It’s Not About Me

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

One response to Christopher Booker graciously mentioning my work in the Telegraph is the predictable increase in the usual personal attacks on me, as opposed to attacking my ideas and claims. People are rehashing Tim Lambert calling me a liar because he disagreed with my methods, as though that meant something about me rather than simply revealing something about Tim. They point out that I am an amateur scientist (as though that were other than a badge of honor). I’m told that I’m out of my depth. I am constantly assured that I am not qualified to offer a scientific opinion on climate, because of my lack of academic qualifications (BA in Psychology), and because of the shortness of my scientific publications list. The supply of reasons given to try to convince people to ignore my work is seemingly endless. To hear people tell it, I’m not fit to kiss the boots of a true scientist.

My point is that none of that matters. Either my scientific claims are correct, or they are not. It’s not about me. Period. End of story.

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When I was younger, for decades I was a Zen Buddhist. There is an important saying that Zen is not the moon, it is just the finger pointing at the moon. Complaints, arguments, and discussions about the finger miss the point – the subject of importance, the subject worthy of discussion, is the moon.

That’s the ultimate egalitarianism of science. Doesn’t matter if the person who made a scientific claim is a world-renowned expert or a semi-literate ditch digger. They are just the finger pointing at the moon. All that matters is, can the claim be falsified? What are the facts that support the claim? What are the facts that falsify the claim? Is the logic correct? Is the mathematics solidly based? Does it agree with other understandings?

Whether I lie (I don’t), or whether I have peer-reviewed publications (yes, three with a fourth currently in peer-review) is immaterial. All that matters is, are my ideas right or wrong? That’s why I put my ideas up here in the public square, so someone can falsify them. That’s the game called science. I make scientific claims, and you try to poke holes in my claims. Or you make scientific claims, and I try to poke holes in your claims. I play the game from both sides, falsifying the claims of others as well as publishing original and falsifiable claims of my own for people to attack.

So, attack is the very nature and essence of the science game. But it is supposed to be an attack on my SCIENTIFIC IDEAS. Not an attack on me, not an attack on my qualifications, not an attack on my occasionally rough cowboy nature, not an attack on my honesty, not an attack on what I have chosen to study. Truly, it’s not about me.

Having endured this kind of abuse for some years now, I’m taking another look at my expectations. In line with that, let me make some requests to the people who comment here:

1.  Talk about the science. Not about my qualifications. Not about what you imagine my motives might be. Not about my fancied truthiness content. Talk about the science. I am going to start pruning personal attacks out of my threads, so don’t be surprised if unpleasant accusations get red-lined. I will clearly mark when I do so and why. I despise invisible censorship as is practiced at RealClimate and the aptly Newspeak named “Open Mind”. There, ideas vanish without ever being seen, no one’s mind is open, and I’m an Unperson for my impertinent scientific questions and ideas.

2.  If you disagree with something I have said, QUOTE EXACTLY WHAT I SAID in your reply. I’m tired of defending myself against someone’s vague misunderstanding of my position. I’m going to stop guessing what people mean. If you want to have a discussion, quote my words, otherwise I may just skip over it. So many comments, so little time …

3.  Have the courage to sign your full true name to your ideas. Take ownership of your claims, stand behind your opinions. Anonymity encourages bad behavior. If I wasn’t so reluctant to “fix what ain’t broke” I’d be tempted to make using your real name a requirement on my threads, except for people with valid reasons (e.g. they’d lose promotion points where they work). I’d miss tallboy tallbloke (misspoke the name, my apologies) and some others if they didn’t come forth, but I suspect that the signal-to-noise ratio would improve greatly. Whether it would still be as interesting to read is a separate question … in any case, no requirements, just an urgent plea for people to come out of the closet.

Additionally, as John Whitman said on another thread,

One of my several lines of reasoning criticizing anonymity revolves around ownership of ideas. If someone does not give their identity, it raises consequences in attributing ownership of their ideas and reckoning with plagiarism, misquoting, etc.

Another line of reasoning about why anonymity is controversial is dual personas. It leads to no restriction on one person representing themselves as many people, often with inconsistent views, personal specifics and professions. That is not intellectually honest.

So those are my three requests. 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. However, as with many things in my life, it’s kinda complicated, and involves a number of misunderstandings and coincidences. Pour yourself a cup of coffee, it’s a sea-dog’s tale of military madness.

The main strength that I bring to the analysis of the climate, curiously, is that I am a generalist. In a field like climate science, which is far broader than it is deep and encompasses a host of scientific disciplines, this is a huge advantage. How does one get to be a generalist? In my case, it was a combination of being a freak of nature, of growing up on a very remote and isolated cattle ranch, and of my curious interaction with the US Army.

I went to a two-room country grade school. There were 21 kids in eight grades, and seven of them were me and my three brothers and my three cousins. For the last four years of grade school, I was the only kid in my grade. I loved math and word play and puzzles of any kind, I sopped up knowledge and read everything I could lay hands on. In grade school, my folks hauled me off to Stanford University, where a guy who actually wore a white scientist coat gave me some kind of Sanford-Binet IQ test. They said my IQ was over 180. Freak of nature.

The grade school teacher said I could skip two grades. My mom said no, so the school let me go at my own speed. I finished eighth grade spelling in sixth grade. In seventh grade, I studied Spanish on my own. In eighth grade, the entire school district introduced Spanish education by TV. All the teachers in the county went to Spanish class one night a week so they could teach the kids and support the TV lessons with in-class training. My teacher couldn’t make it to the weekly teacher’s training, so they sent me instead. As a result, when I was in eighth grade, I was already teaching Spanish … I also completed a year of high school algebra while in grade school, which let me take college calculus in high school.

My mother was a single mom who raised four sons and ran a 280 acre cattle ranch. She was both a wise and a well-educated woman with a binge drinking problem, working for months without a drop and then going on a one-week bender. We never had much money. After some years of seeing other kids who always had better clothes and newer toys, one day I screwed up my courage and asked my mom if we were poor. “No,” she said angrily, “we’re not poor, and we’ll never be poor. Poor is a state of mind.” She sighed and relaxed, rubbed her work-hardened hands, looked wistfully at the summer sky, and added “I admit we’ve been broke for a while now, but by God we’re not poor …”

Growing up broke on a remote cattle ranch surrounded by wild forest like that means that if something has to get fixed, you have to fix it. If something has to get made, you have to make it. If you have to learn something to do that, you learn it. Growing up like that is a huge advantage to a future generalist. I came away with Leonardo da Vinci and Jim Bridger as my heroes, with the ability to do most practical things with my hands, and with the blind, wildly incorrect, but fervently-held belief that whatever needed to be done, somehow, someway, I could do it even if I had nothing but baling wire and a balky Crescent wrench.

In high school, I was the kid who carried a circular slide rule in his pocket and knew how to use all of the scales on both sides. Not a nerd, I was class president, but eccentric, obsessed by math and music and science. I ascribe my nose for bad numbers to the use of the slide rule. A slide rule doesn’t have a decimal point. So if you are say multiplying 3.14 times 118, you have to mentally estimate the size of the answer to decide where the decimal point goes. To this day, this sense of the right size for a number still serves me well. I often see a numerical value describing some natural phenomenon and correctly say “No way, that answer’s out of scale, something’s wrong”, even though I’m not familiar with the subject.

I started working as soon as I was old enough to legally work, the summer after my freshman year in high school.  That summer was spent was bucking hay, six ten-hour days a week, 35 cents an hour. I was fourteen. I was a Boy Scout. I got my Merit Badge for Weather, I found it fascinating. The next summer I worked as a bicycle messenger in San Francisco. The next summer (1963) I went to a National Science Foundation special summer school for mathematicians in Oregon. We learned how to program computers. I was in heaven. I had read about computers, and I had heard about them, but to see one taking up an entire room, with its relays clicking and vacuum tubes humming, was my science fiction dream come true. And they let us write programs and run them! I was hooked, hooked bad, but of course there were no desktop computers or work in computing for me then. My last year of high school I worked a 20 hour week, running the photo-lathe and the Fairchild machine at the local newspaper past midnight into the small hours of the morning.

By this time, we had moved into town. My senior year of high school, mom ran away from home. I woke up one morning to find a thousand bucks and a note saying she wasn’t coming back, and could I take care of my two younger brothers. I ran the house, made sure they had food and did their studies, and with some invaluable help from my cousin kept the home together for the rest of the school year. At the end of the school year I graduated as the class valedictorian, my brothers went to live with my dad, and I took a job as a cowboy on a cattle ranch up by the Oregon Border.

In the fall of 1964 I started college at the University of California at Berkeley, but I hated it. I lasted one year, and then I went to Alaska to seek my fortune. Instead, mostly I starved. I worked as a short order cook. I worked on a floating crab cannery. I worked emptying boats of rotten stinking crab. I worked longshoreman horsing 400 pound bales of pulp around a ship’s hold. And mostly I made my living singing folk songs and playing my guitar in saloons and coffeehouses. When it got cold I fled down the Alcan highway to Greenwich Village, New York in November, still singing. There, through the usual coincidences and misunderstandings, I lost everything I owned but my guitar and my clothes. I hooked a ride to Coconut Grove in Florida because it was warm and I was freezing. I played music.

Then the Army sent me a draft notice. 1966, something about a little conflict in Southeast Asia, they wanted cannon fodder. But if I enlisted, I could choose my specialty. I enlisted and chose, ironically, weather observer. But I barely made it through Basic Training. Halfway through, I’d had enough. I calmly told the Sergeant that I couldn’t blindly take orders from someone I didn’t know, because they might order me to do something I didn’t believe in … his eyes bugged out and he took me to the Captain. I told him the same story. The Captain scratched his head, stuck me in front of a typewriter and gave me a stack of papers to deal with. I graduated with my company, but I never marched or trained with them again. They’d roll out at five-thirty AM for reveille. I got up at seven, walked over to the Company HQ, did company paperwork all day, filled out the forms the Captain hated to do, then went to the mess-hall and had dinner with the guys. I desperately wanted the Army to let me out. Instead, they just went around me. Go figure.

After Basic, they sent me to Weather Observer’s school in Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, near New York City. I learned how the Army categorizes clouds and what an “octa” is, how to use a wet bulb thermometer, weather theory, what a cold front looks like on a weather map and what it means, the usual stuff, and mostly, how to fill out US Army weather reporting forms. And I was going slowly nuts. They wouldn’t let us off base at all. So I stole a Class A pass from the Company safe. Every weekend I snuck out with my guitar and went into Greenwich Village, and played music in the clubs and hung out with the beatniks and the people I knew from the year before and slept in Central Park. For a couple Sundays, I was playing in a club on one side of the street, and the Loving Spoonful was playing on the other side. But at eight on Monday morning they were sleeping in, and I had to be back in my fatigues waiting for the other soldiers to catch up to the instructor’s slowly explained ideas about the weather. That split lifestyle went on for three months or so, half beatnik, half GI. I hated the Army. I constantly risked arrest for being AWOL or for my stolen pass. I developed an uncontrollable tic in my eye, it twitched like a demon, I couldn’t stop it. I was losing the plot, my dreams were of endless wandering in  strange landscapes, I found myself lashing out in random anger at strangers, or brooding in my room for hours.

Finally, one weekend I had gone up to Boston, and through the usual misunderstandings and coincidences I couldn’t make it back to the base in New Jersey on time. That meant I was headed for real trouble when I returned. I decided I had to get out. I ate a double fist-full of sleeping pills, and told my friend to call the ambulance when I passed out. I woke up with the docs pumping my stomach in some emergency room. They shot me full of drugs. I woke up firmly lashed to a bed in the Terminal Heart and Cancer Patient Ward of the Bethesda Naval Hospital.

I stayed tied to the bed for several days. They fed me through a tube in my arm. I watched people die around me every day. One day, a man with kind eyes walked through the ward. He told the orderly to untie me and bring me to his office. He looked at me and said “Son, you don’t belong in the military.”

I could have told him I knew that, but I stayed silent. He said “This is a Navy hospital, I don’t even know why you’re here. The Army wants me to send you right back to your unit. I’m not comfortable with that. I’m putting you in the Bethesda Navy Mental Hospital.” I can’t remember if I offered to kiss his feet. I wasn’t tracking all that well.

In 1966, the US Navy’s idea of what constituted a nuthouse might best be described as nautical and quaint. It was a quonset hut divided in half from floor to ceiling by a chain link fence. Half was for violent contestants, half for non-violent. Plus in the violent half was the rubber room, where they’d put you so you could bounce off the walls as much as you wanted. They stuck all new contestants into the violent half, packed us full of thorazine (a very heavy tranquilizer) and watched us. Most of us were too sleepy to be attentive, much less violent, so we were let out into the other half of the nuthouse in a few days. There was no therapy. There was no radio, no books, just announcements from some Nurse Rached wannabe over the intercom. They gave us pajamas and a robe. There was nothing to do but watch crazy folks do their thing. And drool. Thorazine is great for drooling, I became an expert. I had been unfettered all my life, on the road, singing my songs, free as a bird. Now I was locked up in a distinctly un-gilded cage. My brain was regularly pumped full of happy juice. I was unhappy and depressed. I drooled and stared at the wall.

After a month there, the Navy and the Army decided to ship me to Letterman Army Hospital in San Francisco. Nurse Rached read the orders and the names out over the intercom and had the orderlies bring out a bunch of stretchers. Instead of pills, they strapped us each to a stretcher and shot us each with a mega-dose of thorazine. Things got fuzzy. They stacked us like cordwood in a DC3. I wanted to remember how close I was to the man on the stretcher above me. I found I could slide my hand on my chest in between us, but I couldn’t make a fist, and then the cotton wool closed in on my brain again. The trip took three days, with a different stop every night. They’d unstrap us, and we’d all stagger out like extras in a zombie movie. The first night I staggered into the bathroom and sat down, I was bursting from the day on the plane. When I finished, I realized that although I’d remembered to drop my pajama bottoms, I hadn’t flipped up the back of my robe, but I’d sat on the flap instead and filled it with human waste. I looked down, shrugged, took my arms out of my robe, and walked out and left it right there. I was loopy, half crazed and half dazed, tranked to the max and locked up 24/7 with men as far off the rails as I was, what did I care? I just went to bed and said nothing to anyone, being crazy means never having to say you’re sorry. Finally, on the third day we staggered into the Letterman nuthouse.

The Letterman nuthouse was in a building previously used as a holding prison for Federal criminals headed to Alcatraz. They took us into this prison and shot us up with a bunch of other drugs. They propped us up against the wall to wait for dinner. First I started feeling stiff. Then my neck started to pull back, I couldn’t lower my chin. My shoulder started to arch back. Then my legs gave out and I fell on the floor. My back arched further and further back in an insane contortion. I was sure my back was going to snap, my muscles were seizing and bowing me backward. I was screaming and begging for help. Orderlies came and shot me full of yet more drugs. I woke up groggy and tied to a bed in the violent ward, this was getting to be a theme. They explained slowly that I had spazzed out because they had given me bad drugs, but it was all OK because now they were giving me good drugs. Welcome to the Letterman nuthouse, where if you weren’t before, you will be.

I spent almost six months there, while the “Summer of Love” was going on outside the prison doors. After while, they gave us day passes. Me and my crazy friend Mel from the nuthouse would go to the Haight Ashbury. His girlfriend had a house there. His girlfriend also had a girlfriend, who became my girlfriend. After while, the Army gave us weekend passes out of prison. So every weekend, we’d take off our Army robe and pajamas that we wore all week, nutters don’t wear regular clothes. We’d put on freak clothes, paisley shirts and bell-bottom pants, we were unbearably cool. We’d go with the ladies to the Haight, play music, get weird. We went to the First Human Be-In. But every week we had to be back on the crazy ward by eight o’clock Monday morning. So we’d take LSD every Sunday night like clockwork, then turn ourselves back into the nuthouse with our eyes spinning like pinwheels on Monday morning, put on our robe and pajamas and watch the colors crawl up the wall and people’s faces change and melt … but it was worth it because it was more than a man could do to voluntarily return to that hole of lost humanity in a sane and sober state. You had to be crazy to go back there.

That split life went on for months. More schizophrenia on the half shell. The Army wasn’t much help. At the time they were mostly doing a lot of shock therapy. But they never did any followup. Me and Mel started doing what we could. I remember a guy who used to say “Well, they’re going to plug me into the wall today.” Then in the afternoon they’d take him out, and bring him back with his memories scrubbed whiter than white, dump him on his bunk to stare at the wall, and walk away. Mel and I and some of the other walking wounded would pull out his wallet and show him the pictures. We’d tell him his name, and say he’d been in an accident. We’d tell him that the young woman in the picture was his wife and the boy was his son. We’d tell he lived in Texas, and was a soldier in a war. That always seemed to surprise him, even without his memories he didn’t think of himself as a soldier, and I understood that perfectly.

After while we’d tell him that he’d been in a terrible situation in a faraway country called Vietnam. We’d slowly work up to the fact that he was in a hospital. After while we’d let slip that it was not just any hospital, it was a nuthouse, because we’d learned he couldn’t cope with that information when he was straight out of the juice box. And so bit by bit he’d start remembering stuff … but then after a week or so he’d start remembering too much stuff, remembering seeing and doing things no man should ever have to even witness, much less bear the shame and guilt of, and he’d start to shut down a bit at a time, until one day they’d take him off and plug him in again, and bring back a memory-free rag doll, and we’d start the process over again. The shock therapy helped him, before that he was catatonic and never spoke, I’m not opposed to the use of electroconvulsive therapy, it can work when nothing else does … but dang, the Army could’ve done better than leave his recovery to me and Mel.

Finally, after an eternity, four months in the nuthouse, they said I could go, and Mel could go too. We were going to escape, get discharged! The doctor signed our discharge papers. The Lieutenant and the Captain signed them. Everyone signed them right up to the Commanding General of the Presidio. He said Mel would be discharged, and I was to be sent to Ford Ord to be trained as a company clerk. Go figure. I saluted the guy who gave me the orders, walked out the door, and went AWOL. I spent a couple of weeks snorting speed and spending hours talking really, really fast to people about whatIshoulddo, shouldIgotoCanada, ormaybeturnmyselfin, noIshouldjuststayAWOLandhopeforthebest, I made up my mind dozens of times and unmade it again just as fast as my tongue could move.

Finally, after hours of listening to a record of Bob Dylan singing “Here I sit so patiently / Trying to find out what price / I have to pay to get out of / Going through all these things twice”, I took a massive dose of LSD and turned myself back in to Letterman Hospital to go through all these things twice. At the time I was dressed in Letterman hospital pajama bottoms and a tie-dyed shirt. The doctors just shook their heads and shot me full of happy juice, once again it appeared I was off bad drugs and on good drugs. I woke up lashed down on a bunk in the locked ward, this was getting to be a habit, no weekend passes for the bad boy this time. In a couple weeks they decided I needed work therapy. I was put to work in a small room with three black guys wearing pajamas and robes like me but all styled out with colorful do-rags around their heads. All day long they listened to the blackest of radio, “KDIA Lucky Thirteen”. They were great, they welcomed me as only fellow lunatics can. We ironed iron-on patches onto teeny holes in hospital sheets all day long, all of us buzzed on thorazine, all of us gently rocking and singing along with James Brown and the Shirelles and Etta James and Motown and all things black … great music education for your average white boy, plus I learned to iron sheets, what’s not to like?

Finally, seven months after taking a double handful of sleeping pills, having slipped between the Scylla of being plugged into the wall and the Charybdis of being sent back to the Army, and in a state both less crazy and more crazy than when I went entered the nuthouse, they let me go. I had outlasted them. I was given a General Discharge as being “Unfit for Military Service” … like I say, I could have saved them a lot of work, I knew that from the start.

So I was free, finally free, out of prison free, no walls free, living in San Francisco in 1967 free. No more unbreakable steel bars dividing the sky into a demented solitaire tic-tac-toe game. No more grilles and locks on the door. No ironing tiny patches on sheets for eight hours a day, only to return to a locked ward full of fellow sufferers after work. No more waking up once again lashed to the damn bed. I moved in with my girlfriend. She was dancing in a topless bar on Broadway. I was twenty years old, I couldn’t even go into the bar to watch her dance … but I was free, and I swore a very big swear to unknown deities that I would remain that way.

And finally, to return to the theme, somewhere in first months after I got out from behind bars, I made some rules of thumb for myself that eventually turned me into a generalist. One was that my motto would be “retire early … and often”. Another was that given a choice between something I had done and something I had not done, I would always do the new thing. Another was that if I was offered security or adventure, I’d choose adventure. Finally, I swore that I wouldn’t take any more jobs unless they had a fixed ending date. I was done with serving indeterminate sentences. The end of the season, the completion of the house, the end of the harvest, I swore not to be bound by unending work as I had been bound in the nuthouse, with no known end date in sight. Some prisoners in WWII concentration camps said the worst thing was the uncertainty of whether they’d ever get out, worse than the cold and the hunger and the beatings. I can see why. I had faced that uncertainty in a cold concrete building with bars on the windows for half a year, seeing men rotting away in a thorazine daze in the Letterman nuthouse, sometimes for years, watching some get shipped off to a more permanent lifelong nuthouse, not knowing if I would get out or if I’d get plugged into the wall. Yes, I’d take a job, but this time I’d know when my sentence would be up, and I’d be waiting for that day so I could retire again.

I have mostly followed those guidelines for the rest of my life. Since then I have worked at dozens of different jobs and trades around the world. I make as much money as I can as fast as I can until the bell rings, then I retire. I stay retired until I get called out of retirement by a great job offer. Or by an empty stomach. I have worked on all the continents but Antarctica. I lived on South Pacific islands for seventeen years. I have made money by making and selling jewelry, as a commercial fisherman from LA to Alaska, as a psychotherapist, a refrigeration technician, a well driller, an auto mechanic, a computer programmer, a graphic artist, a construction manager on multi-million dollar projects, a sailboat deliveryman, a maker of stained-glass art, a project and program designer for USAID and the Peace Corps, a shipyard manager on a hundred acre remote island, an international renewable-energy trainer, a maker of fine custom cabinets, a multi-country health program manager, the Chief Financial Officer of a company with $40 million in annual sales, the Service Manager for an Apple Macintosh dealer, a high-end home builder, a sport salmon fishing guide on the Kenai River in Alaska, and a bunch more. I’m a surfer, a sailor, and a diver, with Open Water II and Rescue Diver tickets and an inshore Coast Guard Skipper’s License. I have my Ham Radio license, Hotel 44 Whiskey Echo. My CV is here, it’s worth a laugh.

All of this has given me all of the tools needed to work in climate science. I understand tropical weather intimately because I’ve spent years observing it. I know the vertical temperature structure of the ocean because I’ve experienced it down under the surface. I understand climate as a heat engine because I’ve dealt with heat engines and refrigerators and their mathematical analysis and concepts for years. I’ve watched underwater damage to coral reefs from bleaching as it happened, and I’ve watched them recover. I understand the computer models because I never stopped programming after 1963. I have spent hundreds and hundreds of hours writing all kinds of programs, including models of physical and business systems. I speak a half-dozen computer languages fluently, and can read and write slowly in another half-dozen. I have also seen what the lack of inexpensive energy does to the desperately poor, I’ve shared their tables and listened to their stories. I know the vagaries of Arctic weather, not from books, but because I fished commercially in the Bering Sea and froze my guitar in Anchorage. I am not an expert in chemistry, or physics, or atmospheric dynamics, or oceanography, or computer models, or biology, or mathematics, or arctic ecosystems, I am self-taught in all of them. But I have good solid practical working knowledge of every one of them, I have deep understanding of various aspects of a number of them, and I have the ability to use the lessons from one field in another.

I became interested in climate science in the 1990s. My nose for numbers said that Hansen’s claims were way out of line. Here was my first and admittedly simple climate calculation. I figured half a kilowatt per square metre average global downwelling radiation (long- plus short-wave). People said doubling CO2 might be 4 watts per square metre. That’s less than 1%, and in a huge, ponderous, chaotic, constantly changing climate, my bad number detector said no way that a 1% variation in forcing would knock the Earth’s climate off the rails. I reckoned if it were that delicately balanced, it would have done the Humpty Dumpty long ago.

So I started reading the various climate science studies, but idly, as they came by, just to keep in touch with the field. The real change came in 1995, when we (me + wife + four year old daughter) moved off our houseboat in Fiji and back to the US, where I could connect to the internet … and opening the internet to a mathematically minded fact junkie like me was a heady drug. Suddenly, I could actually read the papers and go get the data and see what was going on. I wasn’t chained to other peoples’ opinions of the science, I could run the numbers myself.

Of course, all of this required an immense amount of study. But I’m real good at doing my homework. I once took a job to assemble, install, charge, and test a blast freezer on a sailboat in Fiji. I was hired along with my buddy who was a welder, he did the tricky soldering work, and taught me to do it. At the time, I couldn’t have told you how a refrigerator worked, but I knew the job wouldn’t start for two months. So I bought a college refrigeration textbook and ate, breathed, and slept with that sucker. At the end of two months, I figured I could build a refrigerator from scratch … which was fortunate, since what was supposed to be a full blast freezer kit with all the parts turned out to be a half kit, and Fiji is short on refrigeration parts. In the event, we got it built like we built things on the ranch, simply because I had to, so I figured out how to. The blast freezer worked perfectly, the wind came off it at minus 50 degrees F, about minus 46°C. It turned out to be an alchemical freezer, because when it was completed it magically transmuted a half-dozen one-litre bottles of vodka chilled to -40° (C or F, your choice) into a two-day Fijian freezer boat party that led to a couple of divorces, one marriage, headaches all around, and a wallet or two that went swimming. I was so drunk I went to sleep on a nice soft pile of rope, and woke up in pain to realize I was sleeping on the anchor chain … but I digress.

That is the kind of intensity I brought to my investigation of climate science in the nineties as once again I began yet another field of study. I don’t know how many this makes for me, I’ve done it for most new jobs, but this has been an obsession. I have spent literally thousands of hours learning about how the GCMs work and don’t work, about how the statistics of non-normal datasets differ from that of normal datasets, why polar albedo is less important than tropical albedo, how many populations of polar bears there are and what their populations are really doing (mostly increasing), how to program in R, the list never ends. The beauty of climate science is that it is a new science, there is still so much to learn, the opportunity to find out new things beckons because so much is unknown, I never get bored, and so I continue to study.

That’s why I think I am qualified to comment on climate science. I am one of a dying breed with a long and proud history and tradition, a self-educated amateur scientist. As the root of the word “amateur” suggests, an amateur scientist is someone who investigates things scientifically for love (Latin amare) rather than for money … which is fortunate, considering my profits on the venture to date.

I am also one of the few amateur scientists who has published anything peer-reviewed in Nature Magazine in many years. Yes, it is a humble “Brief Communications Arising”. But it was assuredly peer-reviewed, and strictly reviewed.

I also have published three pieces in Energy & Environment, the journal AGW supporters love to hate and slander because it dares to publish peer-reviewed non-AGW supporting science, a disgraceful flouting of wanton public heresy. Two of those three pieces were peer-reviewed, and one was an opinion piece. And yes, E&E has published some peer-reviewed stuff that has turned out to be junk … quite unlike say Science or Nature Magazine …

However, at the end of the day all of that is nothing but stories to tell around a campfire. None of it means anything about whether a claim of mine is true or false. I bring immense practical experience and thousands of hours of study and a very quick mind to the problem, and despite that I can be not just wrong, but stupidly wrong, embarrassingly wrong, make me say very bad words wrong. Because my hours of study mean nothing. My experience means nothing. It truly is not about me, the only thing that counts is whether my ideas can stand the test of time or not.

Anyhow, that’s my story of how I became a generalist, or at least a small and not real pretty part of it, it got more interesting after that. I tell it to encourage everyone to please cut me (and everyone who dares to post their ideas for public attack) some slack regarding the personal attacks. As my story shows, some of us have studied extensively and thought long and hard about the subjects in question even if we may not have credentials and diplomas and official positions. As my story also shows, you may not have a clue what a man knows and what he has done in his life and what he can do and what drives him to do it. Leave all of that speculation at home.

So those are my requests. Talk about the science, quote my words if you disagree with them, sign your work, and keep fighting the good scientific fight.

My regards to everyone, and to misquote Willy Nelson, “Mommas, don’t let your babies grow up to be generalists” …

w.

[UPDATE] I’d like to thank Claude for raising an issue that I actually thought would have come up long before.

Claude Harvey says:
March 1, 2011 at 12:03 am

Willis,

Now that we’ve been treated to a litany of idolatrous responses to your personal story, let us hope that your clear analysis and “ideas” are, indeed, not confused with “who you are”. Your romanticized account of your stint in the military’s “Med-2″ program is the classic account of a fellow who “couldn’t (or, according to your account, wouldn’t) do the time for which he’d contracted”.

I too joined the military at a tender age and I too was appalled at having to “tuck it in” and take orders from lesser (in my opinion) mortals than myself. The difference between us is that I did what I had agreed to do and you did not. Twist and turn it any way you like, that is not a very admirable bottom line and it reflects an “elitist” attitude (you were ever so too smart for such mundane endeavors) that I find very unattractive.

I continue to admire your work, but I do not admire certain aspects of your history.

Claude, thanks for your comments. Here’s the problem. Lets try looking at it from the other side.

I see what I did as escaping, in any way I could, from a lethally misdirected war. I see what you did as knuckling under to the tyrants who wanted to use you for cannon fodder in that unjust war.

Consider it in your own words:

“Twist and turn it any way you like”, knuckling under to thugs and going thousands of miles to kill people who just wanted you out of their country, merely so Claude’s precious ‘word’ can be true, “is not a very admirable bottom line”.

You see the problem? It’s far from a simple question. Honoring your word is important to you, just as it is to me. We agree. You think that you should honor the word you gave when you joined the military, that you keeping your word on that is more important than the life of some yellow-skinned guy halfway around the world fighting for his homeland. Me, not so much … we disagree.

Now, obviously, this is something on which reasonable men can and do disagree. It is not a simple question, there’s no right answer. I wrestled with it myself, as did you.

But for you to come in and try to bust me because I didn’t make the choice you made, and then to claim that you have the moral high ground here?

Sorry … in that war, there was no moral high ground. There was no honorable path, no middle road. A friend of mine was a Captain in the Army who was going to be a lifer. He was stationed in Korea. He took leave to go to see what was happening in Vietnam because he was slated to be sent there. Having seen it, he resigned his commission so he would not have to participate in what he saw (and still sees) as the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time against the wrong people … you gonna tell us that he should have kept his word and not resigned and happily gone to “kill gooks” because LBJ said so? Because I’d advise against you telling him that, since he actually is a pretty noble and ethical warrior, and won’t be impressed …

I have friends that made the decision you made. But they don’t put on your airs. They’re not like you, insulting people by claiming that it was some moral crusade and that they made the right decision. They don’t blame me for the path I took, nor do I blame them (or you) for taking the path you took. They know what I know. Nobody came out of the Vietnam War unwounded, there were no right decisions. Nobody made the “moral choice” about Vietnam, Claude. Not you, not JFK, and certainly not me … the most moral act I’ve seen in the context of Vietnam was my friend resigning his commission.

w.

…  from Willis’s autobiography, entitled “Retire Early … And Often” …

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358 thoughts on “It’s Not About Me

  1. Just an awesome description of your life and an instructive backdrop of your perspectives. Thank you for taking the time to share this….

  2. In the UK, amateur scientists have always been well regarded. Patrick Moore (the astronomer) for one. Well done Willis for keeping up the tradition.

  3. Willis,

    It is truly wonderful to have all this information about you. I value you even more highly than I did.

    However, you will never satisfy those who criticize you personally. They criticize you because they cannot criticize your work. Ignore them.

    The strength of your will is truly astounding. Someday you will be compared to Abraham Lincoln. Not necessarily for the greatness of your accomplishments but for your ability to keep going on internal motivation alone and in the face of great hardship. Of course, your contributions to science are great.

    You are providing great leadership. Keep up the good work.

    Best Regards,
    Theo

  4. Willis. There’s too much of this “You can’t do this because….” In many walks of life because you haven’t got the right piece of paper from the ‘right’ institution.

    Sounds like you came up the hard way and you’re not one of these arrogant academicians who know little of the outside world. Some of the stuff you write goes over the top of this poor laymans head, but much of it makes perfect sense. Sir, you are worthy of any accolades that come your way. Ignore the brickbats, your detractors and their hangers on are just ticked off that you’ve rumbled the gaps in their work. Keep it up.

  5. Willis: I totally agree with your comments on anonymity. I can understand why some practicing scientists might wish to maintain it for the sake of their own careers. However, for many it is a shield they hide behind as they launch their bile into the blogosphere. My point in commenting however is that science, like art or literature is an intellectual activity. Christopher Booker, Anthony Watts, Stephen McIntyre and indeed your good self are intellectuals. Intellectuals are not recognized by the letters after (or indeed) before their name, nor indeed by the number of academic publications or books written. Intellectuals are like good footballers – they learn to play the ball not the man.

  6. ‘As my story also shows, you may not have a clue what a man knows and what he has done in his life and what he can do and what drives him to do it. Leave all of that speculation at home.

    So those are my requests. Talk about the science, quote my words if you disagree with them, sign your work, and keep fighting the good scientific fight.’

    Hey babe,
    That is some story and why you ARE to many of US, A hero. As others are.
    Hope you continue to share us with you and your good family and hope to hear more. We’ll be poorer otherwise babe.

    And hey Willis, will always take you to task if I think your science has gone askew.
    If only for your good knowledge, opinion and skills.
    And always look forward to the retort.

    cheers
    Jessie

  7. As an ‘APOLOGIA PRO VITA SUA’, this reads better than Newman.
    Thank you Willis.

    Years ago I was once told that, as a bus driver, I couldn’t possibly know what I was talking about when I was discussing Newtonian physics in a Glasgow bar.

    I pointed out to my antagonist that being a stonemason did not necessarily constitute proof that Socrates was stupid.

  8. My point is that none of that matters. Either my scientific claims are correct, or they are not. It’s not about me. Period. End of story.

    That’s what I love about science. It is just so egalitarian. In real science the facts either speak for themselves or they don’t.

  9. When they won’t fight you on your science and attack you instead, it usually means your science is right and they are desperate to dislocate the messenger.

    Keep on message.

  10. A pleasure to read, Willis. And your cv is not ‘a laugh’ – it should be an inspiration to everyone who may, for whatever reason, have lost faith in what they can achieve, or have come to doubt that they have anything left to offer to the world.

  11. I agree with all your main points except this:

    Have the courage to sign your full true name to your ideas. Take ownership of your claims, stand behind your opinions. Anonymity encourages bad behavior.

    I comment on multiple sites, many (most) are political, some are infested with loons and subject to government monitoring (like AboveTopSecret), some are gaming sites. I learned long, long ago in the Usenet days of the Internet to conceal my identity. You never know when some lunatic stalker is going to get obsessed with something you said and follow you all over the Internet, and there have been actual cases of some of these people actually tracking down posters and stalking them in real life. Therefore I have always employed a “defense in depth” method to my identity on the Internet and I am not about to change now. I do use a real email address and can by contacted by site administrators, and I do provide my real name to site administrators upon request via return email.

  12. There a book in that story. Or a film. Wonderful.
    There isn’t a member of the Team (or any of their attack trolls) worthy to lick your sand covered boots.

  13. “I’m told that I’m out of my depth. I am constantly assured that I am not qualified to offer a scientific opinion on climate, because of my lack of academic qualifications (BA in Psychology), and because of the shortness of my scientific publications list. … To hear people tell it, I’m not fit to kiss the boots of a true scientist.”

    After the dust settles on this issue, no one will dare to play the “you’re-not-a-credentialed-peer-reviewed-scientist” card for a thousand years.

  14. Loved the essay. And I’m delighted that you didn’t find your way to the wall plug. Our world would be a lot poorer. I too have been able to re-invent myself, abet not in as spectacular fashion, nor in as many areas.

    Simply well written as usual. Thanks for sharing.

  15. In my view, generalists often tend to be the best at forensic examination of complex problems. Sometimes the specialists are limited by their more rigid construct/training, and sometimes they are bound into a pre-existing structure of people surrounding them. Your qualifications seem better suited than most to investigation of climate and forcings than most. And you are exactly right; the issue is the merit of the theory and whether we can falsify it.

  16. OMG – I feel privileged and humbled to have read your story and glad that I now know the human being behind the name. I do hope that you achieve your aim – as someone once said to me “A good idea is not proud of its author”. However, I fear that you will be vilified afresh. Those on the ‘other side’ of this debate have a very great deal of money and position at stake.

    I’m also not a scientist but a generalist and I say my thanks every day for people like you and Anthony and the WUWT community for allowing me to understand more on the truth of what is happening with our climate.

    Good luck to you

  17. Loved it. But I missed where you got the BA from. Only mention I noted was you left UC Berkley after a year.

  18. Willis,

    Great adventure. I really enjoyed it.

    Intelligence has nothing to do with ‘degrees’ or ‘credentials’. Those who try to hide behind degrees or credentials, are often the least intelligent of people, disconnected with reality.

    And intelligent people always recognize other intelligent people.

    What I value most is original direct observation, primary reality, by intelligent people. What I value least are those who live almost completely in a secondary reality that is just a rehash, or speculation, of something that is written in a book or article. (a tip of my hat to your Zen reference, and Buddha’s last words of advice to ‘reason truth out for yourself’)

    Your writing has a big thumbs up from me.

  19. Willis, I agree whole heartedly. Either you are correct or you are not. Its up to them to prove you incorrect based on what you say, no question your credentials.

    There are many people who have an interest in one science or another who study it deeply in their own time. Just because they don’t choose it as their career doesn’t mean their knowledge if any less worthy.

    Keep up the good work, I for one value it highly.

  20. Besides which, since when was Al Gore a scientist? The warmists still idolise him, no matter how many times he has been proven flat-out-wrong!

    The temperature in the centre of the earth is millions of degrees??? Not even close. Not even in Kelvin. No way! He is only millions of degrees, (give or take a couple of thousand) out on that one!

    He claims the seas will rise 20 METRES! Yet buys sea-front property.

    He has a personal carbon footprint 20 times the size of GW Bush’s.

    Yet warmists still spout his nonsense. Since when did real science EVER mean anything to them?

  21. Pleased to make your aquaintance Willis. I finished nine years in the UK army at Singapore in 1966.
    If you ever make it to Milford Haven in Wales, UK, I would love to buy you a round. Bring the family, I have room.
    Richard David Henderson

  22. When they can’t find fault with the science,try to find fault with the man.
    because they know they are losing the argument.
    Don’t stop what you’re doing Willis, it’s clearly got some rattled.More power to your elbow..
    Another thing to think about, is if these scientists are so sure of there standing/reputation then why when sceptics find fault/fraud in the methodology why don’t they ever libel some one??
    heres very recent one but its not one of the “TEAM”

    http://www.triplepundit.com/2011/02/climate-scientist-sues-skeptic-heated-exchange/

  23. Nice one, Willis. Re anonymity: I’m still using a pseudonym (it’s the name of a place where I used to live), but when I have some solid contribution to make to the climate debate I’ll go public. At the moment I’m just learning and asking questions, so my name’s not important and, as I mentioned on Judy Curry’s blog, I have ‘scientific’ associates, professionals and students, who just wouldn’t understand what I’m on about. ‘It’s all settled, anybody who disagrees is a denier’ is one theme. Other common themes are arguments from ignorance, and variations on the precautionary principle. When one asks a question they can get angry. You know all that. What’s the point of trying to converse with such people? As I was once told by a shared taxi driver when I lived in Libya, ‘There’s no communication here’. I know what he meant. It’s like a minefield. I know when to keep my mouth shut. But thanks, Willis, for raising the standard!

  24. Willis,

    I think many would want the title of your post to be ‘It’s Not About Us’ instead of ‘It’s Not About Me’. There are many who identify with you in a lot of ways. You hang in there.

    On a humorous note, another song that is also kinda relevant is Hank Williams Jr’s great ‘All My Rowdy Friends Have Settled Down’. : )

    I am of small ‘mom & pop’ dairy farm upbringing, so having lots of experience with cows . . . that gives me somewhat of a cowboy mentality.

    Well, it is about 10:30 pm here in Taipei, good night.

    John

  25. Willis I am amazed at your story. I have a cousin with a degree in botany and theology. He mirrors your story without the spell inside. He by design has done a different job every six months for the whole of his life and is now seventy. If I want to know anything I ask him, I always get a straight answer.
    Keep the posts coming the truth will out. I will read them with appreciation.

  26. Well, Willis, that was some read. I hope that it will have an impact on Mr Lambert and his followers.

    Has the said TL ever done any climate analysis himself I wonder? As a compulsive climate data analyser myself (I’d like to tell you about it some time), using software that I wrote and used to sell, I sometimes feel that many of those who comment on this sort of thing seem to have little or no personal experience of data analysis or even on data appreciation. Really liked your remarks about data “sense” – the feel for something being suspicious even without doing the sums accurately. Looking at the efforts of many journalists in the MSM writing simple stuff on science or engineering it is clear that they often have not the slightest idea of what underlies their subject matter. This turns me off really thoroughly. Let comments and opinions be taken notice of only when written by someone with at least some real understanding of their subject matter.

    Anyway, BRAVO! for your effort.

  27. Bloody hell, Willis. Talk about laying it all out on the line. Quite a lot of your story strikes a chord with me. I always knew you were some sort of wunderkind, but 180!! Even the Mensa test can only accurately measure to 167.

    I’ve always liked your articles. You have a unique ability to explain complex concepts to the common man (you’ve obviously been reading your Feynman). That along with your politeness to posters marks you out as what I’d call an enabler of people.

    Contrast that with most of the warmists that I’ve come across, who are disablers. And that is my one fear about what you have done in writing this post, that they will use it to try and slice you down. I just hope you will see it for what it is, a mix of jealousy, begrudgery, and a hatred for anybody who tries to pull themselves up by their socks and rise above the parapet. Kudos to you.

  28. Willis,

    Fascinating tale.

    I have a MSc and a PhD in my line of engineering. The latter is supposed to mean that I am well versed in scientific methods and principles.

    Thus I will claim that your are absolutely correct in your assertions. Keep up the good work!

  29. Willis,

    This explains a lot to me. I have always enjoyed reading your posts but seeing this helps me understand why. I have many parallels to your story but the most important is growing up in a small town, small school with no “disposible income”. Like you, I am mostly self taught out of necessity. There was no one to do something for me and no money to pay anyone. As a result you develop a “I can do anything” attitude because you mostly had to. Even though I am reasonably comfortable now, I still fix my own cars, build my own cabinets, tile my own floors …. Out of “been there, done that” you learn to recognize when someone is trying to pull a fast one. Thus the same issue I have PNS and modern climate science, my BS indicator is off the charts.

    So BRAVO to you (and thanks to Anthony for giving you the space) and keep stirring the pot. My dad always told me you know when your doing good when people start attacking you. If there is no conflict, your not doing anything.
    John

  30. As an aside, I still have my circular slide rule (Atlas), although I never really mastered it as the pocket calculator pushed the slide rule into the museum. ;-)

    I also skipped a grade, from 3 to grade 5. To parents considering this option for any of their children, I would recommend against such a move. (I agree with Willis’ wise mom here.) I struggled nightly in grade 5 (different school, different friends, different teachers, etc). My handwriting never recovered, as I missed grade 4 penmanship altogether. Of course, computers pushed handwriting into the museum as well. ;-)

  31. Thanks, Willis. Experience, grit, passion, and a nose for “truth” in a scientist. What a combination. So glad Anth0ny recognized a treasure — “It’s about the science”.

  32. Willis, while it may not be ‘about you’, you bring unique and huge experience, expertise and your own forms of genius (anyone with an IQ over 180 belongs in that realm) to a field that has been mostly the province of the polite boys and girls who went from school to college, learned all the right things to say and do and earned unremarkable Phuds for doing production-line, cookie-cutter science. Most of them would go on to become useful citizens who pay their taxes, marry ‘suitable’ partners and raise their kids in the approved manner of respectable folk. And under all of that protective colouring some of them are as dumb as a box of hammers and have the ethics of Wile E. Coyote. But they belong to the Club and will use any vilification to fight off those rare people who can sniff out wrong numbers and who take the time and trouble to learn and understand stuff that is kept hidden as the province of the academically-validated ‘expert’ who knows how to fight and survive in the publish-or-perish jungle.
    These people vilify you, Willis, because they see you as a huge threat, an intellectual Crocodile Dundee in their jungle. Go for it, mate.

  33. I think that people who resort to qualification comparison ought to remember the story of the Emperors New Clothes:

    “The Emperor’s New Clothes” (Danish: Kejserens nye Klæder) is a short tale by Hans Christian Andersen about two weavers who promise an Emperor a new suit of clothes that are invisible to those unfit for their positions, stupid, or incompetent. When the Emperor parades before his subjects in his new clothes, a child cries out, “But he isn’t wearing anything at all!”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Emperor's_New_Clothes

    Hans Christian Andersen didn’t unintentionally choose a child as the only person to see the fault. People need to learn all the messages in the story.

  34. Willis,

    I recall another amateur scientist who had a few good ideas. He was an obscure examiner in the Swiss patent office who had some ideas about relativity.

    Not to say that you’re another Einstein, but just to point out that history is full scientific discoveries made by “amateurs”.

  35. Well, Willis, I had thought that my life story might seem mildly interesting to a few people, but I’ve now resolved to keep utterly schtum. Your autobiography was not only very entertaining, but also damned interesting – and impressive. Many thanks – I thoroughly enjoyed the read. But enough (as you say) about you (or me); I agree 100% that it’s all about the science. And I’m still on the lookout for real hard evidence in support of the AGW hypothesis.

  36. So you are in good company: Accompanied by the greatest researchers and discoverers in the history of the world: All laymen. From Milankovic to Tomas Alva Edison. Is it a coincidence or just a “raison d´etre”?: The more information, the more self indulgement, the more self conceit, the less space left for real knowledge.

  37. Willis, sorry, forgot your point about anonymity – Coldish (above) has elucidated my position beter than I am able to. I do use my one-and-only email so webmasters know I am genuine, but that’s as much as I’m willing to reveal.

  38. Willis’s comments on scientific elitism are spot on. The scientific community is an island of aristocratic snobbery, a kind of cult which possesses a mindset about 400 years less developed than that of normal society within which it lives in a somewhat parasitic manner. The 21st century is seeing more and more of the world embracing egalitarianism, individual freedoms and rights, and justice, while professional scientists by instinctive religious-like insular reaction, cling every more desperately to feudal heirarchy and their Dante-esque view of a pyramid of human souls with different levels of value.

    It is deeply pathetic. Its about time what is happening on the streets of Cairo, Tripoli and Bahrain, happened in the scientific community.

  39. Stonking post – thanks for sharing

    The meditation associated with Zen and Eastern systems of philosophy makes for excellent training in logic. Your misadventures in mental health will have also burnished your generalist credentials

  40. Wow! Willis have you ever thought about putting all this down in a book!? I got to the end and thought – bugger, I want to know more!

  41. A very moving story Willis (may I call you that?). But one thing:

    PLEASE DO NOT LET THE BASTARDS GRIND YOU DOWN!!!!

    You are one of the most respected posters to this, the best science blog site on the web (and now it is official!). You always provide original, deep and thoughtful posts, and you always ask for constructive criticism. I am a graduate physicist and (one time) Chartered Engineer, and I have never felt the need to criticise your work – indeed, I have had occasion to priase it (like your masterful desconstruction of that bizarre Nature paper). And I use my real name.

    If you ever come to the UK I would be proud to buy you a pint! (or three).

    P.S. When are you and Anthony coming to the UK for a lecture tour. We sorely need you! I will apply to the Royal Society for sponsorship on your behalf, if you want?

    REPLY: I’d be happy to come, but like Willis points out, I’m broke but I’m not poor. Feel free to apply. – Anthony

  42. Thank you for your candidness. Elements of your education reflect a reservation I’ve always had with formal education; it encourages narrower and narrower specialisation the longer you’re in it and positively discriminates against the intellectual and imaginative free spirits. I can see why you needed out of it. Thanks again.

    Pointman

  43. Thanks for taking the time to post that Willis.
    In a perverse way it is kind of heartening when they start getting personal, it means they can not fight the message so they are going for the messenger.

  44. Love you to death Willis and appreciate your work, but please go easy on us “semi-literate ditch diggers” (I own an excavation and concrete construction company). Anyone who thinks it’s easy or mindless to operate a 40,000# excavator on a 30 degree slope ripping rotton bedrock and tree stumps has never done it. Our techno-centric culture has unfortunately lost respect for the hard-working men and women who make these types of jobs look easy.

  45. Thanks for the insight, Willis. The ability to use the slide rule and thus needing to know where to place the decimal point is a useful skill in evaluating climate science claims and proposed solutions. This ability seems to be largely lost to the digital generations but we still live in an analog world.

  46. Willis:
    “Here was my first and admittedly simple climate calculation. I figured half a kilowatt per square metre average global downwelling radiation (long- plus short-wave). People said doubling CO2 might be 4 watts per square metre. That’s less than 1%,”

    Yes. That’s the giveaway. It’s a hoax.

  47. You are correct Willis. The Wright brothers knew nothing of flight before they taught all of humanity how to fly. It wasn’t about them. It was about understanding what had been done by others before them (much of it wrong by the way) and pursuing the science and engineering that would enable heavier-than-air flight.

    I have been a scientist my entire adult life. To me, you are a true scientist. The people who personally attack you are not scientists. They are weak and scared. They want their theories to be true and know that nature isn’t on their side.

  48. Well for a week there Phil Jones knew what it was like being in the army so you may have something in common. I always wondered where all the Pommy cricket fans travelling to Oz got their ‘Barmy Army’ name from. You never stop learning.

    Anyway, had a bit of a rough trot myself with acute sciatica for 18 months in my younger days (pain does wonderful things to the neurons), which led to me generalising in Humanology. Dragged myself up by my bootstraps too against all the odds, fighting the prejudice of all my papered/lettered betters. I’ve had the last laugh on them all as an eminent, peer-reviewed, eggspert in the field nowadays. The odd grant would certainly help but you know how it is with all those highly qualified climatologists at the head of the queue but hope springs eternal as they say.

  49. Absolutely stunning life story, as for attacks on you. If you can’t attack the science then attack the man.
    Keep doing what you doing Willis you’ve clearly have some rattled.
    Thats one hell of a C.V.
    Tim Lambert…who?

  50. I learned a number of things about Willis I did not know. Let me add one.

    When in the presence of this man, there is not a hint of stuffiness, not a wisp of intellectual superiority, nary a clue of self righteousness that I have seen from some scientists in the climate debate.

    Today, I am more proud to call Willis Eschenbach a friend than I am about winning the Bloggies.

    He is a scholar and a gentleman in the truest sense.

  51. Willis:

    I’m constantly reminded of a fellow by the name of Faraday, who “had no academic credentials”. I’m also reminded of his friendship, late in life, with a “student” called James Clerk Maxell. I’m ALSO reminded that Maxell’s work inspired Heinrick Hertz (an academic) to EXPERIMENT, finding the “Hertzien Waves”. Alas, Hertz died young, but not before a mere “telegraph engineer” (translate, “wire connector”) got copies of his papers and set to work to make it useful, Guiliano Marconi.

    You can trace this whole connection (note: Maxell’s paper, “On Faraday’s Lines of Force”, 1861) right to the Wireless on your desktop connecting to several machines in your house.

    SO we should go back in time and “remove” Faraday, because of his lack of academic background? Your work is even MORE impressive than “those in the field”, because you come up with valid points…based on a keen mind and hard work!

  52. Great story, I enjoyed it. However, regarding your rules, I think that there is something ilogical in them, something that looks discordant to me given your introduction to the topic:

    3. Have the courage to sign your full true name to your ideas. Take ownership of your claims, stand behind your opinions. Anonymity encourages bad behavior. If I wasn’t so reluctant to “fix what ain’t broke” I’d be tempted to make using your real name a requirement on my threads, except for people with valid reasons (e.g. they’d lose promotion points where they work). I’d miss tallboy and some others if they didn’t come forth, but I suspect that the signal-to-noise ratio would improve greatly. Whether it would still be as interesting to read is a separate question … in any case, no requirements, just an urgent plea for people to come out of the closet.

    I don’t think I will ever use my real name here, because it is not about me, it is about my claims. Yet I understand that sometimes it can be unfair from the point of view of whoever I am talking to who actually uses his/her real name. For that reason alone, when filling the form we fill for sending comments, I am using an email address which is not my main address at gmail dot com. I am using an email address that is real and functional but whose domain belongs to me, as in the real me. And it is a domain name which is not whois-protected, on purpose. Anyone can know who that domain name belongs to. Regular readers do not have access to the email addresses we introduce and cannot get that information, but Anthony and any of the moderators do. That’s as far as I feel that I should go, its like hiding in plain sight. Should “who I am” become important at any point, it can be easily learnt. If anyone else needed to know who I am because they feel that it is not enough to deal with the claims, well… they can just ask. I would want to know their motives, of course, but probably I would just give away the information. Meanwhile the true identity only distracts from dealing with the claims. And you know it, because you suffer it.

  53. 1. Talk about the science. Not about my qualifications. Not about what you imagine my motives might be. Not about my fancied truthiness content. Talk about the science…

    I hate this phrase. I truly hate it. I hate it because it is misused by people who do not talk about science. It’s the standard political practice now, spend 20 minutes talking about how horrifically bad Mr X is, how he’s wrong, he’s bad for all of us, his ideas will be the doom of mankind, these thoughts he has will kill your daughters and enslave your sons, but but but, enough about X, lets focus on “the science.”

    I hate this. It is used entirely now as a cowardly retreat into the robes of ivory tower staffers after pale minions of non-curious bloggers have thrown all the mud they can at an idea they dislike but cannot disprove. It truly just turns my brain off when I hear someone say it. I wish people could stop saying, “lets talk about the science,” so badly I want to rename science.

    Keep in mind, Willis, I am not accusing you of throwing mud here or anywhere else. I’m simply expressing extreme dislike.

    …I once took a job to assemble, install, charge, and test a blast freezer on a sailboat in Fiji…

    That’s probably the craziest part of this story.

  54. What an interesting and varied life you’ve led. If you ever feel compelled to write an autobiography, I’ll be the first name down for a copy.

    And yes, agree with everything you say about discussing the science, not the person. But then again, I already did.

  55. My word, what a life. If you’re ever in Cambridge (UK) I’ll buy you a pint..
    As for the anonymity- my moniker was chosen during the beginning of the debate when things were still quite nasty. While I’m happy to stick my own head above the ramparts, I didn’t see why my wife and child should too (not to say I expected any come-back, I’m nowhere near important enough! I’m just incredibly cautious when it comes to family).

    Now however I keep it for continuity- I’ve learnt a lot in this debate, had some stupid ideas beaten out of me and I now think it’s good to keep that ‘thread’ going. It’s also for career reasons, as you pointed out (rightly so) you can harm your advancement and employment opportunities if you’re openly sceptical of AGW. As mentioned above- if you ever need to find out who I am (as I’ve said something daft) a mod will tell you my email and we can converse that way.

    Great read though that Willis.

  56. Thank you, Willis for the great post and personal introduction. Since I started reading WUWT in Nov 2009 (gee what happened then?) I’ve often wondered who you are and what your background is, and my Internet searches mostly resulted in links to unfriendly smears. But now I know, and I’m fascinated, and pleased.

    I’ll take a well grounded generalist over a classroom egghead any day!

  57. Just checking –

    Willis, when you described this tale:

    When I was younger, for decades I was a Zen Buddhist. There is an important saying that Zen is not the moon, it is just the finger pointing at the moon. Complaints, arguments, and discussions about the finger miss the point – the subject of importance, the subject worthy of discussion, is the moon.

    none of us should read it as a veiled attempt to “moon” your critics, right?

    [/grin]

  58. There is a point at which we all have to rely on the work of others if we want to get anything done at all. For instance, although I have done many many projects that normal human beings would not be interested in doing, I draw the line at smelting my own iron and casting my own engine blocks.

    Everyone draws the line somewhere. Most of the human race could not be bothered to learn the science behind CAGW. Most people will line up behind whichever ‘expert’ espouses something that fits with their own world view. The thing that amuses me is how staunchly they will defend something about which they have not a single solitary clue. They are on the wheel. Whacking them with a clue stick will not lead to their enlightenment for at least several more lifetimes.

    If people do not want to deal with the science, that is fine. You can’t do everything. (Don’t bother asking me how I know.) What is not fine is that they hurl abuse at those who have worked hard to understand the issues. We can ask them to refrain (as you have done) . We can also ask them to ask themselves why they cling so strongly to opinions which they do not understand.

  59. You have an amazing story and a great future as a scientist. I can’t really comment much on that though, but I would like to speak (as others have) about pseudonyms.

    You are perfectly correct earlier when you say that the only arguments with merit are those that focus on the idea, not the messenger. Most that use pseudonyms, such as tallbloke, use them consistently enabling the same discourse you would have with anyone. Usually it’s not hard to find the person behind the screenname but in any case the person is usually irrelevant. I know that the dialogue can become higly vitriolic in online debates, but this is the main reason for pseudonyms, to seperate the arguments from the person. This has its downside, but the alternative is worse. Allowing only real names won’t encourage civility, it will encourage silence. Anonymity and freely speaking your mind is better for vigorous debate than cautionary, reserved and stifling language in the name of keeping up appearances. I can appreciate that the downsides can be frustrating and insulting, and anonymity seems cowardly, but the upside is a freedom of discourse, a freedom to blow the whistle, a freedom to say what you think without concern for your real life welfare. Such freedoms, I feel, are worth the price of petty trolls and sockpuppets.

    Thanks again for all your contributions, and I appreciate sincerely that you put your name to them.

  60. Willis, thanks for sharing your life story, which is entertaining as well as instructive.

    On the subject of anonymity, I would be committing professional suicide if I revealed my identity. Since I don’t expect anyone else to pay my way, that’s just how it has to be.

    More broadly, not everyone is as extroverted (perhaps) as you are. My privacy is precious to me. And, as PP has pointed out, the world is full of weird people, some of whom get their jollies by tracking down others who have made their identities available through blogs or social networking sites. My name, like yours, is a bit unusual and it would take no time at all for someone to find out where I live and a lot more if they had my name. So, I am afraid it will never be posted with my comments, anywhere, anytime. But I use a real email address, and do not use comment facilities to be disruptive (I hope!)

    Keep up the good work.

  61. REPLY: I’d be happy to come, but like Willis points out, I’m broke but I’m not poor. Feel free to apply. – Anthony

    I’m from the UK also, and would relish the opportunity to see you and Willis lecture. If you set up a donation fund, I’ll gladly contribute.

  62. Willis,

    Max Planck said, “There is nothing more practical than theory.”

    You show that thorough and objective application of experience permits honest assessment of whether theory is practical.

    Many thanks for persisting in doing that.

  63. F[snip]ing Hell Willis!! Respect, man! :-)

    And wasn’t Isaac Newton an amateur scientist? ISTR that he spent more time in the study of alchemy.

  64. Willis Eschenbach says: I became interested in climate science in the 1990s. My nose for numbers said that Hansen’s claims were way out of line. Here was my first and admittedly simple climate calculation. I figured half a kilowatt per square metre average global downwelling radiation (long- plus short-wave). People said doubling CO2 might be 4 watts per square metre. That’s less than 1%, and in a huge, ponderous, chaotic, constantly changing climate, my bad number detector said no way that a 1% variation in forcing would knock the Earth’s climate off the rails. I reckoned if it were that delicately balanced, it would have done the Humpty Dumpty long ago.

    In other words, despite complete ignorance of the facts, you formed an opinion about climate sensitivity and spent the next 15-20 years confirming it. There is a name for that and its not science.

  65. If they want to get caught up in accademic credentials they should look up the guy who helped Hubble discover the red shift/distance relationship. His name is Milton L. Humason, and he was the guy that tended the mules used to get supplies up and down the mountain for the Mount Wilson Observatory. He had only a grade school education but he would talk with the astronomers on the way up and down the mountain. He asked a lot of questions and people like Hubble would teach him things and let him help with simple things around the Observatory in his spare time. He is co-credited with Hubble for the red shift discovery as well as Hubble’s law.

    He never got a high school diploma.

    I’ve dealt with the problem of credentials in my own life. I am a self-taught computer programmer. I started with a BASIC book and a TI99-4A when I was about 9 years old. By the time I started taking actual computer classes in order to get certifications, I don’t think they ever taught me anything I didn’t already know. The classes were merely for the pupose of getting it on paper that I really did know all that suff I said I knew. Hardly anybody belives me when I say that I was writing relational database programs for money when I was 12 (under the table because I wasn’t legally old enough to work). Not exactly what a company is looking for on a resume, unfortunately, because I can make the average college grad look dumb with my eyes closed.

    Keep up the good work Willis.

  66. A great post Willis! And priveledge to read.

    As an amateur scientist, (I like the term ‘autodidact’ better) and a generalist, myself. And with a similar life path, your story resonates in my soul.

    A fully functional human should be able to do a little of everything, and do it well, from diapering a baby, to building a house, to singing a good song; even if it’s a bit off key.

    “Specialization is for insects” ~Lazarus Long, from Robert Hienlien’s ‘Time Enough For Love’.

  67. I meant to just dip in to this article prior to getting back to work but was rivetted, as usual, by your amazing prose.

    I still say you need to add ‘book author’ to your c.v. ! You could sell many times more copies in one day than my dry academic book has sold in 5 years, with an instant and eager readership here at WUWT who would be happy to have a compendium of your experiences and thoughts and essays on science.

    Brian Finch commented that this entry, ‘As an ‘APOLOGIA PRO VITA SUA’… reads better than Newman.’ I was reminded of Newman when reading your instructions to Jerome Ravetz on how to write. Your writing style captures Newman’s dictum to stick to one theme or idea and make everything in an essay refer to that one thing: clear, brief and easy to understand.

    As for your history, ‘amateur’ scientists include the likes of Charles Darwin (if accreditation in a discipline relies on obtaining a university degree in that specialization). It is very encouraging that amateurs have been re-engaged by science, even if unfortunately out of a felt need to examine what is going on in an attempt to keep some scientists honest.

    Generalists rock!

  68. Well Jeese, Willis! Now I’m disillusioned! I thought you were just another Harvard dilettante. Careful with that “nose for numbers” though. I got that one stuffed up my own nose in engineering college by a grizzled old triple-integral-calculus professor. I’d complained that some of the “pure math” transformations he had us doing were a waste of time for an engineer because a simple math mistake anywhere along the line could put your final answer off by several orders of magnitude and you’d never have any way of knowing it. My argument was that for any “real” problem an engineer might be working on he would know ahead of time what was and was not at least a possible outcome.

    The old boy promptly popped me with the following “real world” thought problem:

    You have this enormous ball of twine. You decide (don’t ask why) to drive a stake in the ground at the equator, tie the bitter end of that ball of twine to the stake, and roll that ball completely around the earth while keeping the unfurled line taut until you’re back at that stake in the ground where you began. When you get back to the stake you find you have three feet of twine left over. You hate the idea of wasting that three feet, so you tie the loose end to the stake and go all the way back around the world shimming up the radius of the circle with a series of spacers to take up that extra 3 feet of circumferential slack. How thick would those spacers have to be. A nose for numbers would tell an engineer that “a wrinkle here and a wrinkle there over the entire circumference of the earth and I’ve got 3 feet of circumferential slack out of my line”, so the required radial spacers must be infinitesimally small. Do the simple math and, if you haven’t seen this one before, you will probably be amazed at the answer.

  69. Thank you for sharing your journey. I’m glad that I didn’t have to live through that. Life’s been good to me, so far.

    What generalists have is a sense of proportion.
    A grip on magnitudes and relative importance.

    I doubt that you’d ever have made a “good scientist” in the second half of the 20th century. The curiosity and diverse interests are not welcome in the institutions as they were a hundred years earlier. Your heretical tendencies would have been most un-welcome.

    As a generalist myself, I acquired an Engineering degree which thankfully taught me that I knew nothing. Instead of learning what to think, I learnt how to think. Instead of learning to acquire knowledge, I learnt to gain a necessary understanding; usually motivated by having to solve a real-world problem.

    Knowledge doesn’t solve problems. And nowadays, knowledge is easy to obtain but understanding remains a challenging pursuit, a hunt for that elusive creature in the woods, where knowledge may shine some light, but your increasing understanding helps you navigate to the prey eventually. Once you grasp it, all around you seems to illuminate and the pieces all fall into place.

  70. @Willis

    A smart guy like you should have figured out the easiest way out of the military is to do your job and complete your tour. I figured that out in the first couple of weeks of boot camp. I enlisted in the USMC near the end of the Vietnam war and was able to choose what I wanted to do. I got the highest GCT score on record for that recruiting office and every military occupation was open to me. I chose avionics since that was longest most technical profession the Marine Corps offered. I was 17 years old and ditched an MIT scholarship just to take the road less traveled but I wasn’t rebellious enough to want to make a living humping a rifle through a jungle. After the first few hours of arriving at Paris Island Recruit Depot I realized I’d made a mistake but I also realized the best exit strategy was to keep a low profile and do the job I’d signed up for. So I did. Eighteen months later I finished all my military schools. From basic avionics I chose Meteorological Equipment Repair for a specialty because that was the longest toughest school on the menu and with a wide range of electronics; closed circuit television, weather radar, weather satellite receivers and facsimile machines, radiosonde tracking dishes and strip chart recorders, cloud height finders, visibility detectors, UHF and VHF radios, teletype machines, digital computers and displays, and probably some more I’ve forgotten. The next three years I spend in sunny southern California near the beach at MCAS El Toro. The booze and drugs flowed liberally, the women were beautiful, everyone young and fit, we surfed and went snow skiing, ran our dirt bikes through the mountains and deserts, and Mon-Fri 9-5 a secure job with great benefits. I wouldn’t change a thing if I had it to do all over again. By the time I was honorably discharged at the rank of sergeant when my four year hitch was up I had already completed several college classes at Pepperdine Business School. I then used the generous GI Bill and got paid $600/mo. (which is equivalent to about $1800/mo. now) as long I was enrolled and got a passing grade in college 12/units per semester. I enrolled in summer classes too to keep the checks coming all year long. I stayed right in southern California the whole time in the closest community college and since I didn’t need to declare a major I never did and just took all the BS general ed classes plus a bunch of extra science courses which happened to include microprocessor architecture and a few different programming languages. By the time I had exhausted community college I had 70 units, all the general education crap out of the way, and had found my niche in computer science. After enrolling in Cal State Fullerton and before I started the first semester I went looking for a job near the university. I’d been working either part or full time while going to college variously fixing TVs, industrial process controls, and broadcast video editing equipment. I’d also gotten into hobbyist computing and had done my college computer programming homework on a computer I built myself rather than the college’s computer thanks to some accomodating professors. Anyhow, when I went in for an interview at a small company making portable computers they were so impressed with me at the interview they offered me an entry level engineering position at a base salary higher than BCS graduates were getting. So I never finished school and the rest is history – 20 years later at the tender age of 43 and seven years at Dell Computer when it went from a $1B/yr company to a $40B/yr company I was able to retire and I did. The next 10 years I pretty much got back to my ancestral roots, bought some land, a tractor and chainsaw, cleared it, put in utilities, built a dock and restored a big houseboat, then built a house. A blogged and googled a lot in all kinds of subject areas from politics to religion and science. I love hard physical labor and building things but the 20 year stint in computer R&D didn’t leave me much time for anything else.

  71. Sorry Willis, but it IS about you and what you represent. We are judged by how we express our opinions and how we comport ourselves when others agree or disagree with our opinions. Each time you present an argument you are judged on your integrity before the content of your argument is even read or understood. I have judged you as one worth listening to (for the entertainment value of your prose, if nothing else) and one with a great deal of integrity. I tend to agree with your opinions more often than not, but even if I was solidly behind the CAGW camp I would read what you had to say solely based on how others attack you and the snide comments that are used to try to tear you down rather than disprove your arguments. When someone begins to rant on a subject – even if I agree with the gist of the rant – I tend to tune them out and move on to the more reasonable contributors to the argument. Many others live for the rants and even try to start them by being Trolls and contrarians. I judge them too and their points are seldom heard. I too have spent an inordinate amount of time studying the subject of AGW (and all name permutations thereof) and have had my questions ridiculed on other sites. The simple statement and question that “this doesn’t seem to be correct, can someone point me to the literature or explain this to me?” was derided to such a degree – and encouraged by the moderators – that I no longer even visit the sites. So, I judge what they have to say by the way that they act. If they acted more like you do I might listen to them more. Therefor Willis, it is about you as well as what you have to say. Please keep saying it as I’ve enjoyed the reading of it.

  72. Willis,
    I always read what you have to say since I first encountered your thermostat hypothesis, which seems to me to be entirely plausible. The geological record indicates that the atmosphere must limit climatic end-points somehow, your hypothesis suggests how it happens. The idea that current and projected CO2 emissions will force the climate into disastrous warming flies in the face of repeated paleontological evidence that suggests that a warm earth is better for life than a cold or frozen earth. Also that a changing environment ultimately leads to more species. It seems many of the warm-mongers believe the earth has been static and is meant to stay that way.

    I have been proud to tell people that I started school in a one-room school house, which is an anomaly now, but most people did that before the midpoint of the 20th century. It gave me a head start in history and arithmetic, and helped me on the road to a generalist education, because I listened to the teacher explaining things to the higher grade students. There were disadvantages, most of which I was unconscious of, except having to endure the cold to get to school in the winter, which I didn’t suffer stoically, unlike my big brother, who had to drive the horse and start the fire in the morning.

    Thanks, Willis, and keep thinking and writing about this climate stuff, OK?

    Flask

  73. Each of us is here to teach and learn. It starts at conception and lasts till our death. Some, who are remembered after death, teach for a while longer. You have touched and taught many, you have felt and learned much. The amazing thing about life is that there are countless similiar stories, and while each is remarkably similiar, they are also so very different too. Now that is something to wonder about. Nice to know more Willis. Thank you.

  74. In Germany the concept of the “Fachidiot” is well know. It describes the chap who knows more and more about less and less, to the point where he is incapable of functioning outside his own narrow field. In the English-speaking world, we recognise the expert as the person who avoids the small pitfalls as he sweeps on to the grand fallacy. The generalist, the person who has experience of diverse areas, and the man with insight are necessary counterbalances to Fachidiocy, for it’s not academic background or endless doctorates which are important in revealing scientific truth: the quality of the arguments is more more important.

  75. Bill Gates = unqualified to create Microsoft – the guy is a college dropout
    Steve Wozniak = unqualifed to create Apple Computer – the guy was a college dropout
    Wright Brothers = unqualified to create airplanes – they didn’t even get simple High School Diplomas

    Never trust an amateur scientist. [/sarc]

  76. I recall but don’t have a link that a boy in UK with only a high school ed. some decades ago wrote extremely insightful papers on sociology and public policy and, without a degree at all was appointed as a perfessor of sociology at the esteemed London School of Economics – an institution with 16 Nobel Prize winners amongst alumni and current and former staff, as well as 34 world leaders and numerous Pulitzer Prize winners and fellows of the British Academy.

    Probably this couldn’t happen again with the Templar attitude that pervades science around the world.

  77. Willis, you say: …”I am one of a dying breed with a long and proud history and tradition, a self-educated amateur scientist…”

    I cheerfully disagree with you that you’re part of a dying breed. I doubt that your breed is dying, and I truly hope it isn’t dying. Throughout history people with stories like yours have punctuated human legacy, and I’d be saddened to think your ilk won’t continue to bless us from time to time.

    I too have rebelled in similar ways, but to lesser extent, and with an 80pt handicap on the IQ. I’ve made things all my life, and consider myself an idea person. I come up with the ideas, and someone else make’s ‘em work. Only they usually end up making the money. Like the ripped-off patent that would have had me comfortably retired years ago… But back to you…..

    If there’s odds to be taken, I’ll put my money on people with your background migrating to the “denier” camp, with far greater numbers here than in the AGW camp. One side smells like science (at least to me), and the other like religion.

    Thank you for sharing, Willis, I have the utmost admiration for you.

  78. It was nice sitting at the camp fire and holding my breath while listening to your story. Thanks for so much insight.

  79. Epic. Just totally epic. You have done well just to survive much less thrive as you are doing. Cheers and keep up the good work.

  80. Willis:
    Very impressive. I am going to share your story with my 24 year old son who is working through a lot of stuff.
    Your story about your back of the envelop assessment of the basic CAGW claim concretely captures my personal experience and, I suspect, that of many others here.
    I look forward to your next scientific contribution.

  81. A bunch of über-arrogant people tells the rest of us to stop thinking?
    WTF do they think they are?
    Wonderful story and keep going, Willis.

  82. “Simon Wood says:
    February 28, 2011 at 7:36 am
    REPLY: I’d be happy to come, but like Willis points out, I’m broke but I’m not poor. Feel free to apply. – Anthony
    I’m from the UK also, and would relish the opportunity to see you and Willis lecture. If you set up a donation fund, I’ll gladly contribute.”

    Mods – can you pass my email to Simon Wood? Maybe we can get something going here.

  83. One either has logical reasoning or not. Maybe one is born with or without it. Your posts are always scientific and logical. You are a scientist, in my book. I am a professional physical chemist for 40+ years, and I know a scientist when I see one.

    BTW, Zen is neither the moon NOR the finger. It is the planet Pluto, which is not a planet…

  84. I was a slow starter, too. When I was 12 I was told I had the highest IQ in my grade in the state of California. It’s hard to be different, but harder to conform. I also didn’t like Berkeley. Still don’t.

  85. Willis,
    One of the main reasons I’ve also become obsessed about climate science and read WUWT every day is because of you- you old heretic. Thank you! I think part of the reason WUWT was voted science blog winner is because of Willis Eschenbach. Like you, I’m a social liberal. As a climate science messenger to my liberal friends, I’m seen as eccentric at best and a pariah at worst. And I always thought it was the conservatives who were closed minded! However, my belief in social justice and alleviating the suffering of the poor, not to mention a lifelong commitment to conservation, environmentalism, and real science as compared to PNS, requires that I be the messenger and tell my liberal friends that I can think of no government decision, outside of war, that has caused more deaths and suffering to the poor , than the first strategic response to CAGW, corn ethanol. And the second strategic response, to tax carbon, has done much the same, raising energy prices worldwide and especially in countries with carbon taxes or cap and trade. Booker has written that deaths to the poor and elderly occurred even in Britain because of the huge increase in fuel costs. With all the cutbacks that our states, municipalities and the federal government are proposing, the same thing will probably happen here next winter. Thank you Willis for continuing to give this old teacher (song writer, field biologist, ham radio operator and a zillion other things though a zillion fewer than yours) the courage to describe climate science and the IPCC’s misguided and tragic role as I understand them.

  86. In addition to the ironic juxtaposition of the title and much of the content of this post, I also find the juxtaposition of these two quotes rather interesting:


    Have the courage to sign your full true name to your ideas. Take ownership of your claims, stand behind your opinions. Anonymity encourages bad behavior.

    and…

    My point is that none of that matters. Either my scientific claims are correct, or they are not. It’s not about me. Period. End of story.

    So, if I understand correctly, no matter the ideas that someone posts, they lack courage if they don’t attach their name to those ideas?

    And I’m also curious as to what, exactly, comprises “bad behavior”

    Would characterizing large numbers of academics as “CAGW frauds,” who “retreat into ivory towers whenever their ideas are challenged,” and are “manipulating data so that they can publish papers to protect their flawed theories,” due to their vested interests, etc., etc., also qualify as bad behavior? Does that bad behavior only occur when people don’t attach their full names to their ideas?

    Another irony, I’d say – given the degree to which such charges are leveled by people who do attach their full name to what they write, regularly, at this very site.

    Willis, does your 180 IQ prevent you from seeing this basic bias?

    The problems with the debate over climate change are well represented on both sides of the fence. Why is your focus on bad behavior, apparently, only focused on the players on one side of the fence?

    To some degree, the bad behavior that exists among “warmists” is in reaction to the promulgation of bad science and personal attacks from the “denialists.” Is the measure of those phenomena proportional? I honestly don’t know – but to pretend that there isn’t a causal relationship between them is as disingenuous as pretending that “warmists” can’t viably claim some justification for their resentment that their ideas would be criticized due to their lack of standing in the academic community – as opposed to the scientific validity in what they have to say.

    Let he who is always courageous and who never indulges in bad behavior cast the first stone, Willis.

  87. Wow, thanks for sharing that and there’s a book or three there. I had the sense you’d lead an interesting and varied life, but not that much. I’d also love to see the look on a typical big corporate HR person’s face when they read your CV. Ignore your detractors until they’ve achieved half as much as you have.

  88. Willis you’re correct. Its NOT about the person, no matter how impressive they may be.

    As a worker in heavy industry I’ve seen examples of truly competent individuals passed over for promotion because they haven’t aquired the required papers. I’ve also seen the alternative hired straight out of university who spends 4 hours looking for an imaginary tool that a co-worker asked for. I don’t wish to disparage the university process, it serves a needed pupose. But a piece of paper under glass is no substitute for years of experience in the real world.

    keep fighting the good fight, and may your interest continue to be piqued.

  89. So, essentially, the moral of the story is that you don’t wont people to mind your person only your ideas at the same time you don’t wont other ideas without being able to mind the persons behind their ideas.

    Sounds as backwards as when Stephen King of pseudonyms says that you should write under your real name only or like when Al Gore says to not use to much electricity. :p

    Usually people tend to exchange ideas, whether that be on the current weather or the next president or the current state of flux in the scientific community, before exchanging personal information.

    Anonymity is the fundamental right that makes sure people can freely exercise their rights to free speech. The recent hundred years kind of underscores the need for it.

    I have yet to meet one person that has required me to give my name before engaging in communication of the exchange of ideas on a bus, train, plane, conference hall, party, pub, beach rally, news net groups, or what not.

  90. Wow, I’m taken aback. That’s quite a story. I wish I were gifted with half the brains, half the drive, and half the guts you so obviously are. I thought I was doing well as a
    jack-of-all trades! I’m a babe in the woods!

    If we more often encouraged people like you, and presented you as figures to be emulated, we’d be a lot more successful as a society.

    Kudos to you, sir.

  91. IQ of 180, sorry but I doubt it, above 140 sure, but 180? You will get attacked on this claim, it’s only a matter of time. I even doubt they measure IQ that high, the only tests I have taken maxed out at 140+.
    For the record I think that termostat(?) theory of yours is very interesting and I like your posts.

  92. Mr Eschenbach, the people who say you couldn’t possibly know anything about climate science because you haven’t got a degree in the subject would probably say you could never have been a real cowboy because you haven’t got a degree in cowboying either.

  93. What a fascinating story. I know where you’re coming from. I once worked with a team reviewing structural engineering calculations. If we queried the numbers the response was frequently that they must be right because they had been worked out by a senior partner, with 30 years experience and a bucket full of degres and doctorates. We had to gently explain (so as not to prick their delicate egos) that experience and qualifications won’t hold a building up.

  94. Willis.

    Thank you very very much for your long story. And for your excellent Curriculum Vitæ. Amazing! A life like this makes a wise man. Nothing less!

    73… TangoFoxtrotThreeOskarMike

  95. As a parent with young children in the school system I once had to deal with an in-group of teachers with an attitude: Parents are strictly ‘amateurs’ who should leave education to the ‘professionals.’ Eventually I got so exasperated with this attitude that I became a ‘professional’ teacher myself, just so I could work in the field. There are many fields in which we are all amateurs, and both education and climatology are included. Too often, ‘professional’ means merely that you get paid for what you are doing. And there is a biblical synonym for that: ‘hireling.’

  96. Willis I love the idea that you are one of those who had to learn the hard way. I grew up on a ranch and intimately understand the idea that “It has to get done.” I laughed out loud when I read “I came away with Leonardo da Vinci and Jim Bridger as my heroes, with the ability to do most practical things with my hands, and with the blind, wildly incorrect, but fervently-held belief that whatever needed to be done, somehow, someway, I could do it even if I had nothing but baling wire and a balky Crescent wrench.” This is my life on the ranch. I am going to show this story to my kids. Props man, keep up the good work.

  97. Wow! Your candidness does you enormous credit. It’s a life story they ought to make a film about. I can’t think of many who would have had the courage & confidence to be so open. Well done, Willis. Of course there is a the risk that some of your early life will be used to cast aspersions & make ad-hominen attacks, but those are always the preogative of those in the wrong!

  98. Willis, I am an ardent fan of yours and can personally associate with your growing-up experiences. Unlike many you have achieved much and your intellectual prowess is awesome. What can I say?

  99. Willis… What a Great Life!

    I too am a generalist, but you definitely have me beat. First, I mainly play bass instead of guitar. I only scored 104 on my IQ test… Hey, I was late for my psych class the day of the test…. OK. That was my first class of the morning, and I was subsequently tardy most of the time, but I was really late on that day! :-)

    I came to be a skeptic through the Earth = Venus comparisons in the early 90’s. Carl Sagan, a man I greatly admire, was very fond of using this comparison, and even though there were obvious reasons why it actually wasn’t a very good comparison, no one in the press would bring that up. Because it was Sagan, well, it must be spot on. I saw just how willing and un-questioning people were when discussing this topic. I am not a “denier” and don’t question whether the world has warmed, or whether CO2 is a greenhouse gas. In light of my short stint as a geology major (calc killed the dream) and my knowledge of past interactions of CO2 and temps, I simply don’t think that the last 30 year of warming is enough empirical time to provide the type of certainty the Real Climateers demand, certainly not enough to rewrite the geologic evidence which shows no causal relationship. But, I’m also not vain enough to dismiss the possibility that I’m in error. The trends of the next ten years will tell a lot about the relationship.

    About two months ago, I got into a heated argument with my warmist little brother about something I had written on my blog concerning climate scientists advocating the implementation of rationing, and advising the rest of the world on how they should live. Jeff Alberts, a regular here and at my little corner of the blogiverse, suggested he read one of your write-ups on climate for perspective. My little brother shot back with, you guessed it – “Eschenbach isn’t a scientist and not credible” – and proceeded with the litany of ad-homs with which we’re all familiar. Before I could respond, Jeff scolded him and told him the same thing you advise in this column – argue the numbers and the science. The advise fell on deaf ears.

    Anyway, thanks for putting in the effort to help bring more honesty and integrity to the field of climate science.

    Michael J Alexander aka Sonicfrog.

  100. Willis,

    the best you could do: going public with what ever will be found on your life and your CV.

    Absolutely remarkable, impressive and courageous.
    Thank you for sharing this.

    Here’s something back for you. Keep it in your heart:

  101. This is video of WE at the conference. I predict this will become historic record of great science. Worth viewing and sharing.

    Thanks Willis for your great report above.

  102. I will say this Willis I read some of your essay to my wife she was laughing and crying in the same paragraph. You really need to put out an autobiography. As for the science there are very few people that can put the math and the concepts of climate science down on “paper” so that people like me (high school grad no special focus) can understand them. Keep up doing what you do and know that those who care about integrity will support you.

  103. Willis

    I would not be troubled by these personal attacks. It is a sign of desperation and the last refuge of the scoundrel.

    I consider that most objective people would consider that you raised many valid points about the worth and significance of that paper. The fact that those opposing your view do not wish to debate the points raised and to discuss the quality of the science but instead to simply seek to downplay the points made by attacking your credentials suggests to me that they do not have a valid answer to the scientific points raised by you. What a surprise!

    Keep up the good work.

  104. Willis-
    A truly fabulous post. I’d love to just sit around some time over a beer and listen to your stories. The kid in me still loves that.

    The only things I dispute are your statements:

    1. “That’s why I put my ideas up here in the public square, so someone can falsify them. ”
    NO! Disprove maybe, but falsify never! Your statements may be false to start with, but the person doing the critique simply points out the errors, they do not introduce the errors.

    2. “So, attack is the very nature and essence of the science game.” Scepticism and sceptical inquiry yes, Attack, no. Attack is something you do to a hostile invading force, where losing has dire consequences. Taking a long hard honest look at what somebody says is a different kettle of fish.

    I apologize for the seeming semantic silliness, but one of my degrees is philosophy. I have learned the hard way it is so often the unstated implications rather than the strict definitions that determine the impact of what you say.

    I would like to thank you for bringing up intellectual honesty as the core issue in the climate debate. Indeed, I see it as a core issue in far more than just climate science.

    Best,
    George Riggs

  105. Great hearing your story, Willis. Truely wonderful. It’s amazing what people can do if left free. Hey, it looks like Dr. Curry has found it, too!

  106. Willis: If they attack your person you must have said something they cannot falsify. Keep up the good work and thanks for what you have written so far. I always read your articles and feel rewarded.

  107. It is all just another distraction by climate (non-) scientists to stop people thinking for themselves and following the money. It’s hard for them to get people to beleive their BS with logical sites like this around!!

    However, there is no getting away from the fact that you smell, Willis!

  108. Willis,

    I have more formal scientific education than most PhDs and a lot more atmospheric research experience. I would trust your objective analysis before I would that of published PhDs with an agenda. If you need some help in preparing papers for publication, you can find my e-mail address at http://www.kidswincom.net.

  109. Willis, you are by far my favorite poster here. I very much enjoy your easy-going writing style and your practical, hands-on approach to science. I have an engineering background, and I also take a very similar approach. It’s refreshing to read someone who seems very connected to reality.

    Previous posted alluded to a very colorful past. Wow, I had no idea how colorful. A very enjoyable read.

    Thanks

  110. Great post, great story, and great point! I have often thought it would make an intriguing psychological study to try to quantify the correlation between the extent of one’s specialization and one’s willingness to accept CAGW “science”. From the tenor of many of the comments on this thread it seems fairly obvious that a more generalist personal history definitely leads one to the skeptical viewpoint. Like you, my initial reaction to the AGW hypothesis was the little man in the back of my had telling me something about this just doesn’t add up, though my then level of information didn’t allow me to specify what it was. Back then my personal insecurity lead me to, at least partially, accept the argument that it was just my personal inability to understand the sophisticated “science” that was the problem. But as I’ve proceeded on this, now multidecade effort to learn more, I’ve been constantly reminded of the old Sufi story about the group of blind men trying to describe an elephant. Climate science is littered with folks who have dedicated their lives to studying various aspects of the problem to deliciously high levels of precision, but seem to be completely incapable of grasping the notion that, once their particular lab rat is released from the bounds of experimental isolation that such study requires and must compete with a million other rodents in the chaotic environs of the real world, their easy assumptions about what they “know” may not translate.
    I still don’t claim to “know” that much about how the climate of the planet works, but have come to accept that as a qualification I share with most all of the more specialized actors in this farce. In the end it has been the form and style of argumentation used which has mostly moved my perceptions of the various players involved in this controversy. I find I don’t respond well to propositions framed in the preferred alarmist mode of “Shut up, he explained”.

  111. Willis,
    This is truly one of your best posts!
    I read it in one go and just could not stop.
    I, like you, am interested in all aspects of life (but allas, not even close to your abilities) and fully appreciate your work.
    I also think that the wider your spectrum of interest, the better you are qualified to pass judgement.
    Keep up the awesome work you do and know: there are many many people enjoying and appreciating it.

  112. Willis–

    Add me to the list of the folks who want to read your autobiography, or as it’s called these days, your “memoir”.

    I’m a regular reader (though very infrequent commenter) of WUT since August ’09 and have gotten an enormous amount out of the site–but it has to be one of the top posts, ever.

    Keep writing, and seriously consider that memoir!

    –J

  113. I haven’t read all of the comments above, but writing that autobiography sounds like a must.

    There’s a lot about me in a piece to say it’s not about me. Thankfully.

    An absolute joy to read.

  114. Willis,

    Wow – what a story. As a matter of fact, I will read your texts now positively biased.

    Un abrazo desde Chile,

    Matt

  115. Alex

    I was tested at 176, so I have no doubt it is possible. But it is also important to know what test is being used. They only work well for comparisons when comparing to the same test. In some genius level is 140, others above 160. But don’t put too much into IQ. I know people that scored higher than me that can’t program a vcr.

    I too have a farm background and I can attest to the idea that being a generalist can be a side effect of this. One day you might be rebuilding a tractor motor, the next you are reviewing chemicals to decide what will work best, the next rewiring your house, the next you might be designing a new machine to match a specific problem and then you fabricate it yourself.

    I also have my university degrees, but I don’t consider them important in the slightest to my education. They were just steps you had to go through to get a modern accreditation. I found university to mostly be uneducational, in that very little of it encouraged free thinking. Most of it was memorization and regurgitation of the professors beliefs. Deviation from the “accepted” line only caused confrontation. Of course there was some exceptions and they were the bright points of my time there.

    The feeling of satisfaction of learning something new also acts as a stimulant to learn more. That is what drives the true generalist. One of the things I love about my current work, as an achitect, is the fact that it covers so many other areas and interests.

    But I think this does bring up the important problem in climate science. Climate is not a specialized field. It is so broad it covers almost everything in all branches of science. Chemical reactions, fluid dynamics, plant biology, planetary physics, solar physics, ocean physics, geothermal physics, geology, history, computer modeling, scientific measuring, statistics, mathematics…..and I am sure we could double that list if we spent another 30 seconds. How can you claim someone who studies only climate history or radiation budgets as an expert in something so broad?

    We have a whole bunch of people that study a small piece of the big picture. How can they claim they understand everything involved? They spend all their time focusing on one trees in one valley, then declare they are experts in forest biology. To claim to be a climate expert, is to show your ignorance.

    This is the problem we will see more and more as we tackle bigger and bigger concepts in science. It often takes a lifetime or more to understand the minutia of one small bit, of one small section, of the general concept we are studying. Such as genetics or climate. This is complicated further by the people who always want to rush forward with every little discovery and make grand pronouncements. And even more by people outside the research who want to use the discoveries for politics or profit.

    It will take the combined efforts of generalists and specialists if we ever hope to move forward in our understanding of the increasing complex branch of science. If they are just gonna each declare the other is stupid and build bunkers then perhaps we have hit the end of our ability to forward science.

    My thought of the day: “If you look closely at a problem and find you don’t have more new questions than answers, then you are not really looking.”

  116. David L, I know Americans tend believe myths about their nation and every nation on earth does that, but research the history of aviation and you will find that the Wright brothers were not the first to fly, or even the first Americans to fly; a Frenchman, an American and an utterly isolated New Zealander were all ahead of the Wrights. Why powered flight became a reality almost simultaneously, who knows? Other engineering/technological breakthroughs have had a similar synchronycity and it seems that when Man is suddenly ready to take a big step, it happens all over.

  117. A fantastic story Willis. It proves two things to me
    1. The people who always treated you with fairness and respect, were right to do so , for you are a legend.

    2. We have to keep treating the opposition with fairness and respect, for they too are people, and some of them too, may be legends. we just dont know it yet

    EO

  118. Willis the Anarchist demonstrating what independent thought should be: skeptical and ultimately heretical. A colourful life with the common thread of non-conformity and independence running throughout.

  119. Mr. Eschenbach–
    Wow, what a story! I have always liked your writing and I agree with your position on “It’s not about me”. I like how you have expressed it. Well, I hope you are still reading this far down the comments, because I want to share with you, a generalist, what was once told to me by one Harold Hay: “If you have what it takes, you don’t need a PhD; and if you DON’T have what it takes, then you DO need a PhD!” (I suspect you already knew this.) Best of luck, and grace, and keep it up!

  120. erik sloneker says:
    February 28, 2011 at 7:08 am

    Love you to death Willis and appreciate your work, but please go easy on us “semi-literate ditch diggers” (I own an excavation and concrete construction company). Anyone who thinks it’s easy or mindless to operate a 40,000# excavator on a 30 degree slope ripping rotton bedrock and tree stumps has never done it. Our techno-centric culture has unfortunately lost respect for the hard-working men and women who make these types of jobs look easy.

    After the Army left me, I tried to go back to college at UC Santa Cruz. At the time I was a twenty-one-year-old commercial fisherman for squid and anchovies in the Pacific off Monterrey, home of Steinbeck’s cannery row. But the marine biology course I wanted to take was at 8 AM, and I was fishing from dusk to dawn. Couldn’t stay awake for the classes, the teacher frowned at me a lot. After a month I threw up my hands.

    The fishing season ended, and I had dropped out of school. My retirement money ran out, I needed work, so I joined the Laborers and Hod-Carriers Union. First place they sent me? Up to the UCSC campus to dig ditches, but somehow they forgot the part about giving me the 20 ton excavator you mention above, orders must’ve gotten lost in the mail or something. Instead, they issued us each with what was then called a Swedish Banjo (yeah, I know, not PC, but who was in 1968?) and put us in the ditch. The cute college girls walking by and looking down found my rapid descent absolutely hilarious, but as I recall the humor in it escaped me at the time.

    All I remember thinking then was, “Wow! My dad said if I dropped out of college I’d end up a ditch digger, but I didn’t realize it would be this fast …”

    So Erik, I have nothing but respect for ditch diggers … been there, dug that.

    w.

  121. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I have long been troubled by why describing myself as ‘a generalist’ never seemed quite complete. Now I know.

    Your writing here is an inspiration, and I am deeply impressed. Get in touch. There is much I would relish discussing with you.

  122. “Anyhow, that’s my story of how I became a generalist, or at least a small and not real pretty part of it, it got more interesting after that…..”

    Sheesh Willis! I don’t think I could take the ‘more interesting’ bit. You’re just freakin’ awesome. I just hope someone sends this to Speilberg. ;-)

  123. RE: … My point is that none of that matters. Either my scientific claims are correct, or they are not. It’s not about me. Period. End of story.

    That about sums it up. The argument either stands or it doesn’t. Any attempt to point to the person and say, ignore him/her because … is the logical fallacy, “ad hominem” or “attack the man, not the argument”. It’s wrong and foolish.

    As a side note, I had environmentalists launch into an attack into What’s Up With That, attacking the person who runs it. Maybe they think I’m stupid and will buy into their fallacy.

  124. Re: Alex says:
    February 28, 2011 at 8:47 am

    ” I even doubt they measure IQ that high, the only tests I have taken maxed out at 140+.”

    Based on the above statement, I must conclude that if you maxed out the standard “140+” test, there was something seriously wrong with the test you were given. Ya’ might want to read up on “IQ testing”.

  125. johanna says:
    February 28, 2011 at 7:35 am

    Willis, thanks for sharing your life story, which is entertaining as well as instructive.

    On the subject of anonymity, I would be committing professional suicide if I revealed my identity. Since I don’t expect anyone else to pay my way, that’s just how it has to be.

    More broadly, not everyone is as extroverted (perhaps) as you are. My privacy is precious to me. And, as PP has pointed out, the world is full of weird people, some of whom get their jollies by tracking down others who have made their identities available through blogs or social networking sites. My name, like yours, is a bit unusual and it would take no time at all for someone to find out where I live and a lot more if they had my name. So, I am afraid it will never be posted with my comments, anywhere, anytime. But I use a real email address, and do not use comment facilities to be disruptive (I hope!)

    Johanna and others who have raised the issue, as I said above I understand the desire for anonymity, and why some people do it.

    It all came to a head for me when, as a protest against the Cartoon Wars in 2006, I did 12 cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, PBUH, in honor of the 12 Danish cartoonist … my work alone, don’t bust Anthony for it, don’t download it if drawings of a guy with a turban give you the vapors. I can guarantee you, that put me face to face with the problem of anonymity.

    My final conclusion was to damn the torpedoes and go full speed ahead … surprising, I know, given my history. I decided that if I was afraid of them coming after me, that was OK. Fear’s part of life. But if I didn’t put them out there under my own name, if I let the fear rule me, the thugs had won. Not being a devotee of Thuggee, I didn’t want that. So I stuck them up on my web site, and there they sit with my name on them.

    I am also in the enviable position of never having to put up with work conditions that might require my anonymity. Many people are not that fortunate.

    So am I concerned about AGW supporters being opposed to my scientific work? Not half as much as I am about people being opposed to my cartoons, compared to that, even the raving loonies on the AGW side seem toothless …

    Bottom line? The choice is yours. I’ve been too many places and seen too many things to think my choice would resemble anyone else’s, plus I’m in my middle youth, so for me the choice is easy. I recognize that everyone has to live their own life and deal their own fears in their own manner.

    In any case, my thanks to johanna and all the contributors, anonymous or un.

    w.

  126. Walter Schneider says:
    February 28, 2011 at 7:36 am

    Willis,

    Max Planck said, “There is nothing more practical than theory.”

    My recent favorite, from a comment on one of my threads, was “The difference between theory and practice is greater in practice than in theory” …

    w.

  127. “Amateur Scientist” – a dergoatory term meaing absolutely nothing except the bias of the speaker!

    “Amateur Scientists” working outside the support of academia have made significant contributions. As an example, it is worth a quick read about James Croll – another “amateur scientist”. See:

    http://www.scottish-places.info/people/famousfirst1577.html

    Also Wiki.

    James Croll was a self-taught amateur Scottish scientist who developed the theory of the link between climate cycles and orbital variations, commonly referred to as Milankovich Cycles. Milankovich, however, was not even born when Croll’s book was published. And Croll had been working on it while a janitor/caretaker at a Glasgow Uni. for more than 15 years before publishing his ideas!

    “Croll-Milankovich Cyles” would be more accurate. They are sometimes referred to in this way (probably only be Scots …)

  128. ‘Stuart MacDonald says:
    February 28, 2011 at 7:40 am
    Willis Eschenbach says: I became interested in climate science in the 1990s. My nose for numbers said that Hansen’s claims were way out of line. Here was my first and admittedly simple climate calculation. I figured half a kilowatt per square metre average global downwelling radiation (long- plus short-wave). People said doubling CO2 might be 4 watts per square metre. That’s less than 1%, and in a huge, ponderous, chaotic, constantly changing climate, my bad number detector said no way that a 1% variation in forcing would knock the Earth’s climate off the rails. I reckoned if it were that delicately balanced, it would have done the Humpty Dumpty long ago.

    In other words, despite complete ignorance of the facts, you formed an opinion about climate sensitivity and spent the next 15-20 years confirming it. There is a name for that and its not science.’

    Neither is AGW theory, but as Willis actually looks out of the window to look at the real world, I know which is more rooted in truth than fiction.

    Willis can’t offer you another pint in the UK, by the time you reach this part of the posts you will have alcohol poisoning ;)

  129. Willis:
    just a note of appreciation for sharing part of your life journey thus far. I have always appreciated your posts, first at Climate Audit, then here and at Climate Etc., and I have long admired your measured, patient responses to the ad homs, the anonymous and the personal: I see now why those reactions may have irritated you but not really phased you.
    One added beauty of the internet is you discover how many varied people from all over truly value both you and your opinions.
    I would add that yours is living proof that a practical education is far more valuable than a purely academic one: information that can be applied is knowledge, knowledge applied to the good of many is wisdom. Too much of academia is obsessed with the assertion of information as if it represents wisdom, whereas the lack of application in practice supplants wisdom with arrogance and dogma.

  130. Willis: As unusual, as your life, may appear to you and others… you are not ALONE. There are many, here and there, with stories which parallel yours. It is in the “overcoming” where the real story begins. Tragically, if not for “luck”, we would not have heard your honest story, of overcoming. More people are killed by bad philosophy… than AGW. It really does matter! GK

  131. You don’t have to justify who you are or where you came from.
    There is a sense that all academic honours are distractions that lead individuals t0 take themselves and others too seriously. You know your own weaknesses and if you don’t, any teenage kid will point them out for free!

    In the story its the outsider, the small boy who has the nerve to say that the Emperor has no clothes.
    And yes, you are an outsider to Climate Science and perhaps because of that, can more clearly distinguish the woods from the trees.

    Columbus had no formal qualifications in Geography, but he went out there and turned fishermen’s stories into a new world. The point is, he was prepared to go and look, to check the facts and he had enough self belief to pursue it against quite substantial opposition.

    If I were you, I wouldn’t edit out the personal attacks. They are a barometer of how close you are getting to the truth in the same way that the sycophantic ones lead you away.
    Dismiss them by all means as ad hominem is always the last resort of those who have run out of anything worthwhile to say and the first resort of those who never did.
    If they can’t think or argue their way out of a paper bag, they are never likely to amount to much more than noise and chatter.

    Keep right on with the blog, the Elephant of Science is slowly awakening to the gadfly that is WUWT.

  132. Willis, you appear to have led a similar life style to Louis Lamour. Been There, Done That, Got the tee shirst to prove it.

  133. Stuart MacDonald says:
    February 28, 2011 at 7:40 am

    Willis Eschenbach says:

    I became interested in climate science in the 1990s. My nose for numbers said that Hansen’s claims were way out of line. Here was my first and admittedly simple climate calculation. I figured half a kilowatt per square metre average global downwelling radiation (long- plus short-wave). People said doubling CO2 might be 4 watts per square metre. That’s less than 1%, and in a huge, ponderous, chaotic, constantly changing climate, my bad number detector said no way that a 1% variation in forcing would knock the Earth’s climate off the rails. I reckoned if it were that delicately balanced, it would have done the Humpty Dumpty long ago.

    In other words, despite complete ignorance of the facts, you formed an opinion about climate sensitivity and spent the next 15-20 years confirming it. There is a name for that and its not science.

    Had I done that, Stuart, it would certainly not be science. Once again, despite requests, and despite your complete ignorance on the subject, someone has shown up to inform us all what’s going on inside my head … you don’t have a clue what goes on my head, Stuart. You seem to assume it works like yours, which is a scary thought.

    Yes, I formed an initial opinion on the question … what, like you never do that when faced with a new question, take your best guess at the answer? You’d be dumb not to … oh, wait, sorry.

    In any case, for a quarter century I have striven to see if that opinion was correct. I haven’t found evidence to overturn it yet, but if you have some, please bring it on …

    w.

  134. Roger Longstaff says:
    February 28, 2011 at 8:14 am

    “Simon Wood says:

    February 28, 2011 at 7:36 am

    REPLY: I’d be happy to come, but like Willis points out, I’m broke but I’m not poor. Feel free to apply. – Anthony

    I’m from the UK also, and would relish the opportunity to see you and Willis lecture. If you set up a donation fund, I’ll gladly contribute.”

    Mods – can you pass my email to Simon Wood? Maybe we can get something going here.

    I’m game, I’ve never been to England. My travels always seem to end up in the Third World, my acquaintance with the First World is much scantier. And like Anthony, I’m not poor but I’m acquainted with broke …

    w.

  135. Claude Harvey says:
    February 28, 2011 at 7:44 am

    3 feet of circumferential slack out of my line”, so the required radial spacers must be infinitesimally small. Do the simple math and,

    circumference = PI * diameter
    You need to add 1′ to the diameter, so approximately 6″ spacers would do the trick.

  136. Mr. Eschenbach,

    I hereby propose to the powers-that-be at Oxford University Press that future definitions of the word “autodidact” contain a hyperlink to your curriculum vitae.

    Well done “w.” Your efforts in climatology has made a real contribution to the betterment of human society.

  137. There is no Climate Science (yet, if ever).

    There are only scientists studying the Climate elephant from their own perspective of tools, other, more basic, sciences and biases.

  138. Behold – the universal man!
    Great story Willis – great life – great to read. No wonder your stuff is so riveting to read!

    Thanks
    Douglas

  139. Joshua says:
    February 28, 2011 at 8:22 am

    In addition to the ironic juxtaposition of the title and much of the content of this post, I also find the juxtaposition of these two quotes rather interesting:

    Have the courage to sign your full true name to your ideas. Take ownership of your claims, stand behind your opinions. Anonymity encourages bad behavior.

    and…

    My point is that none of that matters. Either my scientific claims are correct, or they are not. It’s not about me. Period. End of story.

    So, if I understand correctly, no matter the ideas that someone posts, they lack courage if they don’t attach their name to those ideas?

    Joshua, once again you don’t understand correctly, you seem to make a habit of that. Let me clarify:

    • Anonymous posting encourages bad behavior, boastful language, exaggeration of results, personal attacks, and general unpleasantness. I oppose it for those reasons and more.

    • It doesn’t make your scientific claims wrong, your hair fall out, or your breath smell.

    Hope that’s clear, but if not, think about it, I’m sure you’ll be able to work out the difference.

    As to courage, yes, it may take some to come out from behind the curtain. But that doesn’t mean that people who post anonymously do so because they lack courage, there’s a host of valid reasons.

    w.

    PS – the irony in the title was deliberate and intentional, glad you caught it.

  140. While your [actually Whitman's] suggestion that “anonymity” is somehow “not intellectually honest” has merit, I don’t think it is a good idea to criticize those that seek it. If Blaise Pascal had not used anonymity, he would have been executed for simply writing in a language other than Latin. Mark Twain obviously thought that anonymity was a good idea. Ditto George Orwell.

  141. 1DandyTroll says:
    February 28, 2011 at 8:41 am

    So, essentially, the moral of the story is that you don’t wont people to mind your person only your ideas at the same time you don’t wont other ideas without being able to mind the persons behind their ideas.

    Nah, you missed it entirely, bro’. The moral of my story is that people who attack a scientist rather than his/her science are often too dumb to spell “want”. Go away, you are indeed a troll.

  142. 1DandyTroll says:
    February 28, 2011 at 8:41 am

    So, essentially, the moral of the story is that you don’t wont people to mind your person only your ideas at the same time you don’t wont other ideas without being able to mind the persons behind their ideas.

    1DandyTroll, if you are responding to Willis, you are not adhering to his very reasonable rules by not quoting what you are responding to.

    Anonymity is the fundamental right that makes sure people can freely exercise their rights to free speech. The recent hundred years kind of underscores the need for it.

    That’s fine, but some people are still giving anonymity a bad name by using it solely as a tactic, a simple example being the intentional use of “anonymous” by multiple people on the same thread – proven when they won’t individuate themselves for the sake of the debate, while no one of them steps up to claim which comments are their own comments, because that would individuate them so that other commenters could respond to an “anonymous” coherently. Otherwise, in effect, it’s almost impossible to tell what any “anonymous” is saying overall.

    Sockpuppeting is another abuse of anonymity, except for, again, those who think winning or controlling “by any means necessary or available” is the goal of debate or rational discussion, so that the rhetorical tactic is then purely manipulative instead of dedicated toward improving understanding.

    And personal info is relevant to a blog discussion in the same way Al Gore’s lifestyle puts the lie to what he says about CO2=CAGW “science”, or at least regarding whether he believes what he says he believes. When no one tells me in response my asking, what they are doing in their personal lives to allegedly help save themselves and us from CO2=CAGW, they are proving themselves and their words to be either solely manipulative towards “winning” or else severly delusional.

    This kind of info is actually on a par with what the ipcc’s intentionally excluding countries containing 5 billion of the Earth’s ~6.5+ billion people from having to follow the Kyoto Protocols says about its CO2=CAGW “science”: they don’t believe it themselves!

  143. It’s not about me. Your reasons for requesting people to give you information about them is hypocritical as you’ve gone to some lengths, and passionately, to say that in matters of discussing science it’s your information/reasoning that matters and not who you are. To then accuse those of cowardice who do not want to play your game of ad hominem attacks in place of reason, on a blog site which does not require one to give one’s name, is, quite frankly, abusive.

    Your point 3 and John Whitman are out of line. You can project reasons as you like, but it’s still none of your business.

  144. Alex says:
    February 28, 2011 at 8:47 am

    IQ of 180, sorry but I doubt it, above 140 sure, but 180? You will get attacked on this claim, it’s only a matter of time. I even doubt they measure IQ that high, the only tests I have taken maxed out at 140+.
    For the record I think that termostat(?) theory of yours is very interesting and I like your posts.

    Don’t know what to tell you, Alex. The guy who told me that wore a white scientist’s lab coat and worked at Stanford University and I was a kid maybe ten years old, I didn’t critically analyze his work and write it up for WUWT. I’m just a reporter on this one, all I can do is tell you what he said. He didn’t say “freak of nature”, that was my interpretation, but he sure didn’t act like I was an average kid after we finished.

    My older brother was tested at the same time, they said his IQ was over 160. Unlike me, he truly retired ten years ago as a millionaire on the strength of being the inventor of the first civilian version of the GPS and his long list of patents and inventions. Meanwhile … well, I’m a thousandaire ..

    At the time we thought IQ actually made a difference, I lorded it over him unmercifully, it was the first thing in my life I’d beat him on … embarrassing to think about now that we’ve seen the results. He has since shown me that the real difference is in the dedication and the perseverance and the humanity and the work, not the cranial horsepower. I have nothing but respect for him, in my mind he’s the real genius in the family, a modest, brilliant, unassuming, fanatically hard-working and fundamentally decent man …

    w.

  145. Awesome life story Willis. I was reading a comment you posted (either at lucia’s or Curry’s site) about the earth’s climate being like the human body. This is all off the top of my head, so please forgive me. You were making a comparison of external forcing on the human body not changing the core temperature (I think). I was going to use the analogy, but had to cancel, because thinking about what was going to come back at me, was hyperthermia, and hypothermia. Could you help me make this analogy, in short.

  146. Willis,

    Wonderful life tale, the ups and downs make the man, and even the downs look trivial as they slowly disappear in life’s rear-view mirror. I suspected you were a natural born Bohemian (that in the western sense, not the European sense, and certainly not the Greenwich Village or SF wannabe sense). I know the type because I’m also the type, square pegs in a sea of round holes. We have much in common in my opinion although we followed different trajectories (our early roots were opposite). Creative people tend to Think Outside the Box, and are indispensable in many, if not most circumstances. When I interviewed applicants for positions, this ability or character trait would most often be the deal-maker, the deciding factor in their favor. I’ve always described it as ‘Who would you want in your group should you find yourself marooned on a tropical island (or frozen wasteland, or an urban hellhole, makes no difference really)’. I won’t go any further with praise (there is lots of it here, well deserved) because I just know that you don’t require it to function and likely scoff at it. Perfectionism, its a gift, and a curse.

    Have to agree with several posters upthread that anonymity will never go away, I certainly won’t do it. It is a tradition from the Usenet era where most folks were anonymous, some weren’t, but those were the exception. Interestingly the proportions (ratio of anonymous to self-identified) from then until seem to be about the same.

    My reasoning is a little more apocalyptical though. You see, I am not convinced that all things political/fiscal/philosophical are going to turn around and get ‘better’. For the first time in my life I see the potential for real conflict here and abroad. Chaos is a real possibility because of unprecedented factors (massive leveraging of formerly home-grown business to the unstable world at large, and unimaginable national debt of which much is held by a Communist regime). No, for the first ever time I think anything is possible. The reason is that we have arrived at the 50/50 time here, 50% of the people are parasites, leeches attached to the bodies of the other 50%. What happens when we get to 51/49? If we in the 50% of givers decide to finally shake off the 50% takers (very possible here in the USA, and hopefully worldwide) it may yet get very ugly. Anyway, this is why I will err on the side of caution with relative anonymity and keeping every option available. Sorry about the detour into negativity, but I truly believe in the old adage: ‘plan for the worst, hope for the best‘.

  147. You have many admirers and I for one am in awe of you. Thanks for sharing some of your story.
    Stick at it and as always let the data speak for itself.

  148. • Anonymous posting encourages bad behavior, boastful language, exaggeration of results, personal attacks, and general unpleasantness. I oppose it for those reasons and more.

    Guns don’t shoot people, Willis, people kill people. There is plenty o’ said behavior right here at good old WAWT. I join you in being opposed to it, but wonder why folks on either side of the debate tend to be so selective when they find it offensive.

    But that doesn’t mean that people who post anonymously do so because they lack courage, there’s a host of valid reasons.

    Glad to see you add that explicit clarification to what you wrote earlier, because someone might have gotten the impression that you were suggesting that those who post anonymously do so because they lack courage, or that you were boasting about your own courageousness by virtue of posting under your own name.

    Joshua, once again you don’t understand correctly, you seem to make a habit of that.

    The thing is, Willis, that when you leave out important qualifiers or parameters when you make statements that suggest causality or explain how interrelated dynamics function, you shouldn’t blame others if they don’t understand what you intended to say. You should look on their misinterpretations as an opportunity to clarify your exact meaning, or to reevaluate what you said.

  149. Johna Till Johnson says:
    February 28, 2011 at 9:51 am

    Willis–

    Add me to the list of the folks who want to read your autobiography, or as it’s called these days, your “memoir”.

    I heard Bristol Palin was writing her memoirs, so I’ve been waiting to see how that goes before starting mine …

    w.

  150. I judge my IQ to range between 80 and 160, although I can never tell what level will show up. I did get a “200” at a bookstore once by testing it right there from an off the shelf book on IQ’s. But I can’t just hang around bookstores for the rest of my life.

  151. Willis – what a fantastic life.
    Just goes to show reality is often much stranger than fiction.
    Your contributions on WUWT are so fresh and edifying – long may you reign.
    As for the ‘attackers’, i shouldn’t worry if i were you.
    As my old grandmother used to say, ”nobody kicks a dead horse”.

    tim

  152. Willis,

    About that cowboy thing: One day I mounted a young horse along the rail of a round pen. We sat there about 3 seconds and I gave a cue for him to move forward. I watched his right front foot come off the ground. The next thing I remember was being above the rail on the opposite side of the enclosure (60’ diameter). My feet were above me and the rail (a green aluminum pipe) just beneath my outstretched hands. I latched on to the rail and my feet settled to the ground. I was on the outside and the horse just inside. He was standing as calm as could be, looking at me, looking at him. He liked to do things like that to me (it’s a long story). He made a great horse for a female friend – but not for me.

    I don’t remember one instant of the “ride” across that round pen. I’m told that when very busy directing our bodies to keep us alive our mind is too busy to record anything.

    So here’s the point – and it sort of relates to the person questioning the IQ thing – those tests are not very useful on the margins. The brain does things we can’t explain and test can’t measure. I’m thinking, Willis, that your brain might have been able to keep up with that horse ride, while mine could not. I am impressed with what you have shared with us.

    Thanks, John

  153. @Willis Eschenbach
    Fair enough. It’s just very very uncommon for anybody too reach scores like that. Isn’t it like less then one in 10 million or that kind of magnitude?

    And for the record the test I took was a IQ test to get a job and they didn’t bother measuring above somewhere around 140, and I did max out. But I remember reading that most test don’t go over 160 because they can’t measure IQ that high with any accuracy or something to that effect.
    I too have a bad number alarm it just happened too go off probably because I didn’t factor in that you were a kid and if you were smart for your age it would show up in the score.
    Anyway I repeat, you theories make more sense too me then the AGW stuff, and your life seems amazing, except for the bad military experience.

  154. Willis, I wish you’d push that point about ITCZ CuNims being governors of temperature not merely feedback. It stops all ‘forcings’ arguments dead in their tracks.

  155. I thought that was a great post, though nothing like that would ever happen to me no matter how many times ‘I could have my life over again’. I’m just not made that way, nor do I have those sorts of early experiences . I do agree with the sentiments about shooting the messenger when the message is uncomfortable for some to hear.

    When reading your post, certain similarities with Richard Feynman came to mind and I was a little surprised that only one other commenter even mentioned his name. Anyway, Richard Feynman was something of a maverick and I don’t recall ever seeing anyone try to trash his work. Take heart and keep up your regular, insightful and enjoyable postings.

    Charlie Barnes

  156. Hey Willis, you have my 1000% support. This attacking the messenger’s so called qualifications technique is SOP.

    But I did have to laugh at the irony I saw here just now in the Recent Comments list:

    Willis Eschenbach on It’s Not About Me
    Willis Eschenbach on It’s Not About Me
    Willis Eschenbach on It’s Not About Me
    Willis Eschenbach on It’s Not About Me
    Willis Eschenbach on It’s Not About Me
    Willis Eschenbach on It’s Not About Me
    Willis Eschenbach on It’s Not About Me
    Willis Eschenbach on It’s Not About Me

    No criticism intended. Its actually great that you address comments. But it this list is kind of funny in an ironic sort of way.

  157. Willis – Thanks so much for posting that. What a fascinating life story. Those of us who understand how the real world actually works know that such a diversity of experience is incredibly valuable and sadly lacking from the mindset of many academics.

    I apologize that I won’t be able to join in your call for non-anonymity, although I generally agree with it. Unfortunately, being outed as a skeptic would have adverse consequences for me. I’m not in academia but rather a senior executive in a large and well-known multinational corporation. Holding non-mainstream views can be seen as bad here too.

    Interestingly, myself and my peers near the top of the corporate food chain are further examples of the value of being a generalist. You don’t get here or survive here for long without being a very quick study and competent (though not expert) across a dizzying array of diverse fields. In some aspects of my job I deal with teams of PhD-bearing academics (primarily assessing and funding or killing their research projects). I am often stunned at their naivete about almost everything outside their narrow field of specialty. It’s so easy to see how their insular focus reduces their competence even in their chosen field of study. Many of them also possess a nearly limitless ability to make relatively simple things unnecessarily complex.

    I’ve found there are three almost infallible indicators that tell me I’m working with an extraordinarily valuable scientist. The first is the ability to communicate complex concepts simply and clearly, without losing important subtlety or nuance. The second is that they feature the uncertainties and weaknesses of their work instead of appending them as footnotes. The last is that they are interested and excited to engage with anyone who has a perspective to contribute, regardless of credentials or perceived ‘worthiness’ and especially if the new viewpoint is critical. It’s truly sad that these traits remain so very rare in climate science.

  158. Willis, what can I say? I thought I had lived a somewhat interesting life, but it doesn’t hold a candle to your story. I think you could have done without the entanglement with the US military, but, even so, I suspect that experience, unpleasant as it undoubtedly was, helped to make you into the person you are today. And we are all that little bit richer for getting to read your ideas and opinions which these past experiences have helped to formulate.

    I understand what you are saying about anonymity, and so have changed my name on this post to reflect that. However, bear in mind that what we are talking about here is honesty more than using your real name. Nothing stops me from changing that name to Fred Bloggs and posting a flaming pile of s**t. You just have to believe me when I say I won’t.

    BTW – you ham callsign looks like it originates from the Solomon Islands? Maybe time to get a US one :-) I have no doubt whatsoever that the challenge of passing the Extra class license wouldn’t even rise to the level of challenge for you — if it does, let me know :-)

    Thanks for this post. It not only deprives people of “ammunition” to use against you, but also gives us all a better understanding of you the person, and the generalist background, which I too claim, although these days people are much more interested in point knowledge (which is invariably out of data and worthless within ten years).

    Philip

  159. Willis,

    You are a gifted and remarkable man. Your intelligence, integrity, and honesty
    are enlightened states that many of us can only wish to achieve. Humanity looks up to great thinkers like you. You astound me when you write. You give me hope that there are individuals like you out in the world intelligent enough to identify where mankind (or manevil) is making grave errors, and come up with the solutions.

    As a generalist, what would you suggest for the financial world and the seemingly impossible US national debt? I fear for my country these days… Some problems seem so complicated for the average brain, they are impossible to understand or even imagine a solution.

    I look forward to everything you write. Your clear concise presentations make it all comprehensible to us who may be a little (or in some cases a lot) lower on the IQ scale. Keep up the superb work. KenB.

  160. Willis.
    A great story and such an interesting life, Its nice to know the man behind the killer articles you write, you sound like a street smart person who can out think and out do many of the so called experts. You obviously have an open mind with a health degree of skepticism combined with the mechanical ability of a hands on person. This is what started the industrial revolution, put men into space and opened the science field in general by developing the tools to put the theory’s and ideas into practice.
    Well done and keep on keeping on.

  161. paulhan says:
    February 28, 2011 at 6:29 am

    Bloody hell, Willis. Talk about laying it all out on the line. Quite a lot of your story strikes a chord with me. I always knew you were some sort of wunderkind, but 180!! Even the Mensa test can only accurately measure to 167.
    ………………..

    Alex says:
    February 28, 2011 at 8:47 am

    IQ of 180, sorry but I doubt it, above 140 sure, but 180? You will get attacked on this claim, it’s only a matter of time. I even doubt they measure IQ that high, the only tests I have taken maxed out at 140+.

    There are about three (?) major IQ tests and they have different top scores. Some, like those used by Mensa, top out at (I think) 160, another tops out at 220.

    Grumpy Old Man says:
    February 28, 2011 at 9:46 am

    This calls for an autobiography. Put pen to paper Willis.

    I agree. Continue to describe the remainder of your life. Even if you decide not to publish it, at least you’ll have something sensational to read on the train.

    Alexander K says:
    February 28, 2011 at 10:00 am

    David L, I know Americans tend believe myths about their nation and every nation on earth does that, but research the history of aviation and you will find that the Wright brothers were not the first to fly, …

    Even if that’s true, they were the first to be able to take the next step: flying a round trip back to their starting point. They had developed, along with an advanced wing profile based on a great deal of “lab” work, the crucial means of turning the plane, with “wing warping.”

    Diogenes says:
    February 28, 2011 at 10:10 am

    Imagine what they would say about you if you were, say, a railroad engineer…

    Funnee! (I wish I could up-vote it. Too bad that feature is now missing.)

  162. And when someday someone asks me who do I admire most in this life and I reply Willis Eschenbach .The reply will not be I assure you, who?

  163. SunSword says:
    February 28, 2011 at 6:01 am
    “I agree with all your main points except this:
    Have the courage to sign your full true name to your ideas. Take ownership of your claims, stand behind your opinions. Anonymity encourages bad behavior. ..”

    Sunsword, you make a good point. Here in Central Bucks county PA a teacher has lost her job because she blogged “nasty” (but true) things about her school, some faculty, and some students. She never used her name, the name of the school, the name of the students, the name of the faculty: no indication of who she was or who the people in the bog were or where the location was. However, she did post her picture. And from that picture alone they were about to put “two and two” together and the witch hunt began.

  164. Willis Eschenbach says:
    February 28, 2011 at 10:52 am

    Roger Longstaff says:
    February 28, 2011 at 8:14 am

    “Simon Wood says:

    February 28, 2011 at 7:36 am

    REPLY: I’d be happy to come, but like Willis points out, I’m broke but I’m not poor. Feel free to apply. – Anthony

    I’m from the UK also, and would relish the opportunity to see you and Willis lecture. If you set up a donation fund, I’ll gladly contribute.”

    Mods – can you pass my email to Simon Wood? Maybe we can get something going here.

    I’m game, I’ve never been to England. My travels always seem to end up in the Third World, my acquaintance with the First World is much scantier. And like Anthony, I’m not poor but I’m acquainted with broke …

    If you want to visit First World England, you’d best make it sooner rather than later. It may be beyond even your ability to develop a time machine, but perhaps that would be necessary, thinking about it.

    Fascinating, inspiring stuff, by the way. :-)

  165. I really don’t understand the ‘lies’ part (then again I never read the people you reference)….

    (Now, should you ever do…)
    A sloppy reference to some other research… well… that would just be …’sloppy’
    A ‘wrong’ view of a particular aspect of ‘climate physics’ that is simply and easily proved ‘wrong’ by known climate physics. Well that would just be ‘wrong’.
    And so on….

    But I’m not clear as to how any such ‘misinterpretations’ or ‘wrong thinking’ (should they ever exist in your writings) in any way become ‘lies’.
    ‘Lies’ would be “hide the decline”. You know, hiding the fact that there is something seriously wrong with your data/argument (that the politicians won’t like) and the only way you can get around this problem is to lie about it by… well… “hiding ..the ..decline ….” in the hope that none of those reading your lie understand enough ‘science’ to see through the lie you are presenting to them. Thar be real climate ‘lies’ Willis.

    Anyways – I always enjoy your postings. I may have been late to the game but your Thermostat Hypothesis was a real eye opener and I love reading your posts on any subject. Keep it up.

    And finally …. …paisley shirts and bell-bottom pants, we were unbearably cool..
    Willis, that is just so wrong. I hereby reject anything you have previously made me think about, climatewise or otherwise. Couldn’t you have just stayed in the Army?

  166. Willis Eschenbach says:

    I’m game, I’ve never been to England. My travels always seem to end up in the Third World, my acquaintance with the First World is much scantier. And like Anthony, I’m not poor but I’m acquainted with broke …

    w.

    Our cold, wet, miserable country would be glad to welcome you. I’m not sure about 3rd world, but some parts of Moss Side in Manchester are pretty hairy ;-)

    I’ve been in touch with Roger, and contacted Anthony through the form on this blog, so hopefully we can get something sorted.

  167. “Finally, I swore that I wouldn’t take any more jobs unless they had a fixed ending date. I was done with serving indeterminate sentences. The end of the season, the completion of the house, the end of the harvest, I swore not to be bound by unending work as I had been”.

    Indeed – you only live once, in this lifetime anyway. This is an amazing piece, Mr. Eschenbach.

  168. Fascinating from start to finish, thank you for sharing your life story, warts and all. Now I understand why your posts are always lucid and filled with common sense. There’s an enormous difference between someone who’s lived life and someone who’s only made a computer model of it.

  169. Give me an open minded generalist any day. They don’t tend to suffer so much from indoctrination, as is often the way with those who have been down a more formalised educational path.

    Willis, the path you continue to follow is inspiring. Don’t let the trolls wear you down.

  170. @Mark:

    I really like what you had to say here:

    I’ve found there are three almost infallible indicators that tell me I’m working with an extraordinarily valuable scientist. The first is the ability to communicate complex concepts simply and clearly, without losing important subtlety or nuance. The second is that they feature the uncertainties and weaknesses of their work instead of appending them as footnotes. The last is that they are interested and excited to engage with anyone who has a perspective to contribute, regardless of credentials or perceived ‘worthiness’ and especially if the new viewpoint is critical.

    I’m a recent follower of Willis’ work, and in that short time I’ve seen in his writing evidence of the first and third indicators you speak of. What I haven’t seen is evidence of the second.

    That second attribute is one that I consider to be an absolute necessity in order to know where to begin evaluating someone’s work. I’m curious if you or someone else might show me where Willis has addressed any potential weaknesses, what-ifs, contingencies, implications for future studies, questions left unanswered, i.e., the types of things one might find in a limitations section of a journal article, in the ideas he has presented on climate issues.

  171. Thanks, Willis for all the hard work. Read and ponder all your posts, happy that you’re there chipping in with something quite useful, thourough, interesting, entertaining and fun. Thanks to the moderators for keeping the trolldom down to a low buzz here on WUWT. Just remember, we’re all out here, learning, thinking about it, talking to our friends about it, not taking anyone’s word for it.
    PHD’s… keep in mind that CARB, for instance, is chalked full of PHDs ‘n such and look at what they’ve done to the good people of California in the name of science.
    As for personal attacks, the nail that sticks up gets hammered down and that’s life, but those rusty old nails that stick up above the rest is what I love about this place.
    Keep doing what you’re doing.

  172. Interesting life Willis. Probably more interesting to me since we graduated from HS the same year. You certainly took a different path than most of us. By comparison my life has been somewhat boring, but I suppose others might not think that way. Good thing weren’t not all alike or we’d all live in a pretty crowded neighborhood.

    As for education … I look at it this way. There really are certain fields where you want specialists. If you are going to get your eyes surgically repaired you do NOT want a generalist doing the surgery. Because of this fact you often see alarmists making poor analogies along this line.

    However, climate is not for specialists. It really is for generalists because it spans so many different fields. That is why we see such poor statistics from climate scientists. It’s why Trenberth doesn’t understand where the heat has gone. One of the major problems with many climate scientists is they actually believe they understand the topic. Foolish souls.

    Keep up the good work, Willis and thanks for all you’ve done already.

  173. @Willis

    The old SAT (pre-1995) is an acceptable proof for membership in all but most elite high IQ societies. You probably took the SAT and might remember your score. I took it 1978 at 21 years old a few months before I was discharged from the military in anticipation of enrolling in a university. I got a combined math/verbal score of 1480 which is 99.976th percentile and translates to an IQ of 152-156.

    http://www.iqcomparisonsite.com/oldSATIQ.aspx

    http://www.iqcomparisonsite.com/criteria.aspx

    My actual IQ (at least when I was 21 years old) was probably higher than that as I got a perfect score in the SAT math section and finished the test in about half the alloted time. In 1995 they “re-centered” the SAT test (read dumbed it down) and few high IQ societies accept it after that date.

    One of the other commenters mentioned there are “special” tests for people with very high IQs and that’s true. For example the SAT wasn’t able to measure my math IQ because I aced it -it needed to be either more difficult and/or a shorter time given to complete it. A perfect pre-recentering SAT score is 1600 and that’s 99.999th percentile (IQ 163-168) OR HIGHER and the test can’t determine how much higher.

    IQ tests given at 10 years of age aren’t valid for adults as the mind/brain is still developing and education (vocabulary and math skills) vary wildly making standardized tests difficult to design. At about age 18 IQ stays pretty stable until old age starts taking a toll. For the really, really gifted old age might be as young as 35. A lot of brilliant physicists and mathmeticians lose their edge by that age and hence find they’ve done their best work in their 20’s and early 30’s. I sure can’t crank out computer code as fast as I once could – I used to clock 300 lines an hour in my prime with few if any mistakes. Now I can’t type as fast, see as well, and undoubtedly can’t think as fast either.

    Speaking of IQ and fast – a lot of people (generally those who don’t have exceptionally high scores) pooh-pooh IQ tests as not being predictive of anything. In reality the SAT test is a decent predictor of academic performance and that’s why college admissions boards require it. My take on IQ tests is that they measure speed of thought, quality of thought, and how good a judge you are at trading off speed for quality and vice versa (depending on the test). What an IQ test does not measure is motivation, perseverance, discipline, willingness to learn, and work ethic in general. That’s why college admissions boards look at your academic and other school-related history as well as your SAT score. A genius who doesn’t apply himself can easily underperform someone with a lower IQ who simply puts more effort into their education and work. But that said, when you get a genius who’s also obsessed with his work to the point where he spends most of his waking time thinking about nothing else there’s the formula for ground-breaking discovery. Einstein reputedly wore the same thing everyday and was rumored to have all identical shirts, trousers, jackets, socks, and shoes in his wardrobe so he didn’t to waste time thinking about what to wear each day. These people sometimes have difficulty with the routine tasks in life because they are constantly wandering around lost in thought putting every waking moment, and with Einstein and many others they used their sleeping moments too, thinking about solutions to esoteric problems.

  174. Willis Eschenbach says:
    February 28, 2011 at 10:45 am

    Had I done that, Stuart, it would certainly not be science. Once again, despite requests, and despite your complete ignorance on the subject, someone has shown up to inform us all what’s going on inside my head … you don’t have a clue what goes on my head, Stuart. You seem to assume it works like yours, which is a scary thought.

    Yes, I formed an initial opinion on the question … what, like you never do that when faced with a new question, take your best guess at the answer? You’d be dumb not to … oh, wait, sorry.

    This is you grounding the issue in the science? I’m ignorant, dumb and have some kind of dark psychosis, all because I reiterated something you wrote that you basically agree with. I’m almost embarassed to point this out, but its no more about me than it is you.

    And yes, for the record, I have reached snap judgements before, but, despite the myriad mental flaws you have identified in me, I was never fool enough to confuse them with science.

    Willis Eschenbach says:
    February 28, 2011 at 10:45 am

    In any case, for a quarter century I have striven to see if that opinion was correct.

    Some time in the 90’s to present is a quarter of a century? I’m starting to see how you arrive at your climate sensitivity figures.

    Willis Eschenbach says:
    February 28, 2011 at 10:45 am

    I haven’t found evidence to overturn it yet, but if you have some, please bring it on …

    w.

    That you haven’t been able to falsify a theory you have never proved strikes me as underwhelming.

    Finally, sorry to say I have nothing to add to the body of science out there that puts climate sensitivity to a doubling of CO² at 2-4.5º’s, unfortunately, as this collection of hollow ad hom’s demonstrates, neither do you.

  175. Wow, what a story. It helps if causes have heroes, and here we have a hero! I am proud of, and pleased with, this new hero.

  176. Good grief, Willis. You know the one thing I am surprised that you haven’t yet done?

    Written a novel. You write very well indeed, and had me gripped all the way through. You sure as hell have a rich fund of personal experience from which to spin a yarn.

    I’m being serious, Willis.

    Write!

  177. Hi Willis, thanks for your story! It is a fascinating read. And very inspiring.
    You have given hitting rock bottom a new dimension. You’re a strong person.

    Keep up the good spirit. Enjoy life!

  178. Bernd Felsche says:
    February 28, 2011 at 7:47 am

    Thank you for sharing your journey. I’m glad that I didn’t have to live through that. Life’s been good to me, so far.

    What generalists have is a sense of proportion.
    A grip on magnitudes and relative importance.
    —————————————————–
    That’s right, Bernd, and the best of them also have a finely tuned BS detector. In a couple of threads where political decisionmaking (my modest speciality, but by no means my only interest) is being discussed, I have tried to make this point.

    The best politicians, and leaders in any other field of endeavour with real consequences, have what I describe as ‘good judgement’. You can’t learn it at school, but life experience certainly helps. It is the highest form of being a generalist.

    I have met a few of these people, and they have an uncanny ability to assess a situation which involves data they usually have neither the time nor the skills to fully understand, a lot of unknowns and uncertainties, and high stakes, and make the right call most of the time. They are highly intelligent, but that is not anywhere near sufficient, as anyone who has employed PhDs outside their tiny field of expertise knows. They may or may not have a lot of formal education, but they never stop learning. They are not the best around at any one thing, as a rule, but have excellent abilities in seeking out advisers who are, and keeping them on board. Above all, when they get conflicting or inconclusive advice from those people, they make the right choices.

    As I have said elsewhere on this site, in my experience the vast majority of scientists and other specialists are hopeless at politics, which to me is reassuring. It is not given to many to be both a generalist and a specialist at a high level. There are not enough hours in the day! That is why it is vital that on issues such as climate policy, it is essential to have generalists out there doing their part to keep the buggers honest. That doesn’t [mean] the generalists can be ignorant, just that they (we!) do not pretend to be scientists, but never renege on our right to ask questions and make judgement calls, just as we do when we choose which airline to fly with or which car to buy.

  179. I think I will continue to remain hidden behind the nom de plume.
    If you find what I write here worthy, fine. If you don’t, ignore it.
    It is what it is and since my nom de plume means nothing much in the wider world, what I write stands or falls on its merits alone and gains nothing of authority from its author.
    As it happens, my real name and scientific contributions are equally obscure so nobody loses or gains by this.

  180. More often an amateur with good analytical skills can take the historical data and come up with a much closer result than someone with a Dr. prefix and a long string of suffixes. I belive that you can go to deep into theories and come up with the wrong prediction.

  181. <limerick compliment=’true’>

    Meet the generalist! Meet my friend Willis,
    Telling truth aganist liars his skill is!
    He has been through so much,
    He can tell with one touch,
    If a science idea well or ill is.

    </limerick>

  182. Thank you Willis! I have been there.
    I do not have your way with words, wish I did.
    Hang in there my friend, I have your back.

  183. Willis, I still can relate, but the second half of your story would not fit me.
    (Should have read it all before I posted)
    I was military all the way, gave everything I could.
    I could not afford college, I was raised by my grandparents and they could not afford to pay attention.
    Old joke, I know, but true.
    Everyone can not be a solder.
    I am glad you do what you do.
    You are knowledgeable and should be respected in you statements.

    I still have your back.

  184. When I graduated from high school in a little town on the Oregon coast, I was 17. The night of commencement I told my parents I was leaving early the next morning for Alaska. A classmate and I and another fellow drove his dad’s new Ford pickup up the Alcan. I was in the throes of a reaction to a smallpox vaccination, so spent the whole trip up 1700 miles of dirt road lying in the back in a fever and delirious, the dust roiling in through the cracks in the camper shell, so that when I would come to briefly, my mouth and nose was full of mud. His dad let me sleep on the dock in the back of the pickup when we got to Kodiak, until I got hired on the Skookum Chief, a retired Puget Sound ferry that had been converted to a cannery.

    We’ve been in some of the same places at around the same times, but I was a couple of years younger. You started out as a singer/songwriter; I’ve ended up as one, after spending most of my life as an emergency paramedic with over 50,000 911 calls behind me (after digging ditches, washing dishes, selling cars and real estate, building houses, rebuilding engines, and doing most every job in several lumber mills – from green chain to sawyer, with grader and fork lift operator in between).

    I always enjoy your essays, even when I can’t follow them. I always appreciate your use of language and logic – and minimal errors. (The only ones I noticed this time were “more crazy than when I went entered the nuthouse” somewhere around paragraph 35 – and the only unforgivable one: you misspelled Willie.

  185. RE: “I am not an expert in chemistry, or physics, or (ETC. ETC.) . . . . I have good solid practical working knowledge of every one of them, . . . (Blah. Blah) . . . use the lessons from one field in another.”

    An interesting read Willis, but how on Earth (pun intended) does the above prepare you for climate science? Don’t you need to specialize in say, 2D blackbody formulas and equations, so you can apply that knowledge to computer models that will simulate something as simple as a rotating planet with multi-level atmosphere? Won’t you need to disbelieve what you actually observe, and have observed, to embrace a faith that others (way smarter than you, by the way) have already embraced? Their numbers alone should have convinced you which path was the right one.

    I recall back in the mid-70’s in Finance Math class we had a guest speaker from one of the five major banks (Canada). He was asked about which college program their bank preferred re: careers and advancement. He bluntly stated they preferred to take you in before college so you could advance in their system (or as he put it) their ‘college’. Learning what you needed as you went. This he admitted meant you learned their system only. Advancement was relative to their system. Moving to a different bank would unlikely be a ‘parallel’ move, let alone an advancement as they too had their own system. Not surprisingly staff and executive retention was always quite high. Perhaps that’s changed over the years but it would only have changed because each Bank’s system has had to change.

    At some point it appears our schools of science have taken up the same practice of teaching how ‘their’ system works. I’m hoping Willis and other posters are wrong about Berkley. I’m hoping the Earth Project is what the creators have claimed it to be.

    As context is everything, I was once told; ‘You can always trust a farmer.’ I have no personal experience (50 yrs) or evidence (anecdotal &/or empirical) contradicting that statement. And I believe Willis’ story started back on a farm . . .

    -barn

  186. Moderator: Could you correct, in the first paragraph of my recent post ‘mouth and nose were full of mud’ from ‘mouth and nose was full of mud’???

  187. Alexander K says:
    February 28, 2011 at 10:00 am

    “you will find that the Wright brothers were not the first to fly”

    Of course not. The Wright brothers were the first to fly a heavier-than-air aircraft under controlled powered flight that took off on level ground under its own power without assistance, carrying a passenger, gained altitude from the point where the wheels left the ground, and landed without mishap or damage to the aircraft, and perhaps most importantly it was witnessed by several disinterested parties and well documented. They made four flights on the first day the first being scarcely 100 feet and the last 852 feet. The landing gear was damaged on the final landing.

    Scientific American in last 10 years or so reproduced orginal articles on many famous attempts leading up to the Wright brothers in 1903. Witnesses were scarce because many individuals and teams in the US and Europe were racing to be the first real controlled powered heavier than air flight. These teams didn’t want outsiders watching them make the attempts lest the innovative design features of their aircraft get leaked out to competitors. Scientific American complained about the secrecy in their articles. The Wrights were the first ones confident enough in themselves to allow disinterested credible witnesses to be on the scene. Whether they were truly the first is arguable but they were truly the first to do it in a public display with many witnesses.

  188. Willis – I wonder just how many of your detractors have experiences ( pleasant and not so pleasant) to match yours. I am, frankly , astounded by what you have achieved. Your doggedness and versatility should serve as a paragon to today’s generation of those in ‘The Groves of Academe’ whose 20 years experience, very probably, means one year repeated 20 times.
    I hope you manage to get to the UK in the near future. The could do with some of your common sense. (180 eh. Could only scrape 154 – at 13 years old. Did’nt do me much good though)
    Kind regards
    RGF

  189. Amazing! Hopefully you will some day add “Biography Writer” to your CV.

    I am going to finish my education this year and start working full time. I’d love to read about your experiences with frequently changing jobs and environments, or even better chat with you about it. I have been quite mobile until now, but I am afraid to get chained to one Job as an Engineer in one Location in the future.

  190. Willis, it is about you. It should not be, but it is. I say this because you have that wonderful and all-too-rare ability to cut to what is important and present your critical thinking in a logical easy-to-follow way. That is why you are attacked – because that ability marks you out as a danger to those who would obfuscate and confuse.

    Don’t stop. And thanks for sharing your story. I feel humbled and even more admiring.

  191. John A says:
    February 28, 2011 at 5:47 am

    Its a shame you didn’t crack a book on Thermodynamics. But nobody’s perfect…

    The text I have and use is “Heat and Thermodynamics”, Zemansky and Dittman, Seventh Edition. My bible, however, is Chapter 6 in the Engineer In Training Review Manual, Lindeburg, Sixth Edition. That book has the most information per page of any text I know of.

    What’s your recommendation? Is Zemansky considered a good text? He’s a little hard to read, but then reading thermo is always slow on my planet …

    w.

  192. Verity Jones says:
    February 28, 2011 at 2:51 pm
    Willis, it is about you. It should not be, but it is. I say this because you have that wonderful and all-too-rare ability to cut to what is important and present your critical thinking in a logical easy-to-follow way. That is why you are attacked – because that ability marks you out as a danger to those who would obfuscate and confuse.

    Don’t stop. And thanks for sharing your story. I feel humbled and even more admiring.
    =====
    I completely agree with Verity Jones.

    I say this because you have that wonderful and all-too-rare ability to cut to what is important and present your critical thinking in a logical easy-to-follow way. That is why you are attacked – because that ability marks you out as a danger to those who would obfuscate and confuse.

  193. SunSword says:
    February 28, 2011 at 6:01 am

    I agree with all your main points except this:

    Have the courage to sign your full true name to your ideas. Take ownership of your claims, stand behind your opinions. Anonymity encourages bad behavior.

    I comment on multiple sites, many (most) are political, some are infested with loons and subject to government monitoring (like AboveTopSecret), some are gaming sites. I learned long, long ago in the Usenet days of the Internet to conceal my identity. You never know when some lunatic stalker is going to get obsessed with something you said and follow you all over the Internet, and there have been actual cases of some of these people actually tracking down posters and stalking them in real life. Therefore I have always employed a “defense in depth” method to my identity on the Internet and I am not about to change now. I do use a real email address and can by contacted by site administrators, and I do provide my real name to site administrators upon request via return email.

    As I said, SunSword, there are problems with anonymity. Yet some people choose it, and I respect that.

    Regarding the dangers, I can’t live like that. That’s why I posted my cartoons of Mohammed. The world is a wild and crazy and dangerous place, it’s true. And as I have more reason than most to know, some of them are a few bubbles out of plumb.

    I studied Aikido off and on for some years. One of my senseis was an old man. He said something like:

    You think that because you know Aikido, you can win the fight. This is wrong understanding. What if you are walking across the Golden Gate Bridge and it collapses? What good is your ki then? I will tell you how the Aikido master wins the fight. When the fight breaks out on Second Street, he is walking down Ninth Street. When the bridge breaks, he is watching from the shore.

    So me, I don’t hide my identity. I make no effort to conceal myself. If Old Nick wants to find me, he knows where I am. I just keep walking out in the sunshine, in plain view, with a tremendous amount of likely foolish and ultimately unjustifiable faith that I’m walking down Ninth Street …

    My best to you,

    w.

  194. John Campbell

    ” but I’ve now resolved to keep utterly schtum”

    Man just the other day I was trying to think of a band that did a song in teh 90’s and for the life of me I couldn’t remember.

    Then I read your post. Schtum – Skydiver.

  195. Willis Eschenbach says:
    February 28, 2011 at 11:10 am
    Alex says:
    February 28, 2011 at 8:47 am

    [IQ of 180, sorry but I doubt it, above 140 sure, but 180? You will get attacked on this claim, it’s only a matter of time----]

    [Don’t know what to tell you, Alex. The guy who told me that wore a white scientist’s lab coat and worked at Stanford University and I was a kid maybe ten years old,----
    My older brother was tested at the same time, they said his IQ was over 160, unlike he truly retired ten years ago as a millionaire on the strength of being the inventor of the first civilian version of the GPS and his long list of patents and inventions. Meanwhile … well, I’m a thousandaire ..] w.
    ———————————————————————————–
    I love the thousandaire bit! But – Whatever the actual number was re you IQ it is a bit academic right now. What I do know from reading your posts here Willis is that you sure have the ‘horsepower’ in that cranium of yours. You never cease to amaze me with the clarity and erudition of your posts – plus the added bonus of your wicked humour – that alone makes them worth while. Your story is also quite moving and extraordinary. You sure have packed a lot into your life – makes me feel indolent inadequate and complacent. But in the end your message is so very clear – and it is apparent from all your posts that you truly are a scientist. Also FTR I like the way that you suffer fools!

    Thanks again
    Douglas

  196. Roger Knights says:
    February 28, 2011 at 11:57 am

    “Even if that’s true, they were the first to be able to take the next step: flying a round trip back to their starting point. They had developed, along with an advanced wing profile based on a great deal of “lab” work, the crucial means of turning the plane, with “wing warping.” ”

    An aircraft in a bank turn is less efficient than flying straight and level. When making a turn you must either add power or lose airspeed and/or lose altitude. Neither power nor airspeed nor altitude were available in any significant excess in the first powered flights.

    In order to maintain the best efficiency in a banked turn two control surfaces are required, the ailerons and the rudder. Ailerons are all that are strictly required as they change the bank angle and hence the lift vector out of the vertical into the diagonal which pulls (or pushes depending on your POV) in the direction of the turn. This however leaves the vertical stabilizer(s) with a horizontal wind blowing against them. Use of rudder, called a coordinated turn, brings the vertical stabilizers parallel with the wind stream and increases efficiency.

    I’m surprised the goofy wing-warping of the Wright aircraft was good enough given they were flying at the edge of the performance envelope in just straight level flight.

  197. DirkH says:
    February 28, 2011 at 7:15 am

    Willis:

    “Here was my first and admittedly simple climate calculation. I figured half a kilowatt per square metre average global downwelling radiation (long- plus short-wave). People said doubling CO2 might be 4 watts per square metre. That’s less than 1%,”

    Yes. That’s the giveaway. It’s a hoax.

    Absolutely not. I did not say that, nor did I intend it. The problem with climate science is not hoaxes, although there may have been a couple. The problem is noble cause corruption. I described my calculation for what it was, my first and admittedly simple calculation. The rest is your fantasy.

    w.

  198. There is a danger in anti-intellectualism if taken too far- Mao sent Chinese graduates to work as peasants in the Cultural revolution, and it didn’t do a lot of good. Not all PhDs are head-in-the-clouds types incapable of changing a tap washer. Not all ditch diggers are Einsteins. While many of the great advances and innovations are due to gifted amateurs, the present technological civilization is being maintained by millions of university trained specialists quietly going about their work ensuring our electricity flows, our planes fly, our crops are productive- and tradesmen and labourers too.
    The issue with many areas of expertise at the moment is that we have lost sight of the need for any claim generated through intellectual thought or discourse to be tested against the real world, i.e. fact. And the need to show respect for both the messenger and the message.
    Well done Willis. As one who has been slimed only a little at Deltoid, you give me heart.
    Ken

  199. @Willis directly.

    I was moved by your post to the point where there was something I was going to say to contradict your plea to drop anonymity in postings but on reflection, I feel compelled to say it anyway.

    Like you I’ve been speaking my thoughts about the whole AGW thing for a number of years. Like you, my background talent is mathematics and I just knew modelling non-linear systems was simply idiotic, irrespective of the technology. It simply can’t be programmed.

    In the beginning I used my real name. I wasn’t offensive or aggressive; I was just asking questions which didn’t have pat answers. What happened was threatening letters started appearing at my home. My home.

    My home where my woman and my children live. Some of them were addressed to her, not me.

    Thinking about it, I had three options; shut up, persist in commenting under my own name or go anonymous. I wasn’t going to be silenced but I would never put the ones I love in harm’s way just for my opinions.

    I chose anonymity and will continue to do so. On balance, it was a liberating experience.

    Pointman

  200. WUWT would have had a harder time winning the 2011 best science Weblog award without your numerous contributions. As I said before when they attack YOU instead of your claims then you must realise that you are RIGHT OVER THE TARGET. Warmists have lost the scientific argument and have resorted to desperation and ever more shrill personal attacks. Sad!

  201. To all of the commenters on anonymity;

    willis in main post

    professor bob ryan says:

    February 28, 2011 at 5:37 am

    SunSword says:

    February 28, 2011 at 6:01 am

    Coldish says:

    February 28, 2011 at 6:22 am

    Alexander K says:

    February 28, 2011 at 6:51 am

    Roger Longstaff says:

    February 28, 2011 at 6:59 am

    Jeff Carlson says:

    February 28, 2011 at 7:20 am

    Nylo says:

    February 28, 2011 at 7:25 am

    Nano Pope says:

    February 28, 2011 at 7:34 am

    johanna says:
    February 28, 2011 at 7:35 am

    Joshua says:

    February 28, 2011 at 8:22 am

    1DandyTroll says:

    February 28, 2011 at 8:41 am

    Sonicfrog says:

    February 28, 2011 at 9:05 am

    Robert Clemenzi says:

    February 28, 2011 at 11:02 am

    JPeden says:

    February 28, 2011 at 11:06 am

    Myrrh says:

    February 28, 2011 at 11:07 am

    Blade says:

    February 28, 2011 at 11:20 am

    Mark says:

    February 28, 2011 at 11:45 am

    Philip Peake (aka PJP) says:

    February 28, 2011 at 11:45 a

    David L says:

    February 28, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    This anonymity topic has miles to go on many future threads before it sleeps. I enjoyed it.

    I have always found discussion of ideas to be the most meaningful and enjoyable aspect of human life. I can not imagine not arguing openly in my own name everywhere with anyone. Great fun.

    NOTE: But don’t bait the totalitarian dragon in its den. I was in P.R.C. recently. I consciously avoided walking up to conspicuous chinese secret police surveillance personnel and screaming “JASMINE”

    John

  202. This one made me smile Willis.

    I’m sitting here on a sailboat with a box in the corner filled with vacuum pump various gauges and gases etc and a book on refrigeration which I have yet to read. I also have another box with a TIG welder and a book on welding which I need to master soon. I also had a book on carpentry and marine electrics/electronics but would consider myself a dab hand now.

    You have had a very interesting life and I see now why I always find your posts so compelling. I never doubt that I can solve any problem that I set myself as well and always manage just fine. It is a state of mind that is sadly lacking in recent years.

    Excellent article.

  203. @Willis.

    I’ve just typed in a rather long comment which appears to have disappeared so here goes again from memory.

    I was moved by the bravery and honesty of your post not to raise a dissenting voice but on reflection I’m going to do so. It’s about the anonymity thing.

    Like yourself, I’ve been commenting for a number of years about AGW. Like you, my background is Math and I simply knew that non-linear systems simply can’t be modelled, irrespecive of the software or the power of the computer used.

    I originally commented under my real name and essentially asked awkward questions. What happened was I started receiving threatening letters at my home. My home.

    My home where my woman and my children lived. Some of the letters had been sent directly to my wife by the cowards. I had three choices; shut up, persist in commenting under my real name or go anonymous. I was never going to be intimidated but I was never going to put the people I love in harm’s way.

    I went the anonymous route and have never regretted it. There’s a freedom there which I never abuse because it allows me to speak my mind totally freely.

    Pointman

  204. Many thanks to Anthony Watts, Willis Eschenbach and all the good commentators here. I thoroughly enjoy the time I spend at this website in the good, intelligent and
    learned company you provide. I come here almost every day.

  205. Nano Pope says:
    February 28, 2011 at 7:34 am
    You have an amazing story and a great future as a scientist. I can’t really comment much on that though, but I would like to speak (as others have) about pseudonyms.
    …………..I know that the dialogue can become higly vitriolic in online debates, but this is the main reason for pseudonyms, to seperate the arguments from the person. This has its downside, but the alternative is worse. Allowing only real names won’t encourage civility, it will encourage silence.

    Agreed! Also some people who use pseudonyms might be climate scientists who are closet sceptics!!!!! People have their own reasons for doing what they do (protect innocent family members?) and IF WUWT insisted on people using their real names then WUWT, being the winner of the 2011 Weblog awards, might not have happened. I might be wrong though but please take this on board – silence is easy.

    *There is a multi-billion Dollar machine out to crush sceptics. Trillions of Dollars are at stake in insurance profits, BBC pension funds, government taxes, biofuels……………………. I will use a pseudonym for the meantime as I am not oil funded.

  206. Willis,

    What can I say apart from this is a classic post as it is always great to understand where someone has come from and the path that they have walked.

    I read the story of your life, so far, from start to finish in one go and I am glad that I am not the only one who has trodden a crazy path.

    At 13 I had already decided to join the Military to get out of where I lived and the crap we had. I was brought up in one of the poorest areas of Glasgow, Scotland.

    In secondary school I was constantly first in class in all of my chosen subjects and my parents wanted me to go to university but I rebelled, being a rebel is more fun! They wanted me to go and study medicine but I declined and at 17 I legged it and joined the French Foreign Legion, it was more appealing than any stuffy university. I loved it and it taught me a lot about life, nationalities and how to interact with people.

    I then joined the British Parachute Regiment, hey I liked guns! This again taught me a lot. I won’t go on any further with my career history as most don’t want nor need to know.

    I used to be an adamant warmist, arghhh we are all gonna die type of person. This was after watching AL Gore speak that cost me 700 quid to attend; my table was way, way at the back! I went to see the clown after watching an inconvenient tax scam he he.

    I was IQ tested by the Legion and I scored 20/20 in what is known as noveau generale. It didn’t allow you to score more than 20! I have completed Mensa and they state I am a poor 127, however it gets better.

    I wrote my own code and produced my own model. I have now factored in the annual increase in my brain’s capacity to inhale brain farts at 0.5 degrees per annum and height increase of the average child at 4cm per year. I now have no fear of impending sea level rises as I will either be too tall for it to matter or hey, I can still build a boat! Please note that this model is only a prediction, but it is settled that my Science is correct and my coding skills are awesome, so don’t dare disagree or call me names. Deal with the Science and not me as a person!

    My model “proves” that in only 16 years my IQ will usurp yours, so read it and weep!

    I have not factored in the increased carbon taxation which will rob me of my income, so the boat might not be an option. I will just have to learn to swim a tad better, or learn how to steal the materials.

    On a serious note.

    I loved this post and thank you for being so honest and frank, it is so refreshing.

    If you do come to the UK then forget England, Scotland is nicer and we are full of global warming, climate change, horizontal rain and snow when it closes the whole country and wind turbines are all shut down!

    Our climate changes every ten minutes and even the weather people cannot predict what is going to happen. We always carry an umbrella, T-shirt, shorts, sun screen, snow shoes, sledge, few reindeer, spare socks, copy of hockey stick graph (just in case we meet a “denier”), spare boxer shorts and kilt just in case we poop our pants when we have sunshine and last but not least an outboard for my 3 litre V6 car!
    I own a site that deals in statistics, real provable stats, not something made up or modelled. You can check the link on my name and this is the first time I have ever posted it here as I normally leave website field blank when posting a comment. The site deals with website analytics in real time, so what has this got to do with climate change?
    Well if I can build a site to data capture real time site analytics then why is it not possible to create a medium for real time temperature analytics? This could be easily done whereby we have site members all recording data on termps in millions of locations, not just the stations used by the IPCC and they log the data.
    I may not be a Scientist or a Gynaecologist but, I will have a good fraikin look!

    Pete Laird
    Head Numpty

    To the spelling Police. If I have made any errors please remember that I did not ask you to pees (not a typo, don’t pees on my back and tell me it’s raining) review me!

    If you don’t like my post then tough, as Achmed the dead terrorist says, Willis will keel your models!

  207. Thank you, Willis.

    Just one thought to some of the others. Free speech may be a right, but it can only be used in the open. You must acknowledge your own identity to use the right.

    Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties. John Milton

  208. Once more, Willis: BRAVO! When I first really got interested in opera I bought a series of inexpensive CDs put together by Luciano Pavarotti. One was titled “Showstoppers” in which he explained, in the cover notes, that sometimes a performance of an aria simply brings the house to a stop, as the patrons rise in acclamation and won’t sit until it is performed again. You’ve given us a showstopper here. And several times before.

    As an aside, one of my close buddies when I was in grad school was a clerk in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals who – so he says, proudly – wrote judge Peckham’s infamous decision overturning the use of IQ tests in student placements. He of course was a “Marxist” and though a genius in some ways, had nothing to compare with your upbringing. If he had, I’m sure he would have taken a more sensible approach to this decision. But, bright folk raised with golden spoons in their mouths may, as on this occasion, make some pretty stupid but far-reaching conclusions. I haven’t seen him in a good while, but I believe he probably was a confidante and advisor to one B.H. Obama back in Chicago.

    Best to you
    Jim Finley

  209. Interesting chronology. The man is pretty darn smart. I would also note that the original thinkers of the world who figured out the more basic relationships of natural science and mathematics were similarly motivated, and not formally educated as we would describe it today. A degree does not make you smart, it just shows you have passed a few tests and know some of the more accepted theories and constructs. I especially agree with the admonition that we have barely begun to understand climate, this is truly the beginning of the beginning.

  210. Surely scince is the application of common sense. To be good at it you need to have common sense and if you don’t have common sense no amount of qualifications will ever make you a scientist.

    I speak as a non scientist.

  211. Thanks Willis.

    BTW Bulldust is not really an anonymous tag … it is a real nickname and many people who don’t know my mundane name know me as Bulldust, including many folks in the US. My real name is so common that it would better serve as an anonymous handle… ironic.

    I would like to consider myself somewhat of a generalist, but not in your league by many a country mile.

  212. Finally got to the end of the comments, Willis I have traveled a lot of the same roads, met many of the same type of people, changed jobs so often out of boredom, feeling constricted, or just expanding into new areas. Always to expand the diversity of knowledge and skills, to feed my curiosity of where it goes from here. Never sought the big bucks just the fastest learning rates, when choosing new jobs into areas I wanted to know more about.

    Never worried about who knew who I was, but always wanted to keep the same ID so any valid ideas I did come up with would stay indexed to the same referenced name.

    Truth will out in the end, I would prefer to keep all of the good eggs in the same basket. Good to read about others on parallel paths, (on ninth street), one mustn’t get muddy to fed pigs, nor to catch them, if the food can be used as a good lure.

    If I could write half as well as you, this would be readable. Kudos on walking the walk, just because it is the only thing that gets you the right place at the right time to be able to do what needs to be done.

    Props from another always broke but never poor, lost wanderer still finding his own way into the light of reason, in dark times.

  213. What a great story. What a great life.

    It is supremely ironic that bookstore shelves are cluttered with so many (ghost-written) autobiographies of half-talented showbiz folk to whom nothing much has happened, while real stories like your own, Willis, are lost forever unless they’re written down and shared.

    So you don’t have a scroll with curlicued script that claims you’re an expert?

    You don’t need one. You come from the School of Hard Knocks, followed by the University of Life, and I’m delighted to inform you that you have graduated Summa Cum Laude.

    Arise, Doctor Eschenbach!

  214. Willis Eschenbach said: “Doesn’t matter if the person who made a scientific claim is a world-renowned expert or a semi-literate ditch digger.

    * * * * *

    Or an assistant patent examiner.

    When I first started reading your essays, I found myself wondering, “Who is this guy?” and was frustrated that I couldn’t seem to find out. Thanks for lifting a corner of the tent a little.

  215. Willis… a) I value your contributions and enjoy your style, and b) what SunSword said at 6:01 am.

    My e-mail address works if there are ever any questions from Anthony or The Mods. There are a few people in a certain corporation (not climate related) who would be interested to know who I am. There are also a few loonies who would be a bit too interested. I believe I’m justifiably paranoid.

    In the climate bloggin’ world, no one gives a rat’s patootie about who I am and I wouldn’t lose a nickel at my job over anything I’ve written here. People are always polite and answer me as best they can when I ask questions here. That’s why I like it here at WUWT.

  216. “That’s the ultimate egalitarianism of science. ”

    You’re not doing science. You’re annotating someone else’s science, appealing entirely to your own authority for its understanding. You are quite ridiculous.

  217. Willis – I admire your work and what you have just written, very much.
    There’s just one thing I disagree with.
    That’s the business of signing names.
    I have emailed you in my own name and you have replied with helpful advice.
    But I choose to post publically under a mask.
    I have, what is to me, a valid reason.
    You may not agree, but well,
    Let’s just agree to disagree on that issue.
    On most other topics, I’m right with you.
    Keep up the good work.

  218. From Nutcase to Scientist.

    A book about one man’s struggle from failed indoctrination into a system that said yes, I believe what this new avenger says. He says it in words and proves it with facts, not models.

    This could be the basis of,

    We are not buying into it no longer.

  219. Paramount Pictures Presents…THE GENERALIST…

    Starring Liam Neeson (Taken, Batman Begins)

    Experience the pain, the passion, the Adventures of…… THE GENERALIST

    Coming to a theatre near you, rated AO Adults Only, Contains frequent coarse language, occasional violence, some scenes of torture and very very few sex scenes

    Thankyou for sharing Willis, couldn’t stop reading, eyes watered.

    p.s. I have yet to forgive my parents for naming me Baa :)

  220. Ali Baba says:
    February 28, 2011 at 6:52 pm
    “That’s the ultimate egalitarianism of science. ”

    You’re not doing science. You’re annotating someone else’s science, appealing entirely to your own authority for its understanding. You are quite ridiculous.

    The way I see it, Willis is appealing entirely to facts, math, physics and other very hard to ignore things. He is also appealing to readers, asking them to find holes in his theories. You, on the other hand, are appealing to insults. Ridiculous? You bet.

  221. Willis, you are a true “renaissance man” and a man for all seasons
    Whose words are worth reading, for so many reasons.

    I do believe that Dorothea would be so very proud of you.

    Hilary Ostrov

  222. That is a beautiful story, Willis.
    I quote two of your lines which should never be lost:


    “I admit we’ve been broke for a while now, but by God we’re not poor …”

    being crazy means never having to say you’re sorry

    Please make sure they are in your autobiography.

  223. Back in the mid 19th century, half the kids in the US were like Willis. Chaps like A. Lincoln, J. Rockefeller, J. Gould, J. Hill, U. Grant, W. Sherman. You get the picture.

    That was before the development of government child custodial facilities and a 12 year sentence for every kid, no time off for good behavior.

    But Willis managed to escape most of the incarceration, and Wow!

  224. For decades I have been loudly complaining that this country produces too many specialists and not enough Renaissance Men (or Women – no hate mail please) – now I have concurring opinions from people I respect. I would title your book, “A Life Lived”, as most just exist.

    Someone above posted that intelligent people recognize other intelligent people – perhaps there’s a touch of that in the vitriol pointed your way,…

    David S. Weber

  225. Thanks Willis. I’ve really enjoyed following your thinking. I look forward to many more enlightening articles. :)

  226. Willis, it’s always a pleasure to read your work.
    The point that I wish to make is: you do all this work on climate science and yet you are on no government payroll. Jim Hansen, Phil Mann, Tim Flannery, etc, etc, etc, etc must break out in a cold sweat when they think about you.
    I just love private enterprise.

  227. Dave Springer says:
    February 28, 2011 at 3:14 pm
    Ailerons are all that are strictly required as they change the bank angle and hence the lift vector out of the vertical into the diagonal which pulls (or pushes depending on your POV) in the direction of the turn.

    In most cases,yes, but there have been aircraft that exhibit such adverse yaw (away from the direction of bank) that coordinated rudder is essential if you want to turn at all.

    The Wright brothers had to master control to produce the first practical flying machine and enjoy achievement as amateurs.Wilbur had a chance to become an academic but felt his variable health might have prevented him from completing any education thus wasting a not inconsiderable financial investment.Early on in his areonautical endeavours he contacted Professor Samuel Langley to find out what was already known about aviation then beat the learned man in his attempts to fly a man-carrying machine.

  228. Wow

    I teach for a University and will always admire people for what they know not who they know or how many certificates they have plastered on their walls. I think most of your objections come from people who have paid a high price for that certificate and cannot acknowledge that there are other ways to be educated.

  229. Claude Harvey says:
    February 28, 2011 at 7:44 am

    Jumping direct from there to here, I’d say the whole twine has to be lifted about 6″ off the ground. You specify the radius is to be increased to take up 3′ slack circumference. Since C=piD, =2piR, and the C is increased 3′, then 3’=2piR, and R = 3’/2pi ~= ½’ `= 6″.

    Am I close?

  230. Willis, I have always admired your erudition and your good sense, and I think you write the best posts of everyone here at WUWT (oh Anthony, you’re pretty good too – I have to kiss up to the Bloggie winner, congratulations Anthony). I have been quite intrigued with your notion with the climate system as a thermostat. Having watched the YouTube version of your presentation at the Heartland Institute conference, I can safely say that I think your insight on the subject is Galilean and Einsteinian in character. You don’t have to have a degree to do science, as many past historical figures have shown us. All you have to have is an inquiring mind, a knowledge of mathematics, a keen sense of observation, persistence, and an ability to use both inductive and deductive reasoning to best effect. You are an example of why America has been a great nation, and why I hope we can remain great. Thinking in a different way, outside of the box and the conventional wisdom, that is the most important trait.

  231. This story deserves a film , not a book. Pity (young) Marlon Brando is not around any more. Wow!!
    People like you and Anthony deserve Nobel prizes for your work to save our planet.

  232. Alexander K says:
    February 28, 2011 at 6:35 am

    Willis, while it may not be ‘about you’, you bring unique and huge experience, expertise and your own forms of genius (anyone with an IQ over 180 belongs in that realm) to a field that has been mostly the province of the polite boys and girls who went from school to college, learned all the right things to say and do and earned unremarkable Phuds for doing production-line, cookie-cutter science. Most of them would go on to become useful citizens who pay their taxes, marry ‘suitable’ partners and raise their kids in the approved manner of respectable folk. And under all of that protective colouring some of them are as dumb as a box of hammers and have the ethics of Wile E. Coyote. But they belong to the Club and will use any vilification to fight off those rare people who can sniff out wrong numbers and who take the time and trouble to learn and understand stuff that is kept hidden as the province of the academically-validated ‘expert’ who knows how to fight and survive in the publish-or-perish jungle.
    These people vilify you, Willis, because they see you as a huge threat, an intellectual Crocodile Dundee in their jungle. Go for it, mate.
    ————————————————————————

    I think you hit the nail on the head here.

    Cheers,

    Chris

  233. Richard M says:
    February 28, 2011 at 1:09 pm

    As for education … I look at it this way. There really are certain fields where you want specialists. If you are going to get your eyes surgically repaired you do NOT want a generalist doing the surgery. Because of this fact you often see alarmists making poor analogies along this line.

    Heh, you just made me think of those remarkable “malignant” generalists, the super-impersonators. Every once in a while one turns up in medicine, sometimes in prominent positions, on the basis of faked diplomas and brilliant auto-didactic study. Some have done complex surgery, sometimes with stellar success records.

    Life just won’t stay between the lines …

  234. Thanks for that Willis. We are all unique by nature and nurture. I am 62 and my dad said I would never make 25.

    Never attack the man, just his ideas if they don’t make sense. A code to live by.

  235. Willis,

    Now that we’ve been treated to a litany of idolatrous responses to your personal story, let us hope that your clear analysis and “ideas” are, indeed, not confused with “who you are”. Your romanticized account of your stint in the military’s “Med-2″ program is the classic account of a fellow who “couldn’t (or, according to your account, wouldn’t) do the time for which he’d contracted”. I too joined the military at a tender age and I too was appalled at having to “tuck it in” and take orders from lesser (in my opinion) mortals than myself. The difference between us is that I did what I had agreed to do and you did not. Twist and turn it any way you like, that is not a very admirable bottom line and it reflects an “elitist” attitude (you were ever so too smart for such mundane endeavors) that I find very unattractive.

    I continue to admire your work, but I do not admire certain aspects of your history.

  236. Anthony Watts says:
    February 28, 2011 at 7:23 am

    Today, I am more proud to call Willis Eschenbach a friend than I am about winning the Bloggies.

    He is a scholar and a gentleman in the truest sense.

    Willis, aka…”THE GENERAL!”

  237. Mack [February 28, 2011 at 11:33 am] says:

    “Willis, you are “the most interesting man in the world.” Stay thirsty, my friend.”

    Man, I wish I had thought of that. Good one!

    Willis, Final comment about this post that I neglected to state above. Now that everything is out in the open, there is much food for the climate troll community to digest. And considering the unmentionable other topic you mentioned, Islamic fanatics, I would anticipate that between these two groups there is some connecting the dots going on.

    Anyway, please stay safe. Please keep your family safe. Please keep them safe with overwhelming zeal and extreme prejudice. Please read between the lines. ’nuff said.

  238. Willis Eschenbach said:
    I’d miss tallboy and some others if they didn’t come forth, but I suspect that the signal-to-noise ratio would improve greatly.

    Hmmm. Well Willis, after accusing me in the original Ravetz climategate thread of hiding behind a pseudonym, despite my real name being hidden in plain sight, thereby proving you hadn’t read the article before launching a personal attack on him, I’m a little surprised you now choose to diss me by referring to me as ‘boy’ rather than ‘bloke’ and count me among the anonomi. You demand others quote your exact words, but you can’t even quote their screen name correctly. It seems you want to get personal about others, but don’t want others to get personal about you. That finger isn’t pointing at the Moon, it’s pointing at the spot before your eye caused by the beam in it.

    I made a substantive point about your misconception of the way the greenhouse effect works in a thread of yours recently, but when I checked back over several days, it remained unanswered. Maybe this is because the ‘signal to noise ratio’ was too high for you to find it. Or maybe it was because you have fixed opinions, and don’t always choose to respond to comments contradicting them. Or maybe you just regard my ideas and reasonings as ‘noise’ and feel them unworthy of reply. Shall I call you Willis White’n’black or Willis Write’n’blank?

    By the way, you can call me anything you like, just don’t call me out early in the morning. :-)

  239. What do you know? A fellow human being who’ll never have a boss! Heartwarming, Mr. Eschenbach.

    Diplomas and degrees feed charlatans who constitute a majority in any “professional” human occupation.

    What you are saying to them, Mr. Eschenbach, is that diplomas and degrees that feed them don’t matter much.

    They would kill you for that if they could, and if they can’t they’ll try to kill your reputation. Your very existence threatens their well-being (see above their typical “I hate your guts, you are not qualified to have an opinion because you were living real life while I was kissing behinds to get my precious diploma and my miserable salary” reaction, typically expressed by Steve McDonald).

  240. Dave Springer says:
    February 28, 2011 at 3:14 pm

    Roger Knights says:
    February 28, 2011 at 11:57 am

    “Even if that’s true, they were the first to be able to take the next step: flying a round trip back to their starting point. They had developed, along with an advanced wing profile based on a great deal of “lab” work, the crucial means of turning the plane, with “wing warping.” ”

    An aircraft in a bank turn is less efficient than flying straight and level. When making a turn you must either add power or lose airspeed and/or lose altitude. Neither power nor airspeed nor altitude were available in any significant excess in the first powered flights.

    That’s correct. But they were two or three years later when the Wrights accomplished the feat repeatedly in Ohio. That was the “next step” I was referring to.

  241. Interesting life you’ve had!
    The “other side” can now add to their ad-homs, drunkard, looney, druggy & draft-dodger!
    If the “proper” scientists had applied the “Does this answer look & sound right” test, then they wouldn’t be in such a poor state as they are now.

  242. Claude Harvey,

    Unquestionable heroism of many American soldiers in the Vietnam war being a separate issue, the mandatory conscription of troops is a crime and a slavery in any country.

    There is no moral high ground in obeying authorities when authorities are clearly wrong.

    If only more people would shun the “duties” imposed on all of us by the monstrous Ponzi scheme that our governments have become, life in this world would be substantially better for all but crooks.

  243. Willis

    I’m a big fan of this site and read it often but have never posted before, as i have never felt I had anything of value to add. I probably still don’t but wanted to express my grattitude to you for sharing this with us. Yours is a fascinating tail and you are a gifted wordsmith.

    Allan

  244. It took ages to get to the bottom of this blog!

    Willis, if you ever contemplate coming to Australia for a holiday, we would be most happy to host you at Bella Vista.

    http://www.linda-at-bellavista.blogspot.com/

    Your tale of strength over adversity is inspiring. Thanks also to Antony for posting it.

    It makes some people look very small.

    Regards

    Bhopal

  245. Willis, you are a good man keep it up and don’t let the bastards get you down. Two things, ” climate science” is a misnomer these days, maybe always has been. Espeacially the ” scientist’s” who rely on climate models, climate science is to science, what astrology is to astonomy. The shaky predictive part that is mostly crystal ball work.
    Second, Willis you are a bright man, don’t argue with fools, because after the arguement gets rolling it is hard to tell who is who. Keep up the great work. Now we need someone like you to expose the whole ” fossil fuel” myth to our western media.

  246. Thank you Willis, your life has given you more qualifications than 10 PHDs.
    Your insights have been a treat, take no sh#t .

  247. Willis it is unusual for me to be taken aback but I began to wonder if you were describing my life, not yours. As a self-educated generalist who managed almost a term in university I struck out on my own, in more ways than one. Now having worked in more than 20 countries and published a few reviewed papers (4 pending) I have concluded that it is worth drawing attention to the difference between being schooled and being educated. Expertise is about combining knowledge+attitude+experience.

    There is also a word I did not see above: scholar. A scholar can mean someone who is very knowledgeable, implying nothing about how the knowledge was obtained.

    I conclude you are, like many other people I know, an educated scholar. I join all those above in asking that you continue your scholarly dissertations as we wish to continue our education in the discipline of climate studies.

  248. Thank you Willis, for telling your story around this particular camp fire!

    I picked up two points which i reckon are important:
    “My point is that none of that matters. Either my scientific claims are correct, or they are not. It’s not about me. Period. End of story.”
    Indeed so.
    But your attackers cannot attack your science – they know full well that they haven’t got a leg to stand on. Else they would have done, or rather – ought to have done, instead of using their ad-hominem attacks.

    The other one is this:
    “I am one of a dying breed with a long and proud history and tradition, a self-educated amateur scientist. As the root of the word “amateur” suggests, an amateur scientist is someone who investigates things scientifically for love (Latin amare) rather than for money … “
    Thanks for bringing this up.
    It seems to be forgotten that those who kicked of studies in natural sciences about 200 years or so ago were of course amateurs. Be it the lady who collected fossils in Dorset, be it the various gentlemen who recorded the weather, or fiddled with instruments they invented: all amateurs.
    Did Darwin fulfil a course at Uni in biology before he set out on the ‘Beagle’? Did Wallace? And both came up with the theory of evolution …
    What about the astronomers, the chemists, the physicists? Did any of them have to prove they could do what they did before they set out to do it?

    Amateurs have had a bad press for far too long – I think they are the backbone of the Natural sciences, the transmission between lofty academe and real life. If they now can, thanks to the internet, confer at the same level as those ivory tower inhabitants, then that is to be praised and encouraged.
    Far more people have a ‘feel’ for things, such as you describe your ‘feel’ for bad numbers – but they have been discouraged, not least by those who have ‘peer review’ written on their banners, and this is why computer models have superseded observations made in nature.

    Thanks, Willis – long may you remain a thorn in the side of those who think ‘science’ can only be done by those who have an accredited, peer-reviewed stamp on their behinds.

  249. Wow! what a life! Willis your’e amazing.
    real life experience beats a desk/pen pusher.
    we have accountants and fools running aus, and boy are we in trouble.
    I always look forward to your items and now I know why you do, what you do , so well:-)

  250. Just need to add this:

    as the English have uttered invitations to you and Anthony, and a Scotsman has added his – please don’t overlook the one from Wales!
    You don’t have to learn Welsh to come here, and anyway, we sing better than either of the other lot. Mind – the weather is like that in Scotland …

  251. Some more thoughts on the film: It seems to be a mix of ‘Coal Miner’s Daughter’ (OK, it won’t be in drag) and ‘Born on the Fourth of July’.

    I like to think it could end like ‘Platoon’ – if only ‘cos ‘war mongers’ have to be defeated (cue Barber…..).

  252. C.M. Carmichael says:
    March 1, 2011 at 4:06 am

    Two things, ” climate science” is a misnomer these days, maybe always has been. Espeacially the ” scientist’s” who rely on climate models, climate science is to science, what astrology is to astonomy. The shaky predictive part that is mostly crystal ball work.

    It’s obvious you neither know what science is, nor the role prediction plays in it.

    All branches of science use predictions, it is one of the main ways of testing a theory, but there is always a solid base of empirical evidence and real world observasions underpinning them and this is no different in climate science . Prediction is not more prevalent in climate science than it is in other sciences, it simply has a higher profile due to the potential implications.

  253. I have long appreciated your ideas and I confess to genuinely liking the person I imagined you to be. Your post has only strengthened my bias in that regard.

    Please do not use my confession of bias to discount my future agreement with your ideas. At some point, I promise to provide some genuinely interesting criticism

  254. @Willis Eschenbach:
    “They point out that I am an amateur scientist (as though that were other than a badge of honor). I’m told that I’m out of my depth. I am constantly assured that I am not qualified to offer a scientific opinion on climate, because of my lack of academic qualifications (BA in Psychology), and because of the shortness of my scientific publications list. ”

    You are in good company with Maurice Ward:

    On the face of it, it was perfectly understandable that Ward’s claims should be ignored since he was merely an amateur, with no scientific training and no track record in research.

    http://www.sces.info/flame-proof.html

  255. Claude Harvey says:
    March 1, 2011 at 12:03 am

    Willis,

    Now that we’ve been treated to a litany of idolatrous responses to your personal story, let us hope that your clear analysis and “ideas” are, indeed, not confused with “who you are”. Your romanticized account of your stint in the military’s “Med-2″ program is the classic account of a fellow who “couldn’t (or, according to your account, wouldn’t) do the time for which he’d contracted”.

    I too joined the military at a tender age and I too was appalled at having to “tuck it in” and take orders from lesser (in my opinion) mortals than myself. The difference between us is that I did what I had agreed to do and you did not. Twist and turn it any way you like, that is not a very admirable bottom line and it reflects an “elitist” attitude (you were ever so too smart for such mundane endeavors) that I find very unattractive.

    I continue to admire your work, but I do not admire certain aspects of your history.

    Claude, thanks for your comments. Here’s the problem. Lets try looking at it from the other side.

    I see what I did as escaping, in any way I could, from a lethally misdirected war. I see what you did as knuckling under to the tyrants who wanted to use you for cannon fodder in that war.

    “Twist and turn it any way you like”, knuckling under to thugs and going thousands of miles to kill people who just wanted you out of their country, merely so Claude’s precious ‘word’ can be true, “is not a very admirable bottom line”.

    You see the problem? It’s not a simple question. You think that you should honor your word when you joined the military, that you keeping your word on that is more important than the life of some yellow-skinned guy halfway around the world fighting for his homeland. Me, not so much …

    Now, obviously, this is something on which reasonable men may disagree. It is not a simple question, there’s no right answer. I wrestled with it myself, as did you.

    But for you to come in and try to bust me because I didn’t make your decision, and then to claim that you have the moral high ground here?

    Sorry … in that war, there was no moral high ground. There was no honorable path, no middle road.

    I have friends that made the decision you made. But they don’t put on your airs. They’re not like you, prancing around, pretending that it was some moral crusade and that they made the right decision. They don’t blame me for the path I took, nor do I blame them for theirs. They know what I know. Nobody came out of that war unwounded.

    w.

  256. Seeing that you were educated in a country school, I knew you had a real “plus” in your CV. And the rest of the story was all “Wow” and awe.

  257. tallbloke says:
    March 1, 2011 at 1:28 am

    Willis Eschenbach said:
    I’d miss tallboy and some others if they didn’t come forth, but I suspect that the signal-to-noise ratio would improve greatly.

    Hmmm. Well Willis, after accusing me in the original Ravetz climategate thread of hiding behind a pseudonym, despite my real name being hidden in plain sight, thereby proving you hadn’t read the article before launching a personal attack on him, I’m a little surprised you now choose to diss me by referring to me as ‘boy’ rather than ‘bloke’ and count me among the anonomi. You demand others quote your exact words, but you can’t even quote their screen name correctly. It seems you want to get personal about others, but don’t want others to get personal about you. That finger isn’t pointing at the Moon, it’s pointing at the spot before your eye caused by the beam in it.

    I don’t remember people’s aliases all that well. So sue me, tallfriend. I do like the way that from my misremembering your fanciful appellation, you jump from unsubstantiated idea to unsupported claim and finally arrive at the Moon, I’d give you an 8.6 for the gymnastics alone …

    I made a substantive point about your misconception of the way the greenhouse effect works in a thread of yours recently, but when I checked back over several days, it remained unanswered. Maybe this is because the ‘signal to noise ratio’ was too high for you to find it. Or maybe it was because you have fixed opinions, and don’t always choose to respond to comments contradicting them. Or maybe you just regard my ideas and reasonings as ‘noise’ and feel them unworthy of reply. Shall I call you Willis White’n’black or Willis Write’n’blank?

    talldude, I actually sit around breathlessly just waiting for you to comment on my threads, it’s the highlight of the day. I can’t believe I actually missed that one, hang on, let me remedy that by bringing in your deathless prose right now:

    Well, there is realclimate’s writeup on Minnet’s theory and the experiment carried out using the Aeri pyrgeometer.

    lol.

    But the real point is that that the amount of energy from back radiation mixed down when the wind ruffles the ocean surface is negligible compared to the extra cooling effect caused by that same wind breaking the surface up and permitting additional convection and radiation of heat from the ocean to the air.

    The greenhouse effct doesn’t work by the direct warming of the ocean by back radiation. It works (to whatever extent it does) by thickening the atmosphere and causing the ocean to cool at a slightly slower rate relative to the insolation which actually does warm it.

    Well, now that I’ve seen it, I fear I don’t have much to say about it. I don’t read realclimate, it’s very bad for my blood pressure.

    You make several unsubstantiated, uncited, unsupported claims about how heat moves in the ocean. I’m sorry, tallman, but I can’t answer every opinion fluff piece that someone wants to throw out there. Re-read your second paragraph, and then think about my possible responses. What am I supposed to say? You’re right? You’re wrong?

    I can’t say either one, you haven’t given anywhere near enough information to determine the truth-content of what you said. How are we to interpret “It works (to whatever extent it does) …”? Are we supposed to say “no, it doesn’t work to that extent, it works to some other extent”?

    So no, I didn’t answer you, tall. Nor will I. Nor can I. Your statements can neither be refuted nor supported, they’re too vague.

    Now, based on that choice of mine (because I did indeed see it when you wrote it) that your posting was too vague and had too little truth content to mess with, you conclude that, what was it,

    Or maybe it was because you have fixed opinions, and don’t always choose to respond to comments contradicting them. Or maybe you just regard my ideas and reasonings as ‘noise’ and feel them unworthy of reply. Shall I call you Willis White’n’black or Willis Write’n’blank?

    It’s not a question of either “noise” or “unworthy of reply”, elevationallygiftedperson. I answer what I think will move the conversation forwards. I tend to pay much more attention to claims that are on-topic (the Nature paper) and not wildly off-topic (absorption of microwaves by water). I tend to answer claims that are well cited and referenced.

    Your post was not any of those, so I passed it by. You are using that fact to … hey, guess what, abuse me some more. Sorry I hurt your feelings by not answering your post, but whining about how that proves I’m some kind of bad guy won’t win you any points.

    By the way, you can call me anything you like, just don’t call me out early in the morning. :-)

    You and me both, tallie. I’m rarely in bed before three, or up before ten.

    w.

  258. Ah yes…

    That good ol’ fashioned education that has proven itself unparalleled century after century. You know the one I’m talking about… that one where you read a few paragraphs and then roll up your sleeves and get your fingernails dirty.

    Yeah, that one.

    To wit, life’s (unparalleled) education has taught me a great motto to keep in mind when dealing with an adversaries’ logical fallacies such as (the ever-so-popular) argumentum ad hominem and argumentum ad verecundiam… And so I shall share it here on WUWT with my fellow scientific heretics of the ‘uneducated, inferior’ kind:

    “Never argue with an idiot… He’ll drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.”

  259. Ok Willis,

    I don’t want to increase the signal/noise ratio here so I’ll take up the challenge and put a fresh post up on my blog outlining what I think you are wrong about, with some supporting references. I’ll just mention that when pushed on the issue, scientistofdoom agreed that the greenhouse effect works the way I said it does, not by mythically warming the bulk of the ocean with back radiation, which it can’t.

    Your responses to Richard Verney on the thread I linked were amazing. You failed to give any supporting evidence of your own and demanded he should be the one to disprove the alarmist claim you now seem to agree with. Astonishing after all that has been said here about the null hypothesis, but there it is.

    Cheers

    tb.

  260. Willis; I hope you don’t have a glass jaw, or overshot feet, but your responses to Lofty (aka tallbloke) and Claude Harvey don’t jell with the cowboy image you project and which I prefer to admire and believe.

    Cowboys don’t cry.

  261. tallbloke says:
    March 1, 2011 at 2:06 pm (Edit)

    Ok Willis,

    I don’t want to increase the signal/noise ratio here so I’ll take up the challenge and put a fresh post up on my blog outlining what I think you are wrong about, with some supporting references. I’ll just mention that when pushed on the issue, scientistofdoom agreed that the greenhouse effect works the way I said it does, not by mythically warming the bulk of the ocean with back radiation, which it can’t.

    And this is my fault how?

    Your responses to Richard Verney on the thread I linked were amazing. You failed to give any supporting evidence of your own and demanded he should be the one to disprove the alarmist claim you now seem to agree with. Astonishing after all that has been said here about the null hypothesis, but there it is.

    Cheers

    tb.

    I’m glad you found them amazing … Verney (as I recall) says that back radiation can’t warm the ocean (your claim).

    Rather than deal with the intricacies of his vision, and get caught in minutiae, I simply asked this:

    Incoming radiation from the sun ≈ 170 W/m2 at the surface

    Outgoing radiation ≈ 390 W/m2 at the surface

    If the ocean isn’t warmed by the IR, as both you and Richard Verney claim, why hasn’t it frozen?

    That’s what I asked Verney, with you participating in the discussion. And neither you nor he have answered.

    At that point, tallbloke, I stepped out of the discussion. We’d reached ground zero. Both you and he refused to answer a simple question, the discussion was way off-topic, so I walked away.

    Now, that’s what happened with Verney, so you can keep your nasty accusations and implications to yourself. He didn’t want to play. You didn’t want to play.

    And now you want to bust me for walking away after both of you didn’t want to play? Get real, you can bust me after you answer the question. If things are as you claim, and the IR can’t heat the ocean at all like you guys say, why hasn’t it frozen?

    w.

  262. Stuart MacDonald says:
    March 1, 2011 at 6:52 am

    C.M. Carmichael says:
    March 1, 2011 at 4:06 am

    Two things, ” climate science” is a misnomer these days, maybe always has been. Espeacially the ” scientist’s” who rely on climate models, climate science is to science, what astrology is to astonomy. The shaky predictive part that is mostly crystal ball work.

    It’s obvious you neither know what science is, nor the role prediction plays in it.

    All branches of science use predictions, it is one of the main ways of testing a theory, but there is always a solid base of empirical evidence and real world observasions underpinning them and this is no different in climate science . Prediction is not more prevalent in climate science than it is in other sciences, it simply has a higher profile due to the potential implications.

    My thanks to you both for raising important points. Stuart, I think you have misunderstood C.M. Carmichael. He did not deny, nor was he surprised, that sciences use predictions all the time.

    What he said is that climate science issues bogus predictions because they depend on Tinkertoy™ models.

    That’s my read of it at least.

    w.

  263. BlueIce2HotSea says:
    March 1, 2011 at 7:48 am

    I have long appreciated your ideas and I confess to genuinely liking the person I imagined you to be. Your post has only strengthened my bias in that regard.

    Please do not use my confession of bias to discount my future agreement with your ideas. At some point, I promise to provide some genuinely interesting criticism

    A statement of true science at its finest. Whether you like me or hate me, as you say, it’s not about me or you.

    w.

  264. tallbloke says:
    March 1, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    Ok Willis,

    I don’t want to increase the signal/noise ratio here so I’ll take up the challenge and put a fresh post up on my blog outlining what I think you are wrong about, with some supporting references. I’ll just mention that when pushed on the issue, scientistofdoom agreed that the greenhouse effect works the way I said it does, not by mythically warming the bulk of the ocean with back radiation, which it can’t.

    On re-reading, once again you are making claims with absolutely nothing to support them but your height … and I can’t see that, you might be a midget. Where did SoD say that, and what exactly did he say?

    Please put that info in the piece you say you will put up on your blog … the one with the sign that says “tallbloke blog”? Gotta love how that anonymity thing is working for you. A link to your blog would go a long way here, folks don’t have a clue what it it. I might even have been there and commented, without knowing it was you, but if so I don’t remember.

    tallbloke, here’s the deal. I’m doing the best I can here. I’m tending a number of threads. My threads tend to be popular, this one has over 300 comments. Let me see the other current ones … OK, my post on Nature Magazine 1 has 185 comments. Nature Magazine 2 has 145 comments. My open letter to the Editor of Science has 55 comments.

    As a result, there’s no possible way for me to answer every comment. Never happen. If you want your comment to get replied to, well, secrets of the ancients revealed below, folks, pay attention. You already know this, or could easily list these if you thought about it, so I’ll save you the trouble. Your comments are more likely to get a substantive answer from me if:

    1. They are on topic.

    2. They are not aggressive, insulting, or demeaning in tone.

    3. They deal with scientific issues.

    4. They are as brief as the subject allows, clear, and interesting.

    5. They are well cited and referenced.

    6. They present novel ideas or ways of understanding.

    7. Bonus points if they represent your own original work.

    8. They carry the conversation forward particularly if they can show exactly where and how my claims are in error.

    This final one does not mean saying “Willis, you’re out of your depth about gamma rays, you have fixed opinions, and you don’t always choose to respond to comments contradicting them.”

    It means saying “Willis, you stated above that ‘… gamma rays have no effect on Man-In-The-Moon Marigolds.’ I draw your attention to page 17 of the 1923 study of Baarly and Coheerant which showed a 6% increase in the strontium content of the marigolds at gamma radiation levels above six megarads per square nanometer .”

    Those eight points, that’s how you can get a reply to your comments.

    At the end of the day, what I answer is a judgement call. Sometimes I’m in a hurry, stuff to do, I think “That’s interesting, I’ll get back to giraffeman on that” and then reality intervenes and I never get back to it. Sometimes a comment just rubs me the wrong way. Sometimes there’s not quite enough substance to be worth the time to clarify it. Sometimes I simply don’t see it, my goal is to read every one but yeah, I’m human. Sometimes there’s a misunderstanding that I know will drag the discussion sideways. I can’t answer everything. I pick and mis-pick things to answer for a host of reasons … but if you follow the guidelines above your odds will get better.

    Now, I answered you above in a harsh fashion, tallbloke. I want you to understand why.

    You accused me of bad faith or bad intent because your precious tallbloke question didn’t get answered, viz:

    I made a substantive point about your misconception of the way the greenhouse effect works in a thread of yours recently, but when I checked back over several days, it remained unanswered. Maybe this is because the ‘signal to noise ratio’ was too high for you to find it. Or maybe it was because you have fixed opinions, and don’t always choose to respond to comments contradicting them. Or maybe you just regard my ideas and reasonings as ‘noise’ and feel them unworthy of reply. Shall I call you Willis White’n’black or Willis Write’n’blank?

    Your belief that your ideas are critically important doesn’t make me a jerk if I do not reply to them.

    And in a post that is an urgent request that people stop speculating about my mental processes and my motives and my reasons for a particular action because YOU DON’T HAVE A CLUE ABOUT THEM, what do you do?

    You speculate on why I didn’t reply to one comment out of literally thousands of comments that I’ve read and either replied to or not, a comment that was off-topic to the thread.

    I don’t know of many bloggers doing original scientific work and analyses who answer a greater percentage of the comments on their work. Not a slur on them, they have day jobs, and for the moment I’m retired early. My point is that I make an honest effort to answer all of the scientific objections that are on-topic and on-point. I also answer as many of the off-topic and off-point scientific questions as I can. For you to speculate that because although I’ve answered dozens of your posts I didn’t answer one, that means somehow I’m avoiding you, that I’m afraid to answer your penetrating scientific insights, is irresponsible, insulting, and unpleasant.

    And that’s why I answered you harshly. I tend to return like with like. I know it’s a bad habit, but if a guy posts a comment and says “Hey, Willis, I was hoping for your comment on the ideas presented here.” (with a link), I’ll go right over and see what he’s talking about. I return like for like. I have a reputation to uphold. As a man with no credentials but my experience and self-education, all I have is my word. I have said many times that I intend to answer all valid, on-topic scientific questions. I believe I have done that to the best of my abilities. If I didn’t answer your post, and you think you followed the guidelines I posted above, hey, ask me politely, I’ll take a look.

    But when you come in all nasty, insinuating that I’m running from your superior science, and speculating that I have bad motives, claiming that I have “fixed opinions”, and making unpleasant, snarky wordplay on my name?

    Sorry. Yes, I’ll go see what you are talking about even when you are unpleasant about it, it’s not about you any more than it is about me, and I have my word to uphold.

    But as I said above, regarding the harshness of my reply, I tend to give like for like.

    And as for my fixed opinions, they are as fixed to the facts and the science as I can make them … and when that changes, my opinions change.

    w.

  265. Roger Carr says:
    March 1, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    Willis; I hope you don’t have a glass jaw, or overshot feet, but your responses to Lofty (aka tallbloke) and Claude Harvey don’t jell with the cowboy image you project and which I prefer to admire and believe.

    Cowboys don’t cry.

    I’m a reformed cowboy. I went to the Betty Ford Substance Abuse Clinic to get treatment for my cowboy problem. They gave me one of those twelve step deals. But I keep getting my spurs caught in the carpet on the seventh or eighth step, and before I know it I’m back down around step two or three, I can’t keep them straight. This accounts for my contradictory behavior which you correctly diagnose above.

    w.

    OBLIGATORY DECLARATION OF POLITICAL CORRECTNESS: My mother’s alcoholism was finally brought under control in part by the 12-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous, so I respect it greatly. She used to make jokes about the twelve steps. I can still make jokes about them, it doesn’t mean anything. If you are insulted by jokes about twelve-steppers … get over it.

  266. tallbloke, I wanted to let you know that I have corrected my mistake regarding your screen name, and apologized, in the head post.

    w.

  267. Stuart MacDonald expostulates:
    All branches of science use predictions, it is one of the main ways of testing a theory, but there is always a solid base of empirical evidence and real world observasions [sic] underpinning them and this is no different in climate science.

    Yeah, “a solid base of empirical evidence and real world observations.” No kidding. 250 years ago the scientific consensus was that Abraham’s Allah created all species as they are. 150 years ago the scientific consensus predicted that no object heavier than air would fly. 50 years ago the scientific consensus predicted that in 20 years we all would freeze to death, that because of the Big Freeze there would be not enough food for Earth’s population, and that the last drop of oil would be extracted and burned.

    And now the scientific consensus, through the mouth of Stuart MacDonald, warns us that we all are going to die under a tsunami of oceanic floods, that because of the Global Warming there would be not enough food for Earth’s population, and that the last drop of oil would be extracted and burned. Blah-blah.

    Most of the scientists always were — and still are — charlatans who can’t see farther than their noses.

    The only historical difference is that in the past most of the scientists were working for the Church, saying whatever priests and mullahs wanted them to say, while these days most of the scientists are working for the government, saying whatever crooks in power want them to say. Including you, Stuart MacDonald.

  268. Alexander Feht says:
    March 1, 2011 at 7:31 pm


    Most of the scientists always were — and still are — charlatans who can’t see farther than their noses.

    I couldn’t disagree more. In my opinion, most scientists are interested in the world, much like me, curious and inquisitive, decent men and women, just fools whose intentions are good, trying to figure out how things work.

    The problem in climate science was and is noble cause corruption, where scientists decided in advance what the answer was because they wanted so badly to save the planet. The other problem is that the decent honest scientists stood by silently and let the field get hijacked.

    w.

  269. 50 years ago the scientific consensus predicted that in 20 years we all would freeze to death,

    Actually, that’s completely untrue. A minority of climate scientists, who are a tiny minority of scientists, felt that way. It was hardly a consensus.

    The fact that scientific consensus has proven correct as often as it has is the reason why you can make note of the exceptions when it was wrong. The exceptions prove the rule. How long would your list be if you tried to list all the times that scientific consensus is correct?

  270. Re: Willis Eschenbach says:
    March 1, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    “They’re not like you, prancing around, pretending that it was some moral crusade and that they made the right decision.”

    I’ve re-read my message and find no “prancing and dancing” or flag-waving or any such thing. However, I do see in your response considerable evidence of hypocrisy and deception. Am I to believe that a fellow who voluntarily joined the military during a war suddenly had an epiphany over the immorality of war six weeks later and half way through basic training? That tale will get you a guaranteed cheering section, but it doesn’t comport with the facts as you stated them in your story.

    During the era in question, there were three tried-and-true ways out of the military before completing basic training:

    1) Be found too dumb to tie your shoes and follow simple orders (no chance of you pulling that one off with YOUR scores).
    2) Have a mental meltdown (no shame in that and I wouldn’t have written what I did if that were your tale).
    3) Pretend to have a mental meltdown (This one takes lots of time and effort because, as you apparently discovered, once the military shrinks sniff that one out they try and outlast you).

    I’d have been happy to let this one drop were it not for your indignant invocation of “a higher morality” that, in your particular circumstances as described, seems to have had little or nothing to do with your decision to bail out. You found that you didn’t like what you’d committed to, so you bailed. I stand by my statement that I do not find that attractive and it most certainly is not “the cowboy way” your cultivated persona implies.

  271. Willis,

    You obviously spent no time in modern government’s scientific institutions.
    I grew up among them.
    The moment you step into any scientific institution funded by the government, you step into the world of petty lies, intrigues, envy, financial corruption, carefully obfuscated ignorance, finely tuned obsequiousness, over-educated narrow-mindedness, and endless charlatanry.
    Your view of scientists is from the idealistic child literature.
    Modern Academia is a poisonous rat race where talent and truth are worst enemies to be persecuted and destroyed as soon as possible and at any cost.

  272. the one with the sign that says “tallbloke blog”? Gotta love how that anonymity thing is working for you. A link to your blog would go a long way here, folks don’t have a clue what it it. I might even have been there and commented, without knowing it was you, but if so I don’t remember.

    Uh, Willis. Have you noticed that sometimes the names of people who leave comments on this blog are in blue text? That’s called hypertext. If you click on it, it links you to another site. In Tallbloke’s case, it links to a blog called “Tallbloke’s Talkshop.” My guess is that if you’d been there and left a comment, you’d probably remember his name and the name of the site. Just a guess, though, I mean people with 180 IQs usually having a pretty good memory for detail and all.

  273. Joshua:
    The fact that scientific consensus has proven correct as often as it has is the reason why you can make note of the exceptions when it was wrong.

    Would you be so kind as to give several examples from the history of science, demonstrating that the overwhelming majority of the contemporary scientists (“consensus”) was correct?

    Surely you cannot point at Galileo’s, Pascal’s, or Newton’s times. Neither at Jean Francois Champollion, or Micheal Ventris, or Nikola Tesla, or Copernicus, or Georg Mendel, or Darwin, or… My list would be very long, containing thousands upon thousands of the very best and brightest scientists in the history of humanity.

    I’d be very interested to read your list of consensus achievements.

  274. Re:Gene Zeien says:
    February 28, 2011 at 10:53 am

    “circumference = PI * diameter
    You need to add 1′ to the diameter, so approximately 6″ spacers would do the trick.”

    Yes, the answer is approximately 6 inches. The counter-intuitive thing is that no matter how large the original circumference was, if you expand it by 3 feet, you’ll get a radius change of approximately 6 inches. The proof is the simple differentiation of diameter with respect to circumference. It still boggles my mind and it taught me to not “over-rely” on my nose for the numbers.

  275. Willis Eschenbach says:
    March 1, 2011 at 5:41 pm
    tallbloke, I wanted to let you know that I have corrected my mistake regarding your screen name, and apologized, in the head post.

    Willis, that is very gracious of you, my sincere thanks.

    Please accept my apologies for the alarmist claim comment too. Let’s keep it scientific and I’ll address the ocean freezing issue in my new post. Hopefully after that conversation you’ll change your mind about whether my contribution to the debate is signal rather than noise as well as correcting my name.

    Regarding the folie thread. As you say, it’s hard to keep up with all the conversations, especially when you’re running your own blog too, and in all honesty when I returned several times to check whether you had answered me I just did a search on my name to see if you’d responded. So I didn’t see the exchange with Richard Verney until I commented here yesterday, at which point I was a bit irked about the signal/noise ratio comment you made concerning me.

    Best to you

    tb.

  276. Moderator please ignore previous. I am correctin italic attributions.
    Claude Harvey :
    March 1, 2011 at 9:50 pm

    You are being unfair to Willis

    He says:Then the Army sent me a draft notice. 1966, something about a little conflict in Southeast Asia, they wanted cannon fodder. But if I enlisted, I could choose my specialty. I enlisted and chose, ironically, weather observer.

    You say :Am I to believe that a fellow who voluntarily joined the military during a war suddenly had an epiphany over the immorality of war six weeks later and half way through basic training?
    There is nothing voluntary in the choices available to him.
    It was a choice between the devil and the deep blue sea. There was no third choice, he was not given a chance not to enlist. The fate of many boys of that generation.

    The army fooled the young.

    My brother was lured into enlisting with the promise of being posted in a language translation department in a US based office. He ended up in Vietnam driving a jeep which had a plane finding beam: a sitting duck.

    It was a dirty war fought with dirty means as I guess all wars are, except those in the real defense of the country.

    And Willis, a fascinating travelogue. You should write it up as a book when you really retire :).

    And Willis, you are right. One should try to falsify the scientific message, not discuss the messenger’s bio.

  277. Claude Harvey says:
    March 1, 2011 at 9:50 pm (Edit)

    Re: Willis Eschenbach says:
    March 1, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    … Am I to believe that a fellow who voluntarily joined the military during a war suddenly had an epiphany over the immorality of war six weeks later and half way through basic training? That tale will get you a guaranteed cheering section, but it doesn’t comport with the facts as you stated them in your story.

    Doesn’t comport with the facts as I stated them? That’s the nicest way I’ve been called a liar in a while. Your accusations of dishonesty are way out of line.

    “Voluntarily joined”? Boy, I guess my writing must be bad. I was drafted. If I agreed to serve four years instead of three, I could pick my specialty. This choice of four years service over three was euphemistically called “volunteering”. I didn’t want to be a rifleman, I didn’t want to kill anyone, so I agreed to four years and chose weather observer. I didn’t volunteer to be in the Army one bit. There wasn’t a single damn “voluntary” thing in the action at all.

    In addition, before I went into the service I basically knew nothing about the war. Once I was in (as is my wont) I started reading everything I could about the war. Plus being in the army, there were people around who had been over there and seen it. It didn’t take long to see that the whole thing was wrong war, wrong place, wrong time. Perhaps you couldn’t have figured that out in six weeks, but that’s no reason to assume the same about me …

    So once again, your accusations are totally untrue.

    w.

    PS – You say:

    During the era in question, there were three tried-and-true ways out of the military before completing basic training:

    1) Be found too dumb to tie your shoes and follow simple orders (no chance of you pulling that one off with YOUR scores).
    2) Have a mental meltdown (no shame in that and I wouldn’t have written what I did if that were your tale).
    3) Pretend to have a mental meltdown (This one takes lots of time and effort because, as you apparently discovered, once the military shrinks sniff that one out they try and outlast you).

    Say what? How was my going to the Sergeant in basic training and calmly announcing that I couldn’t follow orders from men I didn’t know “pretending to have a mental meltdown”? What are you trying to say?

    And the military shrinks didn’t think I was pretending, that’s your fantasy. They knew that I was slowly going nuts in the army, and that I was going nuts even faster in the nuthouse. They knew I would be useless and unreliable as a soldier. They didn’t try to “outlast” me. They were decent men who cared about all of us. They counseled us and tried to help us. They recommended that I be discharged, and the General over-ruled them. You think those good men tried to “outlast” me? Dude, you’ve got some sick fantasies about some caring doctors. If they thought I was “pretending” I’d have been out of there within a day after they made their decision, I saw it happen. They had neither the time nor the desire to outlast anyone. They had more men than they could treat. If they thought a man was faking it they kicked him out so they could help someone who needed it, they didn’t try to outlast him.

    In other words, you didn’t understand much of what I wrote at all, and your ideas about the Army doctors are just as wrong and just ugly as your other fantasies.

    I was serious above when I said nobody came out of the war unwounded. I also was serious when I said that neither you or I had made the “moral choice”. I’m not claiming I was right or that I did the right thing, Claude. I’m saying that my friends who made the other choice, of going to the war, came back regretting that choice. They felt that they had made the wrong moral choice, just as I’m not happy with the choice I made.

    I did the wrong thing, they did the wrong thing, because in that war there was no right thing. My friend who was a Captain, that I mentioned in the head post, resigned his commission rather than go to Vietnam. He had made a huge commitment to the Army, and they had big money invested in him … and he just walked away.

    I, with much less commitment to the Army, am accused by you of doing wrong … so did he do wrong in legally resigning his commission?

    And if not, why shouldn’t I have had the opportunity to resign from the Army, as he did when he felt he could no longer ethically serve the monster that the Army was becoming? How is his action more ethical than mine?

    w.

    PS – When were you in the service? I ask because your service experience sounds totally unlike that of my friends and myself in the Vietnam War.

  278. March 1, 2011 at 9:53 pm

    Willis,

    You obviously spent no time in modern government’s scientific institutions.
    I grew up among them.
    The moment you step into any scientific institution funded by the government, you step into the world of petty lies, intrigues, envy, financial corruption, carefully obfuscated ignorance, finely tuned obsequiousness, over-educated narrow-mindedness, and endless charlatanry.

    As opposed to what we find in business, or in academia, or any other human endeavor?

    Your view of scientists is from the idealistic child literature.

    You might have lost your ideals. I haven’t.

    Modern Academia is a poisonous rat race where talent and truth are worst enemies to be persecuted and destroyed as soon as possible and at any cost.

    Quite possibly some, even many are, but I’ve known good caring professors and good departments. Scientists and professors are not unlike the rest of us. The 80/20 rule applies everywhere.

    w.

  279. Joshua says:
    March 1, 2011 at 9:59 pm (Edit)

    the one with the sign that says “tallbloke blog”? Gotta love how that anonymity thing is working for you. A link to your blog would go a long way here, folks don’t have a clue what it it. I might even have been there and commented, without knowing it was you, but if so I don’t remember.

    Uh, Willis. Have you noticed that sometimes the names of people who leave comments on this blog are in blue text? That’s called hypertext. If you click on it, it links you to another site. In Tallbloke’s case, it links to a blog called “Tallbloke’s Talkshop.” My guess is that if you’d been there and left a comment, you’d probably remember his name and the name of the site. Just a guess, though, I mean people with 180 IQs usually having a pretty good memory for detail and all.

    Whoa, my bad, gotta hang my head … despite years on the web, I never noticed that particular feature. Go figure … thanks for the heads-up, Joshua.

    w.

  280. Willis,

    I notice that a part of this post & comments relates to amateur scientists and it reminded me of something I was told about 20+ years ago –
    I was working in a factory on the maintenance crew and if a machine was down then the company was losing money, uptime was everything. On many occasions brainstorming sessions were held with other mechanics to try and solve unusual problems. Being a newer employee, I was a little hesitant to inject my ideas. Someone who later became a good friend told me this – ‘I don’t care if the cleaning lady fixes it, as long as it is fixed’. This was a valuable lesson to me that ego does not matter when it comes to reality, professional or amateur, lettered or not, if you examine the facts and reach the correct conclusion then the result is valuable.
    Willis, you stand on the shoulders of giants, continue using your intellect in whatever way you see fit. If you prove CAGW is real, so be it but if you prove it false or irrelevant then that is valid too, either way you do it with honesty and integrity and, let’s face it, sometimes the cleaning lady is a lot more able than you think.

    Your posts are always interesting and entertaining, keep up the good work and I am delighted to see you and Tallbloke getting back down to the science and not the bickering, kudos to both of you.

    With great respect,

    Tony Folley

  281. Willis,

    If you apply 80/20 rule to all human endeavors including science, then we actually don’t disagree much.

    I haven’t lost my ideals but I refined them by understanding that they cannot encompass all people, just some of them.

  282. Claude Harvey Yes, the answer is approximately 6 inches. The counter-intuitive thing is that no matter how large the original circumference was, if you expand it by 3 feet, you’ll get a radius change of approximately 6 inches. The proof is the simple differentiation of diameter with respect to circumference. It still boggles my mind and it taught me to not “over-rely” on my nose for the numbers.

    It can be made intuitive, sort of. Consider:

    (C+a)/(D+b) = pi

    Since C,D remain constant, b depends on a and not on anything else. The wrong intuition imagines C,D as changing when the increases are made. They don’t change – they’re the originals.

  283. No problem, Willis.

    Now, maybe you can explain why you wouldn’t die more quickly from hypothermia if you sit in a tub of dry ice than if you sit in a tub of ice cubes from your fridge?

    Or maybe you can explain how you wouldn’t get the bends more quickly relative to the depth you go underwater.

    Or perhaps you could explain how you wouldn’t get altitude more quickly depending on the amount you go above sea level.

    Because, as you have established: even beyond a certain threshold, there is no linear relationship between external forces and internal body homeostasis.

  284. Re: Willis Eschenbach says:
    March 2, 2011 at 2:15 am

    Willis,

    Quotes from your story:

    “The Letterman nuthouse was in a building previously used as a holding prison for Federal criminals headed to Alcatraz. They took us into this prison and shot us up with a bunch of other drugs. They propped us up against the wall to wait for dinner.”

    “The Army wasn’t much help. At the time they were mostly doing a lot of shock therapy. But they never did any followup. Me and Mel started doing what we could.”

    “Finally, seven months after taking a double handful of sleeping pills, having slipped between the Scylla of being plugged into the wall and the Charybdis of being sent back to the Army, and in a state both less crazy and more crazy than when I went entered the nuthouse, they let me go. I had outlasted them.”

    Quotes from your response to my comment:

    “They didn’t try to “outlast” me. They were decent men who cared about all of us. They counseled us and tried to help us. They recommended that I be discharged, and the General over-ruled them. You think those good men tried to “outlast” me? Dude, you’ve got some sick fantasies about some caring doctors.”

    Dude! It would appear your view of military psychiatric care is quite fluid, depending on what point you wish to make or who you are attacking at the time.

    The answer to your question is that I was in the U.S. Submarine Service from 1959 through 1962. During basic training in San Diego I was a candidate for both pilot training and submarine duty. At that time, the Navy insisted on extensive psychiatric reviews of candidates for either of those two assignments, so I spent lots of time over at the base nuthouse waiting to see one psychiatrist of another and chatting with the nutters and the pretenders. As a result, I know very well what the military drill was in that regard: “If they’re really crazy, we want them out of the military. If they’re faking it, we intend to keep them in very unpleasant circumstances to see if we can outlast them.” I think your statement that you had “outlasted them” was well founded.

    I’m have some difficulty arriving at exactly what picture of yourself you wish to present. When I read your story, the picture I got was that you simply wanted out and used the only mechanism available to you. When I read your response to my first comment, the picture I got was that you escaped as a matter on conscience and moral consideration. Now I’m reading that you were truly nuts.

    How about we mutually stick with the truly nuts version and I withdraw my criticism which would never have applied to “truly nuts”?

  285. er….

    That should be:

    Or perhaps you could explain how you wouldn’t get altitude sickness more quickly depending on the amount you go above sea level.

  286. Joshua says:
    March 2, 2011 at 7:02 am

    No problem, Willis.

    Now, maybe you can explain why you wouldn’t die more quickly from hypothermia if you sit in a tub of dry ice than if you sit in a tub of ice cubes from your fridge?

    Or maybe you can explain how you wouldn’t get the bends more quickly relative to the depth you go underwater.

    Or perhaps you could explain how you wouldn’t get altitude more quickly depending on the amount you go above sea level.

    Because, as you have established: even beyond a certain threshold, there is no linear relationship between external forces and internal body homeostasis.

    Huh? I never established that. Generally, all homeostatic systems have thresholds beyond which their ability to keep things the same breaks down. You’re fighting a straw man. This is why I say QUOTE WHAT I SAID. You’re fighting your own fantasies, not anything I’ve claimed.

  287. Alexander Feht says:
    March 2, 2011 at 5:10 am

    Willis,

    If you apply 80/20 rule to all human endeavors including science, then we actually don’t disagree much.

    I haven’t lost my ideals but I refined them by understanding that they cannot encompass all people, just some of them.

    Thanks, Andrew. In fact I think there’s more agreement in general than disagreement once people understand what I’m actually saying.

    My best to you.

    w.

  288. Willis Eschenbach says:
    March 1, 2011 at 3:23 pm

    My thanks to you both for raising important points. Stuart, I think you have misunderstood C.M. Carmichael. He did not deny, nor was he surprised, that sciences use predictions all the time.

    What he said is that climate science issues bogus predictions because they depend on Tinkertoy™ models.

    That’s my read of it at least.

    w.

    I infered from C.M. Carmichael’s wholly incorrect assertion that there are climate “‘scientist’s’ who rely on climate models” and unsupportable comparison of climate science to astrology that they belong to that subset of “skeptics” who overestimate the contribution of prediction to climate science and undervalue its contribution science as a whole, but I accept it’s more than possible I am overinterpreting here.

    I’m do appreciate you acknowledging the importance of the point though. Climate science is rooted in observed phenomena and scientific law, with the models being an adjunct to these, and those who deny this simply add nothing to the debate. AGW theory, like all theories, is necessarily interpretive, it is of course perogative of the individual to disagree with the consensus interpretation, but the corollarly to this is a duty to to provide an interpretation that better fits the observed phenomena using accepted scientific laws.

    You don’t accept the consensus view and claim the numbers don’t add up. This may or may not be true, but it is testable. Make a model using your numbers. If they are better numbers your model will hindcast more accurately than the current ones and, consequently, provide a better basis for making predictions. Until you do this though, I will continue to believe that your concerns are rhetorical bombast, not science, however I would be happy to be proved wrong.

  289. Claude Harvey says:
    March 2, 2011 at 7:11 am

    Re: Willis Eschenbach says:
    March 2, 2011 at 2:15 am
    Willis,

    Quotes from your story:

    “The Letterman nuthouse was in a building previously used as a holding prison for Federal criminals headed to Alcatraz. They took us into this prison and shot us up with a bunch of other drugs. They propped us up against the wall to wait for dinner.”

    “The Army wasn’t much help. At the time they were mostly doing a lot of shock therapy. But they never did any followup. Me and Mel started doing what we could.”

    “Finally, seven months after taking a double handful of sleeping pills, having slipped between the Scylla of being plugged into the wall and the Charybdis of being sent back to the Army, and in a state both less crazy and more crazy than when I went entered the nuthouse, they let me go. I had outlasted them.”

    Quotes from your response to my comment:

    “They didn’t try to “outlast” me. They were decent men who cared about all of us. They counseled us and tried to help us. They recommended that I be discharged, and the General over-ruled them. You think those good men tried to “outlast” me? Dude, you’ve got some sick fantasies about some caring doctors.”

    Dude! It would appear your view of military psychiatric care is quite fluid, depending on what point you wish to make or who you are attacking at the time.

    Oh, I see, you want simplistic stories, where good men never let anything fall through the cracks, where everyone gets the help they need … yes, the Army docs were good guys, but they were good guys working in an insane system. Some things they did were wonderful, some were heartbreaking. Does that make my view of them “quite fluid” as you say with a sneer, or make it more accurate than your black-and-white cartoon view of the situation?

    I loved the Docs, I hated them, I saw their strengths and their weaknesses. You want childrens’ tales with the good guys always good and the bad guys always bad? You’ll have to apply elsewhere. My stories contain humans with all of their contradictions.

    The answer to your question is that I was in the U.S. Submarine Service from 1959 through 1962. During basic training in San Diego I was a candidate for both pilot training and submarine duty. At that time, the Navy insisted on extensive psychiatric reviews of candidates for either of those two assignments, so I spent lots of time over at the base nuthouse waiting to see one psychiatrist of another and chatting with the nutters and the pretenders. As a result, I know very well what the military drill was in that regard: “If they’re really crazy, we want them out of the military. If they’re faking it, we intend to keep them in very unpleasant circumstances to see if we can outlast them.” I think your statement that you had “outlasted them” was well founded.

    Your story makes more sense now. You were fortunate to avoid the great ethical issue of my time, whether it was less ethical to get out of the service any way that you could, or less ethical to stay in and fight an unjust war. We didn’t get to play your “we’re all ethical” game, for us there was no ethical path. So you think you get to sit there and make judgements on who gets your “Claudie” award for being a moral decent guy and who doesn’t?

    In addition, I outlasted the ARMY, you fool, you really should work on your reading skill. I didn’t outlast the doctors, nor did I outlast the Navy. You may have had doctors like that in the Navy, because from my intimate experience of both, the Navy nuthouses and the doctors were at least 20 years behind the Army in most regards, maybe 200 years behind. So you’re talking about an entire other group of Navy docs, who have nothing to do with what you want to claim about Army doctors, a group of people you’ve apparently never met but are perfectly content to slander …

    I’m have some difficulty arriving at exactly what picture of yourself you wish to present. When I read your story, the picture I got was that you simply wanted out and used the only mechanism available to you. When I read your response to my first comment, the picture I got was that you escaped as a matter on conscience and moral consideration. Now I’m reading that you were truly nuts.

    How about we mutually stick with the truly nuts version and I withdraw my criticism which would never have applied to “truly nuts”?

    How about you get over the idea that you are qualified to sit in moral judgement over anyone, Claude, and you stop telling folks that you’re sorry that they don’t reach your Claudian ideals of morality and ethics, and just sit back and enjoy the story? I said before that I left the nuthouse both more sane and less sane than when I went in. That was as true a statement as I can make now about my mental state at the time.

    You think the world fits in your lovely little boxes, that your actions were ethical and mine were not, that there is always an ethical option, that a man is either sane or crazy and they are mutually exclusive.

    And that, my friend, that is truly nuts …

    w.

  290. Alexander Feht says:
    March 1, 2011 at 7:31 pm

    Yeah, “a solid base of empirical evidence and real world observations.” No kidding. 250 years ago the scientific consensus was that Abraham’s Allah created all species as they are. 150 years ago the scientific consensus predicted that no object heavier than air would fly. 50 years ago the scientific consensus predicted that in 20 years we all would freeze to death, that because of the Big Freeze there would be not enough food for Earth’s population, and that the last drop of oil would be extracted and burned.

    First, I wasn’t making any point about consensus, I was stating the importance of prediction in science.

    Secondly, your list of alleged scientific consensuses are fabrications.

    Finally, just because not all consensuses are correct, it doesn’t follow that a given consensus is wrong.

  291. Re:Willis Eschenbach says:
    March 2, 2011 at 9:24 am

    I’ll let your name-calling rant speak for itself without further comment from me. Have a nice day, Willis.

  292. This is why I say QUOTE WHAT I SAID. You’re fighting your own fantasies, not anything I’ve claimed.

    Willis – my criticism of what you said, as it was from the start, is that you made a general statement that was a simplification and a straw man. You know far more about climate science than I, and my IQ I’m sure is far below 180, but as I understand it, those who theorize that GW is A base their theories on a linear relationship between forcing agents and temperatures once you get past the threshold point where homeostatis is maintained by a complex of interacting dynamics.

    You refuted those theories by the use of an analogy that there is no linear relationship between forcings and internal body homeostasis. Such a statement is too broad to be meaningful in any real sense – whether you’re referring to the human body or to the temperature of the Earth. Such a statement is not really germane, because it depends on the parameters that you’re talking about. The analogy fails unless you are more specific about the conditions and parameters of your analogy.

    Willis, you’re a smart and interesting guy. As a non-expert in the field, my sense is that that you can make valuable contributions to the field of climate science if you: (1) you get over yourself a little bit and (2), you stop being so biased in your goals. You seem to have an agenda. That, in itself, does not invalidate your science, but it may lead to blindspots.

    Personally, I never trust anyone’s science if they can’t describe for me the potential weaknesses and limitations of their conclusions.

    Now let me give you an analogy. In your original post, you clearly suggested that by virtue of attaching your full name to you are, therefore, more “courageous” than people who don’t. When the logical weakness of that implication was pointed out to you, you then said that there are many valid reasons to post anonymously, and that there is not linear relationship between the degree of one’s anonymity and the validity of their science. Better, would have been to put the caveats and conditions in your original post, or secondarily to after the fact post a response to acknowledge the weakness in the facile causal connection you suggested in your original post. Instead, you tried to cover for your original lack of comprehensiveness.

  293. Claude Harvey says:
    March 2, 2011 at 10:13 am

    Re:Willis Eschenbach says:
    March 2, 2011 at 9:24 am

    I’ll let your name-calling rant speak for itself without further comment from me. Have a nice day, Willis.

    Thanks for the good wishes, Claude. Indeed, the beauty of it all is that everyone gets to read it all and make up their own minds. Here’s a few more data points for your consideration.

    A good buddy of mine in high school went to Canada to avoid the war. He lives there still.

    Another good buddy volunteered. He said he wanted to go fight to make the world safe for democracy. Naw, just kidding. His actual words were that he wanted to “kill gooks”. He landed in ‘Nam. After processing he was sent immediately out to a firefight. Fifteen minutes in, a bullet entered his stomach and exited his rectum. Dying on the ground, he heard a helicopter, but he could tell it wasn’t a medevac chopper. He gave up hope. The chopper landed anyhow and picked him up, took him direct to the Saigon Airport. He was flown to Tokyo and operated on. He lived. Less than a day in-country.

    I have a friend who was a Lurp. He’s said little about what he did over there. From what he said, I don’t want to know more. He’s lived alone since the war, doesn’t sleep well, and runs twenty miles a day.

    I have a friend who got married and had a kid just to avoid the draft. The marriage fell apart. He never was drafted.

    I have other friends who are just names on the wall.

    Did any of us group of friends, kids not far out of high school, make the ethical decision, the moral decision? What is the ethical and moral decision to make in an unethical, immoral war? I thought it was to tell them calmly to their faces that I couldn’t take their orders blindly, I had to make up my own mind … but then I got sucked back in, I didn’t have the spine or the will or something to hold to my principles. Was that ethical or moral? Should I be proud I tried and ashamed that I failed, or the other way around? What I know is that my failure left me profoundly depressed.

    When I took a double handful of sleeping pills, was that ethical, moral, or a cry for help? Another friend got out of the draft by walking around the draft board examination rooms, in and out of offices wearing only underwear with holes in them and singing

    “Oh, the Bonneville Dam, it’s a sight to see,
    makes that e-leka-tris-eye-tee.
    E-leka, e-leka-tris-eye-tee,
    makes that e-leka-tris-eye-tee”

    at the top of his lungs over and over until they threw him out.

    Was his singing more or less moral than being a Lurp in Vietnam and killing women and silently executing Viet-Cong farmers in their beds? None of us did right in that war, not the ones that fought, not the ones that refused to fight. There was a man in the nuthouse with me. All day long he crawled around on the floor, reaching for something. He never said a word. Whatever he was reaching for, it always eluded him. He could never grasp it. The Docs said he’d been in a foxhole with his buddy. Someone threw in a grenade. He went to grab it and throw it out of the foxhole. Before he could reach it, his buddy threw himself on top of it and was blown to shreds before his eyes.

    He never recovered. They tried plugging him into the wall, but the war had blown him through time and space to his own private planet, a place of perpetual Sisyphean torment that apparently wasn’t wired for 240 volts, so they shipped him off to a VA hospital.

    The Vietnam War wounded everyone it touched, at the end of the day those of us lucky enough to walk away from it walked away with blood on our hands, soldiers and civilians alike.

    So I envy you, Claude, that you could serve in a time and place where it was an honorable thing to do, where fighting for democracy didn’t mean that we had to destroy the village to save it. I envy the generation who fought in the Good War, against Fascists and Nazis who truly were dangerous to the world.

    Those of my generation, sadly, did not have your or their good fortune.

    My best to you, truly I wish you well.

    w.

  294. Mr. Eschenbach, you will be interested to know that Rog tallbloke has been a moderator here for quite some time and so has contributed a great deal to the success of WUWT along with other moderators, and through his comments as well.

  295. Joshua says:
    March 2, 2011 at 11:12 am

    Now let me give you an analogy. In your original post, you clearly suggested that by virtue of attaching your full name to you are, therefore, more “courageous” than people who don’t. When the logical weakness of that implication was pointed out to you, you then said that there are many valid reasons to post anonymously, and that there is not linear relationship between the degree of one’s anonymity and the validity of their science. Better, would have been to put the caveats and conditions in your original post, or secondarily to after the fact post a response to acknowledge the weakness in the facile causal connection you suggested in your original post. Instead, you tried to cover for your original lack of comprehensiveness.

    Joshua, I said clearly in my original post that there were caveats and conditions. I said that there were legitimate reasons that one would want anonymity. In my original post I said clearly that I favored people using their own names

    except for people with valid reasons (e.g. they’d lose promotion points where they work)

    The “e.g.” means that promotion points is one among a number of valid reasons. If that weak a reason (loss of promotion points, compared to say fear of stalkers or a likelihood of getting fired) is acceptable and valid to me as a reason for anonymity, how on earth can you say my initial statement was not comprehensive?

    If you had actually quoted what I said about anonymity, you might have seen that your claims were vapid before making them. Instead, I have to quote it to you. And I’m sorry that despite my best efforts, you and a few others didn’t read what I said and consider the implications. If I approve of anonymity if someone is afraid of loss of promotion points, do you seriously think I would insist on anonymity if they’re afraid of stalkers?

    But all I can do is give it my best shot, Joshua, there will always be people who don’t understand.

    And yes, in hindsight it would have been better to expand on that and make it crystal clear up front. But that’s hindsight. You’re busting me because you misunderstood a small part of a very long essay. Now you want to use your hindsight tell me how I should have written it? I knew that already, because a few other folks didn’t get it either. It’s right there in my quote, but sometimes that’s not enough for everyone. I notice those things, that’s how I work to improve my writing. Your efforts as an editor may be well meant, but they are entirely misplaced.

    I give it my best shot, that’s all I can do. Not everyone will understand everything. I stick around and answer questions and try to clarify things … what more do you want?

    And yes, I do think that exposing one’s self by not being anonymous does require courage. That doesn’t make it the right thing to do necessarily, discretion is indeed often the better part of valor, as I pointed out in my original post. But regardless, it still requires courage to stand behind your words, and I still recommend it.

    w.

  296. OK – last post on the topic, Willis.

    So now you’ve said this:

    Have the courage to sign your full true name to your ideas.

    And this:

    But that doesn’t mean that people who post anonymously do so because they lack courage, there’s a host of valid reasons.

    And this:

    And yes, I do think that exposing one’s self by not being anonymous does require courage,

    And this:

    …. just an urgent plea for people to come out of the closet.

    And this:

    I said that there were legitimate reasons that one would want anonymity.

    And this:

    And yes, I do think that exposing one’s self by not being anonymous does require courage.

    So, you’ve alternately implied that posting anonymously is an indication of cowardliness, but maybe valid, but lacking in courage, and like hiding in a closet, but potentially legitimate, but then again lacking courage.

    It’s clear that you intended initially to elevate your sense of self, as one who is “courageous” by virtue of not posting anonymously, in comparison to others who post anonymously. The caveats you put in contradict your categorical statements, and then you subsequently contradicted your caveats. So your message was clearly inconsistent.

    And on top of that, even if you weren’t, as a teacher I’ve come to believe that one of the keys to perfecting my craft is to check my ego at the door, and to realize that when students, especially multiple students, don’t understand something, the problem is not in their ability to understand but in my ability to explain. When students don’t understand something I’ve said, I took something for granted that I shouldn’t have. I have to step outside my own head. It’s similar to writing well; as opposed to some countries where the responsibility is on the reader to understand what the writer has written (reader responsible prose), in American written expository discourse, within reason, the responsibility is on the writer to be absolutely sure they were clear (writer responsible prose).

    Personally, I think courageous would be to not pump oneself up by virtue of whether they post anonymously or not. That’s a pretty “vapid” (to use your term) form of courage. What really matters, as you have said, is the content of your posts. Sometimes posting anonymously contributes to a vitriolic tone, but sometimes it allows one to be more honest than they might otherwise. Certainly, online blog communication often quickly devolves into rancorous name-slinging, and I’d agree that the anonymity creates a space for people who have rancor in them to vent, but the condition of posting anonymously or is not a test of courage, IMO. I think that to suggest so is silly. The world is full of people who name-call and are obnoxious very much non-anonymously.

    But honestly, the I think that whole debate is kind of silly. What’s more important to me is the point I was trying to make — by using your comments on anonymity as an analogy: IMO, the self-aggrandizing character of your online presentation detracts from the science, and detracts from the objectivity of your conclusions. It reveals an agenda. With the comments on anonymity, the agenda was to pump up your self-identity and to launch a broadside at your critics. I don’t doubt that you have reasons feel you need to inflate your bona fides – the issue of elitism among professionals is a very real problem that also interferes with solving problems in many, many fields. But I believe that overreacting is ultimately self-defeating, and in fact only widens the splits. In my field I have seen the theoreticians attack the practitioners as being unqualified, and I’ve also seen the practitioners attack the theoreticians as being unrealistic. But the point is to straddle theory and practice and allow them to inform each other. I think that you realize that in the abstract, but maybe lose sight of that concept sometimes. (And as an aside, I would ask you to consider the impact of your work and the potential for it flame the angry fire of anti-intellectualism and anti-science rhetoric, to strengthen the false dichotomy that some try to build between intellectual development and practical intelligence).

    And I do appreciate you sticking around to slug I out a bit. I don’t know if it’s sign of courage, but it is, IMO, an indication of fortitude, probably mixed with a bit of obsessiveness (said as one who chose to stick around to slug back).

  297. Joshua,

    In the following comment you provided a lengthy address on anonymity focused mostly on Willis’ views of it.

    Joshua says:
    March 2, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    OK – last post on the topic, Willis. . . . . .

    I would like to share a couple of my observations over several years about anonymous commenter behavior on the science blogs that I frequent.

    I observed that when anonymity is openly addressed on these blogs it is most often in response to:

    1. Some perceived chronic (over time on many threads) lack of civil behavior of an anonymous commenter. This is the cause that most often prompts open discussion of anonymity.

    2. Some question of integrity based on statements made by an anonymous commenter. Without identity then verification of integrity may not possible unless we do some extensive detective work to identify the anonymous commenter. So we often see discussion about who the anonymous commenter is; discussion about anonymity ensues.

    3. Some question of the reasoning involved when a person chooses to be identified or anonymous. Analysis of that reasoning process is the key that unlocks anonymous behavior patterns.

    Joshua, Willis and the 30+ commentors on anonymity of this thread, let’s focus on item 3. We can gain some traction on topic of anonymity that way.

    John

  298. Moderators,

    Please check the WUWT nether regions for my lost comment addressed to Joshua.

    I think the WordPress nether gods grabbed it and spirited it away . . . .

    Thanks.

    John

    [Done. ~dbs, mod.]

  299. Stuart MacDonald,

    …your list of alleged scientific consensuses are fabrications.
    [In correct English: "...your list of alleged scientific consensuses is a fabrication.]

    No, it is not. Since you didn’t waste any effort to substantiate your opinion with any facts or reasons, suffice it to say, using your own methodology, that everything you declare and stand for is a complete fabrication.

  300. Willis Eschenbach says:
    March 2, 2011 at 2:23 am

    Joshua says:
    March 1, 2011 at 9:59 pm
    In Tallbloke’s case, it links to a blog called “Tallbloke’s Talkshop.”

    Whoa, my bad, gotta hang my head … despite years on the web, I never noticed that particular feature. Go figure … thanks for the heads-up, Joshua.

    Heh, Give my name a click Willis, I’ve put up a post on the back radiation heating the ocean question. Your considered, collegial, and gently given opinions on it would be most appreciated.

    Cheers

    Rog

  301. ohn Whitman:

    3. Some question of the reasoning involved when a person chooses to be identified or anonymous. Analysis of that reasoning process is the key that unlocks anonymous behavior patterns.

    OK – since I think you comment changes the direction of the discussion to one that is of some value, I will respond. I think the notion that anonymous posting is an indication of cowardliness is silly (and says more about someone who makes that charge than it does about someone who posts anonymously), but I do think it would be interesting to see whether anonymity in posting correlates with poor reasoning. (That would leave the question of causality undetermined, but it would still be of interest.) But even if there is a correlation, I’m still not sure what of real value you will have learned in the end.

    Even if in general it were true that anonymous posters are more likely to post comments that reveal poor reasoning, I think we could agree that there are times that anonymous posters write well-reasoned comments.

    Even if in general it were true that anonymous posters are more likely to post comments that reveal poor reasoning, what should you do? Only allow people who use their full name to post? How would you verify people’s names? If you did so you would probably reduce the number of comments significantly. Would that be good? If someone writes a post that displays elements that are poorly reasoned, does that mean that there is necessarily nothing of value in their post?

    I would suggest that looking at an anonymous post and trying to determine whether it’s anonymity might or might not be correlated to the quality of reasoning in the post would not, in the long run, prove particularly useful. It might allow you to eliminate poorly-reasoned posts without taking the time to read them, but you would also very likely then be throwing out well-reasoned posts along with poorly reasoned posts. It might turn out that in balance you threw out more poorly-reasoned posts than well-reasoned posts, but in the end the conversation is diminished because valuable input has been rejected. You can always just reject poorly-reasoned posts after you’ve read them and rejected them because of their poor reasoning.

    I would suggest that instead of making facile generalizations that will in the end just eliminate valuable input, just look at the quality of posts and judge them on the basis of the reasoning they reveal.

  302. At the risk of double-posting, this didn’t seem to go through the first time:’

    John Whitman:

    3. Some question of the reasoning involved when a person chooses to be identified or anonymous. Analysis of that reasoning process is the key that unlocks anonymous behavior patterns.

    OK – since I think you comment changes the direction of the discussion to one that is of some value, I will respond. I think the notion that anonymous posting is an indication of cowardliness is silly (and says more about someone who makes that charge than it does about someone who posts anonymously), but I do think it would be interesting to see whether anonymity in posting correlates with poor reasoning. (That would leave the question of causality undetermined, but it would still be of interest.) But even if there is a correlation, I’m still not sure what of real value you will have learned in the end.

    Even if in general it were true that anonymous posters are more likely to post comments that reveal poor reasoning, I think we could agree that there are times that anonymous posters write well-reasoned comments.

    Even if in general it were true that anonymous posters are more likely to post comments that reveal poor reasoning, what should you do? Only allow people who use their full name to post? How would you verify people’s names? If you did so you would probably reduce the number of comments significantly. Would that be good? If someone writes a post that displays elements that are poorly reasoned, does that mean that there is necessarily nothing of value in their post?

    I would suggest that looking at an anonymous post and trying to determine whether it’s anonymity might or might not be correlated to the quality of reasoning in the post would not, in the long run, prove particularly useful. It might allow you to eliminate poorly-reasoned posts without taking the time to read them, but you would also very likely then be throwing out well-reasoned posts along with poorly reasoned posts. It might turn out that in balance you threw out more poorly-reasoned posts than well-reasoned posts, but in the end the conversation is diminished because valuable input has been rejected. You can always just reject poorly-reasoned posts after you’ve read them and rejected them because of their poor reasoning.

    I would suggest that instead of making facile generalizations that will in the end just eliminate valuable input, just look at the quality of posts and judge them on the basis of the reasoning they reveal.

  303. Dear Sir

    My name is María Maestre. I am an old Spanish woman with no academic credentials but a lot of curiosity. I am very interested in the climate question , and read all I can, but I don’t usually post , as I would feel out of my depth.
    A friend who has a blog pointed your post to me, and I loved it so much that I have spent all the free time I had for the last two days translating it to Spanish, so as to be able to make it available to people who have difficulty with reading texts in English . My friend is going to correct the many mistakes I shall probably have made, and publish the translation in his blog.
    I hope you don’t mind.
    He will write a post giving you his blog’s address, so that you can read your text in Spanish, and make any changes you feel like making ( We don’t forget you have been a Spanish teacher).
    Thank you very much for the great time I’ve had, first reading your post, and then trying my best to do it justice.
    May the gods stay with you and smile on you. You deserve it.

  304. viejecita says:
    March 3, 2011 at 12:47 pm (Edit)

    Dear Sir

    My name is María Maestre. I am an old Spanish woman with no academic credentials but a lot of curiosity. …
    May the gods stay with you and smile on you. You deserve it.

    Mil gracias, mí jovencita … espero sus palabras.

    w.

  305. Joshua says:
    March 3, 2011 at 8:50 am

    At the risk of double-posting, this didn’t seem to go through the first time:’

    John Whitman:

    3. Some question of the reasoning involved when a person chooses to be identified or anonymous. Analysis of that reasoning process is the key that unlocks anonymous behavior patterns.

    OK – since I think you comment changes the direction of the discussion to one that is of some value, I will respond. I think the notion that anonymous posting is an indication of cowardliness is silly (and says more about someone who makes that charge than it does about someone who posts anonymously)

    NO, NO, NO. You are jumping to a faulty conclusion. When I say that signing your posts requires courage, that is simply true on the face of it. It is an action that takes some nerve to perform, putting your ideas out there under your own name and taking the blame for any errors.

    However, that doesn’t make someone who doesn’t sign their posts a coward. That’s a logical error. Your statement doesn’t follow logically from mine. A statement of fact about people who do post means nothing about people who do not post. Separate categories. People who do not post can be more courageous than I, and still use a screen name for a host of very valid reasons.

    I think that is the reason for your apparent disagreement with what I said … I didn’t say it. I don’t think I ever said that not posting was an act of cowardice … nope, I just checked. I never used the word at all.

    w.

  306. I don’t think I ever said that not posting was an act of cowardice … nope, I just checked. I never used the word at all.

    C’mon Willis.

    You said that people should “come out of the closet,” and attach their names to their posts. You’re now trying to say that the implication of someone being in the closet isn’t that they are being cowardly?

    You said that people should “have the courage to sign [their] full name.” Now you’re trying to say that you weren’t implying that a person lacked courage if they didn’t sign their full name?

    You said that posting with your name “requires courage,” but now you’re saying that there isn’t an implication in that statement that someone who posts anonymously lacks courage?

    Ok,this is way beyond childish at this point. I think that now you’re really just playing semantics. You made a one-off stupid comment in you post. It is what it is. I really don’t think that it is a big deal. But it is an indication of how an agenda (dealing with what you see to be unfair attacks against your credibility) was reflected in an impreciseness in how you expressed yourself. That’s really the only point of significance here, IMO. It’s just an opinion, from someone whose IQ is far below 180. Take it or leave it as you wish. But you’re fallible, Willis, just like everyone else.

  307. It is an action that takes some nerve to perform, putting your ideas out there under your own name and taking the blame for any errors.

    Willis, I don’t think it’s a particularly profound notion that there are plenty of people who lack nerve and put their name out in public.

    Nor is the notion that there are plenty of people who put there name out in public yet refuse to take blame for their errors.

    I’d say that last point is rather “ironic” under the circumstances, if you get my drift.

    Anyway – hopefully I’ll catch you on another thread.

  308. Willis Eschenbach said

    “Mil gracias, mí jovencita … espero sus palabras.”

    ¡¡¡ Wow !!!

  309. // ¡¡¡ Wow !!! //

    Eres sorprendia que un anglo habla espanol? No es exactamente lo usual (y tambien, Willis probablemente habla mejor que yo), pero no es desconocido, tampoco

  310. To Mr Willis Eschenbach

    As promised, here is the address for the blog where my friend pointed your text to his visitors, and where he has published my translation of it into Spanish. I hope you don’t hate it too much, you know the saying: “traduttore traditore”, and Plazaeme will be proud to get a post from you with any changes you want made. I don’t know how to write a proper link. Anyone interested will have to cut and paste, Sorry!

    http://plazamoyua.wordpress.com/2011/03/04/no-se-trata-de-mi/

    Para Mr Smoking Frog
    No solamente me impresiona que en un blog de lengua Inglesa se me conteste en Español. Lo que de verdad me deja “Wowed”, es que se me conteste a mí, que he explicado ya que no tengo credenciales académicas, y soy vieja , es decir : nadie.

  311. viejecita No solamente me impresiona que en un blog de lengua Inglesa se me conteste en Español. Lo que de verdad me deja “Wowed”, es que se me conteste a mí, que he explicado ya que no tengo credenciales académicas, y soy vieja , es decir : nadie.

    O, veo. Gracias.

    Aqui esta algo que mostra como estupido yo soy en espanol: En “se me conteste,” estas usando el reflexivo? Si si, porque? Si no, que es?

  312. To Mr Smoking Frog :
    “Se me conteste ” correspondería un poco a:
    “to be answered”, o “to be spoken to”, sin especificar quien fuera la persona que se molestara en contestarme. No sólo el Señor Eschenbach, sino también Don “Rana Fumadora”.
    La verdad es que el Español es mi lengua de nacimiento, pero como estudié el bachillerato en casa, hasta el grado superior, yendo al instituto sólo a examinarme, y la gramática me aburría muchísimo, se me iban olvidando las reglas en cuanto aprobaba el examen correspondiente. Sé escribir y hablar correctamente, por algo me he pasado la vida leyendo, pero que no me pregunte nadie cuales son las reglas que aplico, que ni idea. Las tendría que sacar yendo de lo particular a lo general .
    Seguro que cualquier Angloparlante que conozca el Español, sabe mucha más gramática que yo.

    ¡Siento de veras no poder serte más útil !

  313. viejecita says:
    March 5, 2011 at 7:18 am
    … “me iban olvidando las reglas”

    Yes, I’ve had that problem myself.

    w.

  314. To Mr Willis Eschenbach

    Thank you ever so much for your comments, and for going to Plaza Moyúa, my friend Plazaeme’s blog, and saying all the nice things you said there, And for saying them in Spanish!

  315. viejecita Seguro que cualquier Angloparlante que conozca el Español, sabe mucha más gramática que yo.

    Lo dudo. Muchos angloparlantes que conozcan espanol tienen ideas extranas acerca el significado exacto de varias cosas en espanol. Por ejemplo, muchos de ellos piensan que “se” en “se habla espanol” significa la palabra ingles “we.”

    I’m not saying you’re wrong about “se me conteste,” but I have a problem with it: I’m surprised at the idea that “contestar” has a reflexive form (contestarse). It seems to me that you mean “…would answer me…,” and that should be “…me conteste…”

    What I said about “se habla espanol” is an example of the fact that many English speakers who more or less know Spanish do not understand the reflexive, because it does not exist in English. Spanish employs the reflexive and the “true passive” while English only uses the latter, although we just call it “passive,” not “true passive.”

    reflexive : Se habla espanol aqui. = Spanish is spoken here.
    true passive: Espanol hablado aqui. = Spoken Spanish here.

    The nearest thing to a literal translation of the 1st one above is “Spanish speaks itself here,” but that’s nonsense, even though it’s grammatically correct. You can see why many English speakers who more or less know Spanish have foolish ideas of what “se” means.

    An opposite example of incomprehension: Some Mexicans, unable to grasp the fact that English does not have the ser/estar distinction, discover the word “stay” and think it must be the English for “estar.” If you ask where someone is, they may say, “He’s staying next door.” The American then misunderstands them to mean that he’s living there for a while.

  316. To Mr Smoking Frog
    I can’t quote you, as I would have to copy your whole post.
    I’ll just say you left me flabbergasted with your knowledge of my native language!!!

  317. Joshua says:
    March 3, 2011 at 8:50 am

    John Whitman:

    3. Some question of the reasoning involved when a person chooses to be identified or anonymous. Analysis of that reasoning process is the key that unlocks anonymous behavior patterns.

    “OK – since I think you comment changes the direction of the discussion to one that is of some value, I will respond. I think the notion that anonymous posting is an indication of cowardliness is silly (and says more about someone who makes that charge than it does about someone who posts anonymously), but I do think it would be interesting to see whether anonymity in posting correlates with poor reasoning. . . . . ”

    “Even if in general it were true that anonymous posters are more likely to post comments that reveal poor reasoning, I think we could agree that there are times that anonymous posters write well-reasoned comments.”

    – – – – – – –

    Joshua,

    Hey, I thought this thread had faded away . . . . but apparently I was wrong . . . it is very alive. Sorry I did not respond sooner. Hope you are still monitoring this thread.

    Thank you for your reply.

    Joshua, I think focus on the reasoning of an individual in deciding to choose identity or anonymity is not centered around a presumption that any faulty reasoning has occurred whether either anonymity or identity is decided upon. The reason I suggest we focus on a person’s reasoning, whether their decision is identity or anonymity, is reasoning reveals premises and motivational factors that are pertinent to the decision and reflect on behavior as commenter.

    Your focus on the subject of anonymity vs. cowardice is your choice. But the word coward had not entered my mind as I suggested looking at the reasoning an individual uses to decide to reveal identity or use anonymity. The ideas of each person are interesting per se as far as they contribute to understanding of a commenter’s behavior, without needing to be morally judged. The internal consistency of an individual’s reasoning is relevant to me; an external moral judgment is not of interest to me in this context.

    John

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