Scott of the Antarctic

2012 is actually a pretty busy year here in Britain. We’ve had the Queen’s Jubilee, and the Olympics. And some anniversaries. The 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Dickens. The 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo (although, to be frank, I haven’t actually heard of much in the way of celebration of this). [Hah! That’s because it’s the worng year!–Wuf] And, of course, the centenary of the death of that greatest of dead British heroes, Robert Falcon Scott. Scott of the Antarctic. Who almost was the first to the South Pole, and lost out to that duplicitous Norwegian, and died a hero’s death, with a nobility that has inspired generations of British schoolboys. And it’s true—Scott’s last journal entries, written when he knew he and his remaining companions were going to die (Oates had already wandered off into a blizzard, muttering ”I may be some time”), are heartbreaking.

Because ever since Scott perished on his return from the South Pole, a race he lost to the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen, he has been lionized as no other British here has been, perhaps except Nelson. The mythology was so strong, in fact, that when Roland Huntford wrote his debunking of the myth, Scott and Amundsen (published in the US as The Last Place on Earth), in 1979, the Scott family attempted to get an injunction to prevent publication of the book. Because Huntford’s book was damning, and a shocker—Scott was a bumbling amateur compared to Amundsen, who was a pro, from his thorough preparation to his masterful execution. Scott’s reputation has never completely recovered, although there has certainly been some mitigation. Susan Solomon, in The Coldest March, argues persuasively that Scott faced considerably worse weather than he expected—unusually frigid weather even for Antarctica, in fact. Still, it has been pointed out, by Huntford, in fact, that Amundsen faced the same weather, and mastered it.

So the myth perseveres. Which is good, because it allowed for two great museum shows devoted to the subject. The first, over at The Queen’s Gallery earlier this year, was The Heart of the Great Alone. This one mainly concerned the photography relating to the Scott expeditions—and those of Shackelton, Scott’s other great rival—and who, it is correctly pointed out, endured expeditions of extraordinary hardship and never lost a man, unlike Scott, who lost quite a few. This was a wonderful show, with photographs by the two great early polar photographers, Herbert Ponting, and Frank Hurley. Ponting accompanied Scott’s Terra Nova expedition, the one that doomed Scott, and took a boatload of photos, from 2,000 glass plate negatives. Here’s one of the most iconic:

And Hurley? He accompanied Shackelton’s doomed Endurance expedition, one of the most famous expeditions of all time—the Endurance, remember, got stuck in pack ice, got crushed and sank, and Shackelton and crew made some epic sea journeys, and survived. Hurley’s photos, also made with glass plates (many of which were lost when the Endurance was destroyed), have also become legendary—here’s one of the Endurance, stuck in pack ice, at night:

The stories of these photographs are nearly as legendary as the expeditions they portray. Fortunately, they’re all collected in a volume of the same title—The Heart of the Great Alone: Scott, Shackleton, and Antarctic Photography, by David Hempleman-Adams, Emma Stuart, and Sophie Gordon. No serious photographer, or lover of the Antarctic, should be without this book.

And this past weekend we headed over to the Natural History museum for their Scott show, Scott’s Last Expedition. This one had a different focus, and comprised a nice history of Scott’s entire journey, from the fundraising in England (Scott’s first expedition was sponsored by the government, but his second was not), to the journey to New Zealand, which, as Huntford has pointed out, never involved leaving the British empire, and to his two years on Antarctica, and his doomed exploit. There’s quite a lot on the science, because there was a lot of science, including the famous trip in the Antarctic winter (with temperatures regularly at 70 degrees below zero) for penguin eggs that resulted in Apsley Cherry-Garrard’s book The Worst Journey in the World, and it sounds like it was.) In fact, there was a really serious amount of science done, much of which established what is now the modern form of disciplines such as glaciology. But it also focused on the mechanics of the trip, and how everyone lived and worked. In fact, they did a very cool thing—they recreated the hut that all members of the expedition party lived in, laying out the bunks where people slept and the areas where the scientific work was done, as well as where other stuff took place—it’s pretty small. Of course, everyone must have smelled, and everyone smoked cigarettes or pipes like a chimney. So you can just imagine.

And while it was clear that Scott did a lot of bad management—or, at least, contra Amundsen, made a lot of bad judgments—he also had some bad luck. He and the remaining members of his party died pretty close to a depot of stores he had previously laid. But he hadn’t laid it far enough south, because the ponies broke down on that trip. And if the depot had been where he originally planned for it to be, he might have survived. And then there was the weather, which, as mentioned previously, resulted in much more severe weather than previous expeditions—Scott’s first voyage, or Shackelton’s—had experienced. But, still, the issues of British pluck and British arrogance intermingle here so much that it’s hard to determine where the boundaries are.

It’s a compelling story nonetheless, which is why it has survived as long as it has. It’s one of the great tragic narratives of modern times, in fact, and is so bound up with the British travail of watching their best and brightest be blown to smithereens in the first world war, and then watching the empire disappear following the second, that it’s easy to understand why the myth endured. And why, even now, it retains its hold on the British imagination, in spite of numerous revelations about Scott. And in another 100 years, the photographs will still stagger the audience, and the Scott story will still engender a mixture of sadness, irritation and a certain degree of admiration, not necessarily for the man, but for the apparent dignity and grace with which he left us.

18 replies »

  1. I’m really glad you read both Huntford and Solomon. So many have read only Huntford these days, and in some respects, it’s a bit unfair. Amundsen did, in fact, make it back, because he had an enormous margin of error. Scott’s margin of error was also quite large … it just wasn’t large enough for that particular year, and it wasn’t large enough to account for Evans, who cut his hand and became an enormous liability. There’s also the strange issue of the evaporating oil left at the depots. Or the wind blowing in the wrong direction on the way back, as it had never been known to blow before. In fact, everything went wrong, and while it’s accurate to assert that, had Scott had an even greater margin, his party might have made it, he built a large enough margin that it should have done.

    Thanks for this.

  2. It’s been nearly 20 years since i read the subject seriously, so my recollection of the details is not as sharp as i’d like, but the general feeling that remains is that Amundsen was simply better prepared and had a better plan.

    The underlying difference i’ve always seen is that Scott attempted to conquer the Antarctic with modernity while Amundsen drew much more heavily on traditional Arctic lifeways that, as an accomplished professional, he knew well.

    But i’ll admit that my bigotry against Anglo-Americans does cloud my judgement on this and in cases like this i find some perverse enjoyment from the failures of Brits and Americans.

  3. Uh, the battle of Waterloo was in 1815.

    Huntford didn’t get everything right (he should have come up with more evidence for his claims regarding Sir Clements Markham and Kathleen Scott), but his book is good overall. Which is far more than can be said for Susan Solomon, whose original article and book have been debunked: http://arxiv.org/abs/1011.1272 This article makes a convincing case that Captain Scott and Lt. Bowers forged their meteorological records and the temperatures they encountered were normal. It also calls Solomon out out for data dragging and logical fallacies. In addition to what the article says, Solomon committed cherry picking by ignoring the First Relief Party’s temperatures when they did not support her pro-Scott bias, in contrast to the linked article which does not neglect them.

    The original article Solomon wrote was shooed into publication in PNAS by a pre-arranged editor (James Hansen, yes that James Hansen, who is a member of NAS and thus eligible), using a clause in PNAS submission rules for Track II submission (AKA direct submission) to bypass both editorial and reviewer levels of peer review. If you’re buddies with the editor, your article is guaranteed submission. Here’s an article detailing the process: http://occamstypewriter.org/stevecaplan/2011/10/23/peer-review-and-the-ole-boys-network/ In addition, go to climateaudit.org, and search for Solomon. You’ll find a string of shady behavior a mile long.

    The Natural History Museum has been busy with its own variety of fraud, notably with its claims regarding Scott’s Glossopteris fossil proving the existence of Gondwanaland, and thus through extension continental drift. It is a recent fraud, first attempted by G.E. Fogg in 1992, given its first big advancement by D.J. Beerling in his book The Emerald Planet in 2008, and debuted for its viral spread through the internet by Dr. Elizabeth Truzwell in March 2011. As Randall Bytwerk and Quentin Schultze declare in the abstract of “Plausible Quotations and Reverse Credibility in Online Vernacular Communities”: “Cyberspace provides an arena for creating seemingly credible but unverified persuasive messages that confirm the existing assumptions of online communities of discourse.” Existing assumptions as in affirmation of the consequent fallacies, which every news article about Scott’s Glossopteris fossil contains.

    A look at the actual history of continental drift theory debate locks the fossil out of resolving it: it was so helpful to Alfred Wegener’s theory of continental drift that by the time he died in 1930, it was still being pelted with garbage by the majority of the scientific community, and would continue to be so. Scott’s fossil was used once, by Albert Seward in Plant Life Through the Ages, and he did not accept it as the end all. From page 253: “It is probable that discoveries in Antarctica will furnish clearer evidence than we at present possess of the origin of some members of the Glossopteris flora in the far south…”

    Ironically, Seward himself provides the smoking gun for this agenda-driven effort to resurrect Scott regardless of what the truth was and is. At the end of Scott’s Discovery expedition in 1903, Ferrar unknowingly collected a Glossopteris fossil, which would not be discovered for many years (Larson, An Empire of Ice, page 222). T.N. Edwards used it in an article in 1928 which again failed to resolve the debate. Seward used Edwards as a source, and thus we can ask and answer this question:

    Why was this fossil not used? Because Scott himself never laid eyes on it.
    Why was this fossil not used? Because using Ferrar’s fossil would not provide the perfect rebuttal to Huntford’s criticism of carrying it, while Scott’s fossil would. Truzwell cynically admits the latter herself: http://www.antarctic-circle.org/oddsnends.htm#Glossopteris Never mind the hard reality that Scott’s diary shows that he did not know the significance of his fossil, while those who write the agenda-driven lies seem to assume that he knew the importance all along.

  4. JSO–thanks. Also, the Frances Spufford book, I May Be Some Time, worked to redress some of the Huntford challenge, although it seems as if it’s more for the form of the thing rather than anything else.

    Lex–agreed. Although I’d questions whether it was modernity. The British establishment, if I remember right, was very dismissive of Amundsen’s going native, as it had been of Nansen’s earlier going native. Amundsen, of course, learnied it all from Nansen, who, in the winter of 1895, wintered over with one of his companions on some island while the Fram was locked in ice for a couple of years. Following his attempt on the North Pole (he got close), they just holed up for a couple of months on the way back to the Fram. Nansen apparently gained weight that winter.

    I suppose the one of the best examples of the difference between the two approaches was that Scott brought along a Norwegian to teach his men how to ski, Amundsen brought along men who already knew how.

    Kristoffer–wow, did I really say that about Waterloo? Jezz, what a bonehead. I actually know that it’s 1815, and have no idea why I said that. I think I’ll let it stand as a reminder to myself. I probably meant the Titantic or something, another 2012 annniversary.

    Now, on your points, you’ve taken this to a level above my pay grade, as they say, so I’ll need to digest this–I’m not in a position to respond on much of this. I did wonder about the Gondwanaland stuff in the exhibit, but it was a Sunday, I was enjoying myself, so I just wandered along. The Solomon stuff is more critical, though–I didn’t know there was any controversy on her analysis. Let me ruminate a bit on this a bit. Thanks for the commnent.

  5. Re wufnik, there is little controversy surrounding Solomons work, I am only aware of the criticism of Kristoffer in his own paper that he linked in his post. Her work is only discredited in his mind, I have yet to meet anyone who has bought his point of view.

  6. Ben, I’ve already told you that I didn’t write that paper. If I had, I would have updated it by now to mention the cherry picking and its shooing past peer review. http://www.pnas.org/content/96/23/13012.full.pdf There’s Solomon’s article. PNAS submission rules have this to say about pre-arranged editors: “Papers with a prearranged editor are published with a footnote to that effect.” Look just above the preface, and you’ll find this: “Edited by James E. Hansen, Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York, NY, and approved August 27, 1999 (received for review June 21, 1999)” Thus the smoking gun of Solomon using a pre-arranged editor to shoo her poisoned science article into publication.

    Wufnik, there’s something you can do to judge Solomon’s honesty for yourself. Get a hold of Scott’s Last Expedition. Notice that after March 10, there are no daily minimum temperatures (Simpson indicated that minimum temperatures on the Ross Ice Shelf occur around midnight), just daily mid-day temperatures. Then look at Figure 3 of Solomon’s paper, which details the daily minimums. There should have been none after March 10. So why did Solomon misrepresent the daily mid-day temperatures after March 10 as daily minimums? Because she realized that if those were the daily mid-day temperatures, just imagine how unrealistic the minimums would be. That is also the reason Solomon’s paper doesn’t include the daily mid-day temperatures, as she was using the minimums as a showcase.

    “I have yet to meet anyone who has bought his point of view.” http://www.insidescience.org/?q=content/south-pole-explorers-still-inspire-controversy/615
    Consider yourself corrected.

  7. Kristoffer, you wrote that “If you’re buddies with the [PNAS] editor, your article is guaranteed submission.” This is partially true, but not the blank check you’re implying. If it were, then PNAS would have published Lindzen and Choi’s latest deeply flawed paper, which was in fact rejected because the PNAS editors realized that Lindzen’s chosen reviewers were not going to be sufficiently critical and because of Lindzen’s history of getting climate science wrong.

    Solomon doesn’t generally have that history. No scientist is perfect, and they all make mistakes. It’s certainly possible that Solomon made some here, but even if she did, she has a long history of solid science, entirely unlike Lindzen. However, if the flaws were as great as you seem to indicate, then why are you referring us to arxiv in the first place, instead of rebuttal paper in a peer-reviewed journal? BTW, the arxiv link gives me a “403 Forbidden” error.

    Wufnik, looks like you might have stumbled into a side battle in the climate wars. Susan Solomon was the top dog for the IPCC AR4 WG1 report in 2007, so anything she does gets criticized – sometimes fairly, sometimes not. I’m afraid that I don’t personally know which this is.

  8. Brian, I think you’re right. I don’t really know how to develop the critical judgment to deal with this–I have no training in the kind of analysis that would be involved. So I’m going to let it go. Looks lively, though. Although that doesn’t mean anything either, I know.

  9. Brian, I meant to say that the article was guaranteed publication. And it was a blank check. PNAS would have rejected Linden and Choi? There was a time when they would have accepted even stupider papers into publication: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2009/09/14/pnas The arxiv link is working fine for me. Try viewing it again.

    Solomon’s history of involvement in science does not preclude her being involved in questionable behavior:
    http://climateaudit.org/2010/04/12/the-wisdom-of-solomon/ Solomon against accurate measurement
    http://climateaudit.org/2011/02/24/solomons-divergence-problem/ Solomon won’t keep her story accurate
    http://climateaudit.org/2011/02/24/noaa-misrepresents-inspector-general-report/ NOAA misrepresents the Inspector General’s report. Favorite comment: http://climateaudit.org/2011/02/24/noaa-misrepresents-inspector-general-report/#comment-256786
    http://climateaudit.org/2011/12/03/crowley-tries-to-get-data-from-jacoby/ Solomon coerces someone to try to prevent them from getting data

    Hope those links helped with the IPCC AR4 WG1 issue. The upshot from the second link is that Solomon ended up in hot water with the Inspector General of the U.S. government because she lied about her attorneys advising her that her work belonged to IPCC, when it was done by NOAA employees using NOAA email addresses. Also, no evidence was found that she or any other NOAA employee was ever detailed away to IPCC. The third link shows that NOAA maintained Solomon’s lie in its press release.

    Brian, the reason I didn’t bother with peer review is because it is a joke. Peer review is not designed to detect fraud, (http://www.nature.com/nature/peerreview/debate/nature05007.html) and does a bad job of it. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9737492) It also is unnecessary in order to get good science. (http://michaelnielsen.org/blog/three-myths-about-scientific-peer-review/) The author of the arxiv paper did refer to Solomon’s misconduct in a peer reviewed paper he submitted: http://ocean.am.gdynia.pl/p_k_p/pkp_21/Sienicki-pkp21.pdf See pages 57 and 58 for a mention of it and footnote referring to Solomon. It passed peer review, after all.

    I’ll hopefully have a little more to say shortly.

    • Kristoff, PNAS did reject Lindzen & Choi 2011.

      Solomon did screw up when she said she was advised by NOAA lawyers. However, she didn’t need to be “detailed away” by NOAA, as all of the WG authors and coordinators are volunteers.

      Peer review is not perfect, but it is the first step in the publication process. It exists to demand a certain level of quality out of the papers. It is what happens AFTER peer review, when the papers are reviewed by others who pick them apart and then publish comments, responses, critiques, and the like that moves scientific progress forward. Submit, review, revise, publish. Repeat with any critiques, and repeat with critiques of the critique. In too many cases (McIntyre is bad about this, but Watts and D’Aleo are worse), the critiques stop at the blog and don’t get back into the publication.

      Now, there are people working on improving this paradigm and updating it for the digital age, and I hope they figure something out that’s better than “blog science” practiced by McIntyre et al or the “science by PR” recently espoused by Muller/BEST and Watts. Because both latter types are even more fatally flawed, even more of a joke to use your terminology, than the peer review process.

      May I suggest, however, that we take further discussions on peer review to a more appropriate forum, say my post from 2009 titled Why scientific peer review matters.

  10. What I was trying to say was that PNAS did reject Lindzen and Choi, but there was a time when they would have accepted even stupider papers. I contacted the author of the papers and asked him if he had submitted the first paper to peer reviewed journals. He told me he had submitted it to Polar Record, Polar Research, and Monthly Weather Review, only to be rejected. Guess who was one of the reviewers for all three? And you can’t say Solomon not being on the editorial boards means anything, as peer-reviewers are typically not related to the journal which is looking into publishing the paper they are reviewing. He also told me that he lost the emails detailing the correspondence when his email account was hijacked, which is a common enough occurrence.

    I have nothing more to say on the matter of the joke that peer review has become, except to counter your dogmatic statements (que pathetic “no u” retort in your next post) regarding peer review and unsubstantiated ad hominems towards McIntyre, etc. with the reality that can be found by non-peer-review-sheeple simply by searching Google for “peer review corruption” or “pnas peer review corruption” without having to resort to using your blacklisted authors: http://unwin.wordpress.com/2010/02/14/peer-review-implications-of-corruption/


    I’m certain you’ll have ad hominems for all of them.

    • “unsubstantiated ad hominems” “sheeple” “blacklisted authors” If you want to be taken seriously, Kristoffer, using loaded language (and incorrectly at that, with respect to your accusation of my supposed ad hominem attacks) like this is not the best approach.

      For my criticisms of some of the various people you reference, I suggest you read the posts associated with the following search links. Brief summaries of my comments are included below.

      James Delingpole: he has a history of making definitive statements without sufficient evidence, claiming expertise he doesn’t have, and refusing to retract statements he made that were then proven false by multiple investigations

      Steve McIntyre: he claimed that there was enough context in the illegally published “Climategate” emails to prove scientific misconduct against Mann and other climate scientists contrary to every independent investigation to date and he has not corrected his claims, he compared Mann to the pedophile Sandusky, he’s never admitted that he had all the data he required to run his “audit” of Mann’s work even though multiple investigations demonstrated this fact, and he made unfounded and easily refuted accusations against Mann after the NSF OIG exonerated Mann following their own, independent investigation of Mann’s conduct relating to the Climategate emails.

      While I don’t discuss it on S&R, I once took Judy Curry to task at her blog for making a correction to her own post without acknowledging she’d done so while taking others to task for doing the same. I pointed out that it was hypocritical of her and that no-one in journalism (and by extension, blogging) should do so. Her response was that she wasn’t a journalist and so journalistic standards didn’t apply. I’ve heard that she has made unacknowledged corrections since then, but I can’t prove it as I concluded that I was unwilling to engage with someone who didn’t realize that what she was doing was wrong. Search for my name at her site and I suspect you’ll find the thread – I think it related to John Cook and SkepticalScience, but I’m not sure as it was quite some time ago now.

      Jonathan DuHamel is an economic geologist, not a climate expert, and his referring to Bob Carter is problematic seeing as Carter has been repeatedly shown to be wrong about basic facts of climate. While listening to Carter doesn’t make DuHamel wrong about everything (that would be a “guilt by association” fallacy, after all), the fact that DuHamel quotes at length from Carter’s arguments is the problem. Carter’s claims are made in an editorial at the climate disruption denial-friendly Financial Post. It’s long on rhetoric and allegations, but as with editorials nearly everywhere, there’s not necessarily a requirement that Carter back up his allegations with verifiable fact. Furthermore, when DuHamel isn’t referencing Carter, he’s claiming (wrongly) that Climategate demonstrated that peer review was corrupt, when the investigations proved beyond any reasonable doubt that those particular allegations were unfounded.

      As much respect as I have for Cliff Mass as a meteorologist, he’s a meteorologist, not a climate scientist, and he’s seemed generally out of his league when it comes to climate (through no fault of his own – meteorology and climate science are NOT the same thing, and expertise in one does not confer expertise in the other).

      As for the Miles Mathis piece, it’s an evidence-free essay that’s based on the Climategate emails, which were (and remain) widely misunderstood and misrepresented. I’ve written extensively about them and the multiple investigations that largely exonerated the emails’ authors here at S&R.

      Facts and evidence matter here at S&R, Kristoff. It’s clear that the flawed arguments provided in those links are good enough to convince you that peer review should be abandoned, but my co-bloggers and I have much higher standards. We demand actual proof, not mere insinuation or easily disproven allegations.

  11. ““unsubstantiated ad hominems” “sheeple” “blacklisted authors” If you want to be taken seriously, Kristoffer, using loaded language (and incorrectly at that, with respect to your accusation of my supposed ad hominem attacks) like this is not the best approach.” Says the guy who started launching red herrings in his very first post regarding Solomon’s involvement in IPCC AR4 WG1, when that was never a subject until you brought it up. My point of contention was wufnik’s using Solomon’s paper (which I already linked to), and nothing else. I’ve already covered some of the serious problems with Solomon, the author of the arxiv paper has covered the rest.

    “Heartland doesn’t explain what makes these three individuals so-called “experts,” given none of them has any specific knowledge of textual analysis – Watts is a weathercaster and blogger, Delingpole is a libertarian author and commentator, and McArdle is a business journalist and former businesswoman.” Why is specific knowledge of a completely separate field required? And why do they have to be “experts”? Nice strawman, Brian. I get the feeling that you would insert specific knowledge of knitting as a requirement if you thought you could get away with it.

    “These recent examples of Heartland’s apparent approval of the illegal publication of documents suggest that Heartland is applying a clear and obvious double standard – hacked documents are fine when they benefit Heartland’s ideological goals, but allegedly stolen documents are, as Heartland’s president Joseph Bast said yesterday, “an outrageous violation of ethics and the law.” You missed the obvious issue that it isn’t alright if it happens to them. At least in your twisted logic. You see, Heartland didn’t steal the CRU emails directly. They benefited, but to be frank illegality of method used to retrieve the CRU emails may render them inadmissible in court, but it does not render them non-existent or devoid of truth. And as they stated in their own press release, at least one of the documents that was stolen from them was fake. I wonder how fake the other documents “stolen” from them might have been.

    “Watts then proceeded to tear down the paper, ostensibly because it hadn’t been through peer-review, despite the fact that Watts, his guest posters, and commenters routinely and consistently produce or cite non-peer-reviewed science (often later shown to be wrong) to support their claims.” Yet you support Solomon, who has cranked out a non-peer-reviewed and discredited paper which I have linked to. Hypocritical much? Not to mention you don’t bother linking to any of Watts’ alleged statements about how he supported BEST, or that Watts did have a caveat. (http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/10/20/the-berkeley-earth-surface-temperature-project-puts-pr-before-peer-review/) Check the updates he made.

    Not to mention, in this link (https://www.scholarsandrogues.com/2011/11/23/context-climategate-emails/) you state “S&R set out to determine whether the published CRU emails provided enough context for the public to condemn or vindicate the scientists involved. After investigating three primary options and reading a key study, S&R has concluded that the emails do not themselves contain sufficient context to understand what really happened in climate science over the last 13 years.” Funny, I only see one author. “In fact, only a single serious claim levied by critics against climate scientists has been substantiated by any of the investigations – that Phil Jones and the University of East Anglia were not sufficiently open to granting Freedom of Information requests.” http://climateaudit.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/oig_solomon1.gif

    (Que dismissal because it comes from McIntyre) News flash for you: veracity of evidence does not respect persons, and it is not rendered invalid because it comes from a specific person

    “With all due respect, Kristoffer, your sweeping dismissal of peer review tells the educated reader all he or she needs to know about you.” And your very first post gives you away as a sheeple who believes anything he sees if it’s peer reviewed. Que accusations of ad hominem in your next post. My advice? Go look in a mirror, Samuel.

    I realized later that I had missed an opportunity to address Brian’s strawmans and hypocrisy, so I came back to make the points. At this point, I’ve made my points, and the discussion is effectively over. Solomon is discredited, and thanks to the arxiv paper would be even if she hadn’t been involved with IPCC AR4 WG1, and Brian can’t stop misrepresenting. End of discussion.

  12. It’s really quite amazing how the subject of Scott can elicit such strong emotions. As I recall, that happened some years ago, as well, when the topic came up on S&R. Strange, isn’t it?

  13. Wow, Kristoffer. If I wanted more examples of someone willing to bend facts to fit his or her preconceived notions, you just provided a slew of wonderful examples.

    Let’s start by correcting your use of “ad hominem.” Sam’s insinuation that we know everything we need to know about you because you’ve rejected peer review wholesale is an insult, but not an ad hominem. And insults are not ad hominems, although ad hominems may well be insulting. The Fallacy Files website description of the ad hominem fallacy writes “A debater commits the Ad Hominem Fallacy when he introduces irrelevant personal premisses about his opponent. Such red herrings may successfully distract the opponent or the audience from the topic of the debate.” Fallacy Files also writes that the ad hominem fallacy “is a frequently misidentified fallacy, for many people seem to think that any personal criticism, attack, or insult counts as an ad hominem fallacy.”

    Second, you’ve also incorrectly accused me of mentioning the IPCC as a “red herring.” A point of information is only a red herring if a) it’s intended to be a distraction away from an argument being made and b) it’s not relevant to the argument. If it’s relevant or is not directed at the argument, then it’s not a red herring. My point about Solomon’s IPCC connection was directed at Wufnik, not at you, so it fails to meet criterion a. My point was also relevant, so it meets criterion b. Thus, it wasn’t a red herring.

    Third, you misidentified a “strawman” with respect to my criticisms of Heartland, Delingpole, Watts, and others on the nature of textual analysis. Perhaps a full quote would help:

    Heartland goes on to claim that three climate disruption denial-friendly “experts” had identified it as such, namely Megan McArdle of The Atlantic, James Delingpole of the UK’s Telegraph newspaper, and Anthony Watts of Wattsupwiththat.com. Heartland doesn’t explain what makes these three individuals so-called “experts,” given none of them has any specific knowledge of textual analysis – Watts is a weathercaster and blogger, Delingpole is a libertarian author and commentator, and McArdle is a business journalist and former businesswoman. Given their lack of obvious expertise in textual analysis, claiming these individuals qualify as experts is suspect. [emphasis added to identify the sentence you quoted out of context]

    So, it’s clear from the entire paragraph that I’m saying Heartland misidentified Watts, McArdle, and Delingpole as experts in textual analysis.

    Unlike your prior argument about me and the IPCC reference, however, this is an excellent example of a red herring fallacy. I linked to the S&R search results for “delingpole” and summarized the arguments made at the associated links, nothing more. You are the one who brought this particular detail into discussion, quote-mined my statement out of context, and interpreted my words to say something that, in context, they clearly don’t mean. That’s a red herring.

    After rereading the Telegraph post by Delingpole that Heartland linked to, however, I’ll admit that he didn’t claim expertise he doesn’t have – Heartland claimed that Delingpole was an expert. So I admit that part of my claim was not supported by the link I provided.

    Your second point about The Heartland Institute is another red herring, as we’re not debating Heartland in any way. If you wish to do so, please familiarize yourself with the many, many posts I’ve written on the subject of the documents (and on Heartland in general, for that matter). I’d encourage you to read the views of Watts, Mosher, and many of the documents on Heartland’s Fakegate website as well, since you clearly haven’t been following this issue closely enough to have an informed opinion of it. That’s not a criticism, by the way, just an observation based on the fact that, had you been following it closely, you’d know that Heartland admitted all the documents except for the allegedly fake memo were real.

    By the way, there’s something called a “fallacy fallacy.” It’s when someone rejects an argument not because the argument is wrong, but rather because the argument was wrongly identified as a fallacy.

    You use another of my posts (found via the McIntyre link, I believe) as yet another red herring. I wrote extensively about how there wasn’t sufficient context in the Climategate emails to prove misconduct, and I spent 350-400 words out of 3800 (about 10%) of the post dealing with claims made by McIntyre and others, and yet the only response you had to what I wrote was that I wrote it in the third-person.

    So, when can I expect your admission of error on these points, Kristoff?

    Now, on to the relevant substance of your latest comment, which is exclusively related to a single paragraph – your defense of Anthony Watts with respect to his criticism of BEST and “science by PR.” First, the 2011 Climate BS of the Year Award was written by Peter Gleick, although Watts was one of my nominations for the top five, so I’ll defend the general comment. It does mean, however, that I can agree that a link to Watts’ “I’m prepared to accept whatever result they produce, even if it proves my premise wrong” should have been provided but wasn’t. Here’s the link. And I don’t support Solomon as such. I did, after all, say “No scientist is perfect, and they all make mistakes. It’s certainly possible that Solomon made some here, but even if she did, she has a long history of solid science, entirely unlike Lindzen. [emphasis added]”

    Watts’ hypocrisy on this issue is well documented and extensive. Not only did he renege on his pledge to accept BEST’s results, but he’s now reneged on his opposition to “science by PR” by posting his own paper in his recent “the website is down until this weekend” PR stunt.

    Believe it or not, I don’t necessarily have a problem with the idea of making pre-prints of papers available for review. I do that all the time in my day job as an electrical engineer, and I think that it would make for better quality papers if the big scientific publishers would get behind it instead of fighting it. But the problem is that “science by PR” means that the perhaps fatally flawed pre-print gets all the press, while the fact the paper never passed peer review because it was fatally flawed never gets reported and the false information never gets retracted. The way that BEST and Watts are doing it right now is a recipe for chaos, not for improving scientific scrutiny and peer review.