Willisgate, Take 2

October 10th, 2013 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

So, I have apparently opened a can of worms with my challenge to Willis Eschenbach to read up on subjects a little more before he claims to have invented something new. Unfortunately, Willis took my post as a swipe against citizen scientists, which it wasn’t. As I said, I “applaud” people who are willing to get their hands dirty with the data. I also said I consider Willis a very sharp guy, and he is a gifted writer.

Anyone who read my post could see I was not faulting citizen science. (My showing a sharp-looking Homer Simpson as a citizen scientist was insulting, but showing professional scientist Jim Hansen being arrested wasn’t? C’mon.)

For example, Anthony Watts (who is a meteorologist) has forced NOAA to quit pretending it has pristine surface temperature data, and has helped reveal what a mess the surface thermometer adjustments have become (the adjustments are *always* in the direction of more warming? Really? [btw, that’s a criticism of NOAA’s adjustments, which always seem to produce more warming]).

Similarly, Stephen McIntyre (along with Ross McKitrick) have shown that if you analyze tree ring data and statistically *assume* there is a hockey stick shape to the data, you will get a hockey stick shape to the data. (Sorry if I’m oversimplifying what Steve has shown).

Now, both Anthony and Steve have formal technical backgrounds, which I don’t believe is necessary… a person can be self-taught, which is what Willis is. And that’s fine.

But in Willis’ case, as far as I can remember, he has not revealed anything that we did not already know. Now, that’s fine if this is just a part of Willis’ personal education. But over the last several years he has put forth ideas which he has claimed as his own, when in fact they have been previously published…even leading to multi-agency field experiments in the case of “his” Thermostat Hypothesis.

In science, you find out what has been done before, and then you either build upon it or show where it is wrong and do it differently. And, you don’t advance as your theory what has been done before.

Why should I care what Willis does? Because the way he presents his analysis leads readers to assume that what he is presenting is new, when in general it is not. *I* then have to deal with e-mails asking what I think about “his” latest theory. I have to explain to people that either “we already knew that”, or “that data plot doesn’t demonstrate what he claims, and here’s why”.

This is not a new problem, and I have blogged on it before. Now, since I have been talking in generalities, and Willis has asked for specifics, here we go again (I have covered some of this ground before)…

The Thermostat Hypothesis
In 1991, Ramanathan and Collins advanced in Nature their theory of surface temperature regulation by deep moist convection in the tropics. This became known as the “Thermostat Hypothesis”, which led to a field experiment (CEPEX, 1993). Yet, on WUWT, you will find Willis talking about the Thermostat Hypothesis as being ‘his’ theory. For scientists, this would be a major faux pas.

Of course, moist convection on average cools the surface of the Earth…even Kiehl & Trenberth’s much-maligned global energy budget diagram shows this average rate of cooling to be about 100 W/m2, compared to an average solar input of 240 W/m2. But how convection might change in a global warming scenario (i.e., its regulation ability) is a very complex topic, and one which has been studied for decades by hundreds of scientists. Willis is just scratching the surface of a very large body of existing knowledge.

For example, even climate models say convection will increase with warming, leading to even more surface cooling…yet, the models still amplify the warming. This is because surface evaporative heat flux is only one of a myriad influences on the surface energy budget, and therefore on surface temperatures.

Now, the Thermostat Hypothesis might just be a case of Willis not doing his homework first. And if Willis figured out this theory on his own, why should I care?

Because it leads to the mistaken impression among readers (read the comments on WUWT) that professional climate diagnosticians are too stupid to figure out what this citizen scientist has done, when in fact it *has* been done before. This puts me in the VERY unusual position of defending mainstream climate scientists…and, as my readers know, most of the mainstream have disowned me. But I will give credit where credit is due, and mainstream climate scientists have learned (and published) a lot over the years…some of them just have a bad habit of claiming silly things like “proof” and “95% certainty”.

Again, I am not against citizen scientists figuring out something new. But don’t give people the impression that this stuff hasn’t been done before, unless you are familiar with the literature and know that to be the case.

Instead, build upon what we already know. Anybody who can download a dataset and plot graphs in Excel can claim this or that about what the graph means. But it is rare that anyone discovers something new and significant; almost always the data can be explained based upon what we already know.

Some think I am being harsh in my criticism. But After years of having to answer questions about Willis’ latest ideas, I frankly don’t know what else to do. I have previously tried to keep it low key.

I don’t want to dissuade Willis from contributing to the science. But contributing to the science requires more due diligence than plotting graphs and leaving readers with the impression that the graphs show something new or unexplained (in this case, demonstrating the differing water vapor greenhouse effect between tropics and high latitudes, and the fact that the tropics export heat to the high latitudes).

Willis, you write really well, you are a smart guy, and you can make complex subjects more understandable. Don’t dilute those talents by leaving readers with the wrong impression.

239 Responses to “Willisgate, Take 2”

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  1. Is it new to propose that the entire global air circulation shifts latitudinally as necessary in a negative system response to any internal system forcing elements ?

    In the process global albedo is changed so as to ensure that apart from short term adjustment periods the ToA energy balance remains stable.

    And that that is the true thermostat which incorporates within it all the circulations of air and oceans plus the hydrological cycle?

  2. Richard S Courtney says:

    I think it useful to copy to here a post I made on WUWT. It is the following.

    richardscourtney says:
    October 9, 2013 at 2:06 pm


    I like and respect both Roy Spencer and Willis Eschenbach. Also, I have had direct interaction with each of them in the past, so I am saddened at this situation and I do not intend to take sides.

    However, I write to make a point of fact.

    Roy Spencer is mistaken when he thinks the work of Ramanathan and Collins (R&C, Nature, 1991) is similar to the work of Willis Eschenbach, and he is also mistaken in his misunderstanding that Willis was unaware of the work of R&C.

    A few weeks ago I raised the subject of the R&C Effect in a WUWT thread discussing a Guest Essay from Willis. At September 22, 2013 at 10:40 am I cited, referenced, quoted the Abstract of that paper by R&C, and I explained it. The post is at
    In that post I wrote

    “The R&C Effect can induce a fall in surface temperature when surface heating is increased. And the Eschenbach Effect does that, too.

    Subsequently, and in response to Greg Goodman, I posted a more full explanation of the R&C Effect and its great difference from the Eschenbach Effect. That post was at September 22, 2013 at 11:30 am and this is a link to it
    In that post I wrote

    “I point out that the Ramanathan & Collins (R&C) effect induces cirrus not thunderstorms. They argued – initially against much opposition which their finding withstood – that when sea surface temperature reaches 305K the induced evapouration rate is so great that warm air rises to lift evapourated moisture so high that cirrus formation occurs. This cirrus sets the maximum surface temperature by reflecting sunlight so it cannot reach the surface.

    The Eschenbach effect raises heat from the surface to high tropospheric altitude where it radiates to space. It starts to operate at temperatures below 305K.

    They are very different – and complimentary – mechanisms.”

    As he normally does in threads discussing his essays, Willis interacted throughout that thread. He made no disagreement of any kind with my posts.

    Hence, I am certain that Willis Eschenbach was fully aware both of the R&C Effect and its fundamental difference from his proposed Eschenbach Effect in his recent writings. Clearly, Roy Spencer was in error to have suggested otherwise. Being the gentleman I know him to be, I anticipate a retraction of that assertion.


    • Richard, the general concept of deep moist convection acting as a thermostat can (and has) included any number of components. Whether (1) thick cirrus shutting off sunlight, or (2) convective heating of the upper troposphere (negative lapse rate feedback), or (3) subsidence induced clearing of cirrus (Lindzen’s infrared Iris), or (4) increased precipitation efficiency drying out the middle and upper troposphere…

      They have ALL been addressed before, and NONE of it is new!

      So, once again, I am having to spend my time doing other peoples’ homework.

      • Richard S Courtney says:

        Dr Spencer:

        I had sincerely hoped this matter would have been ended in an amicable manner by now. Sadly, that has not happened.

        Indeed, you seem to want to continue it and I am at a loss to understand why.

        In your above article you write
        “In 1991, Ramanathan and Collins advanced in Nature their theory of surface temperature regulation by deep moist convection in the tropics. This became known as the “Thermostat Hypothesis”, which led to a field experiment (CEPEX, 1993). Yet, on WUWT, you will find Willis talking about the Thermostat Hypothesis as being ‘his’ theory. For scientists, this would be a major faux pas.”

        I fail to understand how that can be read as anything other than an accusation of plagiarism of the work of R&C by Eschenbach.

        But Eschenbach has NOT claimed he originated the R&C Effect, the Lindzen Iris or any other effect you have mentioned in your reply to me. Eschenbach claims novelty for his idea of a mid-day thunderstorm effect and has provided empirical evidence for its existence. That idea is NOT anything like the R&C effect.

        I assure you that I have done my “homework” over the last three decades of studying the relevant literature so I am well versed in the literature but nobody can know or have read everything. Hence, I would be very grateful if you could refer me to a paper which presents Eschenbach’s idea prior to his proposing it. I am not aware of such a paper and I would present it to Eschenbach if I knew of one.

        I sincerely regret that this disagreement has arisen between two people whom I admire and for no constructive purpose which I can see. My only desire is to find a way to resolve it.


        • It is you who suggested plagarism…I suggested he probably just thought it up on his own as an original thinker. So don’t put words in my mouth.

          And *NO* scientist would have advanced a thunderstorm based “Thermostat Hypothesis”, after all of the work done in this area. I have already pointed you to the general subject areas…you can google them.

          Actually, it is up to Willis (or you, if you are his surrogate) to tell me what new climate cooling mechanism Willis has proposed that has not been addressed before?

          • Richard S Courtney says:

            Dr Spencer:

            I have attempted to help resolve the matter. OK, you want to continue it.

            I am the “surrogate” of nobody: your suggestion is unworthy of you.

            And I did NOT ‘put words in your mouth’. I quoted you verbatim and stated the only understanding of those words I had (and still have).

            You have made the claim of prior art. I do not know of such prior art, and a google is not likely to increase my existing knowledge of the literature much so is not likely to reveal that prior art.

            When you make an assertion as serious as you have made then it is your responsibility to substantiate it and it is not mine.

            I stated the claim to novelty which Willis has made and you dispute. OK, if your dispute has merit then cite your evidence and prove your point.

            I have answered all your points to me. But I have completely failed to resolve the matter and may have made it worse so I will withdraw.

            I regret that you do not want me to support both you and Willis Eschenbach.


          • romper room says:

            Steven Mosher says:
            October 10, 2013 at 2:39 PM

            “At some point Roy they will claim that any minor difference in Willi’s formulation and prior formulations amounts to “a difference” In the extreme they will argue that nobody ever posted charts that look exactly like Willis’ charts.

            Its a variant of the true scotsman fallacy”

            If it’s different it’s different. The question would then be “How different?” A meaningful difference? To whom? You? then why don’t you set the limits now, Steven Mosher? Then we can tell if you’re right or full of it.

          • TimTheToolMan says:

            Roy writes “And *NO* scientist would have advanced a thunderstorm based “Thermostat Hypothesis”, after all of the work done in this area.”

            Well this, as far as I can see, is the main thrust of Willis’ own version of the thermostat hypothesis. Its based on the event and timing of the event. And in that regard it is unique (or not covered by R&C at any rate)

        • Richard, “mid-day thunderstorm effect” hardly describes anything new.

          Besides, over the tropical oceans, the peak in convective activity is before dawn (not mid-day)…as observed by satellite, and explained by modeling studies as daytime stabilization of the tropical upper troposphere by solar absorption.

          • Steven Mosher says:

            At some point Roy they will claim that any minor difference in Willi’s formulation and prior formulations amounts to “a difference” In the extreme they will argue that nobody ever posted charts that look exactly like Willis’ charts.

            Its a variant of the true scotsman fallacy

        • “Indeed, you seem to want to continue it and I am at a loss to understand why.”

          You’re joking, right?

          His post itself and the, er, words in it didn’t give it away?

    • Don Monfort says:

      Greg Goodman is far more competent than either Willis or yourself. That is probably why Willis generally fails to respond to Greg’s criticisms and suggestions.

  3. Oh well. So much for my attempt to change the subject on the basis of ‘least said, soonest mended’.

    • Stephen, to answer your question, your theory has not (to my knowledge) been advanced before, so it might be original. But it also has a really long string of causation that needs data to support it.

      As I have said before, it is easy to come up with theories, it’s not so easy to show that nature actually works that way.

      • Thanks Roy.

        Personally I think that observations of the climate do suggest that the chain of causation is present and correct because I have looked at every stage and if the laws of physics are valid there is no logical alternative to any of the individual stages to break the chain.

        I do however realise that it is going to take some time for that to become persuasive generally.

  4. M Hastings says:

    Had Dr. Roy and Willis been able to discuss all of this face to face this may have never occurred.

    Words however carefully written often don’t convey precisely the intended message.

    • Gary says:

      I like that they made it public. So far it’s been very informative and not so ugly as to be embarrassing. I will continue to read both authors. I will continue to be skeptical of both. Lawd knows I’ve learned that much about science! To immerse one’s self into the barking dogs of climate science is to rediscover skepticism. And that is a good thing.

  5. M Hastings says:

    OH – I like the title!

  6. OssQss says:

    Dr. Roy, would you be willing to enter into a live discussion/debate with Willis on WUWT-TV to bring this unusual event to fruition? I believe that would help everyone involved in a cordial way. Just a thought

  7. Bob Mount says:

    Dr Roy, Would it not have been better had you contacted Willis on this matter before going public in a way that was bound to cause him embarrassment.

    • I have not talked to Willis directly, but have expressed my concerns to others who have influence with Willis. Willis also reads my blog, but appears to be immune to gentle advice.

      So, I have gotten the impression that Willis is gonna do what Willis is gonna do.

      Did he contact the scientists before posting material that unfairly makes them look incompetent?

      • romper room says:

        “In the meantime, it would appear that Dessler and North would rather…kill poor people.
        … how else can you explain Dessler and North hiding the fact that global temperatures stopped rising 15 years ago…
        …So, stick to the ivory tower, guys. Better to let the people who work to support you wonder about your cluelessness…”

        • romper room says:

          Email exchange between Dessler and Spencer
          Dessler email to Spencer:
          Dick Kerr sent me your comments”

      • So, I have gotten the impression that Willis is gonna do what Willis is gonna do.

        You ain’t kidding.

  8. Louise says:

    Bob – so it’s OK for Willis to try to embarrass actual scientists and humiliate those who try to correct his postings on WUWT but he is to be protected from a very mild lecture on science practice?

  9. gbaikie says:

    “For example, Anthony Watts (who is a meteorologist) has forced NOAA to quit pretending it has pristine surface temperature data, and has helped reveal what a mess the surface thermometer adjustments have become (the adjustments are *always* in the direction of more warming? Really?).”

    As I recall the adjustment were also cooling adjustment, which “always” make a graph have a larger warming trend.

    But Anthony Watts does not say always, not very many things are “always”. One could say it seems Watts always works hard- but I am sure he sleeps.

  10. There is a lot of backroom politics contributing to why some people’s behaviour is tolerated. Willis’ falls through some of these cracks and has had a free run with his content at WUWT. (Anyone remember the mega-thousand word rants on fishing and ocean trips?). Because he’s had a free run, he’s become immune to criticism and his ego has ballooned.

    • Well, I happen to enjoy his writing of his travels, which is very entertaining. It’s a nice diversion.

      • That is true.

        Here are some examples, all recent:

        “Nature magazine takes me seriously, they published my peer reviewed “Communications Arising” regarding climate … and Diversity and Distributions take me seriously, they published my paper on climate not causing extinctions … funny, that.

        “And my posts here on WUWT attract about a million page views per year … ”

        “Well, I’m the guy who filed the very first FOIA request to the UEA folks, an act that was the unwitting genesis of the actions described in the Climategate emails.”

        “Without … me … putting the pressure on Phil Jones and the rest of the un-indicted co-conspirators, there would have been nothing for Mr. Climategate to reveal.”

        “In other works, it was a baseless, uncited, unreferenced attack, in which among other things he [Roy] accused me of plagiarism.”

        “My entire corpus of work, including the parts that were published by Nature magazine and other scientific journals, …”

        • Poptech says:

          Are you kidding me? I skimmed a lot of those comments. Is he seriously trying to take credit for Climategate? ROFLMAO!!!

          • I remember when Willis wrote the above.

            I don’t know for a fact it isn’t true, so I didn’t say anything. But it’s a big claim.

            If not true, then that is very telling. But if he did file the very first FOIA request to the UEA, then it has a basis in fact.

          • Dave says:

            No, it’s just out of context. ‘There would be nothing’ refers to a specific box in the climategate archive that would be empty otherwise, not the whole lot.

  11. Thanks Dr. Spencer for spelling out your position, and for noting my contributions.

    Part of the problem that citizen science has is that we are often outside of the orthodoxy/literature path. What is an easy immediate lookup of a paper from most any .edu domain can take us days of emailing, begging (do you have a copy of Smith et al I can read?), and sometimes just flat-out refusal of authors to share papers with skeptics.

    Sometimes, all we are left with is the “science by press release” residual to work with.

    If only “big oil” would fund our subscriptions to journals.

    In any event, I hear you about the time sink. My personal and business life suffers much like yours from emails asking for comments, I’ve finally just resigned myself that I can’t answer them all and focus on those tasks which do the most constructive good.

    In any event, I see this little tiff as a bump. No worries from my end.

    • John Tillman says:

      It is certainly easier for academics to find relevant papers, & to obtain from recent printed journals those paywalled on the Net. Yet it’s not impossible, since public universities do let taxpayers use their facilities.

      For older papers, Google Scholar presents an increasingly useful resource. Here for instance is the result of a search for the work of Joanne Simpson & citations of her contributions, to take but one early researcher in the field addressed by Mr. Eschenbach.


      Given the time constraints on citizen scientists, however, maybe the convention of citing in a paper relevant prior work should not apply. I’m also sympathetic to the argument that even if the Eschenbach Effect be not original, then presenting it on a popular blog still has educational value & serves as a basis for discussion & possible elaboration, amendment, confirmation or falsification.

      In the “Origin”, citizen scientist Darwin listed all the forebearers he could find for his hypotheses (& added to them as more emerged), but then he was a gentleman of leisure, if however a busy father.

      Dr. Spence, maybe a photo of Forrest Mims or another respected amateur scientist to contrast with Dr. Hansen might have served better than Homer Simpson in a sharp fedora. Just sayin’…

      For your blog & your own citizen scientific efforts, Mr. Watts, thanks.

    • Simon Wells says:

      “No worries from my end.”

      So what? Throw Willis under the bus? Willis posted a defense on his blog which Dr Spencer to be fair has hardly addressed.

    • Dr. Strangelove says:

      “If only “big oil” would fund our subscriptions to journals.”

      Anthony, is it true you admitted receiving funds from the Heartland Institute? Not that it’s wrong but for what purpose?

      Why do you say Darwin was a citizen scientist? He studied medicine, anatomy, geology and natural history in Edinburgh University and Cambridge University before his Beagle voyage.

      • John Tillman says:

        Darwin dropped out of medical school at Edinburgh. He studied natural history & geology with some Cambridge dons, but his degree was in Divinity.

        In modern terms, his geological expedition to Wales with Sedgwick might equate to a Masters, & some aspects of his write-up of the Beagle expedition a PhD, but those degrees in strictly scientific subjects didn’t then exist in the UK higher education system.

        Many citizen scientists today have BS degrees in relevant disciplines, yet still have not made their living as professionals in either academia or business. Others lack any sort of scientific degree at all.

        What makes Darwin a citizen scientist, IMO, is the fact that he did not earn his living as either an academic or industrial naturalist, chemist or any other of the jobs or positions then already open. Even Faraday, who began his career as a rude mechanic, eventually became a professional scientist.

        Rather, Darwin’s family money from the Wedgwood Pottery concern (& his cousin-wife’s) enabled him to practice science as a talented amateur. Lack of financial incentive was one reason why he waited 20 years to publish his theory of natural selection (although perhaps not the most important).

        This luxury was not accorded many of his scientific colleagues high & low in Victorian social strata. These ranged from Oxbridge dons to Mary Anning (“She sells sea shells on the sea shore”), who lacked formal education but was nevertheless a professional.

        • Dr. Strangelove says:

          IMO college education, even without earning a degree, is more relevant than whether or not one earns a living practicing his/her studies.

          By your definition of citizen scientist, Einstein would be one. He had a PhD in physics but working as a patent clerk when he published his three revolutionary papers, one of which was relativity theory. He wrote the papers in his spare time at the office. He would quickly hide the papers in his drawer whenever he hears footsteps coming.

          • John Tillman says:

            IMO citizen or amateur scientists often have undergrad degrees, whether in a scientific discipline or not. Also, some scientists who start out as amateurs become professionals, like Faraday & Einstein.

            Maybe it’s just a definitional issue, but IMO a citizen scientist is an amateur who practices science for fun or to contribute to this great endeavor. Whether he or she has a degree in a relevant discipline doesn’t matter (Willis’ is in psychology). What does matter IMO is whether the researcher is employed as a scientist. If so, then he or she is a professional. If not getting paid for his or her scientific work, then the researcher is a citizen or amateur scientist.

            BTW, Einstein did not have a PhD in physics when he was working on his paradigm-breaking papers in his spare time as a patent clerk. He then had only a teaching diploma, which was a four-year degree. Only in 1905, the annus mirabilis of his relativity papers, did he earn a PhD.

            So Einstein was arguably indeed a “citizen scientist” when he conceived of the theories for which he is renowned. A worker can be a former citizen scientist & turn professional.

            Darwin never made a living as a scientist, so IMO was what today would be called a citizen scientist. He was an amateur but respected by his fellow scientists who were professionals. In the mid-19th century, no stigma attached to being a country gentleman. His lack of academic credentials didn’t then matter. Only his work, whether paid or unpaid, signified status, as it IMO should still be now.

            I’m reminded of Michael Mann’s questioning of Steve McIntyre’s funding, which of course in fact came from Steve McIntyre.

          • Dr. Strangelove says:

            Einstein earned his PhD before his four seminal papers were published in 1905. And he continued working in the patent office until 1908.

            You’re entitled to your opinion and so am I. IMO earning a living as a scientist is more an economic function than competence. If I’m wealthy or make more money as an entrepreneur, I will not seek employment as a scientist even if I’m more qualified than many professional scientists.

            I would rather ask a person not whether he/she is professional or amateur scientist, but his/her educational background and scientific works. I wouldn’t call Darwin and Einstein as “amateurs” just because they didn’t earn a living as scientists.

          • Bill Sparling says:

            I can’t agree with your statement that attending some classes is more important than what you actuall do. The example of Einstien is a great one. But I would simply add, from my own experience, that many of the smartest and most productive people I have known over the years have little to no formal education while some of the most highly educated I have known turned out to be over educated cretins.

          • Dr. Strangelove says:

            Bill, read again what I said “Educational background and SCIENTIFIC WORKS.” If your smart friends are really smart, they would have produced many brilliant works. That speak for itself.

            On the other hand, if you have not done any scientific work and no science education, and claim to have overturned mainstream science (I find many of these on blogs) chances are you’re a crackpot.

          • Bill Sparling says:

            I make no claim to being a scientist, but asking reasonable questions does NOT make one a “crackpot”. Denigrating those who ask reasonable questions does not give you any moral superiority, it just lumps you in with the alarmists and such as the recently renamed “toneb” character.

          • Bill Sparling says:

            To clarrify, your exact comment was: “IMO college education, even without earning a degree, is more relevant than whether or not one earns a living practicing his/her studies.”

          • John Tillman says:

            In fact, Einstein’s PhD thesis is dated 30 April 1905, before the first of his four seminal papers was published in 1905, that on the photoelectric effect, received by the Annals of Physics on 8 March. The other three were in May, June & September.

            I didn’t propose Einstein as a citizen scientist, although at the start of his career he arguably was. The Annals of Physics accepted his first paper in December 1900, before he even gained Swiss citizenship & got a temporary job at the patent office.

            Am I to conclude that you consider a researcher only to be a citizen scientist if he or she lacks educational background or any scientific works?

            In that case, there are no citizen scientists, since by definition you’re not a scientist if you have done no serious scientific work, ie practiced the scientific method to discover more about the world.

            Lots of citizen scientists have very good credentials, but whether they do or not IMO doesn’t matter. What does is the quality of their work.

            Darwin had no formal educational scientific credentials. He had geologized on his own with Sedgwick, naturalized with Henslow, toured the tide pools with Grant & learned taxidermy from Edmonstone, a freed South American slave, but as noted his only degree was BA in divinity. His position on the Beagle as private naturalist & a depressive captain’s gentleman companion was unpaid.

            IMO he was a citizen scientist, not having held any position, remunerated or not, in the official scientific establishment of his day, but instead living reclusively. He like many other talented, hard-working amateur scientists of his day was made FRS.

            Of course you’re entitled to your opinion, but yours effectively defines citizen scientists out of existence. What do you make of Nathan Myhrvold as a paleontologist?

    • Gary says:

      Good point about access to information. Willis could help himself by vetting his ideas with those whom he respects and who have the knowledge of the literature. Dr. Spencer’s time would be used more productively giving advice than responding to third party inquiries. What does it take to ask a couple of questions? Certainly less than all this huffing and puffing.

      • michael hart says:

        A good point, I think, Gary. And one not always appreciated in the wider MSM about what “peer-reviewed” actually means.

        One of the main virtues of peer-review is not that it necessarily proves the science is “true” or settled”, but that it saves the reader time.

        Time is not available to read everything, and researchers in the field want to be confident that the author(s) of an article are ‘up-to-speed’ before time is spent reading the article in greater depth. The opening few sentences often contain a few key references that allow the reader to gauge where the author is coming from.

    • I doubt I’m alone in recently skimming past Willis’s posts despite interest in some of the content the headlines refer to. He’s the only co-blogger/guest blogger you have for which that is true for me.

      He’s a prolific writer and especially on that basis I can understand why you’d want his contributions to your blog, but I think most of the criticisms against him that Dr. Spencer, RC Saumarez, and Tucker among others have made of him are on point.

      One thing that has been noted is he seems to launch a lot of attacks on others (the bizarre and regrettable Dr. McNutt post comes to mind), but takes great offence to relatively mildly-stated criticism of himself. Two things are up with that, I think.

      First, he’s human, and I suppose none of us like it when the shoe is on the other foot. That’s understandable. But second and worse is that a lot of these criticisms are valid. They strike a little near the mark and his ego.

      At a minimum, he needs to take more steps to determine who deserves credit for inspiring ideas that he seems to be claiming as his. That’s just basic fairness, whatever the merits of his ideas or math.

  12. gbaikie says:

    “Similarly, Stephen McIntyre (along with Ross McKitrick) have shown that if you analyze tree ring data and statistically *assume* there is a hockey stick shape to the data, you will get a hockey stick shape to the data. (Sorry if I’m oversimplifying what Steve has shown). ”

    The original tree rings analysis indicated large recent decline in temperature in 20th Century. It indicated in first presentation, and later, removed, excluding any mention of this removal- Mike’s trick.


    Stephen McIntyre has a blog and it’s been archived.

  13. I see nothing wrong with what points Dr. Spencer ,is trying to get across.

    Mainstream climate science is a mess ,but I guess some things have been done correctly.

    Willis over reaches in my opinion and always wants to be correct, and has very little flexability.

    He gets upset when someone tries to take him to task instead of trying to see the other persons point of view.

    His study on vulcanisim and it’s climate effects are prime example, of him concluding his study and only his is new and correct ,while all the many other studies on this subject are in a word wrong. Not so Willis.

  14. Don Monfort says:

    Anybody remember the stoopid, vicious and personal attack from Willis against Judith Curry on her blog:


    “This comparison, of people objecting to bogus science and the kind of trickery exposed by Climategate on the one hand, to tobacco companies on the other hand, is a pile of reeking crap that has no place on a scientific website.

    Judith, your guest posts were just getting ridiculous. Now they are getting downright insulting. Trying to peddle this “skeptics = tobacco companies” claim is not only anti-scientific. It is a slap in the face to honest scientists and interested researchers like myself.

    This is the lowest you’ve gone, trying to disguise this shameless attack as science. This is scraping the bottom, not of the pool, but of the septic tank.

    This congenital idiot truly thinks climate alarmists have standing to accuse skeptics of misusing the science? After the alarmists have indulged in turning off the air conditioning to convince Senators that it’s warming, after their cherry picking and the obstruction and packing peer-review panels and trying to intimidate editors and the publication of meaningless papers and the subversion of the IPCC process by the Jesus paper and everything else the alarmists have done, this unpleasant fool compares me and the other skeptic to the tobacco companies, and not Jones, Mann, and company?

    Physician, heal thyself. And Judith, this is a most pathetic, unpleasant, uncollegial, untrue, and all-around nasty post. For a college professor, you sure like to fight dirty.


    The due is nutty. And he is crying about Dr. Roy did to him.

  15. I’ve personally endured offensive diatribes from Willis far worse than Roy’s measured comments.

  16. Ivan says:

    Willis’ comment on JC was right on the money! Bull’s eye. Willis, you made my day!

    • Don Monfort says:

      You are just as dumb and confused as your hero, ivan. No matter what that clown says, you mindless everyman sycophants clap your hands and stamp your feet.

  17. romper room says:

    Dr. Spencer,
    When you were arguing about originality or Willis’ reading or not of “the originals” and it comes down to the nitty gritty, over thunderstorms midday, you then switched tack to “time of day” considerations and good or bad work.

  18. Stevek says:

    A few questions not related to current topic

    1 over last decade has albedo on earth been increasing , if so why ?
    2 can coal plants cause increased albedo due to releasing sulphur dioxide ?
    3 do the tropics dry out areas above the tropics, thus reducing water vapor greenhouse effect in those areas and at same time creating albedo clouds in tropics where sun is strongest ?

  19. Ivan says:

    Ha ha, Don Monfort, unlike Willis’, your comment is really classy.

    • Don Monfort says:

      Did you actually read Willis’ comment in the context of the thread, Eyevan? Anway, it wouldn’t make any difference to a fanboy like you. Now would you please give us your summation of this affair, unbiased by your fawning fanboy proclivities.

  20. Ivan says:

    So, let’s summarize this affair: Willis is either right or wrong. If he is right, then he could be either trivially right, in the sense that somebody before him had done the same work, or he could be right and original in the same time. If it’s the former, Roy should provide a citation or reference as to who developed the Thermostat Hypothesis before. If it’s the latter, then Roy should congratulate Willis on his discovery.

    If Willis is, however, wrong, then Roy should simply explain why he is wrong, with or without citations or references.

    Instead of that, we’ve got only more hand-waving and obfuscation.

  21. Gunga Din says:

    Only two comments from me.
    The cartoon.
    The humor was subtle. Most missed it. Including me. Homer Simpson is not the model of intelligence but even he is more competent than his real life look alike. You were not implying that Willis or any other “Citizen Scientist” is no more competent than Homer Simpson but rather the “Homers” are more competent than the “Hansens”. (At least that’s the gist of what I got from it after your explanation.)
    Willis not being “original” and/or repeating what has been said before.
    (I don’t mean to put words in your mouth. If I am, please say so.)
    If someone proves that 2+2=4 on their own, that’s great. It confirms what others have already shown. But they could have saved themselves some time if they knew somebody else has already done it … even if they used apples and the proof used oranges.
    The “sciency” part comes in if they can show that it makes a difference (or no diffenence) if it’s oranges or apples.

  22. Max™ says:

    Ok, I’m a super nit-picky aspie, and it bothers me like little else to think that someone else may be suffering from misinformation.

    At times it apparently annoys people because it seems that correcting others is rude at times, it never occurs to me to do it in anything but a purely helpful matter, memory is not always perfect, small errors can creep in during fast exchanges, most people don’t have a compulsion to check any body of text for spelling errors, that’s cool.

    It does mean I tend to try very hard to understand why someone may state something in a certain manner though, particularly when I can’t attribute it to a spelling error or something along those lines.

    Roy, the novel effect Willis claims to have found concerns the time of onset of cloud formation, and thus the distance the planet has rotated as the process takes place.

    There is a unique location where the east to west rotation carries an unbroken stretch of tropical ocean into and through direct sunlight for a fairly huge portion of each cycle.

    The energy deposited into, reflected away from, exchanged into the atmosphere above, and transported away from the tropical pacific–by sunlight, cirrus, cloud formation, and currents respectively–is truly vast.

    You know this, I know this, many scientists have studied this, Willis does as well.

    The aspects of the Ramanathan (which my eye and firefox keeps wanting to correct into Ramanujan) et al work which you reference involves the relationship between the energy input and reduction of said input by high clouds.

    The aspect Willis is discussing involves the relationship between the energy remaining in the near surface waters beforehand, and the manner in which it alters the physical location(s) of thunderstorm cell development, wrt to the coasts of say, Ecuador, and the Phillipines, respectively.

    The difference of 5 or 10 minutes between storm cell formation translates into anywhere from 75 to over 150 km near the sub-solar point on the surface of the planet (using values of ~1000 kph for equatorial rotation velocity or ~277 meters per second) and the effects Willis has apparently linked to this do not seem to be either trivial or covered in the prior work you are mentioning.

    I’m just stating, for clarity, whether either of you are correct, it is good to make sure you are not talking past each other entirely, as has been happening recently it seems.

  23. Don worley says:

    I don’t see how Roy can possibly do his work and answer to all of these pet theories at the same time. I would have reached a breaking point long ago.

    Willis should probably consider the possibility that he is missing something, check and double check, before engaging in this non-productive battle of ego.

    • Leonard Weinstein says:

      I like the work Roy and Willis do, and use my own judgement as to what I accept from anyone. Roy is the professional, but Willis is very sharp and I think careful. Since blogs are not peer reviewed in advance, speculation or lack of giving credit should not be a major issue. Responses pointing out mistaken or about not referenced claims can be made directly on the blog if desired.

      However, I will say one thing. If people keep asking Roy what he thinks about what Willis wrote, it is not required that he responds if he is busy. His responding was his choice. Once he responds, it is incumbent on him to be absolutely sure he is correct, or he stands to start just what was started here. If there is some new useful content to what Willis claimed, it may not include all of his material, but even a small useful contribution is more than what I have seen from 90% of the so called professionals. If he is fully wrong, or the contribution is trivial, a simple response at his blog would have worked.

      Roy, since you initiated the response to Willis, you need to respond fully to his response if you feel you are fully correct. I am sorry if this takes valuable time, but hit and run is not right.

  24. I tried a Google search for thunderstorm thermostat -Eschenbach, and I’m having trouble finding anything except one slide saying that Ramanthan & Collins mentions it. Am I using wrong keywords or what? Could you help citizen scientists like myself here?

    Meanwhile, I have heard of the lapse rate negative feedback, but I have not heard of it being so overwhelming as to be a strict thermostat at some point. I tried a Google search in that area also. However, I suspect that this may explain one paleoclimate reconstruction (Scotese) showing global temperature being regulated to an upper limit of about 22 C.

  25. Max™ says:

    Frank Knarf posted the most relevant example of prior work which is actually very close to what Willis is talking about, this paper here: http://lightning.sbs.ohio-state.edu/geo622/paper_thermostat_Waliser1993.pdf is very interesting but I don’t think it replaces the thermostat mechanism Willis describes, as opposed to modifies/complements it.

    Again, the spatial and temporal variation in day to day thunderstorm development is not just a secondary part of what Willis describes, it is I think the critical component distinguishing it as novel and original.

    • Thanks Max!!!

      I just read that paper, in response to your mention of it. I wish I thought of using “deep convection” as well as thunderstorm as part of my search terms.

      Meanwhile, that paper seems to me to say that deep convection usually limits SST to 29.5 C, but occaisionally weather features supress that, allowing SSTs to get as high as 32 C, at which point it gets limited by other factors such as evaporative cooling, radiation, and cirrus clouds (as proposed by R. & C.).

      Now, I wish that Willis E. would comment on this.

      Another matter: Are tropical SST limits invariant with factors that affect global surface radiation balance? I think global circulation models could be useful here. That is, once they get good enough to hindcast both the rapid temperature runup from the early 1970s to 2005 and the hiatus afterwards, or at least a smooth upward trend that fits both as of the time the hiatus ends, and become able to achieve reasonably successful forecasting.

  26. Eric Barnes says:

    “But in Willis’ case, as far as I can remember, he has not revealed anything that we did not already know.”

    Very funny. I think a new definition is in order.

    Climate Science : Omniscience regarding all the irrelevant details of a topic while simultaneously being unable to explain current or future events.

    Even funnier considering …

    “But I will give credit where credit is due, and mainstream climate scientists have learned (and published) a lot over the years … some of them just have a bad habit of claiming silly things like “proof” and “95% certainty”.

    It’s as if once a particular subject/line of thought has been discussed in the literature by a Climate Scientist (the caps are intentional), the thought of further investigation is an insult because how could a Climate Scientist be wrong?

    “I don’t want to dissuade Willis from contributing to the science. But contributing to the science requires more due diligence than plotting graphs and leaving readers with the impression that the graphs show something new or unexplained (in this case, demonstrating the differing water vapor greenhouse effect between tropics and high latitudes, and the fact that the tropics export heat to the high latitudes).”

    My own thought is that the Climate Scientists are the ones that should go back and rethink what their contribution to the science is. Anyone with a brain and an attention span somewhat longer than a gold fish can deduce that Catastrophic Global Warming is not as certain as statist politicians, bureaucrats, and opportunists ( no caps 🙂 ) would like.

    With that, I’ll mark this article down for a yearly review. It’s sure to provide much entertainment in the future.

    Take it away with your down the rabbit hole diatribe TonyB.

  27. markx says:

    As is stated elsewhere in comments, Willis’ greatest insight may be in proposing that a slight shift in timing of these events (storms forming 15 minutes earlier on the day immediately following an excessively warm) may be where the mechanism of ‘the governor’ lies.

  28. Bill Hunter says:

    My biggest concern in this entire debate is the reputation of science.

    I have no problem with a master scolding the apprentice in a public manner when the apprentice publicly made an oversight. Thats how science should operate if not first Willis privately seeking advice from Roy.

    On plagiarism, I did not see Roy accuse Willis of that. But clearly it is either plagiarism or its ignorance of existing science. It can’t be both at the same time as plagiarism requires knowledge of the existing science. . . .something that is expected of professional scientists but not amateurs.

    I found also the “no true scotsman” fallacy being applied by Willis to my comments regarding an observation that he was only making semantic distinctions between his theory and that of R&C.

    I share Roy’s concern about the reputation of science. Its tattered enough by scientists with political agendas falsely claiming certainty when clearly no such certainty exists.

    Roy has not remained quiet about his views on that so Roy is doing his part. I did note in the Stossel empty chair debate that Roy noted a lot of main stream scientists will not speak out because of concerns about funding. This is a huge flaw in our system that organizations can raise “fear” dollars and use them to entice the science they want while resisting funding for science they do not want.

    What I have not heard anywhere in this debate is that the “Thermostat Hypothesis” of R&C has been falsified. Only that there are countervailing forces that make any effect from it difficult to tease out of the data.

    So if indeed thats true, and Willis thought it up for himself without plagiarism, then kudos for that. Willis, lets not pretend you are perfect. Take Roy’s criticism, learn from it and stay engaged.

    Fact is “keeping quiet” “keeping criticisms private” “tricks to hide the decline” is in fact what is most wrong with science in this day and age. With each new IPCC release we see a new start of an old idea that is now going for its 3rd consecutive failure by simply restarting it at a new adjusted level. The difference this time is hardly a couple of weeks go by and we have new starts being suggested on strictly regional bases 6 or more years out as if they are already getting prepared to explain another 6 year failure. Hmmmmmmmm! Is doubt and uncertainty setting in everywhere? Sure looks like it! But you aren’t going to get anybody to admit that.

    • nigel says:

      I don’t think Linus will ever leave the Pumpkin Patch.

      A small statistic:

      In 2012, compared to 2011, the USA burned 40 million
      fewer tons of coal and China burned 67 million more.

  29. Antero Jarvinen says:

    Dear friends,
    I have followed the quarrel between Willis and Roy with great sorrow. For years I have read their interesting essays on climate matters. As a scientist (40 years research on subarctic ecology) I have learned to acknowledge amateur opinions (you may call it citizen science) of fishermen, hunters, Sami reindeer herders, etc. Many of these people have not had any formal education at all but there knowledge of nature has sometimes exceeded mine. I can also understand Roy’s frustration when he finds that some “amateurs” may have misinterpreted the facts in a field he has studied seriously for decades. At the end of the day it us scientists who must not take such mistakes too seriously. We should enjoy and perhaps learn something of the ideas “amateurs” bring forward and not react (or overreact) if we disagree. I wish that these gentlemen get soon over this sad episode and continue their valuable work!

    Best wishes, Antero Jarvinen, Kilpisjarvi Biological Station, University of Helsinki, Finland

  30. Josie360 says:

    I have read with interest all of the posts and read some of the Waliser paper cited above. It seems to me that the climate scientist focus on a global average temperature (and whether it is increasing or decreasing) contrasts with the thermostat or temperature governor hypothesis (Willis’ version) because Willis discusses significant intraday variation in temperature that is not able to be observed in the measurement of global average temperature. When the data is averaged and homogenized, the intraday variation is either not measured, or it is lost in the mush of the supercomputer. Pardon my citizen interpretation of the differences, but how can Willis’ hypothesis be compared to another hypothesis that is measuring data once per day over several months (Waliser for example)?

    My respect for scientific discourse is not enhanced when a civil discussion of differences in various hypothesis is glossed over in generalizations and personal comments regarding mental abilities, mental illness, and cartoon characters. It is fairly irrelevant whether Willis’ hypothesis is novel, after all, Nobel Prizes and naming rights to various scientific discoveries have been awarded to late entrants. What is important is whether Willis hypothesis is able to be falsified, or whether his critiques of orthodox Climate Science falsify the predictions of the IPCC and others.

    I look forward to learning more on those topics.

  31. Kasuha says:

    I have given up on reading Eschenbach’s articles on WUWT long time ago. Well, I have not given up completely, but every time I go and read one, the story is the same. There is some data analysis, a few graphs, then magic happens (“from this it’s clear that”) and we get a conclusion. In all cases it looks plausible on first read (and they’re all things WUWT readers like and applaud to) but when you read it more thoroughly and really think about it, the analysis does not support the conclusion or the conclusion is just one of many possible explanations.
    There was one exception. One article which I believe was correct as I didn’t find any loopholes or logical faults in it regardless how hard I tried. Sadly it was just that one. And I’m no scientist so I may have been wrong.
    On WUWT I prefer references to real scientific papers over any work done by enthusiasts. Because these essays are not reviewed and are often misleading or wrong.

  32. hunter says:

    For me Willis is a classic Renaissance Man, and his adventurous life proves it.
    He is deeply inquisitive and talented and produces ideas at an amazing rate. I have never considered much of his writing *new*, per se, but rather a new look at existing data.
    His over reaching and over reaction on this issue is unfortunate. I hope this does lead to Willis painting himself into a corner and losing the credibility he has worked hard to build.
    Dr. Spencer, keep up the good work.

    • Don Monfort says:

      Maybe I have been in harm’s way too many times, but I don’t see the adventure here:


      I see a guy who was smart enough and fortunate enough to get into U.C. Berkeley, but he drops out of the top tier school and graduates from Sonoma State, 10 years later, with a B.A. degree in Psych. He should have been a brain surgeon or a rocket scientist, by then.

      And it looks like he couldn’t keep a job for very long. He has made a career out of avoiding a meaningful career. Willis is the Jack of all trades that are listed in excruciating detail, including the category “Short Term Jobs”, where he recalls being a lumper, tree topper, crab unloader, art class model etc. etc. etc.

      The only job that he left out is his disgraceful non-service with the U.S. Army. But in a WUWT post Willis proudly recounts how, during the Vietnam war, he faked suicide attempts to undue his voluntary Army enlistment. Why does he tell this tale? It’s presented as evidence that he is smart enough to do citizen science.


      Willis It’sNotAboutMe Eschenbauch is obviously gifted with superior innate intelligence. However, a lack of self-discipline and various personality disorders have caused him to be an underachiever. He is not capable of taking Roy’s constructive advice as it was intended.

  33. Tim Folkerts says:

    It is a little harsh, but I am reminded of an old bit of humorous criticism.
    “This paper is new and interesting. Unfortunately, the parts that are new are not interesting, and the parts that are interesting are not new.”

    I do enjoy most of Willis’ science writings, especially when he is trying to explain basic ideas — his ‘Steel Greenhouse’ focuses in on the core of how ‘backradiation’ can help warm an object. This is a good example of presenting old ideas in a new way taht is accessible to beginners. On the other hand, I do think there is a tendency among ‘amatures’ to underestimate the actual knowledge of professionals (much like sports fans who think they could coach professional teams). The best (worst?) example of this in the area of climate is PSI.

    • Alice Finkel says:

      “Professional climate scientists” have made a hash of what should have been a wonderful study of the complex, chaotic climate. Unwilling to subject themselves to the discipline of the scientific method, they have multiplied supercomputer run hypotheses ad nauseum — and called them science despite the wild mismatch with actual observations!!!

      Replace the ill bred lot of them with honest and disciplined scientists, and we wouldn’t have this exponentially growing phenomenon of “amateur climate scientists.”

      Whether Roy is one of the few honest specimens will be determined in the final analysis, based upon the evidence he leaves in his legacy.

  34. RW says:


    How about a post like this for George White’s work?

  35. KR says:

    Whenever I run into a paper or presentation that seems questionable, or when my own puttering around with the data comes up with results contradicting published conclusions, my first response is _never_ “This is all wrong!”

    Instead, my first response (and second, for that matter) is to wonder what I did incorrectly. To check other literature on the subject, to review the analysis methods used, to see how reasonable the conclusions might be in the views of others in the field. Because, quite frankly, there are multitudes of ways to be wrong, and most first thoughts on a topic are incorrect – beginners errors.

    Far more likely than not, I’ve made an mistake, missed a relationship, or my “eyecrometer” glance at the data has led me down a misleading path. Getting the conclusions correct requires rigor, careful analysis, and most of all a perspective on common slip-ups.

    That’s where “citizen scientists” often fall astray – in not having sufficient knowledge of a subject to avoid beginners mistakes. Eschenbach, as per this discussion, seems unwilling or unable to acknowledge that, and most definitely is uninclined to do his reading.

    I have had significant disagreements with Dr. Spencer in the past, and will likely have more in the future. But I am in complete agreement with him on this topic. Half-***ed puttering with the data, accompanied by implied or clear claims that “all the science is wrong, look what I found”, while not crediting long since written works – is both lazy and insulting to those who have put in the effort.

  36. Poptech says:

    For the record,

    Willis Eschenbach, B.A. Psycology, Sonoma State University (1975); California Massage Certificate, Aames School of Massage (1974); Commercial Fisherman (1968, 1969, 1971, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1994, 1995); Auto Mechanic, People’s Garage (1969-1970); Cabinet Maker, A.D. Gibson Co. (1972); Office Manager, Honolulu Emergency Labor Pool (1972); Construction Manager, Autogenic Systems Inc. (1973); Assistant Driller, Mirror Mountain Enterprises (1975-1976); Tax Preparer, Beneficial Financial Company (1977); Accountant, Farallones Institute (1977-1978); Peace Corps and USAID (1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1987, 1993, 1994); Cabinet Maker, Richard Vacha Cabinets (1986); County Director, Foundation for the People of the South Pacific (1986-1988); General Manager, Liapari Limited (1989-1992); Regional Health Coordinator, Foundation for the People of the South Pacific (1994-1995); Project Manager, Eschenbach Construction Company (1995-2003); Construction Manager, Koro Sun Limited (1999); Construction Manager, Taunovo Bay Resort (2003-2006); Accounts/IT Senior Manager, South Pacific Oil (2007-2010)

  37. Poptech says:

    Dr. Spencer, you are not going to get anywhere with the, “dumb like me crowd”. This is so much worse than I realized.

    • Don Monfort says:

      Lubos is infinitely smarter and less confused than the typical Willis fanboy, but he is not necessarily correct in his opinion.

      “It almost sounds like Roy is saying that Willis has to be unoriginal or wrong because he is a citizen scientist.”

      That’s wrong.

      “But the key point is that a significant part of the literature can’t be trustworthy and because the literature is – somewhat unpredictably – contaminated by wrong (and, in some cases, politically ordered) results,…”

      Throw out the baby with the bathwater? Ignore all prior climate research? What? That is no reason to not read the literature to learn from the parts that are not wrong, or to absorb the legitimate foundational work that might give a clue that one is wasting one’s time re-inventing the wheel. Does Lubos think he knows as much Roy knows about what is useful in the accumulation of literature on climate science?

      “Roy seems to defend some group interests of a “group of professionals”, a group that I don’t really trust much because it has become so contaminated by ideologies and because it has made so little progress.”

      That is dumb. Roy is not defending the ideologues.

      “After all, an important reason why I disagree is that atmospheric physics is no rocket science or string theory.”

      Dumber. Rocket science is a lot less challenging than atmospheric physics. Lubos is enamored of the string theory

      • Don Monfort says:


        but there are many theoretical physicists smarter than Lubos, who are not impressed.

        “Climatology has become the best example of a discipline in which citizen scientists are competitive, to say the least.”

        Some evidence? to say the least

      • Shenanigans24 says:

        I don’t agree, and I don’t have a dog in this hunt. I take everything I read on WUWT with a grain of salt, and I think most people do as well.

        Lubos rightly points out that much of the literature has been contaminated and it is impossible to know which isn’t. How are you supposed to learn from the parts that are not wrong? MBH98 took years to disprove because they refused to show their data and even today many still claim it’s valid. How many papers have data manipulated to support preconceived conclusions? To go and audit all the work would be a full time job. Heck Mcintyre has been doing it for years and he’s barely scratched the surface. More junk is published every month than anyone has time to audit.

        So start from scratch, yeah that means you might not get far, you might rediscover something known. At least now you know it’s valid. You might be wrong a lot.

        But what’s the other option? Sit back and ingest what the “true scientists” say? The only way to truly know who is following the scientific method and who isn’t is to do the work yourself, and decide for yourself whether the evidence supports the conclusions.

        That might mean good climate scientists like Dr.Spencer get lumped in with the bad (but I really don’t think so) but its a lot better than the alternative. We’ve already seen what happens when people don’t question the orthodoxy of climate science, people suffering under absurd laws and high energy prices..

        • Don Monfort says:

          So let me see if I have got this now. Don’t bother to look at any published climate science papers to see if your hypothesis has been previously discussed, because the papers could be fakes. Dr. Spencer’s advice is bogus because he is colluding with the fakers, or he is so naive and dumb that he can’t tell a fake paper from a real paper. And this has got something to do with that hockeystick thing. I still don’t get it. I will have to study string theory.

          • Shenanigans24 says:

            If you look at climate papers then you will need to rerun the same analysis because many are contaminated by activists (is this disputed?) Which means you will redo work already done, which is what Roy says you shouldn’t do. So Roy’s first piece of advice for citizen scientists is bad advice because this is clearly what needs to be done (and has been done successfully- McIntyre, etc.). So no, I wouldn’t look at what’s already done if you need to redo it anyway. The standards for a professional scientist are different, as is the respect given to thief own ideas.
            The part about Dr. Spencer being a fake appears to be something you made up. Dr. Spencer may have a good eye for what papers are bogus and which aren’t but since the entire argument is about him not having to take the time to correct Willis we can hardly rely on him to take the time to provide guidance and advice on what papers he thinks are best for analysis.

            The second part is about giving credit to someone who has come up with the idea first. I have no problem with this if its true (though Dr. Courtney seems to think its not true). Willis is a citizen scientist, that is a double edged sword. He lacks resources and the education of someone in the field so he may unintentionally reinvent the wheel which is acceptable for someone who is not a real scientist. However, he can also spout off any idea and he will not be taken very seriously because he’s not a real scientist. His platform for his ideas reflects the weight his ideas deserve. So why worry about it at all? A handful of people might take what Willis says as gospel, they might think he invented something new but he still doesn’t make a dent in the scientific literature unless the climate community accepts it.

      • Yonason says:

        I have a great deal of respect for Motl, though he’s wrong here, and I can prove it. Just go to his website and post a citizen scientist “proof” that string theory is wrong. Then run for cover. 😉

  38. Ivan says:

    Who haven’t studied thoroughly the scientific litchurchur written by Climate Scientists.

  39. NZ Willy says:

    Anthony’s WUWT website has been and is a great asset against alarmism, but there’ve been a couple episodes of a guest host taking the reins and running amok, these being Steve Goddard and now Willis Eschenbach. This happens because Anthony’s site is so big and Anthony gets tired. What he really needs is a real scientist to do the honours, but we are all busy with other things. Thanks for your patience, Roy, I hope that the fan-boys posting above don’t cause a schism.

  40. Jimbo says:

    WILLISGATE – Dr. Roy Spencer PHD
    “Why should I care what Willis does? Because the way he presents his analysis leads readers to assume that what he is presenting is new, when in general it is not.”

    Could a single comment by you on WUWT sufficed?

    Paywalls and climate research funding can be helpful too. That’s one way to know it’s been done before.

    Here is a little something from ANOTHER Dr. Roy Spencer formerly of NASA:

    “Read the Bible. Judge it for itself. Put it to the test. I am confident that you too will find the Bible not only to be in agreement with proven facts of science, but also to be the book which will lead you to a personal faith in God the creator of all things.”

    • Don Monfort says:

      Some moron Willis acolyte had to play the religion card.

    • That quote from Dr. Spencer doesn’t fill me with confidence, but then again, religion is probably irrelevant for climate science.

      Biology or cosmology, not so much.

      • Don Monfort says:

        Do you think that all the old time scientists who laid the foundations for modern science were atheists? Religion and science are not incompatible. Believers can explain away any contradictions. God created all. It’s up to us to figure out how the stuff works.

        • No, of course not, but we have much greater understanding of science now.

          Now even a mediocre intellect who looks at things honestly can see how the Bible falls short – quite apart from its egregious moral failings.

          • Don Monfort says:

            Faith has nothing to do with intellect. Religion is a custom. Some people like it, some don’t.

          • “Faith has nothing to do with intellect. Religion is a custom. Some people like it, some don’t.”

            Faith is the abrogation of intellect, and in empirical fact faith is negatively correlated with intelligence.

          • Don Monfort says:

            I almost missed this one:

            Dollie:”Faith is the abrogation of intellect, and in empirical fact faith is negatively correlated with intelligence.”

            Dollie’s proof of his alleged empirical fact:

            “That is the conclusion of psychologists Miron Zuckerman and Jordan Silberman of the University of Rochester and Judith Hall of Northeastern University who have published a meta-analysis…blah…blah…blah”

            Can we get a 97% consensus paper out of that , Dollie? Does it mean that all religious people are dumb and incapable of doing the science thing? Are you freaking kidding?

        • By fortuitous timing, Richard Dawkins’ Foundation for Reason and Science just posted this on Facebook:

          “The church says the earth is flat, but I know that it is round, for I have seen the shadow of the moon, and I have more faith in a shadown than in the church.”
          — Ferdinand Magellan

          • John Tillman says:

            That’s a totally bogus “quotation”. There is no record of Magellan ever having said such a thing, nor would he have, since both he & the Church then knew that Earth is a sphere.

            The Church’s entire conception of the universe since c. AD 400 had Ptolemaic, ie consisting of nested spheres, with the Earth erroneously placed at or near the center. Some Early Church Fathers had been flat-earthers, but doctrine since about the time of Augustine had been geocentric but spherical.

            The fake quotation first appeared in the 1873 essay “Individuality” by American freethinker Bob Ingersoll.

          • Ah, it’s spurious then. Thanks for pointing that out, John.

            Nonetheless, I agree with the sentiment.

          • John Tillman says:

            You’re welcome.

            In any case, the quotation is wrong. It’s the shadow of Earth on the Moon during a lunar eclipse that is round, hence evidence of Earth’s sphericity. It’s not the shadow of the Moon, but of Earth on the Moon that shows this.

            The phony quote may owe something to the fact that Magellan’s expedition witnessed the 17 April 1520 (Julian calendar) total solar eclipse, in which of course the Moon blocks the Sun, casting a shadow on the Earth. But that wouldn’t necessarily say anything about the shape of the Earth. People have always known that the Sun & Moon are at least round, & in the case of the Moon, a sphere is implied since its visible edges aren’t always at the same place on its surface.

          • bev says:

            As already pointed out – spurious.
            It would make more sense if quoted
            “I have seen the shadow ON the moon”.

            Of course, it was the knowledge that the Earth is round that made people sceptical about Columbus’ expedition. He said he was going to China, and a calculation on fingers showed this was impossibly far away.

          • John Tillman says:

            Correct, Bev. The issue with Columbus’ project was the size of the Earth, not the shape. Spanish savants told Ferdinand & Isabella correctly that his estimate of the size of Earth was too small & of Asia too large, so 15th century ships couldn’t sail far enough west to reach the Indies.

            Columbus probably knew there was land to the west within sailing distance, both from “non-Christian-looking” bodies washed ashore in the Azores & from accounts he had heard in Iceland. Basque cod-fishermen may already have been secretly visiting the Grand Banks by 1492. His pilot on the first voyage was Basque.

            Columbus definitely knew that winds blew steadily from the east in lower latitudes & from the west in higher, so that he could get to the mysterious western lands & make it back to Europe. His error was in assuming that the land was Asia rather than unknown continents.

  41. [cross-posted from What’s Up With That? — Dr. Roy Spencer’s Ill Considered Comments on Citizen Science]

    OK, one of my big problems is that Willis seems to be so offended by this public criticism, and rather than handle it in a calmer matter, mainly by addressing the points, he’s accusing (or implying) Dr. Spencer is doing this for emotional reasons, was probably offended by him; but at the same time really has it out for citizen scientists writ large and was as of 10 pm yesterday [Roy’s time] still making that claim on Roy’s blog,

    PS—Since you have such distaste for citizen scientists [as if it’s a flat-out, established fact] ….

    even after Roy’s second post completely denying that was published at least 12 hours earlier.

    Unfortunately, Willis took my post as a swipe against citizen scientists, which it wasn’t. As I said, I “applaud” people who are willing to get their hands dirty with the data. I also said I consider Willis a very sharp guy, and he is a gifted writer.

    Anyone who read my post could see I was not faulting citizen science.

    So he’s basically calling Roy a liar. And yet, even after making these sorts of insinuations, he’s asking Roy for a courtesy phone call next time.

    In any case, Dr. Roy, next time … could you give me a phone call first?

    I don’t find any of this reasonable, professional, or what have you. It seems that if Willis is going to assume a prominent role writing prolifically for the most-viewed climate website in the world, and several of his posts are critical of others to boot, if he gets criticised he should look at the criticisms rather than poison the well in an effort to defend himself. Whether defending his rep or his ego is his priority, I have no clue, but it looks to me to be highly defensive right from the get-go.

    Rather than demand a phone call, a prolific blogger should realise that others in the field may speak to him from their blog, and just deal with that fact. Roy didn’t do anything wrong by writing his post and expressing his opinion.

    • Willis replied at WUWT, and I reproduce it below:

      Christoph, I read Dr. Roy’s attempt to backpedal on what he’d said, and deny that he was dissing citizen scientists. I was not impressed in the slightest.

      He used me as an example of a “citizen scientist”, and he is accusing me of plagiarism, and saying that I’m conflating the CRE and the change in CRE, and claiming that I’m “muddying the waters” regarding clouds … after being very careful to point out that I’m a citizen scientist, how on earth is that not an attack on citizen scientists?

      As to my handling it in a calmer manner, by addressing the points, all I have asked Dr. Roy for is to back up his allegations. Back up his claim that I’m a plagiarist, falsely claiming credit for someone else’s ideas. Back up his nonsense that I didn’t distinguish between CRE and the change in CRE. Those are nasty allegations about what a “citizen scientist” does, Christoph.

      That’s all I’ve asked—that if my name shouldn’t go on what I think is my own idea that the timing of the onset of tropical cumulus and thunderstorms is among the largest temperature control mechanisms, then bring up the study that shows that someone else’s name should be on that idea.

      To date, neither Dr. Roy, nor you, nor anyone else, has brought up such a study …

      So yes, Christoph, he held me up as an example of the citizen scientist, and then accused me of a variety of malfeasance. If you don’t see that as having a disdain for citizen scientists … well, not much I can say at that point.

      If he truly held citizen scientists in high regard, he would have gone out of his way to distinguish me from them, or say I was a rogue, or an outlier. In fact, why did he mention them at all if (as you claim) he holds them in high regard? But he did none of that.

      Instead, he takes me as the representative of the class called citizen scientists, and then abuses the class by falsely accusing me.

      • I replied:

        Willis, I don’t agree with you that Dr. Spencer launched a blanket attack on citizen scientists or that he accused you of plagiarism, but if that’s what you believe, you’re entitled to express it. At least now I have clarity on your position.

      • Don Monfort says:

        Willis is not impressed in the slightest by Dr. Roy’s backpedaling. Willis will have none of it. He can tell when his thin skin has been pricked. Willis can’t take much more of this pricking. He is liable to resort to faking suicide again. We will all be sorry then.

        • Noelene says:

          That’s a terrible comment.I do hope Dr Spencer deletes your post.There is no need to get so personal.

          • Don Monfort says:

            Aren’t the accusations that Willis is making against Dr. Roy personal? He is calling Roy a liar. Willis is the liar and faker. He failed the biggest test of his character that he has faced in his life. A little humility and contrition would be in order. But Willis feels compelled to fiercely defend his alleged honor, by calling the alleged offenders liars.

          • Don Monfort says:

            Hey, neoprene

            Are you going to whine about the clown who draged Roy’s religious beliefs into the discussion?

          • Aren’t the accusations that Willis is making against Dr. Roy personal? He is calling Roy a liar.


  42. John Whitman says:


    I think you, as a mentor, are skilled and compassionate. I see it in your communication.

    I can see that you, as a professional, need to publically keep an arms length from non-professionals like Willis. In that regard I see no fundamental issues with your initial posting on Willis from your professional standpoint.

    That said, I hope you also approach him privately with some sincere confidential guidance in a casual and gentlemanly mentorship capacity. An off the record kind of act. It may save you time overall?


    • Ivan says:

      No, what he should do is to substantiate publicly by citation or a reference his claim that somebody else before Willis discovered the idea or hypothesis that the timing of the onset of thunderstorms is a major temperature controlling mechanism, or otherwise to apologize to Willis.

  43. Noelene says:

    I have seen many hateful things written about people who believe in God.Dr Spencer would be on the receiving end of many,but to say something like you did is a step too far I think.I can tell you dislike him intensely,probably with good reason,but can’t you be bigger than that?
    I also don’t understand why Dr Spencer has ignored Willis.He posted this article
    which Willis commented on and he never answered him.That was very rude,and possibly could have been sorted out then.
    That he didn’t answer led me to believe he had no answer and that Willis was right.
    Dr Spencer thinks Willis is damaging scientists reputations,I think the climate scientists have done that all on their own.
    He thinks Willis makes them look like idiots,it is not Willis that is quoted in the MSM,it is climate scientists.
    Climate scientists are idiots and liars,but not you Dr Spencer and not Willis either.

  44. Don Monfort says:

    Read it:


    Willis is a narcissistic coward.

    Now let’s see if his precious honor is offended.

    • Jimbo says:

      You do realise that WUWT post was written by Willis giving the good, the bad and the ugly about himself? Is that a sign of a narcissist? A narcissist would only talk about the good and the great in themselves. You need the Oxford English Dictionary. 🙂

      The article was written because he didn’t want people to focus any attention on him but on what he says. A bit like play the ball and not the man. Do you know what that means?

      • Don Monfort says:

        Anthony has put you in a time out, but you can’t take a break from carrying water for your hero. You need to read the “it’s not about me” post again, from a different perspective. Forget for a moment that you are a deeply committed Willis fanboy.

        Despite Willis’ ludicrous protestations,that post was about nothing but Willis’ and his alleged qualifications to practice DIY climate science.

        “Now, having said that this is not about me, enough people have questioned my fitness to comment on climate science that I would like to give an answer as to why I am qualified to do so.”

        According to Willis, he is a genius with a tested IQ of 180. U.C Berkeley was too tough for him, he

        • Don Monfort says:

          premature posting

          Anyway, it’s not worth going over this with you. Read it again. Read the part where he tells Claude that those who served honorably in Vietnam are on the same moral plane as Willis. You no doubt will find that convincing. If I had been his CO he would have ended up in Leavenworth, instead of Letterman.

  45. James Strom says:

    Dr Spencer,

    You cite this as a prominent reason for your scolding:

    ‘Why should I care what Willis does? Because the way he presents his analysis leads readers to assume that what he is presenting is new, when in general it is not. *I* then have to deal with e-mails asking what I think about “his” latest theory. I have to explain to people that either “we already knew that”, or “that data plot doesn’t demonstrate what he claims, and here’s why”.’

    Which is much like what appeared in your previous post:

    ‘The reason I am picking on Willis a little bit here is that his posts sometimes lead to comments like this:

    ‘“Geez – if I was one of the hoard of IPCC enthusiastic fools, this would be downright embarrassing. I sure wouldn’t want my mom to know I was so ineffective that some guy named Willis sits in his den and does more and better work than my entire IPCC crowd of hundreds of scientists, economists, psychologists, train engineers, tree surgeons, etc does in 4-5 years.”’

    Step back and consider how bizarre this is. You are asking him to stop writing what he does because you get emails or comments about his work that you don’t like–comments from others! It would save you a lot of time just to adopt a blog policy of not discussing his articles.

    • Don Monfort says:

      Another Willis acolyte drone tossing out another strawman:

      “You are asking him to stop writing what he does…blah…blah…blah”

      Get over it.

      • James Strom says:

        Dr. Roy,

        I’m sure you can sort out the ad hominem elements in the response to me above. The reason for my writing is that I admire your work and I do think you are a smart guy. However, it seems to me that detouring into this critique brings you more of the annoyance that you expressed a wish to avoid. You have extended replies from Eschenbach, not to mention R. Courtney, which should be taken serioiusly and demand even more of your attention. I’m not saying that you can’t do some offhand criticism in your spare time–obviously you can–but it might be wise to look over the literature and see exactly how such criticism is done. There is the much ballyhooed peer review, but apparently Eschenbach did get his hypothesis past peer review. But now we see that peer review is not always a very high standard, judging from the Climategate emails. The practice of review has been raised to a higher level by the audits of Steve McIntyre. Anyone who would want to be a critic should at least contemplate the level of thoroughness and precision that McIntyre regularly puts forth. But for you to audit at that level of intensity would be an absurd further drain on your time, so keep up your valuable work and leave this sort of thing to others.

  46. Don Monfort says:

    This would be a good time to close this thread, Roy.

    My parting thought:


  47. bit chilly says:

    ivan says : No, what he should do is to substantiate publicly by citation or a reference his claim that somebody else before Willis discovered the idea or hypothesis that the timing of the onset of thunderstorms is a major temperature controlling mechanism, or otherwise to apologize to Willis.

    this right here is the crux of the matter,and to date,IT STILL HAS NOT BEEN ADDRESSED. playing the man not the ball seems a prerequisite in climate science,on all sides of the debate.this whole argument is a result of not what was criticised,but how it was done.

    i am unaware of any history between andrew montford and willis,but after reading andrew montfords comments here,if there was no previous bad blood,there sure is likely to be now.

    as for either dr roy spencer or andrew montfords suggestion we all accept work already carried out by mainstream climate scientists,as far as i am concerned,it should ALL be thrown in the bin,along with the scientists that did the work,and climate science should start from scratch.accepting the work of the mainstream”scientists” is what got us in the current mess.

    it is not the fault of ordinary citizens that those scientists are smart enough to gain lots of phd,s ,but too dumb to see when they are being manipulated by politicians,or worse,do realise it,but are happy to accept the pay cheque in return for churning out utter crap year on year to support the meme.

    for those wealthy enough not to feel the effects of rising energy bills,increased green taxes,and the escalating cost of running a vehicle,this whole debate might not seem that important,but for those of us that do notice quality of life suffering,let me tell you,i for one am pi**ed right off with it.
    i have personally had my fill of smart arsed academic types impacting on my familys quality of life with their support of alarmism through the output of their climate models.trust me,the first climate face i ever meet,will be left in no uncertain terms exactly how i feel,and they will be sat on their arse looking up while i tell them.

  48. Steven Mosher says:

    “I found also the “no true scotsman” fallacy being applied by Willis to my comments regarding an observation that he was only making semantic distinctions between his theory and that of R&C.”

    It is one of his favorites. Also, If you watch you will see that he continually demands that others quote him exactly, while he paraphrases to his advantage. For example, he accuses Roy of accusing him of plagarism. Well, Roy didnt use that word.
    Willis of course will respond that roy effectively acused him of it. However, if the foot were in the other mouth, Willis would demand that you quote him exactly and he would argue that he hadnt used the word plagarism.

    If you’ve been around long enough you recognize these patterns. It’s not cute.

    • Willis does use the word.

      “he didn’t give one single example of the ignorance and plagiarism he accused me of”

      “Now, that is a clear accusation of plagiarism”

      “And yes, saying that I “never mentioned” that my hypothesis was “originally put forth by R&C” is indeed a false accusation of plagiarism.”

      “In other works, it was a baseless, uncited, unreferenced attack, in which among other things he accused me of plagiarism.”

      “When a man uses that graphic as an introduction to a piece wherein he accuses me of plagiarism”

      “And Roy’s constraint? The man accused me of plagiarism, compared me to Homer Simpson, and attempted to lecture me like I was stealing ideas and not giving credit …”

      “He used me as an example of a “citizen scientist”, and he is accusing me of plagiarism ….”

      “all I have asked Dr. Roy for is to back up his allegations. Back up his claim that I’m a plagiarist, falsely claiming credit for someone else’s ideas.”

      “he question at hand is, can Dr. Roy, or you, or anyone, show that Dr. Roy’s accusation of plagiarism is true?”

      “He’s accused a man of plagiarism ….”


      Roy denies accusing Willis of plagiarism.

      “I suggested he probably just thought it up on his own as an original thinker.”

      But then Willis goes on to say:

      “that doesn’t make him a liar.”

      and deny accusing Roy of lying at various other times regarding this. This is after it is pointed out to him how Roy said he believes Willis thought this up on his own as an original thinker.

      So Roy can’t merely be mistaken about whether Willis is a plagiarist or not — Roy claims he believes Willis probably thought it up on his own as an original thinker. Whether Roy believes that or not, that is what he said.

      So Willis has to be lying — not mistaken, lying — when he says he’s not effectively accusing Roy of lying because it is impossible that Roy can simultaneously be accusing Willis of simultaneously being a plagiarist and an original thinker who is not a plagiarist over the exact same thing.

  49. John Whitman says:

    To try put into a dispassionate perspective the response to Roy’s outreach effort at mentoring, I took advantage of the 24 hr hiatus in commenting at the WUWT thread to slowly go through all comments there and here several times in chronological order.

    My thoughts in the morning after the sun comes up.

    Personal Note to Roy => I wish you would have volunteered to mentor me. : )


  50. Don Monfort says:

    to a bit silly,

    I am not Andrew Montford, you moron. You should learn how to freaking read, before you comment. Do you expect to be taken seriously? This is what happens when you reject academics. You should have listened when the adults told you to stay in school.

    • bit chilly says:

      apologies for confusing you with andrew montford ,don. and i would prefer the trem arsehole to moron,its more my level.i could not give two hoots whether anyone takes me seriously or not.
      but understand this,verbal jousting is fine for academics. as you have pointed out quite correctly,i am not an academic.i do not do my jousting verbally.

  51. Don Monfort says:

    Willis is an underachieving dropout. His claim to fame is that he has attracted a bunch of fawning clowns on the internet. It’s not that hard.

    • bit chilly says:

      i suspect that neither are you “that hard”.the term keyboard warrior springs to mind.in case that is an unfamiliar term for an academic,it suggests you would have the courage to address willis in the same manner face to face,you know,like men do from time to time.

      • Don Monfort says:

        You are more than a bit silly. It would be interesting to know how you could have confused Don Monfort with Andrew Montford. Was it the “Mon” part? “for”?

        I never said that I am an academic. I have earned an advanced degree in finance and I know how to read. I guess that makes me an egghead, in your little mind. Hey, what would be your jousting strategy in a tussle with a 6’4″ 230 lb former Army Ranger? Probably the same as Willis, who I hear is a real pussycat in person (ask Mosher). Run like hell.

        • bit chilly says:

          probably the same strategy i would use in the boxing ring. i have already apologised for confusing you with andrew montford.
          in my little mind your comments regarding willis show me that you are a conformist,placing great emphasis on obeying rules.that mindset is precisely why the cAGW scam has gotten where it is today.
          willis free thinking may not always be correct,but it is unconstrained by establishment rules,and as the establishment appears unable to find its own arse with both hands,i am all for a few more free thinkers.
          i like the “bit silly” moniker,it sums me up quite well, better in my mind than some strait laced suited conformist.

          • Don Monfort says:

            You would run and you are really silly. I am not offended that you confused me with Andrew Montford. I just find it very amusing and indicative of your lack of intelligence. I wonder how you are able to find your arse. Maybe you should try apologizing to Andrew Montford.

            I see that you have gone to the dictionary for what you think is another pejorative label to stick on me. You can call me a conformist. That also doesn’t offend me. I am profoundly thankful that I was born a citizen of the greatest nation in the history of the earth. When duty called, I answered and served above and beyond with honor and distinction.

            When your free thinking hero got his draft notice he enlisted to avoid the cannon fodder jobs. So far he is conforming and he retains his honor. A few weeks into basic training he comes to the realization that he’s not a cowboy, but a free thinking little wimp and he wants to drop out. At that point, a CO doing his duty would have informed the little wimp that he was going to complete basic training and go on to perform his safe cushy job as a weatherman, or he was going to do several years of hard time in Leavenworth. But they babied the little wimp and he continued to eat Army food and accept Army pay, until he went on to weatherman training and even that was too tough for his little candy arse. So the clever little free thinker resorted to fake suicide attempts. He fooled the Army shrinks and he got out. He recounts that story as evidence of how smart he is. He is not only smarter than the conformists who served, he is morally superior because he didn’t knuckle under to the tyrants. Willis is a dishonarable little wimp. Are we clear now?

  52. John Whitman says:

    Don Monfort said,

    Willis is an underachieving dropout. His claim to fame is that he has attracted a bunch of fawning clowns on the internet. It’s not that hard.
    Willis is an underachieving dropout. His claim to fame is that he has attracted a bunch of fawning clowns on the internet. It’s not that hard.

    – – – – – – –

    Don Monfort,

    Well I have been honoring, even here, the WUWT 24 hr time out on the topic, but the 24 hr time period is over.

    I have some thoughts that may run slightly parallel.

    I think Willis is an amateur scientist who very very cleverly uses appeal to populism*** in the WUWT climate science venue. I think the WUWT venue is without fault in Willis’ use of populism, it does not reflect on Anthony.

    I do not find generic populism*** per se in any endeavor as having any intellectual or scientific merit whatsoever. It [the concept of populism] has a distinct egalitarian flavor to me. I find the flavor unappealing (to put it mildly).

    *** I am using it divorced from its normal political context and instead married to the climate science context.


    • Don Monfort says:


      Anthony knows and approves of what Willis is doing.

      • Yonason says:

        WUWT is the only allegedly “conservative” blog that has ever given me a time out, deleted my posts, and threatened to ban me, and all for saying what is tolerated by them or their friends. I have no use for them – have only been back a few times in the last 4 years, mostly by accident, and once to get a sense of who Willis is. And my sense is that he seems to fit right in. The fact that John timidly tolerates it, to the extent that he’s even “honoring it here”!?!?!? says a lot about him, as well.

  53. Dixon says:

    Sheesh – I came here to publish a completely different comment. Reading most of these has made me think a lot less of some of you. You’re in danger of making the Eugenics advocates look tame. This is a public site, a little bit of civility would go a long way.
    Dr Spencer, please keep up your science and don’t waste your time on outreach. Science does need better governance though, but on the basis of this affair I no longer think Blogs can help very much…

  54. John Whitman says:

    The following was just posted by me at WUWT.


    – – – – – – – –

    John Whitman on October 14, 2013 at 10:35 am

    Tried to put into a dispassionate perspective the response to an apparent outreach effort by Roy at mentoring an amateur. I took advantage of the 24 hr hiatus in commenting to slowly go through all comments at Roy’s blog and here. I did so several times in chronological order.

    Roy, a bridge to far. Please outreach to a different amateur here at WUWT. But please do not give up your outreach to a WUWT amateur. [hey, Tisdale, here is an opportunity]

    Willis, you may perceive being victimized / attacked. Many thought you were circumspectly invited to take a vital step toward publishing your thesis and obtain professional respect; I thought so and was glad you were being encouraged. I still am glad you were the one who was being encouraged.

    Poptech, I think your independent auditing will not be deflected . . . it never has been. I hope it never stops. I am sure you already understand that opposing any kind of apparent populism should best be done coldly . . . very very coldly. Stay extremely cold . . . then I can call you ‘Frosty the Poptech’. I offer intellectual dry ice anytime your commenting cooling system needs it.


    • Poptech says:

      John, thanks for the comments. The populism (fanboys) regarding Willis is very disturbing. They are not very rational and do not even understand my arguments.

      The only reason I stopped posting is because Anthony asked me too and it was getting frustrating trying to reply with some comments going into moderation due to – one too many links.

      Unfortunately, Willis is not owning up to anything so I may be forced to write an expose.

      • Don Monfort says:

        Anthony banned me to protect Willis. Let’s see if your expose will see the light of day.

          • Don Monfort says:

            Anthony owns what Willis says on Anthony’s blog. So what I told Anthony seemed appropriate as Willis had pissed on the graves of the 58,000 Americans who died in the service of their country in Vietnam and Anthony was trying to shut me up.

            If you read through that thread you will see that Anthony didn’t rebuke Willis, or the mob that came to his defense with crap like implying those who served in Vietnam were the moral equivalent of the SS. Anthony pulled the same crap on you. He gives you a timeout and he picks one sacrificial sheep from the flock of Willis’ fanatics to go with you so he can pretend he is being fair. I wonder why you haven’t told Anthony to do the nasty to himself.

            I find it odd that smart guys like you and Greg Goodman bother to comment on Willis’ DIY science. He ignores or ridicules any question or criticism for which he can’t spout a facile answer. You don’t have to play his game.

          • Poptech says:

            Don, I am just saying that while I share you position on these issues saying that to Anthony is only going to get you banned (I don’t believe it is worth it). I do generally respect Anthony and do not attribute what Willis or his fanboys say to him.

            I am only commenting on Willis’s reply to Dr. Spencer because of what Dr. Spencer initially said. I was aware of problems with Willis when he started but had no idea how out of hand it has become. I generally avoid this but it needs to be done. The good thing, is I am now aware of just how bad the Willis fanboy problem is.

            This has only gotten out of hand because his fanboys were generally unaware of his background. They may have knew he was not a scientist but assumed he was either an engineer, computer modeler or one of the other BS nonsense that journalists “magically” attributed to him.

            Notice that no skeptical scientists except for Dr. Motl is defending him, which speaks volumes.

          • Don Monfort says:

            I don’t feel a need to comment on Anthony’s blog. I rarely commented there for various reasons. Most of the posts are uninteresting. The comment threads are more uninteresting than the posts. There are way too many clowns who are just mindless cheerleaders for presentations of the latest final nail in the coffin for AGW. Coincidentally, they tend to be fawning Willis fanboys. Smart critical thinkers like you and Greg Goodman get drowned out by the hoi polloi. And you get censored.

            Look, Anthony is responsible for what goes on at WUWT. And you are kidding yourself if you think that the Willis fanboys were unaware of his background or that they will awaken one day to the fact that he ain’t God. They don’t care as long as Willis pokes those egghead climate scientists with a sharp stick, every day or two.

            You are not going to change WUWT, or Willis. It doesn’t matter anyway. Climate science issues are not going to be resolved based on discussions on WUWT. Willis is a nit in the grand scheme of things. There are other climate science blogs where you could better spend your time, without being hounded by fanboys.

          • Whatever Willis’s motives (which may have been simple fear), not fighting in that war on foreign soil was his finest moment.

          • Don Monfort says:

            You are certainly entitled to your goofy opinion, Dollie. I always preferred fighting on foreign soil. Where I come from we are almost all like that. Are you from some little country that is too insignificant to get involved in wars, or is it that you prefer to be invaded rather than fight on foreign soil?

            I will have to tell my sister that not fighting in that foreign soil war was her finest hour. Although she was in college in Ohio at the time and had about as much chance of getting in any fighting as Willis would have had as a weatherman.

            Look, Willis enlisted in the Army to get a safe cushy job so that he could avoid the fighting. That is fine and honorable. He who fills out Army weather forms also serves. With me so far, Dollie? But basic training was too tough for Willis and he desperately wanted out. Do you think he only found out about the war, after a couple of weeks in basic?

            Willis’ CO should have forced him to do his duty, but he was allowed to malinger through basic while the other trainees sweated and toiled. His pals should have given him a nice blanket party (google it).

            Little shirking Willis was then sent on to weatherman school and soon enough he couldn’t hack that either. He faked suicide attempts, spent some time in the looney bin at much expense to the taxpayer and was cut loose as a useless wimp.

            Do you see where you are wrong, Dollie? Willis didn’t shirk his duty and wimp out because of foreign soil. He’s a wimp. And when a Vietnam veteran named Claude pointed out that Willis should not be bragging about his dishonorable behavior in a time of war, Willis justified his willful failure to fulfill his service commitment by denigrating and dishonoring those who did serve-Willis says they knuckled under to the tyrants.

            I guarantee that if I had Willis in my training company, he would have knuckled under just like all the rest of them. And very likely he would have thanked me for making him useful to his country and to himself. He would have felt that he was tough enough to go back to U.C. Berkeley and make something of himself, instead of wandering the backwaters of the world doing odd jobs.

            I don’t care about poor decisions Willis made when he was a youngster who apparently didn’t have a father to guide him or other people along the way to help him overcome his lack of self-discipline and other personality disorders. He is straight with me, if he apologizes for spitting on the graves of 58,000 dead U.S soldiers who did their duty.

  55. John Whitman says:

    In my immediate comment above I have no idea where the odd characters came from near the end of the 1st paragraph and near the end of the last paragraph. Sorry.


  56. Poptech says:

    Some progress,

    Dear Andrew,

    Thank you for your email concerning the article from 2011.

    The reference of computer modeller has been removed from the article.

    I hope this helps and thank you for bringing this to our attention.

    Yours sincerely,

    Andy King
    Editorial Information Executive


    • Poptech says:

      Background, Willis was originally referenced as a “computer modeler” in this article with the context relating to scientific modeling. He has no such education or experience doing any such thing. His CV mentions things like Mac training and using CAD/CAM software then vaguely references to “writing programs” with no mention of what they were or his programming skills. No real programmer fails to mention the programming languages they used or the programs that they wrote on their CV. I cannot find a single program on the Internet written by him and when I asked for code so my team could review it, he failed to respond.

  57. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Dr. Roy, you say:

    Actually, it is up to Willis (or you, if you are his surrogate) to tell me what new climate cooling mechanism Willis has proposed that has not been addressed before?

    As I said a number of times in my post on your previous thread … well, heck, I’ll just quote it to save time, the emphasis is in the original.

    My paper starts, of course, with an abstract, which opens by stating my hypothesis:

    The Thunderstorm Thermostat Hypothesis is the hypothesis that tropical clouds and thunderstorms actively regulate the temperature of the earth. This keeps the earth at an equilibrium temperature regardless of changes in the forcings.

    I went on to detail how this happens, primarily through changes in the daily time of onset of the tropical cumulus threshold and thunderstorm threshold. When the earth is cool, those phenomena emerge later in the day or not at all. This allows the full power of the sun to heat the surface. And conversely, when the earth is warm they emerge earlier in the day.

    So my hypothesis, as clearly laid out in that paper, is that variations in the daily times of onset of the tropical cumulus and cumulonimbus regimes regulate the tropical surface temperature with scant regard to changes in forcings. And thus eventually this regulates the global surface temperature, through a whole host of cloud-related mechanisms. The hypothesis contains the corollary stated in the abstract, that this keeps the temperature within fairly tight bounds (e.g. ± 0.3°C over the 20th century) without much regard to what the forcings do. Another way to say this is that the thresholds for the formation of cumulus and thunderstorms are temperature-based, not forcing-based.

    Note that my hypothesis is radically different from the hypothesis put forwards in Ramanathan and Collins 1991. Their abstract says:

    Observations made during the 1987 El Niño show that in the upper range of sea surface temperatures, the greenhouse effect increases with surface temperature at a rate which exceeds the rate at which radiation is being emitted from the surface. In response to this ‘super greenhouse effect’, highly reflective cirrus clouds are produced which act like a thermostat, shielding the ocean from solar radiation. The regulatory effect of these cirrus clouds may limit sea surface temperatures to less than 305K.

    Their hypothesis is about the effect of cirrus clouds on the local maximum sea surface temperature from a “super greenhouse effect” that occurs in and around the Pacific Warm Pool … and my hypothesis isn’t about any of those things. Not one of them. My hypothesis is not about cirrus clouds. Not about a “super greenhouse effect”. Not about maximum sea surface temperatures. And not about the Pacific Warm Pool.

    Now, perhaps as you say, someone before me advanced the same hypothesis I’ve put forward, which is that the time of the daily onset of the tropical thunderstorms and cumulus clouds regulates the global temperature with little regard for changes in forcings. But it certainly wasn’t Ramanathan and Collins …

    Now, I must say, I fail to see how you could read that, and then come back and ask what mechanism I am proposing that has not been proposed before … if you are still in mystery, read the bolded sections.

    Your claim that my hypothesis was anticipated by R&C1991 is clearly falsified by an examination of their abstract.

    So I await your identifying the paper that anticipates my hypothesis …


    PS—Mosher, you say:

    At some point Roy they will claim that any minor difference in Willi’s formulation and prior formulations amounts to “a difference” In the extreme they will argue that nobody ever posted charts that look exactly like Willis’ charts.

    Its a variant of the true scotsman fallacy

    Bullshit. I spelled out the differences between my hypothesis and others very specifically. Neither you nor Roy has provided anyone’s work that anticipated mine.

  58. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D. says:
    October 10, 2013 at 11:27 AM

    It is you who suggested plagarism…I suggested he probably just thought it up on his own as an original thinker. So don’t put words in my mouth.

    Dr. Roy, I have to assume that you don’t understand the implications of what you are writing. You said:

    I’ve previously commented on Willis’ thermostat hypothesis of climate system regulation, which Willis never mentioned was originally put forth by Ramanathan and Collins in a 1991 Nature article.

    Note that you didn’t say I didn’t know about R&C1991. You said I never mentioned it. This assumes that a) I knew about it and further assumes that b) I was concealing it.

    I was not the only one who noticed this. Several other people commented that they found your accusation of plagiarism out of line. That’s a very reasonable reading of your words.

    Now, I’m glad to see your disclaimer above. And as a result, I can only assume that you didn’t intend for that to be how your words were interpreted, which is good … but I fear that’s what you wrote, and I and a number of other people certainly understood what you said in that way.

    It’s on a par with your insistence that despite portraying citizen scientists as fat, clumsy, stupid boors like Homer Simpson, you claim that you didn’t denigrate citizen scientists. I have to break the news to you, Dr. Roy—out here in the real world, comparing someone to Homer Simpson is not seen as a compliment …


    • To be fair to Willis, Dr. Spencer, I believe you should clarify what you meant by “never mentioned”. You have since been unambiguous that you believe Willis probably thought up his model, which you feel is very similar, as an original thinker.

      Well, do you really think that he did so, or do you think that he in reality borrowed heavily from Ramanathan and Collins 1991 without attribution?

    • Don Monfort says:

      You didn’t read R&C91, Homer. You are innocent of plagiarism. You are only guilty of practicing DIY climate science carelessly and irresponsibly. Don’t worry. Out there in the real world, nobody cares.

      • Willis Eschenbach says:

        I not only read but also cited R&C1991, Don, in my discussion of the maximum sea temperatures in the Pacific Warm Pool … so I fear that although your comment is long on passion, it’s very short on facts.

        Well, except you did get one (and only one) thing correct—I am indeed innocent of plagiarism.


        PS—Dr. Roy, please note that Don Monfort repeats your reference to Homer Simpson as an insult … yet you claim you didn’t mean it as an insult. And that may indeed be the case … but as an insult is certainly how both Don and I and many others took it.

    • Steven Mosher says:

      Note that you didn’t say I didn’t know about R&C1991. You said I never mentioned it. This assumes that a) I knew about it and further assumes that b) I was concealing it.

      I was not the only one who noticed this. Several other people commented that they found your accusation of plagiarism out of line. That’s a very reasonable reading of your words.

      Several logical problems here.

      Roy pointing out that Willis is not mention something
      can be:
      1. an assumption that willis knew about it
      2. a suggestion that he hasnt read everything

      #2 is how I read it and its a very reasonable reading.

      What willis does is play a game where he demands to be quoted. You have all seen it. over and over again. BUT when it comes to accusations he levels against others he relies on “reasonable” readings. How about charitable readings?
      I cannot count the time I’ve said to people ” you didint mention Imhoff, you didnt mention Sailor” What that means
      is plain and simple. You havent read all the science.
      Only a paranoid would construe it as Willis has.

      Next. Ad populum. Several people read Roys words and share willis’ over interpretation. This is proof? this is Willis’ idea of proof? Well several people read the climategate mails and found nothing wrong.
      The point would be this
      1. Offer the benefit of the doubt. Use charity
      2. If you thnk that roy is accusing you of plagairism


      You see the meaning of a text isnt simply derived by looking at the words. several “reasonable people” made the same mistake as willis. Hell reasonable people cant agree on the meaning of the second ammendment, but here we can actually ask the guy who used the words.. Hey Roy what did you mean?”

      Willis doesnt do that. The reason is simple. because Roy would explain and the trantrum would be over. But this is more about theatre than science.

      • Don Monfort says:

        Willis used another trick from his bag just above your comment. He says I borrowed Roy’s Homer thing to insult him…yet Roy “claims” it is not an insult. Well, Roy does control me and he did email me and order me to insult Willis, but how could Willis know that. Sheesh! What a baby.

        I am sure that Willis thinks that I am among the legion of those, who in the all seeing and all knowing mind of Willis, are Willis haters. I ain’t. I kinda like the little fella, warts and all. He got potential. He just needs to grow up and get some of his personality disorders under control.

        It’s too bad that the Army let him down. They were supposed to make a man out of him. They did it to me. I was just a mean undisciplined thug out of the projects, before the cadre at Ft. Benning whipped me into shape. And I will be eternally grateful for the whipping I received. I didn’t have a father to do it. Seems to be part of Willis’ problem too. I wish him well.

      • It’s worse than that.

        Willis accuses Roy of accusing him of plagiarism, it is pointed out to Willis where Roy denies this, Willis repeats his accusation, it is pointed out that he is effectively calling Roy a liar, Willis denies calling Roy a liar.

        The conclusion I draw from this is that Willis is lying, flat out.

        He does the same thing with the same complete pattern when he accuses Roy of having a distaste for citizen scientists.

        Reluctant conclusion? Willis isn’t honest.

        Now, maybe Roy is dishonest also. That’s possible. I’m not claiming he is, but it’s a logical possibility which remains. But the “Willis is honest” conclusion is refuted.

  59. Don Monfort says:

    Does reading the abstract count as reading the paper, Willis? Mosher has warned us about your tricks.

    I interpret Roy’s use of the Homer pic as a mild, humorous jab. You overreacted like a big crybaby and made a complete ass of yourself. Monkey climb too high, show him tail. If you were half as smart as you think you are, you would have smoothed this over, instead of blowing it up.

    You should copy a mental health professional on some of your bizarre flame wars. You need help. You also owe 58,000 American soldiers who gave their lives in the service of their country an apology for pissing on their graves to justify your dishonorable, cowardly behavior. Is this really the way you want to be remembered, Willis?

  60. Noblesse Oblige says:

    A tempest in a teapot methinks. And frankly I have no problem with the occasional squabble between “skeptics” which have the effect of moving toward restored credibility and standards in climate science. And standing back, I have thought for some time now that the real “debate” is BETWEEN skeptics, not between skeptics and alarmists. Alarmists had essentially gave up on the search for what does cause actual climate change, as they early on hitched their wagon to GHGs as the climate controller. This has left the field wide open for skeptics to investigate this. Having said this, alarmists may now have rediscovered natural variations as the science du jour as they scurry around trying to explain away The Pause.

  61. Tim says:

    This whole argument is kind of like the Apple vs Samsung patent row. Both ‘Scientists’ are competing for public attention in the same market, which subsequently results in numerous pointless arguments which makes both of them look bad.

    Dr Spencer claims he doesn’t want to waste time over the argument whilst finding the time to write 2 defamatory blogs on the issue, whilst Willis claims that he invented the swipe to unlock function first and Dr Spencer should acknowledge as much.

    It would be funny if it wasn’t quite so depressing!

    Think I’ll probably go for a Nokia instead.

  62. Eyvind Dk says:

    As I understand the 2 theories (Willis and Ramanathan et al):
    One involve the formation of cumulus nimbus – which lead to thunderstorms – AND will transport heat from near earth surface to higher altitudes and consequently release the heat to space
    And the other theory is about the formation of cirrus clouds at high altitudes which PREVENT heat (solar radiance) to reach the earth surface.
    One transport heat UP – one prevent heat DOWN!

    Was that a oversimplification from a Homer clone?

    Best regards fron Denmark
    Eyvind Dk

    • Don Monfort says:

      Like Willis-Homer, you would benefit from actually reading the literature. Dr. Spencer has read the literature. Did you even read this post? Did you see Roy’s references to R&C91, and the CEPEX project? Click on the CEPX link he provided for your education and do some perusing. See “Literature Cited”. Get back to us, Eyvind-Homer.

      Willis’ distinction without a difference claim to fame is that he discovered that thunderstorms form at different times of the day, depending on the local temperature. Duh!

      I hate to admit it, but on SKS another wannabe climate scientist provides a critique on Willis’ “Thermostat Theory” that is more persuasive than Willis’ story. I wonder why Willis had to call it his “Thermostat Theory”, knowing presumably that it had already been taken? He should have called it the “Download Some Data and Excel It Theory”.


      • Eyvind Dk says:

        Don Monfort writes:
        “Thermostat Theory”…..it had already been taken?
        WOT ??
        Is “Thermostat Theory” now a copyrighted phrase?
        Is Svensmark prohibited to call his cloud theory for a “Thermostat Theory”?
        Am I prohibited to call his cloud theory for a “Thermostat Theory”?
        You are one weird fellow Mr. Monfort!

    • dp says:

      You’ve left out his posts steeped in misogyny (see WUWT “open letter to” examples and how he deals with his protesting public, including offended ladies. The ultimate denial.), that he struggles with math (Shazam, surprise surprise, the left side of the equation is equivalent to the right side of the equation, therefore all climate models and be reduced to two terms!), and intolerance of any criticism no matter how well the fit. He also amicably tolerates any misrepresentations that inflate his accomplishments or credentials (scientist, engineer, millions of fans, most popular writer at WUWT, etc). Because his response is somewhat like a pit bull, he is correct that the Homer Simpson association is weak. Homer at least, is likeable if inept. In a recent post he was encourage to publish his version of the “Thermostat Hypothesis”, a term introduced by R&C, 1991 but which remains uncited, btw, in peer-reviewed journals. He replied he already had, but on investigation, guess what – no peer reviews. His discomfort with the formality of that publishing process caused him to preemptively redefine literate writing to remove fussy formalities which affects readability or words to that effect. This is a common adaption he’s used repeatedly to cloak his lack of formal education. That is opinion based on observation and not stated as fact as it is one of those unproveables that plague climate science.

      Anyway – it is entertaining to watch Dr. Spencer (aka Dr. Roy per WE) pay out rope and to watch the cowboy reel it in.

      • Poptech says:

        Anthony closed the comments down so I posted my response here but it is in moderation.

        • dp says:

          Given that Richard S. Courtney is on the editorial board of the journal that published Willis’ work (Energy and Environment, Multi-science.co.uk) the question of pal review can now be discussed as an intellectual exercise. There is, of course, no obvious evidence, but there never is. I’m still unable to verify that peer review is even performed, though. Peer in this case is probably a stretch as any peers would have a CV equivalent to Willis’ own, no?

          Anyway – I’m pleased that Anthony shuttered the thread. My own first post in that steaming pile suggested there would be no resolution and I think that has been demonstrated. It was time to turn down the thermostat.

          • dp says:

            I cheerfully retract my concerns about the peer review process at the journal that published Willis’ Thermostat Hypothesis paper. Here is the section that emphasizes this, tucked away in the mission statement:

            “Regular issues include submitted and invited papers that are rigorously peer reviewed, as well as shorter personal viewpoints and technical communications that are not peer reviewed and often give controversial voices a platform.”

          • Don Monfort says:

            E&E is another pal review journal. And blatantly so.

            Editor since 1998:”I’m not ashamed to say that I deliberately encourage the publication of papers that are sceptical of climate change,” said Boehmer-Christiansen, who does not believe in man-made climate change.


            Pielke Jr.:”[E&E] has published a number of low-quality papers, and the editor’s political agenda has clearly undermined the legitimacy of the outlet,” Pielke says. “If I had a time machine I’d go back and submit our paper elsewhere.”

            Yes, it’s the Guardian. I am assuming they got the quotes right.

          • Poptech says:

            My rebuttal to Anthony’s comments claiming that both he and Willis are computer modelers was never posted and Dr. Spencer failed to let it through moderation here.

            I have added a rebuttal at the bottom of my Willis post that shows there are degrees in computer modeling.

            E&E has a legitimate peer-review process, but like any other journal it depends on who you pick to do the reviews.

            The key thing with Willis’s E&E paper is it has only been cited by 2 people in 3 years (one from the same journal),


          • Don Monfort says:

            It would be interesting to see what has been censored on multiple blogs, Poptech. Why don’t you post your disappeared comment on your blog? I will look for it there.

            Willis has essentially admitted that he is not really a “computer modeler” that anyone would pay to actually do computer modelling:

            “I am indeed a computer modeler of some small ability”

            It’s way out of character for Willis the Exaggerator to be modest. His alleged computer modeling ability must be really small.

            E&E does not have a legitimate review process. The editor’s admission posted above is proof enough of that. It’s the Journal of Last Resort for skeptic scientists and DIY kibitzers like Willis.

          • Poptech says:

            Don, I am very familiar with E&E and the editor does not published papers as peer-reviewed that have not passed peer-review. She does publish opinion pieces that are controversial to stimulate debate. For instance Willis has had two other opinion pieces published in E&E which do not rise to the same level as a peer-reviewed paper.

            Peer-review does not mean that a paper is right or wrong only that it is not scientifically baseless. In Willis’s case he is doing a legitimate analysis, only one that has already been done before. Dr. Spencer’s complaint is how Willis makes other’s believe this is original research that no one thought of before. It is likely the reviewers were not aware of R&C 1991 but this is the reason why comments on papers are published to make these arguments.

            I have no problem with his one peer-reviewed paper in E&E, only his argument of it’s significance (which is non existent).

            I wrote a piece debunking all the myths about E&E here,


            For instance E&E is cited 22 times by the IPCC and is indexed in the ISI.

            Willis’s is not a computer modeler, that is pure BS. He is using his experience downloading, tweaking and running the GISS model on his computer as being a “computer modeler”, so is Anthony. I find both claims ridiculous for that classification, which is essentially what I said in my post that failed to see the light of day.

            I have another post I am working on for Willis to deal with his exaggerations.

          • Don Monfort says:

            It will take some time for you to deal with Willis’ exaggerations, Pop. Are you sure it’s worth it?

            I am not persuaded by your debunking of the “myth” that E&E is a pal review journal favoring skeptics. Credentials of editors, mission statements, IPCC citings, index listings and so on and so on could all be invoked to debunk the “myth” that the major journals are biased towards the alleged climate science consensus, but we would not be fooled.

            I find your Misinterpreted Quote: “Political Agenda” correct interpretation presentation to be quite weak. I am perfectly capable of doing my own interpretations of quotes and I can clearly see that the E&E editor has admitted to being biased.

            I believe the Pielke Jr. quote that I previously provided sums up the viewpoint of most climate scientists, including the skeptics:

            ”[E&E] has published a number of low-quality papers, and the editor’s political agenda has clearly undermined the legitimacy of the outlet,” Pielke says. “If I had a time machine I’d go back and submit our paper elsewhere.”

          • Poptech says:

            Obviously you are not capable of doing your own interpretations as you just keep repeating the same debunked talking points. You simply regurgitate the first results you find using Google and post them out of context, even after being shown the correct context.

            You obvious cannot understand what the editor clearly said, is that she does not discriminate against skeptics simply because many other journals do. That does not mean they get published without under going peer-review, let alone your absurd claim of “pal-review”.

            Lying about E&E being “pal reviewed” without evidence is libelous and the editor has far too much integrity to be deserving of your smears.

            Pielke Jr. has not summed up anything but his own biased opinion. FYI, Pielke Jr. has a Ph.D. in Policital Science.

            Well known skeptics have published in E&E including,

            Dr. Singer, Dr. Lindzen, Dr. Michaels, Dr. Christy, Dr. Soon, Dr. Idso, Dr. Legates, Dr. Goklany, Dr. McKitrick and Steve McIntyre.

            You appear to wish to attack Willis at all costs, even including your own intellectual dishonesty.

          • Don Monfort says:

            You are pulling a Willis here, Pop. That slapping around you got from Anthony and the fanboys has got you unhinged.

            You have not put the quotes I referenced in their context. Your game is to refute a perfectly reasonable albeit subjective interpretation of a quote by citing a different quote that you merely assert is the correct interpretation of the other quote. It don’t work that way, Pop. People say revealing things that they later want to take back. It is not surprising that their story’s change.

            You say in your alleged debunking “Citations are a determination of popularity not scientific validity.” then you go on to pretend that 22 citations of E&E by the IPCC proves something. When you want to embarrass Willis, you point out that he got only two citations and one of them was in E&E. The number of citations is not a determination of scientific validity. And what’s wrong with being cited in E&E, Popsy? What about intellectual honesty?

            You say that Impact Factor doesn’t mean anything, but I am guessing that if E&E had a respectable number you would cite it as meaning something.

            Skeptical climate scientists have had papers published in E&E. What a surprise. Do you think that E&E was their journal of first choice, or journal of last resort? Be honest now.

            Accusing me of lying and libel is really stupid, Popsy. That inflammatory crap doesn’t do anything to prop up your lame argument. It’s also intellectually dishonest.

            I am sure that you have no problem with me calling the major journals that publish crap from Mann and other consensus climate scientists “pal review” journals. Well, E&E is a pal review journal for the skeptics. I am happy that they are around to publish some good papers that would otherwise never see the light of day. Just like I am happy that the conservatively biased Fox News, WSJ, Sydney Herald etc. are around as an alternative to the lefty biased so-called “mainstream media”. I won’t pretend that only one side is biased. That is not intellectually honest.

            Try to get a grip on yourself. Popsy.

            Unless something new comes up, this will be my last comment about this dead horse. You can take the last word on my lying.

          • Poptech says:

            Don, it is not a perfectly reasonable interpretation of the quote but an outright lie. If you intention is to lie about the editor of E&E then please keep repeating that dishonest talking point. Only the person who makes a statement can clarify the context. If the context is not clear then the author should be asked to clarify.

            I didn’t assert anything but spoke directly with the editor. Neither you nor the person who wrote the talking point you quoted made any attempt at intellectual honesty by speaking with the editor for clarification.

            The editor is explicit,

            “My political agenda for E&E is not party political but relates to academic and intellectual freedom.” – Dr. Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen, Editor, Energy & Environment

            Her argument is that skeptics should not be prevented from having their papers peer-reviewed simply because a journal’s editor does not agree with the position the author holds. This is a big difference from having papers blindly pass peer-review because of some imaginary political “bias”. Not to mention your distorted “political agenda” claim is a laughable farce because the editor is a social-democrat!

            If you understood the problems with “impact factor” like ratings then you would know that they are easily manipulated by journals and one of the ways this is done is to encourage journal self citations.

            Impact factor is a subjective determination of popularity not scientific validity. I have never cited these worthless metrics every.

            I am not privy to the submission process for these papers so I have no idea if a journal is first or last on the list but it is quite normal for a paper to be submitted to more than one location.

            The reason for listing the number of citations by the IPCC is to demonstrate that the IPCC considers E&E a valid journal. Some who argue against E&E will argue that the “main-stream” climate science community does not take it seriously, so showing it is cited by the IPCC so many times, invalidates this claims since these same people consider the IPCC part of the “main-stream” climate science community. I have never argued that the science in E&E is correct because of how many times it is cited in the IPCC.

            There can be many reasons why papers are not cited, including that people were unaware of a paper. One of the reasons for creating my list was to make the skeptical community aware of these papers. My argument against Willis was that no one took his work seriously (including skeptics), citations can be used to make this argument. I was not arguing the scientific nature of his paper. Much if not all of the skeptic community is aware of my list and the fact that he still has next to no citations tells me that no is taking his hypothesis seriously. Dr. Spencer’s revelation that it had been done before explains why.

            You seem to want to argue strawman arguments as I do not go around using the term “pal-review”. If you cannot keep what I actually say straight then please don’t make things up. My arguments against certain journals has been the documented evidence of gatekeeping that prevents skeptics from even having their papers submitted for peer-review.

            If you insist about taking what the editor says out of context when the correct context has been provided and you insist on making false claims of “pal-review” without evidence then yes this is libelous.

          • Don Monfort says:

            I will give you the same sage and friendly advice I gave to Willis, Popsy. Copy a competent mental health professional on your various flame wars of the last week or so. You need help. That’s all I have for you.

          • Poptech says:

            Don, I see that when you can no longer argue your points, you result to personal attacks.

            1. What is Dr. Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen political agenda?

            2. Why do I say that E&E is cited 22 times in the IPCC reports?

            3. What did I say was the problem with journal self-citations?

            4. Have I ever used the Impact factor rating to support a journal?

            5. Have I ever used the term “pal-review”?

            6. What evidence do you have that E&E is “pal reviewed”?

            Everyone reading this can see you cannot answer these questions.

          • Don Monfort says:

            E&E editor:”I’m not ashamed to say that I deliberately encourage the publication of papers that are sceptical of climate change,”

            I believe her. And since E&E is shunned by the climate science establishment, I don’t see any reason to believe that skeptics are not the dominant if not overwhelming majority of E&E reviewers. I call that pal review. I don’t care what you call it.

            Now you can carry on without me, popsy.

          • Poptech says:

            Does it say she publishes papers without them passing peer-review? Or does she simply solicit them because she feels their views are under represented in the debate?

            Why do you keep dodging very simple questions?

            1. What is Dr. Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen political agenda?

            2. Why do I say that E&E is cited 22 times in the IPCC reports?

            3. What did I say was the problem with journal self-citations?

            4. Have I ever used the Impact factor rating to support a journal?

            5. Have I ever used the term “pal-review”?

            6. What evidence do you have that E&E is “pal reviewed”?

            7. How can the “climate science establishment” be objectively determined? Therefore how can it be objectively determined E&E is being “shunned” by them?

            You have failed to provide evidence for your libelous accusations yet you irresponsibly continue to make them. Why are you being so irresponsible like this?

          • Poptech says:

            Don, if you are unable to support your emotional arguments with facts I recommend not making them.

        • Don Monfort says:

          It is interesting that Anthony closed it out on what he called a “high note”: the last lines of Moby Dick, with Poptech playing the part of Captain Ahab. It could just as well have been Poptech as Frankenstein and the fanboys as the mob with torches and pitchforks. How does it feel to be tarred and feathered by the rabble, Pop?

          The game was rigged against you Pop. Willis feeds the baser elements of the skeptic population with a steady diet of DIY AGW debunking and Anthony coddles him to keep the free content flowing and the fanboys in the seats. Tony can sacrifice a few critical thinkers to keep the eyeballs of the hoi polloi glued to WUWT. As in TV land, ratings count more than quality.

          The sad thing is that Willis could be a better man if somebody like Anthony would mentor him and reign in his excesses. Roy tried.

        • British libel laws are a joke. Gavin Schmidt should be allowed to express opinion on the quality of E&E.

  63. John Whitman says:


    I think we should just use the letters S.C.D.A.S.*** after the name of individuals who emulate Willis.

    Willis, S.C.D.A.S. => media and professional scientists take notice.

    ***Self-Conferred Degree in Amateur Science


  64. Jim McGinn says:

    Spencer’s attack on Willis is amateurish, sarcastic, and typical of consensus science. Nevertheless, I agree that Willis’s theory is mistaken. IMO, thunderstorms/storms are not describable as the mechanism that regulates/governs the exchange of energy in the atmosphere. But it isn’t wrong because other people thought of it previously, which seems to be the only argument Spencer can muster. I believe it can/will be shown to be mistaken through analysis using standard principles of thermodynamics and/or fluid dynamics.

    I believe a a comment on his Joe Postma’s website, Climate of Sophistry does more to dispute Willis Eschenbach’s (well considered) hypothesis than does anything stated by Spencer or any other consensus scientist:
    Joseph E Postma says:
    2013/10/09 at 4:53 PM
    And in regards to thunderstorms…what supplies the raw power to create those thunderheads in the first place Willis!!?? 240 W/m^2 can’t do that!

    I think Willis should refuse to discuss the issue any longer with Spencer until Spencer demonstrates that he is committed to avoiding consensus based tactics. Instead Willis should, IMO, take Postma’s comment as a serious challenge that should not be ignored if he does not want to be put in the same category of Spencer and other consensus based scientists.

    Jim McGinn

    • dp says:

      You must have seen something I missed. Dr. Spencer so far as I know has not said Willis is wrong, only unoriginal regarding the Thermostat Hypothesis. Willis as a minimum has redefined, or re-invented the term for his discovery without acknowledging the previous paper’s Thermostat Hypothesis claims. Perhaps a simple change of title would correct everything and Willis’s hypothesis would still be unoriginal but without the linkage to the R&C paper.

      • Steven Mosher says:

        ‘ Dr. Spencer so far as I know has not said Willis is wrong, only unoriginal regarding the Thermostat Hypothesis. Willis as a minimum has redefined, or re-invented the term for his discovery without acknowledging the previous paper’s Thermostat Hypothesis claims.”

        that’s a fair assessment.

        the general notion that clouds/thunderstorms could serve a regulation function is not unique to willis. its been proposed before with, of course, other specific details differing.

        one difference between the typical amatuer scientist and the trained scientist is this.

        The amateur is not required to read everything in the field. When i was in a Phd program we had a book list of about 200 books per speciality area and we needed 4 specialties. you were expected to know the shoulders of the giants you intended to stand upon. If you came to your director with a new idea he might say ‘ read X, x said something similar’
        You would then read X and that would PLACE your idea in a historical context. If you could find no precident ( very hard) then as an academic you would have a claim to originality. And folks would know that you had spent time looking. its your job to look. its your job to find the people who went before you. its your job to give “kudos’ to the giants ( or midgets) whose shoulders you stood on. Why?
        you do this because there is no gold in doing science. the rewards are psychological. ‘you discovered some truth’
        That is why citation matters. that is why reading all the literature matters. that is why listening to your peers is important. in the end your peers will decide if your idea is ‘new enough’ to be called original.

        the amateur has none of these burdens. he reads what he wants. There is no social obligation to exhaustively look to see if he has folks to thank, or prior art to discuss.
        When it comes to writing papers he typically doesnt cite those he builds on.. he cites those he disagrees with. Not always of course. To a scientist like Roy who is used to seeing a big list of cites, who is used to seeing the gentile bowing to tradition, the absence of this in amateur writing is very noticable. to him it looks like the amateur is tacitly claiming originality.

        In the end the social group of scientists decide what is original and what is derivative. they decide what differences matter. Its not an objective decision its a social construct. in the same way that art critics decide when an artist is original or literary critics decide that an author is original.

        • Don Monfort says:

          In this case, Willis the Amateur, desired to attain the status of playing in the big leagues. Now one of the old pros, Willis’ hero, has mildly tweaked the rookie for failing to conform to basic professional etiquette. Hot head rookie goes ballistic. Willis should have simply replied “I will endeavor to do better, Dr Roy.” Rookie needs further training in minors to gain maturity.

          This also reflects on the quality of peer review. Didn’t the reviewers notice that Willis was treading on R&C’s corns? Have those reviewers read the literature? Were they selected by that Richard Courtney clown?

    • Don Monfort says:

      Ah, the famous so-called Jimmy McGinn Thirsty-Jet-Stream-Hypothecary! You better get back to your little obscure website. It’s liable to crash from all the traffic you generated by posting this foolishness here.

      • Eyvind Dk says:

        Can anyone enlighten me to whom/what this obnoxious nick “Don Monfort” are/is?
        And why Dr. Spencer allow this nasty drivel to be publish on his blog?
        With regards

        • Because, reading his posts, it’s obvious he’s at least 1 standard deviation higher in intelligence than you?

        • Yonason says:

          “Wow, what a bunch of self-indulgent dimwits !!!!”

          No, eyvind.dk, that’s the folks at WUWT you’re talking about, where Watts and his minions stifle any comment they don’t think meets their arbitrary standards. Forced compliance isn’t my thing, but if you’re a masochist with low self esteem, you’ll love it there.

        • Yonason says:

          eyvind.dk says “Wow, what a monumental arrogance!!!” and “Wow, what a bunch of self-indulgent dimwits !!!!”

          Nope, sorry, but you are referring to WUWT, where Watts and his minions keep masochists with low esteem in line with their abusive and insulting restrictions on posting ONLY what is allowed.

          It’s apparently different here, and, come to think of it, just about everywhere else.

          With Regards.

          • Yonason says:

            Hmmm, sorry for the sort of duplication, but I got an error when submitting first comment (“already submitted”) so after I refreshed the page and saw the first wasn’t there (yet, apparently), I rephrased and reposted.

  65. Citizen scientists have been known to contribute to academia from time to time. There was that guy who wrote some stuff while he worked at the patent office. I forget his name.

  66. sky says:

    Pickard’s “Descriptive Oceanography” cites in situ measurement studies from the 1970s, IIRC, which show that that evaporation transfers more thermal energy from the oceans to the atmosphere than all other mechanisms combined. And Hamilton & Archboldreported to the Royal Society in the 1930s the profound cooling effect of T-storms.

  67. bev says:

    It is indeed absolutely standard that the surface of the globe
    transfers some 52 Petawatts a year to the atmosphere by conduction and evaporation/condensation. This compares to the entire input from the Sun, after allowing for the Albedo, of 122 Petawatts a year.

    Any (attempted) analysis of the heat budget which does not include this, is completely nugatory.

  68. Thank you for every other great post. The place else may just anyone get that type of info in such a perfect way of writing? I have a presentation next week, and I am at the look for such info.

  69. چاقی says:

    Excellent article. Very interesting to read. I really love to read such a nice article. Thanks! keep rocking.

  70. Great line up. We will be linking to this great article on our site. Keep up the good writing.

  71. Dr. Roy, having reread all the comments, let me re-open the discussion to make my position clear.

    My hypothesis is that a variety of emergent phenomena, from thunderstorms to dust devils to the La Nina pump pushing warm water to the poles, regulate the temperature of the earth.

    Regarding thunderstorms, my main insight was that it is the timing of the daily emergence of the thunderstorms that is the main regulator of the temperature.

    I find Dr. Roy’s claim that this is long-known to be curious, in that he hasn’t provided a single link to back up his claim. Not one.

    Now, I like and respect Dr. Roy, he’s one of my scientific heroes. But in this case, he’s way off the rails. My theory is NOTHING like that of Ramanathan, who Dr. Roy claims preceded me. I find NOTHING in Ramanathan’s work about either emergent phenomena in general or more particularly the timing of their emergence. Instead, he talks of something he calls a “super greenhouse effect”, something I don’t discuss at all.

    Here’s Ramanathan’s hypothesis, from their paper “Thermodynamic regulation of ocean warming by cirrus clouds deduced from observations of the 1987 El Nio”

    “Observations made during the 1987 El Nio show that in the upper range of sea surface temperatures, the greenhouse effect increases with surface temperature at a rate which exceeds the rate at which radiation is being emitted from the surface. In response to this ‘super greenhouse effect’, highly reflective cirrus clouds are produced which act like a thermostat shielding the ocean from solar radiation. The regulatory effect of these cirrus clouds may limit sea surface temperatures to less than 305 K.”

    I said NOTHING about cirrus clouds, or about the rate of increase of the greenhouse effect with temperature. Not one word.

    So Dr. Roy, on what planet is that Ramanathan paper about cirrus clouds somehow prior art to my hypothesis about the timing of emergence of thunderstorms, in which cirrus clouds and a “super greenhouse effect” are not even mentioned???

    So, Dr. Roy, the ball’s in your court. Please either link to someone discussing the thermoregulatory effect of the timing of the daily emergence of the cumulus field and thunderstorms, or admit that you accused me unfairly.

    Dr. Roy, I ask because I can’t overestimate the damage that your unpleasant claim has done to my reputation. To this day, almost ten years after you posted this, people STILL say something like “Willis, you can’t be any good, Dr. Roy said you’re a plagiarist and he’s a REAL scientist, not a citizen scientist like you.”

    And yes, I understand that if you parse what you wrote very, very carefully with the most favorable state of mind, you didn’t directly accuse me of plagiarism but it sure reads that way to far too many people who read it.

    As I said above, and you never responded to:

    “Dr. Roy, I have to assume that you dont understand the implications of what you are writing. You said:

    ‘Ive previously commented on Willis thermostat hypothesis of climate system regulation, which Willis never mentioned was originally put forth by Ramanathan and Collins in a 1991 Nature article.’

    Note that you didnt say I didnt know about R&C1991. You said I never mentioned it. This assumes that a) I knew about it and further assumes that b) I was concealing it.

    I was not the only one who noticed this. Several other people commented that they found your accusation of plagiarism out of line. Thats a very reasonable reading of your words.”

    Getting accused of plagiarism, or alternately of not doing my homework, is getting old. I greatly dislike putting you on the spot, and I say this in all friendshipit’s long past time to pull out your claimed citations to prior art about the timing of of the daily emergence of thunderstorms, or publicly state that you were wrong.

    I asked you for such links upthread nearly a decade ago. You ignored it. Almost ten years gone and I’m STILL waiting for your links.


    • Roy W Spencer says:


      I re-read your original post, and my response here, and I don’t know that I would change anything.

      Let me quote from your original article:

      “I propose that two interrelated but separate mechanisms act directly to regulate the earths temperature tropical cumulus and cumulonimbus clouds. Cumulus clouds are the thermally-driven fluffy cotton ball clouds that abound near the surface on warm afternoons. Cumulonimbus clouds are thunderstorm clouds, which start life as simple cumulus clouds. Both types of clouds are part of the throttle control, reducing incoming energy. In addition, the cumulonimbus clouds are active refrigeration-cycle heat engines, which provide the necessary overshoot to act as a governor on the system.

      A pleasant thought experiment shows how this cloud governor works. Its called A Day In the Tropics.

      I live in the deep, moist tropics, at 9S, with a view of the South Pacific Ocean from my windows. Heres what a typical day looks like. In fact, its a typical summer day everywhere in the Tropics. The weather report goes like this:

      Clear and calm at dawn. Light morning winds, clouding up towards noon. In the afternoon, increasing clouds and wind with a chance of showers and thundershowers as the storms develop. Clearing around or after sunset, with an occasional thunderstorm after dark. Progressive clearing until dawn.

      Thats the most common daily cycle of tropical weather, common enough to be a clich around the world.”

      -end quote-

      When I originally read that, I was taken aback, because (1) the convective cloud “Thermostat Hypothesis” had already been advanced and debated, and (2) the diurnal cycle is NOT evidence for negative feedback. (Climate models with strong positive cloud feedbacks also have diurnal cycles).

      Of course clouds and convection help keep the Earth’s surface cooler than if such cloud systems did not exist. Everyone knows that. So, when you say they “regulate” Earth’s temperature, let’s be sure to make it clear you mean regulate (in time) over the long term in terms of feedbacks upon any imposed change in the Earth’s radiative energy budget. Otherwise, you aren’t proposing anything new.

      This then implies you are talking about clouds and precip systems as negative feedbacks. You use the diurnal cycle in tropical convection as an example, but it isn’t. First of all, the diurnal peak in oceanic convection occurs at night, not during the daytime. Only near islands (or over the continents) does it shift to the afternoon, which is a local sea breeze effect around islands. If you would like references about the nighttime maximum in maritime convection, I can provide those, too. It’s caused by solar absorption during the daytime by the upper troposphere, which raises the temperature there more than the ocean surface warms (due to its larger heat capacity), which then stabilizes the atmosphere slightly during the afternoon. At night, the troposphere radiative cools, the ocean surface remains warm, and convection increases. Your experience to the contrary must be an island effect.

      But whether the diurnal maximum occurs during the day or night, it doesn’t matter. It’s not evidence of negative feedback on *change* in the climate system. Your “Thermostat Hypothesis” about tropical clouds (no matter whether a “super-greenhouse” effect is or isn’t involved… I think Ramanathan created that as a gimmick to get buzz for his work) has been debated well before you brought it up. Climate models that produce large amounts of warming also have a diurnal cycle.

      If you really cannot find the “Thermostat Hypothesis” papers on your own, I will dig the references out for you. But instead, you introduced a concept as something “new” that really wasn’t new. And as a result, I had to field numerous questions about it.

      The bottom line is you were proposing a convective cloud “Thermostat Hypothesis” and using the tropical diurnal cycle in convective activity as a way to support a negative feedback argument. It doesn’t. In fact, no feature of moist convection (diurnal cycles, warm pool physics, etc.) provides evidence of negative feedback. I’m not saying there can’t be a convective cloud thermostat, just that (1) the evidence you presented did not support it, and (2) lots of work had already been done on cloud feedbacks, and smarter people than you or me have been unable to find clear support for such a stabilization effect.

      If you really want to revisit this issue, write something up and I will post it on my blog.

  72. Dang, my friend, miss the point much? Let me make it real simple.

    You accused me of plagiarism, saying I “didn’t mention” what you claimed was the prior art of Ramanathan.

    But there was no reason for me to mention it. Ramanathan said that there is a “supergreenhouse effect” that works by changing the amount of cirrus clouds.

    My hypothesis, whether right or wrong, did not mention either one of those.

    So just how in the hell am I plagiarizing Ramanathan?

    And please, don’t say you didn’t accuse me of plagiarism. DOZENS of people, including people in this thread, have agreed that they read your words that way. I sure did.

    And I get accused of plagiarism to this very day based on your false accusation.

    Now, you might not have meant it that way. Fine.

    But you sure as hell have NEVER admitted that. You’ve just let it stand, and now you want to pretend the issue is whether the peak rainfall is at night or during the day??

    I implore you, either support your damn ugly claim of plagiarism or make it clear that you didn’t mean that. My hypothesis had and has NOTHING TO DO with Ramanathah’s hypothesis.

    I ask you to clarify this for a simple reasonbecause I’ve spent almost a decade defending myself from people who claim you did accuse me of plagiarism.



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