Thanks and Apologies

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

I have no use for people who censor and ban those who don’t agree with their scientific ideas. I’ve had my simple, on-topic, scientific comments censored over at RealClimate. And I’m banned at Tamino’s “Closed Mind” blog for asking one too many unwanted questions. I really, really didn’t like either experience at all.

Given that, what was up with my snipping opposing views on my thread called “A Matter of Some Gravity“? I did two things in that thread. I offered up a proof that no possible mechanism involving a transparent, GHG-free atmosphere could raise the temperature of a planet above its theoretical Stefan-Boltzmann temperature. I also put out a call for “elevator speeches” explaining the “gravito-thermal” theories of Nikolov and Zeller (N&Z) and Hans Jelbring. An “elevator speech” is a very condensed, very boiled-down description of how something works. It is how you would explain something if you only had the length of an elevator ride to do so.

A closeup of the fabled “Secateurs of Sorrow”, allegedly used during the 2012 “Night of the Long Scissors”.  PHOTO SOURCE

Well, actually I did three things in that thread, not two. I snipped out a whole bunch of comments. Oh, it was no surprise, although people acted like it was, because I had announced in the head post that I would do exactly that. But why would I snip comments, when I’m so opposed to censorship?

Therein lies a tale …

This all got started when Roger “Tallbloke” Tattersall, the proprietor of a skeptical climate blog called “Tallbloke’s Talkshop”, banned Joel Shore from posting at the Talkshop. Why? I’ll let Roger the Tallbloke tell it:

… you’re not posting here unless and until you apologise to Nikolov and Zeller for spreading misinformation about conservation of energy in their theory all over the blogosphere and failing to correct it.

OK, Joel Shore was banned for spreading misinformation that N&Z violated conservation of energy. Now, this was a double blow to me. First, it was a blow because the Talkshop is a skeptical site, and for a skeptical site to ban someone for “heretical” scientific beliefs, that doesn’t help things at all.

Second, I had also been going around the blogosphere and saying that the N&Z hypothesis violated conservation of energy. I had done exactly what Joel had done.

Don’t get me wrong here. Joel is not a friend of mine, nor an enemy of any kind. He and I disagree on many things, because he’s an AGW supporter and I’m a climate heretic. In addition, he doesn’t suffer fools gladly, and he can be obstinate about what he considers to be basic science. So I understand that he’s not the best houseguest, although I’m hardly one to talk. But we agree on this particular scientific question.

So, I posted a comment on the “Suggestions” thread over at the Talkshop asking Roger to rescind his fatwa on Joel. I pointed out that I had done the same thing as Joel, and thus in good conscience I would have to leave as well. I said that Joel is a physicist and as such is one of the few anthropogenic global warming (AGW) supporting scientists willing to engage on the skeptical blogs to defend the AGW position. From memory (I can’t go back to check) I said I enjoy it when Joel comments on my posts, because his science-fu is generally good. Yes, I disagree with him a lot, and yes, he can be a jerk (quite unlike myself), but he shows up on skeptical sites and will take the time to defend his science. Not many AGW scientists you can say that about.

Regardless of my importunings, Roger remained unmoved. So (at his very reasonable suggestion) he and I took it offline to an email discussion. I continued to plead my case and to ask him to recant the Orwellian Heresy. I enjoy visiting the Talkshop, Roger is a good guy, I didn’t want to have to leave.

In our discussion, I said that I doubted greatly if he could even give me a clear, concise, meaty scientific summary of N&Z’s theory, an “elevator speech” on the subject sufficient to see if it did violate conservation of energy. He refused to have anything to do with the idea, I believe partly because in his lexicon an “elevator speech” was a sales tool. I assured him that no, no sale necessary, I meant something different. All I wanted was for him to boil down his own thoughts and understandings to a clear precise few sentences explaining the theory, so we could see if N&Z did violate conservation of energy.

He refused. I could see he was unshakeable.

Hmmm … I was left with a bit of a koan. I wanted to see if I could fomally show that N&Z violated conservation of energy. I wanted to see if there was anyone out there who actually understood either the Jelbring or N&Z hypotheses and could explain them to me. And finally, I wanted to keep the issue of censorship alive, not just on WUWT, but at the Talkshop as well … and how could do I do that when I can’t comment at the Talkshop? I wanted it kept alive because banning someone when they say your pet idea violates scientific laws is a Very Bad Idea™—bad for the skeptics, bad for science, bad for progress, bad for everyone.

So I fear I set a trap for Tallbloke. Yeah, I know, I probably shouldn’t have done that, and I’ve likely blown my chance for eternal salvation, although there are those who would deny I ever had one, but I gotta confess, that’s what I did, and there you have it.

First, I thought up and I wrote up and posted a formal proof that the N&Z theory violates conservation of energy. I think it’s actually quite a clever proof.

Then I made a call for either elevator speeches, or for falsifications of my proof. I said didn’t want anything else but those two things, and I said that I would snip off-topic responses, because I wanted to keep the thread on track and on topic. I wanted to see if anyone could falsify my proof, and I wanted elevator speeches, and I wasn’t interested in diversions or declarations or anything but those two things.

So that was the background and the scenery for the trap. What did I put out as bait in my hunting of the snark?

Right at the end of the post, as kind of a throwaway bit, I mentioned that since I’d said N&Z violated conservation of energy, and Joel Shore was banned for doing the same thing, I considered myself banned at Tallbloke’s as well. And I do consider myself banned until he rescinds it. I knew he would react to that.

What else? Oh, yeah, the final touch, I was particularly proud of this one. I posted a link to the N&Z paper  and a subsequent discussion paper on WUWT. And then I talked about the Jelbring paper, but I didn’t link to it. I knew that Tallbloke had a copy of it posted up at the Talkshop, and I was hoping he would provide the link.

Then I sat back and waited and tended my fishing lines. True to form, people wanted to make all kinds of random comments. I snipped them. People wanted to post their own pet theories. I snipped them, I’d specified no pet theories. People wanted to school me on some meaningless point. I snipped them. People wanted to complain about being snipped. I snipped their complaints. Off-topic, sorry. People wanted to re-post some off-topic thing I’d snipped. I snipped it again.

Very few of the responses were what I had asked for. Shocking, I know, but getting WUWT folks to follow a request is like herding cats. Make that herding feral cats. On third thought, make that herding feral cats on PCP.

And I’d counted on that. I merrily snipped anything that was not an elevator speech or a falsification of my proof, and watched my fishing lines.

Predictably, when Roger showed up at the party, he was not a happy man. He posted a comment containing a whole mix of stuff, little of which had anything to do with either an elevator speech or a falsification of my proof, although there was a bit of science in the mix.

I happily snipped it, science and all. I believe he has it posted over at the Talkshop to prove my perfidy. In any case, at this point it’s been restored on the thread for all to read.

Of course, Roger reasonably and strongly protested the censorship. I said repost the science if you think I snipped serious stuff. He reposted the science, minus the various off-topic things he’d included before, and we discussed it.

Then, as I was hoping against hope, he noticed that there was no link to the poor Jelbring paper. I’d left Hans out in the cold. So as I had hoped, Tallbloke posted a link to where the Jelbring paper is posted at the Talkshop.

I snipped that as well, explaining that there was no way he was going to use my thread to send traffic to the Talkshop …

Well, that seriously frosted his banana. He hadn’t even thought of driving traffic to his site, he just wanted to give people a link to the paper. To be falsely accused like that put his knickers in a right twist.

So I snipped for a bit longer to keep up the charade, didn’t want to stop immediately and give away the game, then I went to bed … in the morning I stopped snipping, and let the thread go on its merry way, diversions and pet theories and all the rest.

The response was beyond my wildest hopes. Tallbloke set up a whole blog page at the Talkshop where he is faithfully chronicling my evil misdeeds of snippage. I haven’t read it ’cause I won’t go there until Joel is unbanned, but I can hardly wait to hear the description of carnage and bloodletting, starring yours truly as Willis the Merciless, ruthlessly wielding my mighty Fiskars of Doom …

In any case, I was overjoyed to hear that, it was better than I could have expected. Instead of being discussed somewhere like the “Suggestions” thread at Tallblokes Talkshop, I had a whole thread wherein people can abuse censorship in its myriad forms. Oh, they’ll be abusing me too, but as long as they are also abusing censorship I figure that is a small price to pay.

Overall? I’d rate the whole thing as pretty successful. I probably should have stopped snipping a bit earlier than I did, I underestimated the effect, so likely I overcooked the loaf a bit, but that’s better than leaving it raw. And I did manage to keep the issue alive at the Talkshop. I figured that if the Talkshop got filled with people abusing me for censorship, that the issue of censorship would be alive and well there. And not only would the issue be alive, but people at the Talkshop would be cursing censorship … whereas if the censorship issue were alive but the topic was Tallbloke’s banning of Joel Shore, people at the Talkshop would be saying that Tallbloke did the right thing to ban him. I hoped to achieve that, but I never thought I’d get my own thread. I count that as a huge win, to get people at the Talkshop to curse and discuss censorship without my going there at all.

As I’ve said before, people who think I am so overcome by my passions that I start madly snipping, or that I get so angry that I go off wildly ranting about something or someone, mistake me entirely. I am a complex and subtle man, and I’m generally playing a long game. Folks who see me as someone who unpredictably erupts in a rant underestimate me to their cost. My rants are all very carefully chosen and calculated, I have a clear, defined, and usually different purpose for each one, and my aim is to weigh and ponder each word and each tone and shading and to consider what they will do and what people will do in response. People who go ‘we’re all offended, how can you say those things, how can you snip people’ miss the point. I say and I do those things to get people interested, to rile them into telling the truth, to get them to state their own ideas, to push them to be upset and passionate about what they believe in, to give them the space and permission to be outraged themselves, and to get them to reveal to the world either the fragility or the strength of their understanding.

I don’t mind being over-the-top because my position shelters people who take other, less extreme positions. Compared to me, they look very reasonable … and folks haven’t figured out yet that those more moderate positions are quite acceptable to me and in many cases were what I was hoping for. I don’t mind being the lightning rod to make a point. I have no problem pushing and steering hard to one side, with the clear internal goal of attaining a position in the middle. I have no difficulty staking out a radical position. It allows others to take much less radical positions than I took, positions that they might not have otherwise expressed. Yes, I’m extreme, and that is deliberate.

I don’t mean that my upset or my anger are fake. They are never fake, or I could not write as I do—my passion would not be believed if it were false or contrived. I mean that I choose the time and the method of expressing that upset and anger so that I can harness it to achieve a chosen purpose or outcome.

So, I’m willing to call people out. I say hey, if you can’t explain it in an elevator speech, it you don’t understand it. I know that’s unpopular, but I take that position as a conscious choice. I’m tired of people nodding their heads about absolute scientific nonsense and saying “looks good to me”. So I insist and I nag them to take a hard look at what they are espousing.

For example, Tallbloke banned Joel Shore (and myself by extension) because Joel had the temerity to say what I say, that the N&Z theory violates conservation of energy. In response I asked TB (a number of times by now, first in private and then on my thread) to give me his elevator speech outlining the Nikolov/Zeller theory. He has not done so. I say that is evidence that he doesn’t understand the N&Z theory he is espousing. If he understood the theory and the theory was scientifically solid, he’d squash me like a bug. I’m way out on a limb here, if Tallbloke could saw the limb off he would. And I wouldn’t blame him, he’s not happy with me right now, and with reason. Since he hasn’t sawed the limb off by giving me the crushing elevator speech, he doesn’t understand the theory.

But if he doesn’t understand the N&Z theory … why is he banning Joel (and myself by extension) for saying the theory violates conservation of energy?

Like all of my actions in my posts, the pushing of people to explain their views in an elevator speech, even to the extent of snipping their posts when they didn’t do so, is a position and an action that I have taken with forethought and contemplation. And no, it doesn’t make me popular. But I’m steering to one side in order to attain the middle. I don’t expect others to call for someone to give an elevator speech, but that’s not my goal. I figure if I can reinforce the value of judging people’s understanding of a topic by whether they can explain the theory in a clear, concise manner … then who cares if I’m popular? I’m tired of vague handwaving. Boil it down to the elevator speech, then boil it again to half that size, and give us the simplest, clearest explanation possible.

In any case, the beat goes on. I’m still waiting for someone, anyone, to give us a clear, concise, scientific explanation of either the N&Z or the Jelbring hypothesis. I’m also still waiting for anyone to falsify my proof. You’re welcome to do it in this thread.

While I’m waiting, I’ve given up my persona of evil snippage, I’ve sworn off my temporary assumption of wicked ways. I’ve climbed down from the saddle and hung up my scissors with their embossed leather holster beside the gunrack near the wood stove. I’ve made my point, I won’t need them until danger threatens again. Sorry, Tallbloke, but your blow-by-blow account of how I feloniously threatened and terrified the neighborhood with my dreaded Scissors of Destiny will have to come to a premature end … they’ve served their purpose, and been put out to pasture.

To close this tangled tale, what about the thread title, thanks and apologies? Well, first my apologies to Roger “Tallbloke” Tattersall for my having played such a shabby trick on him. He is a good, honest, and decent man whose problem is that his mouth wrote a check that his science can’t cover. Roger, you have my apology, seriously meant. I just couldn’t think of another better way to keep the question alive. Please do rescind your ban on Joel.

Next, my apologies to Anthony. He and I don’t correspond a whole lot, and I didn’t warn him because I didn’t expect the amount of blowback. So I fear he got an email instalanche of people saying I’d lost my mind. Didn’t think about that, missed that one entirely, didn’t I? Mea culpa, Anthony, my bad. Folks, in the future, as I implied above, if the options are a) Willis has lost the plot totally, email Anthony immediately, or b) Willis has a plan I don’t see yet, wait a while … the answer is likely “b”. Give poor Anthony a break.

To all of the folks who screamed about being snipped, my thanks and my apologies. I did it for a couple reasons. One was to emphasize that I was serious about people giving an elevator speech. I tried to snip only what I had said I would—off-topic stuff that was neither an elevator speech nor falsification of my post. If they wanted to stand up and be counted they had to put their beliefs down clear and solid. I pushed it very hard, probably too hard for my own good, to see if anyone out there actually understood either the Jelbring or the N&Z theory. Turns out no one does, or if they do, they’re hiding their light under a bushel.

Heck, even Hans Jelbring showed up. He refused to give us a clear, concise statement of his theory, claiming that there was no way to state his theory in less than pages and pages of close-spaced text. Riiiight … if you can’t explain it clearly you don’t understand it.

The other reason I snipped was to emphasize the importance of the freedom to post that we take for granted here at WUWT. One of the issues I wanted to keep afloat was that of censorship. I wanted that fact not to be lost in the discussion, I wanted it to be one of the subjects of the thread as well … yeah, I might’ve overdone it, you’re right, but at least I dun it …

Next, my thanks. First, my thanks to people like Steven Mosher, who said he didn’t see any problems with my proof, and commented that it seemed hard for people to follow simple directions on what to post. For those like Steven who did follow my requests on what to post, to those who took a shot at falsification or elevator speeches, my thanks.

Also, for those that didn’t follow directions, you were necessary to set the scene, so thank you for playing your part.

Anthony, once again, my thanks for your magnificent blog, and for the freedom that you give me to post here without let, hindrance, or forewarning of disaster.

Finally, Roger Tallbloke, my thanks again to you. I was not my intention to harm you, but to keep alive both on this site and on your site the question of the ethics of your ban.

… and at the end, the curtain falls, the crowd departs. Ushers clean the seats, roadies pack up the trusses and the amps as the auditorium closes down, and all that is left is a proof that the N&Z theory violates conservation of energy, and a huge lack of people who understand either the Jelbring or the Nikolov and Zeller hypotheses. It’s a lovely cold, clear night here, and me and my beloved, my ex-fiancee of thirty plus years now, are going for a walk. I wish everyone the joy of living in this miraculous, marvel-filled eternity, with my thanks and my apologies.



newest oldest most voted
Notify of

So you were trolling, over a matter that is nowhere near as clear-cut as you’ve decided it is, and you epect to get away with it with a “just kidding folks!” and carry on as if nothing was wrong?
Correct me if I’m wrong but, Shore was offered the opportunity to guest-post at tallbloke’s site was he not? His comments were not removed, he was prevented from making more in order to avoid taking things off topic, so giving him a guest post where he could define the topic and letting him go at that seems like a fair solution, does it not? That is not censorship.
You’ve tried to demonstrate something by constructing a strawman. AGAIN.

You show a photo of the ‘Fabled Secateurs of Sorrows .’
They look brand new to me-were they bought with Big oil money? We need to know.
However, an even bigger scandal is emerging. They are completely UNUSED. These are obviously NOT the fabled secateurs of sorrows at all as they would be completely blunt by now. Your public needs to know why you are deceiving them. Are you testing our scepticism?


1. In matters such as religion you’re not complex nor subtle
3. renouncing one’s principles for a greater good is what briffa et al did. You’ve been keeping their company way too long

So, a trick. Nothing wrong with a trick if the objective is the clear exposition of the science when such an exposition has not been forthcoming.
At the same time, to be a bit tribal, Tallbloke is one of the good guys. He plays at a high level and tends to be very fair indeed. So fair he gets his gear nicked by the cops.
One of the more attractive aspects of the heretic position is that there is no “heretic” orthodoxy. We hack and chop at the science and the policy and, from time to time, disagree. Annoying representatives of orthodoxy come by to challenge from time to time and sometime they are right. Banning them does, to use a Mannism, “the cause” no good at all. Tallbloke should acknowledge that. And still feel entirely free to say, and more importantly, demonstrate that he is right and you are wrong.
My suggestion: take a week or two off the gravity topic. The theory may very well violate the laws of physics; but it will still violate them in a couple of weeks if it does now. At the moment the “trick” and the back and forth are generating more heat than light.

Peter Plail

Scary bloke, that Willis Eschenbach, but a brilliant communicator. Many thanks for all your insights.

Wow. Nefarious Plot! Dastardly Cunning! Hidden Agendas and Vested Interests!
FWIW, the only reason I would ban anybody in a blog like this is if they cannot maintain the minimum level of fuckin’ civility and get to where the ad hominem noise outweighs the possibly constructive signal by a decibel or three. I don’t even advocate banning people who are utterly incompetent in science, math, or simple reason — even though they can be annoying. How can anyone learn if they can’t be mistaken — even obnoxiously mistaken?
As for somebody like Joel — physicists are dangerous people to ignore or ban. Joel might make mistakes. I certainly do. But I imagine that both of us keep other people from making far worse mistakes, a lot more often by calling them on elementary errors and/or teaching them stuff they don’t know but should, to understand something. I don’t even think one can label a good scientist as “a warmist” any more than you can label them “a denier”, and all good scientists are skeptical, at least where being skeptical is called for.
If disagreeing with Jelbring or N&Z is a sin justifying banishment, well, banish me. I just don’t understand N&Z, and when I started to read Jelbring it certainly looked like his assertions violated the laws of thermodynamics on something like the second or third page. When Willis does something like that in a blog, there is an opportunity to discuss it and for the assertion to be clarified (or for one or the other of us to learn of our conceptual or algebraic mistake). When it is there at the very beginning of a paper (and violates things proven as exercises in elementary textbooks in thermo) it makes me doubtful. Perhaps I’m misunderstanding something — I’m happy to acknowledge that I could be wrong about almost anything, or that I could be misreading something that is actually right — but in some sense the onus is on the author of a paper to state the basic physics clearly enough to be both understood and checked or agreed upon.
N&Z are in the same boat. Anybody who asserts that an atmosphere in static thermal equilibrium has a temperature gradient and that gravity “heats” the atmosphere is going to have their work cut out for them trying to convince me that they understand thermodynamics, because “thermal equilibrium” means the opposite of “has a temperature gradient”, and a homogeneous gravitational field does not heat in the specific sense that it is not a source of entropy. It’s a macroscopically, globally conservative interaction.
I actually think that Willis’ idea of needing an elevator speech version of this sort of effect is a very good one. Or to put it more “scientifically”, an abstract. A summary. An energy flow diagram. Lots and lots of mistakes in thermo can be avoided with an energy flow diagram. You can prove lots of nifty things (like the equivalence of various statements of the second law) with nothing but an equally nifty energy flow diagram. I’d still be perfectly happy for someone to provide a believable version of this for either J or N&Z.


Wait… herding feral cats that are on PCP, or herding feral cats while on PCP? It’s a minor quibble, I know, but… being a long-time cat owner, I’m curious. Besides, after the famous cat-herding Superbowl ad, I really have a vivid mind-picture of the process…

Well done Willis. Not my favourite topic, so I didn’t comment on Jelbring or N&Z, simply because I have only a brief understanding of the theoretical background. But I know, sometimes one need to stirr up the hornest’s nest to keep rational thinking alive, as I have done with the origin of the CO2 increase, as too many still believe that it isn’t humans which cause that…

I say hey, if you can’t explain it in an elevator speech, you don’t understand it.
Very true, I agree wholly with this.


Let’s hope that temperatures rise still further as the physics of climate science is discussed.
This is because the IPCC version was based on four fundamental scientific errors in the deceptive security of the assumption that CO2 drove the World out of ice ages. However from 1997 when it was shown that CO2 followed T and CO2 climate sensitivity had to be calibrated against modern warming, the subject degenerated into systemic fraud with false hockey sticks and ‘no MWP’.
The only way to recover is to rebuild climate science from the ground upwards with correct physics [the GCMs are fine, it’s the heating terms that are fundamentally wrong].
This even goes to the basics of thermalisation of absorbed IR energy to the N2/O2 carrier: there is no physical mechanism for that. There is also ‘back radiation’ which is to confuse ‘Prevost Exchange Energy’ for the ability to do thermodynamic work. As for N&Z paper, they reinvent lapse rate hearing: there is much more to consider.
More fighting, less control by the fraudsters.


You’re a very, very clever man, Willis. Sadly, and your intellect notwithstanding, I don’t think I’ll ever believe another word you say or write.


You’re certainly a mensch, Mr Willis … this takes cahunas!
I’ve been following these events in my non-scientist understanding (though I am educated to Masters level ) trying to grasp the ‘elevator’ explanation … many people like me need to have these explanations in order to get a wider understanding of the whole science of climate.
All the name calling and this, “Continuing the theme of discussing issues censored and banned at WUWT, here’s an article kindly submitted by Gerry Pease on the subject of solar-barycentric motion [ … ]” at Mr Tallblokes place is really unnecessary. I enjoy both WUWT and Talkshop equally and especially when the ‘sharp minds’ slay the dragon, but really cringe at the immature language whether it be here or at Talkshop.
None the less, love your work!

There are so many mis-statements of fact in this post I don’t know where to start, so I won’t bother.
I’m seriously thinking of posting the email conversation Willis and I had offline as an easy and time saving rebuttal to the narrative he has woven here, though I won’t act in haste, or without thinking the consequences through first, an approach Willis would be wise to consider in future in my opinion.
In that email chain, there are at least two ‘elevator speeches’ that I offered to Willis (neither of them satisfactory so I didn’t try on his last thread), a simple rebuttal of his ‘proof’ (Which he deleted twice before finally half-answering), some explanation of my problem with Joel plus a lot of pretty unpleasant retorts from Willis.


ad vivum

Rick Bradford

If all this senseless bickering is going to continue, we might just as well hand the keys of the shop over to James Hansen, and tell him to do what he wants with the world economy.
Come on, guys, really.

Disko Troop


GabrielHBay says:
January 14, 2012 at 12:14 pm
On the wisdom or otherwise of an “elevator speech”:
Ok, I refreshed my memory. From the foreword of Aldous Huxley’s Brave new world: This is what was lurking in my mind:
“The soul of wit may become the very body of untruth. However elegant and memorable, brevity can never, in the nature of things, do justice to all the facts of a complex situation. On such a theme one can be brief only by omission and simplification. Omission and sim­plification help us to understand — but help us, in many cases, to understand the wrong thing; for our compre­hension may be only of the abbreviator’s neatly formu­lated notions, not of the vast, ramifying reality from which these notions have been so arbitrarily abstracted.”
Gabriel van den Bergh

Phillip Bratby

I really recommend you go and read Tallbloke’s latest post “The Gravity of some Matter”.

Gareth Phillips

Is not responding with insults and jibes a form of censorship to discourage difficult posts? Or labelling something that is an opposing view “Troll posting” or off topic? There are many ways to control what is said besides just snipping.


Well you didn’t fool me, and I can now say that I suspected it all along, which is why I didn’t post on that thread as I didn’t want to spoil the surprise.
Of course there is one thing I would have done differently Willis, I would have typed up this post in advance (sans observed results naturally) and emailed it to Anthony as a proof, because you know some people are going to be (or perhaps act) skeptical, pardon the pun.
Personally I am less enthralled by Joel Shore than you, I don’t think he is that bright a person to begin with. He is a true believer. He trolls a lot, sometimes incessantly and has a knack for verbalizing some very idiotic views. I remember one time he was spouting off how we should all accept the extraordinary expenditures on AGW mitigation as a kind of fire insurance. Never mind the fact that fire is a bonafide real danger here and now, and is killing someone right this very moment somewhere on our planet. That is the kind of lunacy that drives me mad, their intentional association of the dreamed up danger of a degree or two of ~average~ temperature warming, with the horrific killer of fire which has been destroying lives, materials, and lost knowledge for Millennia. If Tallbloke had banned him for being plain stoopid I wouldn’t have blinked an eye.
This bit about violating 1st law is ridiculous for a whole different reason anyway. To presuppose that any model or real observations can capture the energy budget of a non-dead planet like the Earth is insane. I can assure everyone that if you have missing heat or surplus heat, you have simply made a mistake somewhere. More energy exiting the planet than coming in simply proves deficient observing skills and a lack of imagination. And a chunk of arrogance.
Earth is generating its own heat by way of radioactive decay. We exist on the microscopic thin cool crust of a molten (use your Dr. Evil voice here) liquid hot magma ball. That hellacious inferno is not locked up in a neat impervious container. If it was, given geologic timescales, we would be sitting on a plasma timebomb that Algore could correctly call millions of degrees. But it’s not, the thermal buildup vents all over the place in the thousands (probably millions) of volcanoes mostly underwater. And certainly some of the heat is wicked away through the ground itself and ultimately heatsinked away in the atmosphere. Earth has both internal and external inputs to the ‘energy budget’, and the sun, while the major external input, is not the only one. Matter == Energy, and Earth is collecting matter over Geologic time.
There is no 1st law violation, and there is no sane reason to entertain a discussion about it. So, those theories that seem to violate basic thermodynamics, and those folks that critique those theories, are just sparring over nothing in the same way two ancient Mesopotamians might have been arguing over the meaning of an eclipse or a shooting star.

Hi Willis,
agree and thanks.
I did some years in heat current models of metal fluids:
and 38 years in physics:


I have rather stubbornly resisted Jelbring’s theory on tallbloke’s site, yet he has been quite polite and patient with the pontifications of this layman, and he certainly didn’t ban me. It’s disingenuous for Eschenbach to imply that it was merely Shore’s opinon that drove tallbloke to segregate his output.

Alan the Brit

What a great post, Willis! I agree with a lot of what you say, & some things I would challenge or question its wisdom! Isn’t freedom & democracy wonderful? Let’s hope we don’t need to suspend it for a few years to get this AGW crap under control! 🙂


The whole thing has been and interesting exercise in ‘high speed scientific debate’. And the severe pruning early in the piece I thought was a fine way to enforce ‘laser like’ focus on the topic at hand. I thought for a moment there Willis and Anthony had succeeded in dragging theoretical debate kicking and screaming into the ‘instant communications era’.
I could see eternal fame for these pioneers, with this moment to be remembered and discussed through centuries to come.
But in the end it was apparently as much about personalities and clashes thereof….
The interesting debate of Willis’ ‘proof’ however, may yet elevate the whole thing.

nano pope

Well, this cat on PCP thinks you’re a jerk no matter what you say. Joel was offered his own thread on the talkshop which I do believe is quite the opposite of censorship. Your crusade was misguided, mean spirited and beneath the otherwise cordial atmosphere of this blog. You have done damage to Anthony Watts, and proved nothing while doing so. You should be ashamed.

tallbloke says:

I’m seriously thinking of posting the email conversation Willis and I had offline

This is none of my business but I love the both of ya. Don’t do it unless Willis agrees Tally.

I am reminded of the saying of my Auntie Ruth, who, whenever I thought I had said something particularly clever in an argument, used to say : ” Jack, you are so sharp you will cut yourself.”
Bit of a sorry tale all round, it seems to me.

John Brookes

Oh Willis, you are so wicked! You are going straight to hell!
Congrats on a cool stunt. I wonder if any of my fellow warmists would be up for something like that….

James Alison

Gee Willis you really do think yourself a unusually clever man by luring TB into your trap eh? Your science writing makes for great reading – we would all be better off if you stay on task.

Mike (One of the Many)

Willis may or may not be right about many things, but I definitely like the way his mind works – Censorship turns us into them and I for one don’t want to be them!!

jim hogg

Self snipped . . .


Wow Willis. Never has so little been said in so many repetitious words and phrases in such a long post and the point was? And exactly how does all this help to derail the CO2 driven CAGW scam? A sad little episode best forgotten for me and others who have admired many of your contributions as well as those of Tall Bloke. Let all of us not lose sigt of the end game!


Willis Eschenbach is, unfortunately, full of his own self importance. With luck and a following wind, “Tallbloke” will dismantle any structural changes on Talkshop that pander to Mr (Dr?) Eschenbach and will neutralise his incessant self promotion. I don’t know Mr (Dr?) Eschenbach’s scientific provenance but I can recognise a blatantly self serving article such as this. It is disappointing that WUWT has seen fit to give it any sort of recognition. Fortunately, the response from Tallbloke has effectively neutralised Mr (Dr?) Eschenbach’s attempts at bolstering his public persona at the expense of others

Amazing stuff! Willis for World President and Roger for running-mate!


“if you can’t explain it clearly you don’t understand it.”
Or, maybe the audience dosnt understand it?
Its not always easy to explain something so complex in a manner that thickos like me can get a handle on. 😉
As for censorship, better to let whomever wants to spout off do so, after all better to be thought a fool than open your mouth and remove all doubt.
Only other thing id mention is that its hardly sporting to play tricks on people like politicians do, thats a poor show.

Willis Eschenbach

Tallbloke, regardless of what Aldous might say, if you can’t explain it, you don’t understand it.
Sure, brevity doesn’t explain the full depth and breadth of complex things as he says. But if you can’t explain it, you don’t understand it.
Yes, as he points out, “omission and simplification” can lead us astray. But if you can’t explain it, you don’t understand it.
And yes, as Huxley so eloquently states, an elevator speech doesn’t encompass the “vast, ramifying reality”.
But we’re not trying to do that, we’re looking for the meat and bones, the essence of the theory, and if you can’t explain it, you don’t understand it.
I gave you my elevator speech laying out the greenhouse effect in my previous post. I repeat it here as an example that a complex theory can be described in an elevator speech:

The poorly-named “greenhouse effect” works as follows:
• The surface of the earth emits energy in the form of thermal longwave radiation.
• Some of that energy is absorbed by greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere.
• In turn, some of that absorbed energy is radiated by the atmosphere back to the surface.
• As a result of absorbing that energy from the atmosphere, the surface is warmer than it would be in the absence of the GHGs.

Four sentences. Yes, it doesn’t encompass the vast ramifying reality of the greenhouse effect, there are books written on the subject, but I’m not trying to do that.
I’m simply trying to explain the actual mechanism underlying the theory as clearly and as concisely as I can.
So if you have an elevator speech regarding the Nikolov and Zeller theory, and how it warms things up without greenhouse gases, now’s the time to bring it out for the world to see. Here’s your chance to show us you do understand their theory. This is your opportunity to demonstrate that N&Z don’t violate conservation of energy. The stage is yours, my friend.
Or not. Up to you.

wayne Job

Hi Willis,
Hypothetical mind games and bear baiting in debate belong in universities for the debating teams. It achieves nothing and makes enemies in the real world.
Some while back you pretty much nailed the equatorial thermostat that gives us an almost unvarying heat input regardless of variables.
I was hoping you would continue down this path and give a similar explanation to our north and south radiators.
The temperate zone is the medium that gives us climate by modulating input and the output in divers ways, that you may have a little trouble figuring out, but I wish you would try, for free thinkers are rare.

I tried to discuss science on Tallbloke’s blog.
He accused me of dishonesty – claiming on his blog that people posting comments on Science of Doom: “..may find your posts being edited without explanation after you submit them...”
This is inaccurate. And, of course, insulting.
So as a result of this insult I no longer post comments (or read) Tallbloke’s blog. I assume this was the intention of Tallbloke’s false claim.
When he later posted comment on my blog I asked: “..I wonder why tallbloke is commenting on this blog, after accusing me of dishonesty..“.
I didn’t get a response, an apology, or a proof of his claim about said dishonesty.
So it doesn’t surprise me to read Willis’ story.


I hope you won’t be offended, but you seem to enjoy talking about yourself rather too much IMHO. Such arrogance, combined with a tendency to play with your readers, will alienate your audience eventually and reduce the impact of what you have to say..


I am reminded of Richard Feynman’s story. He and other Caltech physics professors were arguing over some esoteric point of subatomic physics and Feynman said something like “Let me go and work it up as a lecture even an undergraduate can follow.”. A couple of weeks later he came back and said “I tried but I couldn’t do it. That means we don’t understand it.”

Sceptics have many enemies without the need to make more from withun our own community. Can I seriously suggest you wait 12 hours before you post anything substantive here as that will give you time for reflection.
Can I also respectfully suggest that you should rise above this whole unedifying episode by welcomg back both Joel and by implication Willis to your blog. Both have their many foibles but I believe both are passionate, which perhaps sometimes clouds their better judgement when pursuing their respective beliefs.


Willis, I read most of that previous thread, and found througout that your treatment of commenters was rude, arrogant, tendatious, overbearing, and, well, quite frankly, I loved every minute of it!
However, whatever your real motive for the post, it was quite extraordinary how the same misconceptions were endlessly repeated by some individuals, and no amount of logic or reason or appeal to basic physics could dent their ignorance.


I am sure both of you feel safe, in the cocoons of your righteousness, To me the juvenility is palpable — a la– mine is bigger than yours.

Willis Eschenbach

wayne Job says:
January 17, 2012 at 2:19 am

Hi Willis,
Hypothetical mind games and bear baiting in debate belong in universities for the debating teams. It achieves nothing and makes enemies in the real world.
Some while back you pretty much nailed the equatorial thermostat that gives us an almost unvarying heat input regardless of variables.
I was hoping you would continue down this path and give a similar explanation to our north and south radiators.
The temperate zone is the medium that gives us climate by modulating input and the output in divers ways, that you may have a little trouble figuring out, but I wish you would try, for free thinkers are rare.

Thanks, wayne. I discussed the north/south radiators a bit here. The world is indeed a complex place.


Hi Willis,
I think you are over-reacting. You should consider running a blog of your own, because this is ranting and not debating or deliberating. This is not what imho WUWT stands for.
I hope you understand what I mean, because I mean it well. I enjoy reading your articles, but this is getting nasty. Keep up the good spirit and shake virtual hands with Tallbloke! He’s not the enemy.
Unite, don’t divide!
Kind regards,

This has all been a pathetic waste of time. I think we have way too much influence from guest authors on WUWT and would be happier with less content. There seems to be a subtle background push to elevate AGW type views in my opinion, which would appear to go against the original concept of this fine site.

Nice Willis.
when I saw the first snip It was easy to see what you were up to.
doubtless some will be offended at being schooled by a crystal clear object lesson.

Colin Porter

I have long respected you for your intelligent discussion wit and original thought that you bring to the sometimes dower subject of climate science. However on this present topic and dispute, I think you have handled it entirely wrongly.
You may be right to challenge Tallbloke on his decision to ban Joel Shore, but the way you have gone about it does nothing but harm to you, to Tallbloke and to the sceptical climate science movement.
Reading your text above is like reading the plot of a fantastical whodunit novel where reality is suspended and the author takes liberties with our beliefs as to what is both possible and probable in his attempts to direct the rather poorly thought out plot to emerge with a blockbuster ending. This is what I think of your version of events here. I just don’t believe them. They are fantastical. Only in a novel could this over complicated plot that you espouse possibly hope to achieve its planned outcome. I think what has really happened is that in your annoyance, you have gone off half cocked and produced your own post with all kinds of restrictions in it, which has then backfired. In your attempts to salvage the post, you have then concocted this fantastic plot, saying this is what was intended all the time.
Whichever version of events is the truth, I think you come out of it very badly. If your account is truthful to what actually happened, that makes you a schemer of extraordinary proportions, making your actions no better than those of the ultimate schemer, as evidenced by the Climategate emails, Michael Mann. If my version is correct, that means that you have told something of a whopper, in which case your actions are no better than ultimate fantasy story teller, Michael Mann. Which ever it is, your conduct is unacceptable and is what I would expect of the alarmist faction. There is no place for manipulation and deceit on the sceptical side. It is not necessary, because when you have truth on your side, there is no need to manipulate or to lie. And there is certainly no need to air our dirty washing in public over what is a very minor dispute.
The alarmist blogs will be having a field day.

All in all, I don´t like what Willis did.
The explanation is no understable; it doesn’t makes sense.
Censorship is bad and regrettable, always, and by no means it can be uses to attain something supposedly better, because that is the usual excuse.
WUWT didn´t deserve something like this, even when it is above it. But WUWT should take it as a bad precedent.
Shame on you, Willis.