to be a Social-Democrat. So using your logic E&E would be biased in favor of your political opinions. I love the irony.

    Why is SKS so afraid to have anyone read peer-reviewed papers they do not approve of?

    The Mannian hockey-stick was the center piece of the 2001 IPCC report and relied on controversial tree-ring data and methods. The recent one has not been audited yet so you will have to wait to find out what is wrong with it.

  30. Poptech

    All of those accusations are accurate. I will testify to them. SKS has become one of the most intellectually dishonest climate sites on the Internet as they censor all dissenting opinion from anyone that can hold an argument but leave all the responses by their believers intact.

  31. Owen Morgan

    Stalin Science is exactly right. Although it wasn’t Lysenko that came to mind, as I read this terrific piece, but a book called “The Commissar Vanishes”, in which the author, David King, showed how Stalin’s associates were airbrushed, or often inked, out of official photographs. It was crudely done, but the true-believers could be relied upon not to notice.

  32. John Archer

    Coming from you, smudger, that’s choice.

    Tell us, just what does your use of the word ‘true‘ signify in your post above at 10:51 today other than to suggest that Shub is a false sceptic, a distorter of truth in some way – in plain language, a liar?

    What a precious, blatant hypocrite you are.

    On that theme, I notice you haven’t answered my earlier question. Was it too difficult for you?

    Your postings here have the hallmarks of being written by an obtuse, posturing, closed-minded zealot – a right cnut, in fact – and in my “reasoned judgement”, you aren’t faking those hallmarks – they are the real McCoy.

  33. Maurizio Morabito

    JSmith must be Cook’s cousin, he’s told “you’re wrong” but understands “you’re lying”. A sad indictment yes, but of somebody’s relational skills.

    Likewise for hengist still clinging to an argument blown to smithereens several times already. Has he got a blog? His readers should be warned 🙂

  34. timg56


    To even a casual reader, seeing edits and deletions that occur well past the original date of posting – posts that clearly do not meet the editors own stated definition as to cause – automatically raises a red flag. Granted, the “hack job”, and StalinScience” accusations do little to advance the discussion, but consideration of intellectual diishonesty and possibly deception are valid to question and explore. At this point the burden shifts to the editor to provide a reasonable explaination.

  35. timg56

    How about using the editor’s (Cook) own stated rule?

    Would you argue that the deletions documented above meet Cook’s own rule and therefore logically deserve to be deleted?

    About the only category they could possibly fit under is ideological. But if that is the case, it sure looks like anyone disagreeing, expressing doubt or asking uncomfortable questions qualifies as an ideologue.

  36. the editor

    hengistmcstone said:

    “To cut a long story short the editor of Skeptical Science has been caught”

  37. hengistmcstone

    Which stated rule are you referring to ? The one that goes “Instead, do what the troll hates most — simply remove the comment” ? He’s the editor he edits. Its a work in progress, he has to update the content , and of course he’s entitled to improve the way he’s saying things. Above all he has to keep coherence so yes comments will be edited and eventually lost as the host articles get revised or replaced. The purpose of SkS (as I see it) is a reference portal to the consensus science. It is not, sadly, the definitive site where the warmists and advocates positioned as skeptic meet and do battle, no such site exists . And he is removing comments from both sides of the debate so the implication made here that something underhand is going on isimply false.

  38. omnologos

    Your comment makes no sense, given that people have been actively made to look stupid exactly by the (never-stated) comment manipulation policy. This goes far beyond deletion, and cannot be used with the excuse of “coherence” (since comments are rewritten, rather than just deleted).

    Just like Ioseb Besarionis dze Jughashvili, not just interested in removing people from history by preventing some photographs from circulating, rather in rewriting history by manipulating the same photographs.

  39. hengistmcstone

    @the editor
    That’s a clear example of mendacious misquoting , it is not what I said above at all , you have truncated my sentence to make it appear to mean what you want it to mean, pretty much the opposite of what I am saying. Thanks for that. It’s a good clear example of how advocates positioned as skeptic are dishonestly misrepresenting their opponents, and is a perfect example of why this blog is unreliable. Goodnight.

  40. omnologos

    hengist- let me explain the joke.

    Cook’s (never-stated) comment modification policy is a clear example of mendacious misquoting , it is not what people said before at all , he has truncated their sentence to make it appear to mean what Cook wants it to mean, pretty much the opposite of what they were saying. Thank Cook for that. It’s a good clear example of how advocates positioned as bloggers at “Skeptical Science” are dishonestly misrepresenting their opponents, and is a perfect example of why their blog is unreliable. Goodnight.

  41. David S

    Nice one editor! Hengist perhaps you should change your moniker to “flightpath” as that one went right over your head!

  42. 40 shades of green

    Speaking as someone who got deleted, I was a big fan of Sks until about 2 years ago. I used to wonder was he a secret sceptic.

    It almost seemed like he was a tennis player throwing up easy lobs for an opponent to smash. he would write an article that was naive at best and the skeptics would pile in with links to science and arguments showing how silly his points were.

    I think I learned most of my scepticism there thanks to the commenters.

    I guess he is tired if having his lobs smashed into the corner.

  43. papertiger

    Show me the chapter and verse in the rules for editors on the internet against mendacious misquoting, or truncating sentences to make it appear that Hengis is smarter and more honest than in real life.

  44. hro001

    Sounds like a Climate Crisis at Cook’s Corner 😉 Too bad it wasn’t one of conscience, eh?!

    You’d think by now they would have learned that eventually such blatant use of Santerian and Mannian tactics (which more closely resemble the “scholarship” of the likes of David “change a word here, add a word there” Irving than anything approximating intellectual honesty) will be discovered and brought to light.

    But no doubt they’ll contnue on their way, wailing and whining (to any who will listen) about their “inability to communicate the science” ‘cuz of the evil ways of those who dare to question the tenets of the climate bible.

    Very well done, Shub.

  45. Carrick

    What rubbish. There are intellectual and ethical standards that any person posting material to a website need to adhere to, if they want to retain more than 0% credibility. John Cook currentlhy has about 0% and, he’s vying for the negative credibility award at the moment.

    But you go ahead and support his behavior, if you think it advances the cause.

  46. Carrick

    Speaking of “sad indictments, it’s amusing that JSmith should bring this up, since John Cook’s site allows ad hominem attacks in blog posts.

    Of course there is a plethora of substantiation of John Cook’s unethicalness and intellectual bankruptcy in this and other posts, and unfortunately all you are doing is providing accompanying proof of the similar lack of unethical and intellectual dishonesty shared by his readers.

    Rule of plumbers: When you find yourself in a hole, quit digging.

  47. Carrick

    The language I used was “standard practices for appropriate conduct” not “Rule for Editors”, this mischaracterization is just more intellectual dishonesty on your part. That does nothing to further your cause.

    Since we’re at it, don’t you start with addressing why you think there is a different (or even nonexistent) standard of ethical conduct an editor on a scientific blog than any other publication outlet?

    I think if I were John, I’d ask you to “please quit trying to help.”

  48. Carrick

    Thanks, editor. I’ve bookmarked both of those links.

    As a US researcher, I’m required to take courses on ethical conduct of research. The Australian John Cook could use a few of those course too, if he wants to continue to represent scientists to the lay population. (Of course that’s not the purpose of his website, unfortunately, at the moment, it is nothing more than a propagandist site for AGW True Believers.)

  49. gallopingcamel

    In February of this year I made this direct appeal to John Cook via email:

    “While the general tone of Skeptical Science has been well maintained,
    count me among those who have noticed a deterioration in the
    “Moderating”. This activity is getting increasingly heavy handed to the
    point that folks like “Berenyi Peter” or “gallopingcamel” comment less
    and less frequently.”

    He replied that the new moderation policies would be maintained. This meant that “Daniel Bailey”, “dikranmarsupial”, “dana1981” et al. would continue suppressing opposing views.

    Voila! Another echo chamber.

  50. lateintheday

    Out of interest, I left this note on Paul Hudson’s blog about a week ago . . .

    53. At 21:34 4th Oct 2011, lateintheday wrote:
    “Paul B, thanks for that – I’ll take a closer look.
    I’ve tried to find a good debate around Pinker et al 2005 but have yet to find one. My first visit was to SkS thinking that firstly they would explain the science, secondly they would present the findings in a pro AGW light so that inevitably, I’d find some alternative viewpoints/debate in the comments section. By reading both sides, I get a better overview.
    Their coverage is disappointing on this however. It reads as though the author (Cook?) started off with all good intent and then ran out of time and simply threw in a GISS graph to finish. Oddly, despite this being a 2010 post, there were no comments – none at all.”

    The article at SkS was called “Is global brightening causing global warming”

  51. timg56

    I starting to think that’s your real picture. Everyone is entitled to improve how they say or communicate things. No one is arguing Cook can’t. But based on your reasoning, it would be perfectly acceptable for me to go back to a paper or exam and make changes and deletions (such as wrong answers) and then expect it to stand as if original. I believe that is called cheating.

    With folks like you trying to defend the actions of Cook, he doesn’t need any detractors.

  52. Shub Niggurath


    You say:

    Above all he has to keep coherence …

    That is what I am saying too.

    I hope you realise why what Cook has done here, is not a bright thing.

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  55. Tyson Adams (@TysonAdams1)

    So let me get this straight: you have written an article decrying a blogger for deleting abusive posts. You then say that this is ignoring science and yet the science supposedly ignored was never then submitted to the authors for addition to the articles in question. In additition you are insulting him and his site, yet offering nothing but ad homenium accusations as evidence. The papers that are mentioned are from Energy and Environment and the like, a journal widely known for its lack of proper peer review.

    This just sets my skeptic alarm blaring at what you are trying to do here. You have just made me a supporter of Cook and his site with this cheap hatchet job.

  56. Poptech

    Tyson, Energy & Environment is properly peer-reviewed,

    Energy & Environment is a peer-reviewed interdisciplinary scholarly journal (ISSN: 0958-305X)
    – Indexed in Compendex, EBSCO, Environment Abstracts, Google Scholar, JournalSeek, Scopus and Thompson Reuters (ISI)
    – Found at 173 libraries and universities worldwide in print and electronic form. These include; Cambridge University, Cornell University, British Library, Dartmouth College, Library of Congress, National Library of Australia, Ohio University, Pennsylvania State University, Rutgers University, University of California, University of Delaware, University of Oxford, University of Virginia, and MIT.
    – Thompson Reuters Social Sciences Citation Index (ISI) lists Energy & Environment as a peer-reviewed scholarly journal
    – EBSCO lists Energy & Environment as a peer-reviewed scholarly journal
    – Scopus lists Energy & Environment as a peer-reviewed scholarly journal
    – Elsevier lists Energy & Environment as a scholarly peer-reviewed journal on their internal master list. (Source: Email Correspondence)
    – The IPCC cites Energy & Environment multiple times
    – “E&E, by the way, is peer reviewed” – Tom Wigley, Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
    – “I have published a few papers in E&E. All were peer-reviewed as usual. I have reviewed a few more for the journal.” – Richard Tol Ph.D. Professor of the Economics of Climate Change, Vrije Universiteit, Netherlands
    – “All Multi-Sciences primary journals are fully refereed” – Multi-Science Publishing
    – “Regular issues include submitted and invited papers that are rigorously peer reviewed” – E&E Mission Statement

  57. Tyson Adams (@TysonAdams1)

    It isn’t listed on ISI Web of Knowledge, the list of peer reviewed journals. It doesn’t appear to have any form of impact factor. The chief editor has admitted to publishing papers without peer review because they suit her political agenda.

    Quote on why E&E is not listed on ISI:
    A given paper in E&E may have been peer reviewed (but unlikely). If it was, the review process might have been up to the normal standards for science (but unlikely). Hence E&E’s exclusion from the ISI Journal Master list, and why many (including Scopus) do not consider E&E a peer reviewed journal at all. Further, even the editor states that it is not a science journal and that it is politically motivated/influenced.

    Instead it is listed on ISI as a social journal, which is widely held as “opinion” articles as they don’t have to contain quantitative data. SCOPUS lists E&E as a trade journal, as in seldom referred with few or no references. Most conference papers have more peer review standards than these listings would suggest.

  58. Tyson Adams (@TysonAdams1)

    Probably for the same reason you think E&E is a real journal. If you want to roll out junk science in hundreds of comments then clearly you are not there to have a discussion and learn from the proper peer reviewed literature.

  59. Poptech

    Tyson, did you not read what I just posted? It is listed in the ISI,

    – Thompson Reuters Social Sciences Citation Index (ISI) lists Energy & Environment as a peer-reviewed scholarly journal

    The ISI Web of Science is simply a for profit database by the multi-billion dollar Thompson Reuters corporation. It one of many academic databases such as EBSCO’s Academic Search and Elsevier’s Scopus.

    Impact Factor is a subjective determination of popularity not scientific validity.

    It is a lie that the Editor has ever admitted to publishing papers without peer-review to suit her political agenda. You are completely distorting different comments and drawing erroneous conclusions.

    Scopus does not list E&E as a trade journal anymore. That was an incorrect listing that has since been fixed. E&E never matched their criteria for being a trade journal.

    All of your smears about E&E are addressed here,

  60. Poptech

    It is a real journal despite your denial;

    – Thompson Reuters Social Sciences Citation Index (ISI) lists Energy & Environment as a peer-reviewed scholarly journal

    – The IPCC cites Energy & Environment multiple times

    I am well aware Skeptical Science wishes to censor those that hold a different scientific position on issues. They have the right to censor anything they wish just don’t be surprised when SkS loses all credibility because of it.

    I would be embarrassed to be associated with a site like SkS that practices the censorship that it does.

  61. Shub Niggurath

    Tyson, you say:
    “So let me get this straight: you have written an article decrying a blogger for deleting abusive posts…”

    You are trying to get this straight, but you haven’t.

    I do not ‘decry’ what John Cook does on his blog. Cook did not ‘delete’ abusive posts, he did something else.

  62. Shub Niggurath

    You say: “You have just made me a supporter of Cook and his site with this cheap hatchet job.”

    I looked at your Twitter list. You have a message today congratulating Cook for the graphical design in his book. I caught a handful of other messages you put out earlier as well. Seems to me as though you were already a supporter of Cook and his site.

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  65. populartechnology

    Blimey you need to stop demonstrating it is amateur hour with each one of your posts, it is getting embarrassing.

  66. itsnotnova

    Accepting that your papers contradict each other and not caring, is not the same as demonstrating why that is not a problem. Saying Idso rebutted the science on climate sensitivity, is not the same as showing Idso rebutting the science.

    All you’ve done is demonstrated your own willingness to overlook your flaws. That’s called self-denial.

  67. populartechnology

    It has nothing to do with “caring” or “not caring” but rather your perpetual strawman argument that the list represents some sort of unified theory. Where does the list state that it is a unified theory?

    Why would I have a problem including certain papers that are mutually exclusive in a list created as a resource for any paper that supports a skeptic argument against ACC/AGW Alarm? The inclusion of mutually exclusive papers on the list is not an argument against the list being a resource, it is only an strawman argument against the list being a unified theory. As stated repeatedly, skeptics accept that there exists independent, mutually exclusive theories on certain aspects of climate change. Collectivists such as yourself have a hard time grasping the existence of independent thought and debate existing on climate change.

    Are you really this poorly educated that you do not know what a strawman argument is? Do you not comprehend the difference between a resource and a unified theory? The “list” as a singular entity is not arguing for anything other than these papers exist contrary to alarmist claims. The individual papers however, can support skeptic arguments against various alarmist positions.

    I trust skeptics to make up their own minds about the strength or weakness of any of the papers. All I am doing is providing the resource for them to locate these papers.

    The only one in denial here about the list being a resource and not a unified theory is you.

  68. itsnotnova

    The list is hardly a comprehensive view of climate change science. Cherry picking only papers, that in your opinion, argue against AGW is not a complete view. Looking at ALL available papers on the topic gives a better understanding.

  69. populartechnology

    What is with you and strawman arguments? Where on the list does it claim to include views other than those supporting skeptic arguments? Are you also going to argue that the pro-ACC/AGW Alarm side is not well represented in the IPCC report, in the news media and online?

  70. populartechnology

    Anyone who understands what a “strawman argument” is (does not include you), understands it more than delivers.

  71. itsnotnova

    What is it with you being able to understanding the difference between a “strawman argument” vs “the usefulness of your list”?

    I put forward that your list is as “useful” as you make it out to be.

    You say you have 900 papers disputing AGW, but, for example, if 450 of those papers contradict the other 450, meaning that only one set or the other could be correct, then you’re only left with 450 papers.

    Now if you removed the papers that are simply political in nature, those that are simply extending the authors previous research, those published in journals that do not have have a proper peer-review process, and most importantly, those that have been since debunked by newer research, then I doubt you’d have much of a list at all.

    Go compare that to the extensive amount of research that forms a cohesive, non-contradicting theory of AGW and THEN you have a proper objective skeptical view of the science.

    Until you do that, repetitively posting your link to previous arguments (in a closed forum topic) is pointless since you do nothing to address this argument.

  72. Shub Niggurath


    “…that forms a cohesive, non-contradicting theory of AGW …”

    I don’t know…contrary to widespread expectations, there is actually nothing called cohesion. Authors citing each others work, and building a network of ‘consistencies’, is virtually meaningless when it comes to higher levels in the hierarchy of scientific facts. ‘Cohesion’, or non-contradictoriness works well with lower-level concepts, but unfortunately breaks down as an useful guide for anything more.

    For instance, there are lots of papers purportedly demonstrating a hockey stick. They all cite each other, are largely non-self-contradictory amongst themselves and appear very ‘cohesive’. Unfortunately it all means nothing, as we have learnt.

    I also think you are simply missing poptech’s point. He has a list of papers that refute/dispute various aspects of anthropogenic warming claims. These papers themselves do not have to work together as any whole; they do not have to not contradict each other, or anything. It really is quite a simple point.


  73. populartechnology

    How “useful” the list is, is purely subjective and irrelevant to it’s purpose which is to be a resource for skeptics. However, they have found the list very useful.

    I do not state your strawman argument that “I have 900 papers disputing AGW”. I make the factual claim that there are over 900 peer-reviewed papers supporting skeptic arguments against ACC/AGW Alarm. No claim is made that the list is a unified theory or some of the papers may not be mutually exclusive when it is explicitly stated that some are. The mutually exclusive papers (a small minority not 450) cannot contradict each other by being on this list because they are not referred to in this manner as no claim is made that all the papers support the same argument. Yet you desperately keep trying to make this false claim.

    Competing, mutually exclusive theories are presented on the list so skeptics can read them and make up their own minds.

    The list is of “peer-reviewed” papers not just “peer-reviewed physical science” papers, this includes social science papers just like those referenced in the WGII and WGIII sections of the IPCC report.These papers are also separated into their relevant categories. These represent roughly only a hundred papers on the list.

    There are only a handful of papers that include extensions of research and they are still peer-reviewed and scientifically relevant.

    All of the counted papers are from peer-reviewed scholarly journals. You do not decide what is “proper” or not. There are 257 peer-reviewed scholarly journals cited on the list.

    The rebuttals to any papers that have had a published comment about them are included on the list following the original paper. Your claims of them being debunked by new research is unfounded and disputed by the original authors.

    I have never seen a cohesive non-contradictory theory of AGW. Various problems with the theory are extensively challenged by papers on the list. This again is irrelevant and a strawman argument in relation to the purpose of the list, which is to be a resource for skeptics.

    I have a proper objective skeptical view of science. This is why I am providing a resource for the inconvenient science people like you are trying to prevent people from reading.

    Your delusions about me “addressing” your strawman arguments is now getting laughable.

  74. itsnotnova

    “I have never seen a cohesive non-contradictory theory of AGW.”

    Well done Poptech.

    By your very words you suggest the list is not very good if you wish to prove the theory wrong. LOL

  75. itsnotnova

    If one of Poptech’s paper says the warming is due to CO2, but the CO2 is natural and another paper were to say it’s solar, not CO2, then they both cannot both be correct.

    Having non-contradicting evidence is very important.

  76. itsnotnova

    I’m not saying you don’t have 900+ papers – I agree with that. I’m not making a strawman argument because I am not arguing about that particular claim. What you don’t have is something that can replace the consensus view of climate science.

    More than that, what you have is a desperate attempt to list any paper that might disagree with something related to AGW. If you were truly interested in climate change, then what’s the point of listing papers that have since been debunked.

  77. Shub Niggurath

    Yes, but that same thing applies to the consensus position too – there are lots of papers that contradict each other.

    ‘Non-contradictory’ evidence is important to *us* because it is just human tendency to force all available evidence into a understandable framework. The rest is simply thrown away. Available evidence, on the other hand, is or appears messy and contradictory. poptech’s list of papers don’t just exist on his list. They are out there mixed in with the rest of the so-called cohesive papers. Your purported ‘cohesion’ emerges only because you dismiss pieces of evidence.

    Secondly non-contradictory evidence works, as I said, in relatively straightforward situations, in criminal trials for instance! If someone can provide a credible alibi he could not have committed the crime. The evidence for anthropogenic warming, especially its strength and speed, unfortunately, is not of such a kind.

  78. itsnotnova

    “Your purported ‘cohesion’ emerges only because you dismiss pieces of evidence.”

    Dismissing science that has been proven incorrect is a necessary process.

  79. Shub Niggurath

    Let me see: you dismiss poptech’s papers because they have been proven incorrect. And they have been proven incorrect because they don’t agree with the consensus position.

    I give up.

  80. Poptech

    Are you delusional? ACC/AGW and ACC/AGW Alarm can still be argued against regardless of it having it being cohesive or non-contradictory. Alarmists liberally reinterpret ACC/AGW theory to apply to almost anything.

    This has nothing to do with the list “not being good”, as the list has nothing to do with your perpetual strawman argument about the list as a singular entity arguing against any single interpretation of ACC/AGW. How many times does this have to be explained to you? The list is a resource where skeptics can find peer-reviewed papers to use to support their arguments against alarmist claims.

  81. Poptech

    Yes, you are making a strawman argument in relation to the list because the list does not claim to replaces a “consensus view” or even acknowledges that there is a consensus view. Various papers on the list explicitly argue against a consensus. In addition the existence of the papers on the list supports skeptic arguments for the lack of consensus.

    The only thing desperate is your perpetual failed attempts to argue against the list using strawman arguments.

    What I have is an attempt to provide a comprehensive resource for peer-reviewed papers that support skeptic arguments against ACC/AGW Alarm.

    No paper listed has been accepted by the original author as debunked. Your claims of something being debunked or the existence of a criticism does not make it so. For any paper that has had a published criticism, the rebuttal by the original authors is included on the list following the original paper.

  82. Poptech

    Why can you not understand that skeptics would be interested in reading any and all competing theories to make up their own mind? What skeptics have a problem with is when they are not provided this information or lied to about it not existing at all.

    Having non-contradicting evidence is only important if you are formulating a unified theory. The list does no such thing nor makes any claim to as it is simply a resource for skeptics.

  83. itsnotnova

    “Why can you not understand that skeptics would be interested in reading any and all competing theories to make up their own mind? ”

    Then why is your list limited to (in your mind) “skeptical” papers?

  84. itsnotnova

    “Let me see: you dismiss poptech’s papers because they have been proven incorrect. And they have been proven incorrect because they don’t agree with the consensus position.”

    No, they are proven incorrect because newer data or understanding shows them to be incorrect.

    We know the Earth is not flat as once thought. Do you suggest we still consider science that says the planet is flat?

  85. Poptech

    Because that is the purpose of the list it is for papers supporting skeptic argument not alarmist ones. This will never change.

  86. Poptech

    They have not been proven incorrect. Some of the papers have a published criticism on them where the authors rebutted this criticism, this is not the same as proving them incorrect.

    The Earth not being flat has nothing to do with any of this.

  87. itsnotnova

    How funny, I bet you don’t even see the contradiction in your own statements.

    One moment you say … “Why can you not understand that skeptics would be interested in reading any and all competing theories to make up their own mind?”

    The next moment … “Because that is the purpose of the list it is for papers supporting skeptic argument not alarmist ones.”

    A paper is simply evidence. Considering ALL of them determines if we should be alarmed or not. You filter the scientific view for your own biased purpose.

  88. itsnotnova

    Yes they have. Idso for instance. 😉 Your “link of answers” says he answer his critics, however you haven’t realised the order in which those papers occur. I suggest you look at the citation for clarification.

  89. populartechnology

    It is not a contradiction in the context of the list. It would be dishonest to include anything but peer-reviewed papers supporting skeptic arguments against ACC/AGW Alarm in a list explicitly titled this and for this purpose.

    You are the master of strawman arguments. Where does the list claim to include every paper on ACC/AGW Alarm? This is not the purpose of the list.

    The real question is why do alarmists filter out all of these inconvenient peer-reviewed papers that clearly exist? I understand you are upset that this resource exists, you will just have to live with it as it is not going anywhere, it will only get larger and more comprehensive.

    My purpose is to provide a resource for skeptics.

  90. populartechnology

    This has been explained to you many times. Since Idso was responding to another author’s paper that author gets the final word when the comments are published together in the same issue. Journals rarely continue debates beyond the single comment and reply. If those authors had made a comment on one of Idso’s papers directly this would have been reversed. None of this changes the fact that he answered their criticisms in his initial apply.

  91. populartechnology

    Master of strawman arguments, where does the list claim to be any particular “view of science”.

  92. populartechnology

    No, all scientists are not skeptical and yes alarmist scientists do discard papers that disagree with their alarmist ideology. This was confirmed by climategate,

    “I can’t see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report. Kevin and I will keep them out somehow – even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!” – Phil Jones, Director, Climatic Research Unit (CRU)

  93. Shub Niggurath

    “All scientists are skeptical,…”

    No! Many are clearly not.

    Skepticism in scientific activity is not a given. The vast majority of scientists in any field are engaged in constructive or productive activity. Deep challenges to existing paradigms pop up only occasionally, because some foolish scientist decides to sacrifice his life doing so. The scientists’ corps then assimilate such findings as though they were self-evident and moves on.

  94. populartechnology

    Not as a direct response because journals do not usually continue debates in that manner. You do understand how journals operate don’t you? The fact that Idso continued to cite his papers is clear evidence he did not accept their arguments.

  95. populartechnology

    A strawman argument is not a valid criticism. Please go study up on logical fallacies.

  96. itsnotnova

    You think Idso’s science is correct because Idso simply didn’t accept what other scientists had to say. LOL!!!

    To quote Potter “We would have preferred a more quantitative reply”.

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  98. populartechnology

    You think Idso’s science is incorrect because you are accepting two other scientist’s arguments over his. Neither scientist commented on Idso’s later paper, “CO2-induced global warming: a skeptic’s view of potential climate change” where Idso continued to cite his earlier work and a paper by those scientists.

  99. omnologos

    There has to be a point where a debate ought to stop apart from exhaustion. And I for myself try to stay away from people whose website is dedicated to criticize just a single other website. It smacks of an obsession that can hardly coexist with rational thinking.

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  103. HarryWiggs

    Does that mean you’re embarrassed by the censoring–against his own mission statement–that Anthony watts perpetrates on WUWT?

  104. cloudpoint

    If a commenter is eventually banned (as happens with perceived trolls on all sites), I suspect the banning component of the software deletes all their historical comments. This is the likely reason for old comments disappearing and not censorship,

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