An Open Letter to Dr. Marcia McNutt, new Editor-In-Chief, Science Magazine

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

Dear Dr. McNutt:

As a somewhat unwilling subscriber to Science, let me start by welcoming you as the latest editor of Science magazine. You’ve stated “Thirty-five years ago, when I was a graduate student and my very first research paper was published in Science, I do not think I could ever have dreamed that one day I would have the honor of becoming Editor-in-Chief of this most distinguished journal.”

And in addition to your most impressive resume, you do get huge props from me for this part of your Wikipedia biography, which I certainly hope is true, viz:

marcia mcnutt

McNutt is a NAUI-certified scuba diver and she trained in underwater demolition and explosives handling with the U.S. Navy UDT and SEAL Team.

Indeed you do have an unparalleled opportunity, which is to turn what has become just another glossy advocacy magazine back into a distinguished scientific journal.

Unfortunately, during the intervening 35 years of your remarkable scientific career since you were a graduate student, a once-stellar magazine has fallen on hard times. Starting with Donald Kennedy, and continuing under Bruce Alberts, it has become a shabby vehicle for strident climate activism … and that experiment has proven once again that Science can’t be both an activist journal and a scientific journal. Science magazine has thrown its considerable (but rapidly decreasing) weight behind a number of causes. And yes, some of those causes are indeed important.

The problem is that you are convinced the causes are hugely important, and you want to convince us of the same. But once you convince people that your causes are more important to you than your science, that’s it for your authority regarding the science. You either get to have activism, or you get scientific authority. You don’t get both. And the past actions of your magazine have clearly demonstrated that these days your activist causes are much more important to you than the science.

The problems have involved two main issues in the field I’m involved in, climate science. The first issue is that despite repeated requests, past Science Magazine editors have flouted your own guidelines for normal scientific transparency. You continue to publish articles about climate science without requiring that the authors archive their data and code as required by your own rules. It appears that the rules about archiving data and code are enforced for the little people like myself, but when the Editors of Science want to promote a point of view, the rules don’t apply … funny how that works.

The second issue is that in climate science, far too often Science magazine editors have substituted pal review for peer review. As a result, people laugh at the bumf that passes for climate science in your pages. They don’t disagree with your articles. They laugh at your articles. I’m told that in some scientific circles, it’s only the glossy unabsorbent nature of the magazine’s paper that keeps the climate science articles from being used, perhaps more appropriately, for hygienic purposes … seriously, you have published some really risible, really shabby, grade-school level studies in climate science. It’s embarrassing.

With a new Editor-In-Chief, I’ve been hoping that might all be in the past. Unfortunately, after taking over at the helm, you’ve chosen to reveal your … umm … well, let me describe it as your newness to the concept of “scientific journal editor” by following in the foolishly activist footsteps of your immediate predecessors. I’d hoped you might be smarter than they were, and indeed you might still show yourself to be. But to jump into the middle of the climate debate and stake out a position for Science magazine? Why? That’s suicide for the magazine. Science magazine should never have an editorial stance on the science it is discussing and overseeing. Leave that to Mother Jones magazine, or to National Geographic, or Popular Science. Your magazine taking a strong activist position on climate science is just evidence that you have abandoned all pretense of being concerned with climate science itself. When the science is strong it doesn’t need defenders … and if the Editor-In-Chief of Science feels it’s necessary to defend some part of science, that simply proves that the “science” involved must be of the weakest.

And regarding you personally taking a position? Well, that’s interesting. The problem is that you are extremely well educated, strong, strikingly good looking, and a wickedly-smart woman by all accounts … and while those are all good things, that’s a scary combination. One downside of that particular melange is that as a result, it’s very possible that people, particularly men, haven’t told you the unvarnished truth in years. So some of what I have to say may be a surprise to you.

Here are your climate claims from your recent Editorial, based presumably on your  research into the flexural modes of the earth’s crust:

Researchers have turned to the geologic record to obtain ground truth about patterns of change for use in climate models. Information from prior epochs reveals evidence for conditions on Earth that might be analogs to a future world with more CO2. Projections based on such previous evidence are still uncertain, because there is no perfect analog to current events in previous geologic epochs; however, even the most optimistic predictions are dire. For example, environmental changes brought on by climate changes will be too rapid for many species to adapt to, leading to widespread extinctions. Unfortunately, I view these predicted outcomes as overly optimistic.

Now, the uninitiated might not notice the subtle change of tense there, from the subjunctive to the declarative. But those of us who are used to the pea-and-shell game will have seen that you’ve done something curious. You’ve started by saying that “Projections based on such previous evidence are still uncertain”. That is true, and not only true, it’s a huge understatement.

Here is the current state of climate science, the understanding of past climate changes, and the prediction of future climates.

Not one climate scientist on either side of the aisle predicted the current ~ 15-year hiatus in warming. This lack of warming was highlighted as early as 2009 in a widely-circulated article called “What Happened to Global Warming? Scientists Say Just Wait a Bit”. In that article, various scientists were quoted as saying the warming would resume in a few years.

Well, we’ve waited a few years, Dr. McNutt. Their predictions, once again, haven’t come true … and despite that, here you are to lecture us. And where did this most seditious article entitled “What Happened To Global Warming” appear?

Why, it appeared in Science magazine  … you want to be taken seriously in the field of climate science, yet you don’t mention this lack of recent warming at all?

• Not one climate scientist on either side of the aisle can explain the century or two of cooling leading up to the Little Ice Age in the 1600s. Why did the world slowly get colder back then? Oh, some folks claim it’s the sun, maybe so, maybe not … but really, no one knows.

Not one climate scientist on either side of the aisle can explain the three centuries of slow general warming that have followed the Little Ice Age. What changed to gradually warm the planet, after it had been cooling for centuries?

None of these things are explicable as the results of CO2, which supposedly is the secret control knob that regulates the global temperature.

So no one can explain the past climate changes, the CO2 explanation fails miserably at the hindcast, and you tell us that predictions based on the past are “still uncertain”, which is a big understatement and is certainly true.

But despite that uncertainty, despite that lack of knowledge, in the very next sentence you assure us breathlessly that predictions that “ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGES WILL BE TOO RAPID FOR MANY SPECIES TO ADAPT TO, LEADING TO WIDESPREAD EXTINCTIONS” are not alarmist enough for you …

Changes “will be” too rapid? “Will be”? And that’s not alarmist enough for you?

I truly hope you don’t realize what you are saying. I truly hope that you do not understand that that sentence of yours is nothing but strident alarmism that you are presenting under the guise of science.

Because you don’t know what the unknown environmental changes WILL do the species of the planet, that’s incredible hubris. More to the point, you have absolutely no evidence for your claim of “widespread extinctions”. Not one modern species has ever been shown to have gone extinct from climate change. Even Nature magazine has given up on the goofy idea of the “sixth wave of extinctions” that you are trying to sell. There is no evidence for your “extinction by climate change” claim at all.

Let me take a bit of a detour, and discuss the idea of a “natural experiment”. People always say we can’t study climate in a laboratory, and that’s true. We can’t use the lab to see how a big ecosystem full of real-world species might react to changing temperatures, for example. But we have natural experiments. And we’ve just conducted a very interesting experiment. Here’s the record of the experiment.

berkeley earth temperature dataset 1800 2013

According to the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature dataset shown above, the global land is two and a half degrees warmer than it was around 1810. Two and a half degrees of warming in two centuries. That’s well beyond what is supposed to be the huge danger change of two degrees of warming … where are the corpses?

You seem to be concerned about the speed of the changes. Two and a half degrees in two centuries is fast, it’s well over half the speed of the changes you are concerned about. As a result, we should have seen at least some evidence for your claim that warming causes extinctions … perhaps you could name the species that have gone extinct from warming during that natural experiment? I ask, because I’ve looked very hard, and I haven’t found even one.

You continue with your litany of unsubstantiated worries:

Even species that might tolerate the new environment could nevertheless decline as the ecosystems on which they depend collapse. The oceans will become more stratified and less productive.

The oceans WILL become more stratified? They WILL become less productive? And you say species “could” decline, but the ecosystem collapse is presented without qualifiers? My dear lady, you just told us that all of these “projections” are very uncertain. Let me suggest that you lose the “will become” and the “will happen”. You don’t know if warmer oceans will be more or less productive, and that kind of puffery just makes people point and laugh. I implore you, stop with the pronouncements from on high. You just got appointed, it’s true, but only to the editorship of Science, not to a more celestial and all-seeing post.

In addition, perhaps you could point to an example of a thermally-caused “ecosystem collapse” from the two and a half degrees C warming of the last two centuries? You know … evidence?

You go on …

If such ecosystem problems come to pass, the changes will affect humans in profound ways. The loss in ocean productivity will be detrimental for the 20% of the population that depends on the seas for nutrition. Crops will fail more regularly, especially on land at lower latitudes where food is in shortest supply.

The first part is good, you preface your statements with “IF the ecosystem problems come to pass”. The rest of it, however, is just more unsupported, uncited, unverified, and untrue fears. You have no evidence that a couple of degrees of warming will make the crops “fail more regularly”. Again, we’ve just run a natural experiment. We’ve just seen what happened when the land temperatures went up two and a half degrees from 1810 to the present. So please tell us, Dr. McNutt …

Where is the evidence of any loss in ocean productivity from that two and a half degrees C of warming? I say that you don’t have even a scrap of evidence that warming per se causes a decline in oceanic productivity. I certainly have never seen any.

Where is the evidence of any tropical crop loss from the last two centuries of warming?

Where is the evidence of any cities submerged by sea level rise?

Where is the evidence of the claimed spread of diseases?

Where are the climate refugees? You are aware, I hope, that the UN Environmental Programme climate specialists, part of the “97% consensus”, confidently predicted 50 million climate refugees by 2010 … perhaps you could point those refugees out for those of us who can’t find them?

Or perhaps you’re not aware of the dozens of such failed predictions by members of the fabled “97% consensus”. There’s no problem if you’re not aware of those unsuccessful “scientific” forecasts, I mean after all you’re a geologist, not a climate scientist … but if you lack that kind of basic knowledge of the climate field, then why are you attempting to lecture us on the subject?

Sadly, it seems that like many other good honest folk, you are simply parroting claims of danger that you have swallowed without ever thinking critically about them. Reconsider the natural experiment. We’ve had two and a half degrees of warming, and from everything I can find, it wasn’t harmful to the planetary denizens. There were no climate refugees. The coral atolls didn’t go underwater, we still have them. According to the IPCC, there’s been no increase in extreme weather events. No cities had to be evacuated because of sea level rise.

Two and a half degrees C, and not only were there no catastrophes from that warming, quite the opposite. Overall, it was beneficial to plants, animals, and humans alike. Expanded growing seasons and milder winters provided larger and more stable crops. Longer ice-free periods on the northern harbors and rivers allowed increased commerce. Milder winters killed fewer people … what’s not to like?

Now, you claim to be a scientist, Dr.  McNutt. And I’m happy to be proven wrong when I say that your climate fears are not based in reality. To prove me wrong, you need to provide evidence. Not claims. Not solemn warnings of future disasters unencumbered by any historical parallel. You need to provide evidence.

So if you’d be so kind as to point out the past catastrophes that came from the last two and a half degrees C of rapid warming, your alarmism about the possibility of another two and a half degrees might at least contain a hint of realism, even if it’s only a Hollywood “based on a true story” kind of realism.

If you can’t find any thermal catastrophes from that 2.5 degrees of warming, on the other hand, an honest scientist would change her views accordingly … your call.

Heck, you’re so new to the field that you don’t even have your alarmist talking points straight. Al Gore gives classes in this stuff so his minions will all be singing from the same hymnbook, you might borrow a copy. Because according to the alarmists, the effect of the CO2 warming will be greatest in the extra-tropics and the polar regions. In those areas it’s supposed to affect mostly nighttime temperatures, and particularly in the winter.

So your claim that crops will fail “at lower latitudes where food is in shortest supply” is in direct disagreement with the alarmist predictions of danger at the Poles.

Not only that, but your uncited claim of tropical losses is also in direct disagreement with the historical data, which shows that the tropics has warmed the least of all of the latitudinal zones. The tropical warming since 1900 is lost in the noise, your claim of tropical crop loss is a sad joke. You should at least switch latitudes and join up with your co-religionists and Al Gore’s minions in trying to scare people about a warming Arctic … at least that was happening, although unfortunately for alarmists like yourself, Alaska cooled substantially over the first decade of the 21st century, so now the evidence is mixed.

And in any case, where are my minions? I want the government to use their Solyndra funds to provide me with minions, like the ones Al Gore trains using petrodollars he pocketed from the oil companies for his TV station. How come Al has minions and I don’t? I guess the moral is, first get the oil million$, then you’ll get the minions. I’m obviously a slow learner regarding the first part of that … and how come Al gets the petrobucks and nobody says a word, but skeptics get tarred as being on the oil companies payroll but don’t get a dime? … however, I digress. You go on to say:

This unfavorable environmental state could last for many thousands of years as geologic processes slowly respond to the imbalances created by the release of the fossil carbon reservoir. The time scale for biodiversity to be restored, with all the benefits that it brings, will be even longer.

Tertullian says that the Roman Emperors had a slave whose job was to whisper in the Emperor’s ear “Respice post teHominem te memento!” In that respect, Dr. McNutt, let me be the slave who reminds you that you are merely the latest future ex-Editor-In-Chief of Science, a once-great magazine.

And while that post still swings a certain (although sadly diminished) amount of weight, it does not confer upon you ex oficio the ability to see “many thousands of years” into the future. You are attempting to channel Cassandra, and you are failing at it spectacularly. I cannot say this strongly enough. Activism is not your friend. The stronger the Editor-In-Chief of Science is as an activist, the less authority the Editor-In-Chief has as a scientist, and the less authority Science has as a scientific journal. What part of “conflict of interest” do you and Bruce Alberts and Donald Kennedy not understand? You cannot be both the peer-reviewer, the gate-keeper who arbitrates which science is worth publishing, and at the same time be a strong scientific alarmist pushing a particular belief as well.

So please, don’t bother us with any more of your unsupported fears about what a bit of warming might do. You’re actually in good shape yet. Yes, you struck out badly in the first inning, but there’s lots of the game left before you’re an ex-, and that just means don’t repeat your mistakes when you come up to bat again.

What you need to be concerned with is what your magazine does, not what the climate does. Lecturing people when your own house is in such bad order does not make you look wise, it makes you look hypocritical. You need to attend to the very poor quality of the studies you are publishing before you start lecturing people about climate science. How about giving us an editorial about how your predecessors didn’t enforce the “archive your data and code” policy, and whether you plan to continue the now time-honored tradition of ignoring the policy? That’s something you can speak about with authority.

After that, perhaps you might give us an editorial about how you are renouncing the anti-scientific practice of using co-authors to review each others’ work? That would be interesting. Or how about an editorial review of the ethical implications of Peter Gleick’s actions, and what their general acceptance by mainstream climate scientists reveal about the nature and extent of Noble Cause Corruption? That would be more than welcome.

But please … no more schoolmarmish lectures, and no more channeling the Ehrlichs and Holdrens. We’ve had enough failed serial doom-casters to last us for decades. You do not want to add your name to that list of unsuccessful catastrophe-mongers.

I say all of this to you for several reasons. First, I can’t stand to see someone driving the bus off the cliff without warning them. You’re doing both your reputation and that of Science magazine great damage through your alarmism, and in my world I am obliged to say something.

Second, there’s an old adage that says “It is better to light one little cylinder of fossil-fuel-derived wax with a wick in it, than to curse the darkness,” or something like that. I’m not the man to sit idly by when something I care about is imperiled.

Next, I say it because as an amateur scientist, I’m a huge fan of the process we call science, and I hate to see the journals flouting scientific transparency and blatantly shilling for one side or the other in a scientific debate.

And curiously, I say it because I truly wish you well. You do have an amazing opportunity, one I’d love to have. You have the chance to turn Science back into a serious, reputable scientific journal.

Plus scuba divers get my support, and women divers who’ve done underwater explosives training with the SEALS get my unalloyed, albeit somewhat jealous, awe and respect.

The main issue is, I’d like to see Science magazine become what it once was—a science magazine without an axe to grind, and without an agenda other than to be the best scientific journal on the planet.

Because as soon as you start grinding that axe and pursuing that agenda, you’ve become an axe-woman on a mission, not a scientist … and although the world needs good axe-women on missions, and I’m sure you’re a very good one when the situation arises, both Science the journal and science itself suffers when the Editor-In-Chief of Science magazine takes up axe-grinding. It destroys your credibility as a major arbiter of what science should be published.

My very best regards to you, and my best wishes for your tenure as Editor-In-Chief, and for the magazine in your hands,

w.

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Doug Arthur
August 4, 2013 4:01 pm

Editing needed.

August 4, 2013 4:02 pm

Lol…careful Willis, you may come home find some C4 with a remote timer strapped under your favourite chair…

Eliza
August 4, 2013 4:10 pm

Why Bother?The magazine is Trash anyway?

kadaka (KD Knoebel)
August 4, 2013 4:13 pm

Edit here please (area bolded):

(…) When the science is strong it doesn’t need defenders … and if the Editor-In-Chief of Science feels it’s necessary to defend some part of science, that simply proves that the “science” involved must be of the weakest. You don’t go out
And regarding you personally taking a position? (…)

[Thanks, fixed. -w.]

August 4, 2013 4:18 pm

In the battle to win public opinion, and the opinion of scientists that aren’t motivated by leftist politics, one of the things that we want to do is fight the misinformation by the mainstream science press. I’m not really talking about periodicals like Science, but publications that don’t censor comments from skeptics (like Scientific American does!).
One publication that comes to mind is phys.org. Sign up!
Those that are inclined to get in tussles and battle it out with warmist commenters should join. Your comments in battling the bs at physorg would be critically helpful. Most of the articles at physorg I think are actually good, but there’s just a lot of warmist propaganda articles that has to be countered. We really can be a difference at physorg, a very popular science sight.

jbird
August 4, 2013 4:20 pm

Yes. I agree with Doug Arthur. These are important ideas. Please re-read and edit for greater clarity before you send this. Science magazine has become a joke. If the magazine cleans up its act, I will re-subscribe.

August 4, 2013 4:20 pm

I’d say that this should have left a heck of a mark, but I’ll bet it all went right over her pretty little head. Good riddance to bad science.

Otter
August 4, 2013 4:23 pm

She likely will File 13 that one before getting past the third paragraph.

Mike Jowsey
August 4, 2013 4:24 pm

Overall Willis, this is an excellent bitter-sweet fruit salad. I hope she reads it and has the guts to respond with humility.
Quite a few typos, which I will leave to the more pedantic readers. One glaring typo is this unfinished sentence at the end of about the sixth paragraph:
…, that simply proves that the “science” involved must be of the weakest. You don’t go out

Bill Illis
August 4, 2013 4:25 pm

What we all want to say.
And good point about where are all the bodies from what has already happened.

a jones
August 4, 2013 4:26 pm

Sir, You are I fear wasting your breath on the sweet morning air. The magazine is dying because it has abandoned science in favour of political advocacy: it stands by it and will perish by it.
Not that I do not applaud your attempt to speak truth to power, worthy indeed but likely futile.
People who have opted from the hard road into a soft self supporting claque are too comfortable in their corrupt but oh so egotistical delusion that they are important to see that their world is slowly falling apart.
It was always so.
And the incoming tide will wash them all away and cleanse all leaving a people to wonder what it was all about.
A lost generation indeed: of self congratulatory narcissists which did nothing and achieved nothing.
It is our misfortune that we live in such times.
Kindest Regards .

Fred from Canuckistan
August 4, 2013 4:26 pm

Science Magazine.
Alfred E. Neumann, Editor.

tz2026
August 4, 2013 4:26 pm

The problem is that you are extremely well educated, strong, strikingly good looking, and a wicked smart woman by all accounts … and while those are all good things, that’s a scary combination.
As I’ve been saying, it’s witches. We had the Medieval warm period, then we started burning witches, and it was cool.

August 4, 2013 4:29 pm

I noticed a typo:

“You don’t get both. And the past actions of your magazine have clearly demonstrated that these days your activist causes are [more] important to you than the science.”

[Thanks, fixed. My motto is, “Perfect is good enough …” -w.]

BBould
August 4, 2013 4:32 pm

Great read, thanks!

August 4, 2013 4:33 pm

Editing needed.

Wow, I just finished it.
A little on the condescending and sneering side. Surely this could have been put better.
That said, the bit about authors not archiving their code and data in violation of the stated rules of the magasine was damning.

Steve Keohane
August 4, 2013 4:33 pm

Thanks Willis. If they stop the climate nonsense, I would probably resubscribe. Doesn’t Feynman have a book ‘The Joy of Finding Things Out’? That describes science, following a path of discovery, not being preached to.
You need “more” in here, 4th paragraph.
And the past actions of your magazine have clearly demonstrated that these days your activist causes are ^ important to you than the science.

jorgekafkazar
August 4, 2013 4:34 pm

After following the unending progression of pal-reviewed pseudoscience climate papers over the past five years, I have not the tiniest shred of respect left for “Science” Magazine, nor for anyone associated with it.

August 4, 2013 4:35 pm

Quite a few typos, which I will leave to the more pedantic readers. One glaring typo is this unfinished sentence at the end of about the sixth paragraph:
…, that simply proves that the “science” involved must be of the weakest. You don’t go out

One wonders if this was written from too much haste and emotion and too little patience and probity.

Jarryd Beck
August 4, 2013 4:38 pm

Nicely done, although as others have said, some editing is needed. Wouldn’t it be great if Science returned to what it once was.

pesadia
August 4, 2013 4:40 pm

In a word, Erudite
I hope the effort proves to be worthwhile.
Your thought provoking well constructed yet gentle observations deserve a response.

RoyFOMR
August 4, 2013 4:40 pm

Another great post from Willis but I was saddened to see this in it.
“Are you suicidal or something?”
How long before the Team claim it as yet another ‘Death Threat’?

August 4, 2013 4:43 pm

Another great post from Willis but I was saddened to see this in it.
“Are you suicidal or something?”

Yes, that was terrible. Ill-advised, for sure — condescending doesn’t begin to cover it.

John S.
August 4, 2013 4:46 pm

I’d suggest that Science change the name of their magazine, but the title Mad has already been taken.

wws
August 4, 2013 4:48 pm

In a somewhat related news item, the remains of Newsweek Magazine were just sold again, to a digital only upstart. As recently as 2007, Newsweek had several hundred employees and was turning a profit of around $30 million per year. Currently, once the split with the “Daily Beast” is finished, reports indicate that there may be 6 dedicated employees left, affiliated with that name.
Science mag ought to think about whether they really want to be on this same glide path.

August 4, 2013 4:49 pm

Willis:
Actually, I did edit the version I sent to some friends. Took about 15 minutes, and it reads like the Gettysburgh address! (I dare say, I got rid of almost all the “emotional” stuff…simple outtakes and re-adjustments of some lines.)
I’ve written before about Dr. George Miley (http://fti.neep.wisc.edu/iecworkshop/PDF/TECHNICAL_TALKS/miley.pdf) and his experience with “Science” in 2000. He’d just graduated a student (Dr. Brian Dejurick) in Nuclear Engineering, based on his (Dejurick’s) work on the U of IL IEC device. It was rejected by the SINGLE “Science” reviewer, based on a 1972 paper by some fellows at “Oak Ridge” who had PROVEN by theory that Farnsworth’s “Fusor’s” results were all “instrument noise, and not REAL NEUTRONS…as Farnsworth (the originator of the IEC, as the Farnsworth Fusor) contended. Problem is, Miley is somewhat of a better researcher than Farnsworth, and he and his grad students BACKED the instruments (BF6 detectors) with “activiation analysis” of Cd and Hf, etc. 10,000,000 5meV neutrons per second when turned on. Kind of hard to ignore!
SO I’m going on 13 years (aside from the SILLY, STUPID, IDIOTIC radiation dose/response articles published in the ’80’s in “Science”, which were used by the anti-nuclear power groups to bolster specious claims about the hazards of nuclear power…) knowing that “Science” is really “adjenda science” and much of the time, as you say, most useful as BUMF…rather than for reading.

Gary Hladik
August 4, 2013 4:49 pm

Typos aside, pretty good essay. Two possible outcomes:
1) The unfortunately named Dr. McNutt won’t change her policies. Science will continue as an unscientific bastion of activism. (Most likely result)
2) Dr. McNutt will see the light and try to guide Science back to its roots, at which point she will promptly be fired. Science will continue as an unscientific bastion of activism.
Willis’s effort to educate is not in vain, however. At least I learned a new word: bumf.

Dr K.A. Rodgers
August 4, 2013 4:49 pm

Far too too heavy with focus creep. Get rid of all irrelavancies – such as Al Gore and all patronizing mentions of the Editor’s gender. While you are at it get rid of at least 50% of the words.
I recall the A5 memo pads once used in the Australain Museum carried a footnote to the effect, “If you have to use a second page your memo is too long.” I would suggest if readers are required to scroll down more than twice the letter is too damn long.

August 4, 2013 4:50 pm

Sad but I suppose inevitable that Science should perpetuate its alarmist prejudices. ‘Prejudice’ meaning to decide without bothering to makeany examination of the evidence.

techgm
August 4, 2013 4:51 pm

Scathing. Deserved.
(Dr. McNutt’s text also had grammatical errors.)

Stephen Pruett
August 4, 2013 4:57 pm

Excellent letter. The only constructive criticism I can provide is that your claim that Science has published bad climate science recently would be more credible with a few references and brief description of what makes them so bad.

August 4, 2013 4:58 pm

SEALs not Seals.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Navy_SEALs
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinniped
It matters.
[Fixed, and you’re right, it does matter. Thanks. -w.]

Dr. Deanster
August 4, 2013 5:00 pm

You need to de-personalize this.[and edit it as others have suggested]
If you think that this woman is going to read a letter that trashes her personally, and focuses on what you perceive to be her “Motives”, you are sadly mistaken. Some of your points are relevant. Your main point of encouraging her to abide by established policy on data and methods, and to bring the reputation of Science Magazine back to the forefront of her responsibility is worthy of her read. Further, you need to frame it such that reestablishing the reputation of Science would also have benefit for her as well.
Frankly, .. and I’m not trying to be mean, but, you have a lot of good points, but the letter reads like something from an amature editorial piece itself. Just think of it this way .. you no more like to read editorials that you disagree with than she will enjoy reading yours.

Brian H
August 4, 2013 5:02 pm

Edit:

it’s considerable (but rapidly decreasing) — its

You don’t go out [missing paragraph]

Excellent challenge. Unfortunately, it won’t be taken up. You can be sure she was ‘vetted’ for unshakable loyalty to the Cause before being appointed.

M. Schneider
August 4, 2013 5:03 pm

Writing that letter was a jolly waste of time — I hope you realize that.
McNutt is a revolving-door political appointee. She’s knows exactly where her bread is buttered, and isn’t about to jeopardize that to listen to the likes of you.

DR
August 4, 2013 5:06 pm

Most excellent letter Willis. Brutally honest like it should be.

DR
August 4, 2013 5:09 pm

Dr. Deanster says:
August 4, 2013 at 5:00 pm
You need to de-personalize this.[and edit it as others have suggested]

I disagree. The aggressor sets the rules, and the Alinskyites have been winning by forcing their enemies to be the “nice guys” while they mercilessly attack anyone that disagrees with the “Consensus”.
The time for playing nice is over.

Tom Trevor
August 4, 2013 5:13 pm

If people spent less time pointing out grammatical and spelling errors, they might find this letter interesting, or they might not, but at least their opinion would be based on the content of the letter and not on superficial style aspects of the letter.

David Larsen
August 4, 2013 5:13 pm

I knew a Mrcia McNutt over at BLM. Same one?

August 4, 2013 5:18 pm

“Now, the uninitiated might not notice the subtle change of tense there, from the subjunctive to the declarative.”
Subjunctive is a mood, not a tense. It is used for ideas that are not necessarily factual (either hypothetical or downright counter-factual, such as “If I were you, I’d do …”)
Its counterparts are “indicative mood”, which is used to express ideas that are (strongly believed to be) factual; “imperative mood”, which urges action (“Take the trash out.”), or otherwise indicates a desired state; and “interrogative mood”, which seeks information rather than providing it.
“Declarative” in English is roughly synonymous with “indicative”, but other languages have additional declarative moods besides indicative. Therefore, grammarians use “indicative mood” for consistency and clarity, while a logician might speak of a “declarative statement”.
While imperative mood by definition has only future tense (as it is logically impossible to urge someone to have already taken or be in the process of taking a particular course of action), the other moods, including both subjunctive and indicative can generally apply to all moods.
~Grammar Nazi

patrick
August 4, 2013 5:19 pm

Yep. As others have mentioned, editing is needed. It started strong and respectful but unfortunately spiraled into a diatribe. I stopped reading about 2/3rds in and skipped to the end. Right idea Willis but not executed to your normal high standard. Recommend for rewrite. WUWT peer review is gangsta!

August 4, 2013 5:20 pm

Willis, Willis, Willis, your letter is too long and complicated for activists. I don’t think she will get past paragraph 3.
/sarc of f

Rud Istvan
August 4, 2013 5:34 pm

Climate Change is not the only subject where Science has failed science. See ScienceExpress lead article 17 August 2006. Anyone with a high school education should know that correlation does not prove causation, but lack thereof does disprove causation. And there are two ways to disprove correlation. One is ‘shorgun’ r^2 close to zero. The other is r^2 close to one, slope 0 or 1. The latter got published as proof of an anomaly. It is only proof of the sad depths to which Science has sunk, and delayed a major advance in energy storage by half a decade.
Only good news is, Science incompetence allowed issuance of two basic patents covering the advance they did not see.

Eugene WR Gallun
August 4, 2013 5:37 pm

So many telling points made. But I have the strong suspicion this woman will take the easy path — the downward path. That, in the short term, is what benefits her.
Also I am very suspicious of civilians who claim to have received training from the military. She needs to provide specifics about such an unusual claim. Stuff like that just doesn’t pass the smell test. And where there is one lie (wait, let us be kind and call it a gross exaggeration) there are almost always many more. Let her give us all the details about this demolitions training she, a civilian, says she received from such highly trained and actually very introverted groups. The Navy air arm does have its Blue Angels that it sends around to air shows but I doubt that the Seal have something so purposed. Maybe the Navy made a movie or two about underwater demolition and she watched them? That seems about right.
The left looks for people without shame — and I strongly suspect that she fitted their bill perfectly.
Eugene WR Gallun

Gcapologist
August 4, 2013 5:50 pm

Probably a little long to get the attention it deserves. The EPA could easily wave their wand and gloss over the important implications.
My big question is this: What does it mean to post an open letter? Have you attempted to get it directly to Dr McNutt by email or USPS?
In the old days, a gentle person would at least send a short handwritten note acknowledging receipt.

BarryW
August 4, 2013 5:51 pm

Bravo! Too bad it’s a wasted effort. Either a.)she is an ideologue and ignores it, or b) she agrees with you and gets railroaded out of a job. Lose, lose, but that was a great speech.

Steve in Seattle
August 4, 2013 5:54 pm

bumf
n. Chiefly British Slang
1. Printed matter, such as pamphlets, forms, or memorandums, especially of an official nature and deemed of little interest or importance.
2. Toilet paper.
well, that aside, once again I remind all that you don’t bring a knife to a gunfight. the left of liberals pushing this carbon free new frontier will take their agenda to their graves. if you really care about current climate science and solar physics, stop playing “nice” with these AGW types.

Dr. Deanster
August 4, 2013 5:55 pm

DR says:
Deanster: You need to de-personalize this.[and edit it as others have suggested]
DR: I disagree. The aggressor sets the rules, and the Alinskyites have been winning by forcing their enemies to be the “nice guys” while they mercilessly attack anyone that disagrees with the “Consensus”.
The time for playing nice is over.
———————————————————————————————
Depends on what your purpose is.
If you just want to insult the woman, so be it, insult her. But if you want her to take your letter seriously, the sophmoric editorial style of it needs to be revised. I like a lot of the content, but it reads like it is written by an ideologue … and will be dismissed.
PS .. How Do you guys make words Italic and bold, etc.
[Go to the “test” thread, and write a few words there. Use the angle brackets for formatting in html as usual. Mod]

John Andrews
August 4, 2013 5:56 pm

Bumf and all that … unnecessary. Otherwise an interesting read. I hope she reads it.

Frank Kotler
August 4, 2013 5:58 pm

Possibly futile, but since we need to exhale anyway, might as well try to blow our breath where it “might” not be wasted. Thanks Willis!

Pat Michaels
August 4, 2013 6:04 pm

Hiya,
Wiith regard to “no one on either side of the aisle predicted the pause”, I made a very public bet with Jim Hansen that the HadCru monthly data would show a statistically significant decline in the 10 years following 1/1/98. It was not significant then. It was–three months later.

August 4, 2013 6:05 pm

The fact that the magazine does not follow its own rules on transparency (in science for god’s sake!) and that it has co-authors do some reviews is astounding. Absolutely astounding. American science has become a disaster. How do we teach the young about real science now that money, politics, and ideology has demeaned it?
Way to go “Team”.

Ulric Lyons
August 4, 2013 6:06 pm

“Sadly, it seems that like many other good honest folk, you are simply parroting claims of danger that you have swallowed without ever thinking critically about them.”
Bull’s-eye with the parroting, but maybe more peer pressure than honesty. Hair color can be deceiving.

kadaka (KD Knoebel)
August 4, 2013 6:09 pm

From Dr. Deanster on August 4, 2013 at 5:55 pm:

PS .. How Do you guys make words Italic and bold, etc.

Head to top of page, click on “Test” in toolbar, you’ll find a page with a formatting guide and a commenting area for testing out your newly-acquired formatting skills.

August 4, 2013 6:09 pm

Willis, that was absolutely outstanding. I so look forward to her reply.
I’m sure she has the mettle to do it, she even has the brain, let’s hope it hasn’t been too badly scrubbed. I would love to see that journal restored to even half of its former glory.
We needed ten stars for this one.

Streetcred
August 4, 2013 6:13 pm

C’mon, Willis ! Tell us what you really think !!
Underwater dems with Navy Seals ? Sharks with frikken laser beams on their heads … I did dems in the military, it was many months of study and dangerous work to get a ‘demolitions certificate’ 38 years ago … and this woman gets it done in a weekend ? All that I can say is that she must have been bloody hot in a wetsuit !

jdgalt
August 4, 2013 6:15 pm

Frankly, .. and I’m not trying to be mean, but, you have a lot of good points, but the letter reads like something from an [amateur] editorial piece itself. Just think of it this way .. you no more like to read editorials that you disagree with than she will enjoy reading yours.
The addressee of an “open letter” is never really its intended primary audience. S/he is merely the target of its criticism. The writer and his fans always hope s/he will read it and reform, or be replaced by somebody better, but neither is likely in the short run.
I would think the obvious “cure”, if there is one, is to start a competing scholarly journal with staff who will follow the advice in the letter. If scientists are free to publish in it, that would do the trick; but the EPA, at least, has a known history of yanking dissidents’ grants, and I’d expect them to use that power to prevent the experiment’s success.
Which may mean that it’s more productive to start funding real climate science through charities. Independent.org is a 501(c)3 and publishes skeptic material already; other similar groups exist or can be created. They’d certainly be a more honest use of “tax exempt educational” status than a lot of the groups who already have it.

Michael
August 4, 2013 6:17 pm

Need to focus on her background in SCUBA and underwater explosives.

OssQss
August 4, 2013 6:19 pm

Willis, I had issues with this post initially.
Then,I sat back and thought things trough.
I wondered how many messages of the same amplitute have been sent from vocal activists due to the person you describe above and her conveyance of such.
I also wondered how many, much less researched, comments Anthony has on his radar everyday?
OK, and now the video! Think about it>

August 4, 2013 6:22 pm

Does that “scary combination” of being an “extremely well educated, strong, strikingly good looking, and a wicked smart woman by all accounts” have anything to do with all the typos?

EW3
August 4, 2013 6:26 pm

“McNutt is a NAUI-certified scuba diver and she trained in underwater demolition and explosives handling with the U.S. Navy UDT and Seal Team.”
As someone who was around UDT and SEALs in the early 70’s in [Coronado] and SE Asia have to say I doubt these credentials. Back then the UDT/SEAL community was the most testosterone driven crowds you could imagine. Only way she would have had any chance to be around these folks were because she was a hotty. Handling techniques of explosives is actually a confidential issue. Fact is back then the term SEAL was considered confidential. Nobody wore the Trident in public.

Steve Fitzpatrick
August 4, 2013 6:28 pm

Willis,
She got the job because she is a dyed-in-the-wool CAGW advocate…. as is her boss (a psychologist by training, who focuses on public policy, not a scientist). Nothing you say will change her mind in any way. Science magazine is a lost cause.

KevinM
August 4, 2013 6:30 pm

Science is to science as MTV is to music.
Marketing and promotion of product to a demographic, content omitted.

EW3
August 4, 2013 6:31 pm

Corodano == Coronado Island
it’s getting late….

Ulric Lyons
August 4, 2013 6:34 pm

McNutt calls El Nino a climate change (global warming) signal, I call it a response to a weaker short term solar signal:

KevinM
August 4, 2013 6:37 pm

Age 61. Minds usually stop changing by then, except temporarily for election years.

Lil Fella from OZ
August 4, 2013 6:40 pm

When the word ‘sustainable’ is used I hear the Left.

Eric Barnes
August 4, 2013 6:47 pm

Too much federal money is powering Science straight into the iceberg. It seems all the Science “scientists” are going down with the ship. I won’t weep.

Ulric Lyons
August 4, 2013 6:56 pm

Watch the video above from 27 minutes in, her voice goes croaky just before delivering the wopper about 100 times faster warming by human activity.

Gunga Din
August 4, 2013 6:57 pm

Dr. Deanster says:
August 4, 2013 at 5:55 pm
PS .. How Do you guys make words Italic and bold, etc.

====================================================================
Check out this http://home.comcast.net/~ewerme/wuwt/index.html
It’s on the right under calendar of every WUWT page.
It took me awhile to realize that all the “extra” stuff I was typing to do the formatting wouldn’t show up in the comment. When you type the “extra” stuff, you are actually writing a bit of computer code.

Eric Barnes
August 4, 2013 6:57 pm

Willis Eschenbach says:
August 4, 2013 at 6:48 pm
And in any case, as I said, I’m not the kind of man to sit by without protest while the driver steers the bus over the edge …

It is to your credit. Thank you! 🙂

markx
August 4, 2013 6:58 pm

“…..strikingly good looking……”
C’mon Willis, you KNOW you’re not allowed to say that in this politically correct world!

Jeremy Das
August 4, 2013 7:01 pm

Willis, I don’t think you can have realised how your letter comes across. I see it as intrusively personal, emotional/emotive in tone rather than professional, patronising in a creepily sexist way – and therefore insincere-seeming where it is presumably intended to be genuinely complimentary, and far too long.
I would have thought that a short, polite, impersonal letter that focussed on “pal review” and the failure to archive would be quite enough to start with. Each of these criticisms alone is damning, and must prick the conscience of any editor with a trace of honour. The only way you can be ignored by such a person is if you give them an opportunity to dismiss you as a crank, which your existing letter seems to do. Sorry to be so blunt.

Steve Oregon
August 4, 2013 7:10 pm

Despite the typos etc. this is another very thorough piece of work by Willis.
Ms McNutt may not be capable of consuming such a large dose of constructive criticism.
I hope she reads it two or three times. Then writes it all herself.
That would burn it into her head for pondering.

Latitude
August 4, 2013 7:12 pm

Does anyone still read this mag?….
…When I first realized what they were advocating…I never trusted them on anything again

Latitude
August 4, 2013 7:14 pm

Willis, is this an “open letter” just posted here??..
…or did you actually send this to her?
…I’m not clear on that…but I hope you sent it to her

Ian
August 4, 2013 7:15 pm

I wonder if, after all this effort, Dr McNutt will ever read this piece? That’s the problem of course. The journaL Science is read by many including the MSM whereas, comparatively speaking of course, WUWT is not. And therein lies the rub

CRS, DrPH
August 4, 2013 7:19 pm

Nicely done, Willis! Sadly, “Science” appeals to rent-seeking academics vs. practicing scientists…I had a subscription & barely have time to read my emails every day, so I let the thing lapse. Their business model is to push paper into university mailboxes, and in this world (within I presently live), honesty regarding climate change will get you in trouble.
I cannot think of any truly honest scientific publications anymore, the rot is that bad….WUWT is about the best substitute I’ve found, where we can yell at one another endlessly about very high-level theories (and get down in the gutter with some rough humor). Cheers, Charles the DrPH

pokerguy
August 4, 2013 7:23 pm

As usual, heavy on the sarcasm and sneer, not nearly enough reasoned persuasion. I’m in sympathy with your basic message, but I give you a fail because the chances of this woman reading it all the way through are almost nil in my opinion. So you’ve once again proved how smart and clever you are, but likely accomplished little else.
Naturally, just my opinion.

TomRude
August 4, 2013 7:29 pm

Willis, may I suggest an exception to your claim: “Not one climate scientist on either side of the aisle predicted the current ~ 15-year hiatus in warming. ” Marcel Leroux had demonstrated that since the climatic shift of the 1970s, we entered a rapid mode of atmospheric circulation always associated with cooling periods. He also demonstrated the dynamical reasons for the occurence of regional warmings (Antarctica Peninsula, Eastern Greenland etc…). So what seems an unexpected situation for many is a in fact a logical consequence for those who 1) do not believe in the climatic significance of the HadCRUt statistical treatment of surface temperature data 2) have read and understood Leroux and see the benefits of his work daily while looking at satellite animations, pressure evolution, weather events. Hence a dire need for the warm side to get Connolley’s hack job at Wikipedia last fall…

TonyU
August 4, 2013 7:29 pm

slow clap 🙂

kadaka (KD Knoebel)
August 4, 2013 7:34 pm

If only the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) were taken over by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), then Science magazine would… have to make no changes whatsoever to continue their mission of advocacy.
But we would get to have revered UCS member Kenji Watts give a regular review of his complimentary copy. Is a reliable indicator of likely biodegradability the absorbency of the paper?

James Allison
August 4, 2013 7:35 pm

Heck of an informed rant.
Dr. McNutt writes like an over qualified uninformed journalist for a trashy tabloid.

MikeN
August 4, 2013 7:38 pm

Forget about 2.5C of warming in 2 centuries according to BEST. They are showing 1.7C in 15 years!

Bill H
August 4, 2013 7:43 pm

Politically Correct speak is a tool used by the left to stop the positive communication between people. Far to long have we been worried if someone would be offended. Its time to grow up and listen rather than be offended.. If she is incapable of adult conversation then she has bigger problems.
Lately I have decided that those around me should grow up. And lots of the stupid stuff happening vanished. Its amazing how being blunt and to the point has helped.. respectful, but blunt.. I am in agreement with Willis on this point.

faboutlaws
August 4, 2013 7:47 pm

Anybody who has doubts about her military service or training may want to contact John Lilyea at the military blog “This ain’t hell. but you can see it from here”. They are experts at tracking down phonies. John and his guys are relentless. And they’re somewhat conservative. That’s what the blog is basically about. If it turns out that her claims are phony, and a lot of these claims are, what does that say about her credibility? If it turns out to be a big lie, it can cost her a job with the right pressure. Alarmists do not have their bases covered like the think they do. And forget the pretty face. What’s wrong with you guys? Are you weak? A pretty face can destroy a nation.

Skiphil
August 4, 2013 7:48 pm

I think any claim by a civilian to have trained with the US Navy UDT and SEAL folks is most dubious, absent detailed substantiation. Perhaps she did some extra-curricular diving activity with one or more such guys who told her some interesting stuff, but did she “train” with those military organizations as a civilian? It would be interesting to find out whether or not this is a case of resume inflation…..

Theo Goodwin
August 4, 2013 7:50 pm

Brilliant essay, Willis. Good science. Thanks.

Bob
August 4, 2013 7:51 pm

Willis, I don’t think you have any expectation that McNutt will even look at this article. You probably feel better, but she will just keep on snorting CAGW climate puff. Otherwise, nice exposition and rant.

August 4, 2013 7:57 pm

Willis,
It’s too long. Not focused.
Write to your reader(s).
Write. Sleep. Read. Edit. Send.
When addressing activists, you need to use words that they can understand in phrases that sound frightening such as:

It’s clear from your choice to continue business-as-usual, that your tenure as editor, Dr McNutt, is unsustainable. Urgent, precautionary measures are required to arrest the magazine’s accelerating decline towards irreversible extinction.

Retired Engineer John
August 4, 2013 7:58 pm

Willis, I like the way you write.

otsar
August 4, 2013 7:59 pm

Sadly, you are wasting your breath. This will just be water off a ducks back.
You must have enjoyed to read the former incarnation of Science, otherwise you would not have cared about of what it has become.
I have dumped my memberships in ACS and AGU as they have followed similar trajectories to the ” Science” and “Scientific American” magazines.

Dianne S.
August 4, 2013 8:02 pm

Very good post.
I think the problem is that Dr. McNutt’s peers expect that she will carry on the Science tradition of climate alarmism. I really doubt that she has the b..s to resist this.

faboutlaws
August 4, 2013 8:06 pm

Get off Willis’ back. Knock off this pride of authorship crap. He went into a fight and gave it a darned good shot. As a biker, I know a bit about fights and I can tell you, you rarely get to edit any of them. It’s like a debate, you rarely get the chance to polish what has been said. He did an extremely credible job and we should all be thankful he is on the side of truth, our side.

charles the moderator
August 4, 2013 8:06 pm

Willis, your “not one climate scientist predicted…” is not quite accurate.
Back in 2008: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/7376301.stm
As I said during our last AGU dinner, climate scientists on the warmey side have made so many predictions, that whatever happens, they can dig out a study and say “we predicted that”. When just about every possible outcome has been predicted by endless researchers who have risen up to suck on the almost limitless funding teat, you create a shell of unfalsibility. The shell is easily pierced with any modicum of critical analyses, but is considered inpenetrable by those suffering from advocacy overcoming rationality-otherwise known as Noble Cause Corruption.

darrylb
August 4, 2013 8:07 pm

From a retired HS Physics/ Chem teacher who now acts as a mentor to many.
!) If Climate Science is the only subject she talked about (I do not know) then she is obviously on a singular mission, substituting propaganda for science.
2) I hope she reads all this. A few decades ago I ordered Science Mag.- for the school but dropped for reasons other than Climate Science. We really emphasized uncertainty and the scientific process in our department, the magazine gradually became less of a good example.
3) When I talked to those in the ivory halls and elsewhere, I just ask scientists to be scientists.
4) Our local newspaper, circulation of about 70 – 75,000 did a survey within the last week and the editors were shocked that less than half believe there is significant ACC. The main reason for doubt was they have seen to many cry wolf too often. Outlandish predictions, unsubstantiated, do just the opposite of the intended purpose.
5) I am still am impressed with the diving career. (I dive)

D Johnson
August 4, 2013 8:11 pm

I’ve had the advantage of reading this after a round of editing has taken place, but I find most of the criticisms of Willis’ piece to be off-putting. An open letter is open for a reason. The intended audience is not just Dr. McNutt but all readers who are likely to share the concern about the non-science exhibited by a formerly respected organ called Science. If others wish to pursue the subject differently they are free to do so.
Keep up the good work Willis.

Alvin
August 4, 2013 8:20 pm

A woman that likes to blow sh*t up has possibilities in my book. Let’s see if she can clean things up.

David L. Hagen
August 4, 2013 8:23 pm

Dr. Marcia McNutt
As a research engineer, I second Will’s observations.
Please restore Science from activism to the scientific method.
David L. Hagen, PhD

August 4, 2013 8:30 pm

Ah, not so, my friend, never futile. I write to the good Doctor, but I write for everyone else … and there’s no telling what effect my words will have there.
Amen…
Good job W.

August 4, 2013 8:53 pm

HI Willis, excellent job! Yes, there is a short bit where it is drifting off topic and imho too emotive, but if I wanted a better job I should have taken the effort and done it myself. I think that is what a lot of your critics forget when they toss off a hasty dismissal. To all of them: Do it yourself, then criticise. Thank you Wilis for spending the time to expose the problem, regardless of whether your missive is heeded.

noaaprogrammer
August 4, 2013 8:58 pm

Has any group seriously considered starting a new scientific rag with digital as well as hardcopy options? It takes money, but give it some catchy title that involves the words “Climate Change” and apply for a government grant.

Admin
August 4, 2013 8:58 pm

For those doubting the SEAL training in the bio, since she was at Scripps Institute of Oceanography getting her PhD in the late 70’s, this is very very likely to be true. Scripps ran the Glomar Challenger, and (I think) fronted for the CIA earlier with the Glomar Explorer. In the 70’s, UCSD which overseas Scripps, was in the top 3 schools for Federal funding despite its small size and relative obscurity. The big funding was all poured into Scripps and these exploration vessels.
Scuba training at Scripps was grueling, frigid maskless dives, simulated equipment failures and more. Considering the exploratory work being done with those research vessels it would make perfect sense for some of the training to have been performed by specialists from the SEALs and the US Navy UDT for a seminar or two.
I went to UCSD during that period and worked with some of those trained at Scripps. The stories of the training were quite fierce..

Gunga Din
August 4, 2013 8:59 pm

Christoph Dollis says:
August 4, 2013 at 4:35 pm
One wonders if this was written from too much haste and emotion and too little patience and probity.

============================================================================
I had to look the word up. I haven’t been on WUWT all that long. Only about 1 1/2 years. I haven’t read every post, let alone every comment. I’ve seen people say Willis was mistaken. I’ve seen people say Willis was flat-out wrong. I’ve seen him admit he was wrong about something.
But implying he was being dishonest? I’ve only heard something like that from those who envy his checks from “Big Oil”.

otsar
August 4, 2013 9:01 pm

I consulted for instrumentation for USGS NCER (National Center For Earthquake Research) when she was the. I was not impressed. At least she had the intelligence to leave that impossible and unrewarding project. She probably figured out early on that most science was difficult and decided to go into science management. In other words it became clear that the career path for an apparatchnik is more rewarding than that of a lab hunchback (researcher.)
She now finds herself in another impossible project, like at the beginning of her career. The outcome will be interesting.

TimTheToolMan
August 4, 2013 9:02 pm

Willis writes “I wanted to expose her to the consequences of her ways, which is that the magazine will continue to sink, and people will point and laugh.”
I suspect her primary focus is on increasing sales, not maintaining scientific integrity. If heading back towards scientific integrity increases her sales, then I’m sure thats what she’ll be doing. Meanwhile I also suspect the decrease in readership is affected by many factors in an information rich world, and perceived changes in scientific integrity isn’t necessarily the main one.

August 4, 2013 9:06 pm

Well, this started strong, but quickly went off the rails, stylistically off the rails and rhetorically off the rails..
by the time I reached this point I was wincing for the author, rather than his target:
“And regarding you personally taking a position? Well, that’s interesting. The problem is that you are extremely well educated, strong, strikingly good looking, and a wicked smart woman by all accounts … and while those are all good things, that’s a scary combination. ”
Reading through the whole thing it struck me that the author liked the sound of his own voice.
never a good sign when you can sense that.
And in the end we find
“I wrote it to expose her.
I didn’t want to convince her of the error of her ways.
I wanted to expose her to the consequences of her ways, which is that the magazine will continue to sink, and people will point and laugh.”
That is all well and good, as long as you don’t expose yourself.
Lets put it another way. You went a good ways toward exposing her flaws, but in the end the over personalizing, the holier than thou tone, the pulpit thumping, the indignation, exposed more about you than your target. It wasnt enough to expose her flaws, you also seem to want to send a message about who willis is. We get that. By the end, I had more sympathy for her than I did at the beginning. I went from being on your side to wanting to get the hook and pull you off the stage.
Now of course that doesnt mean you want to remove all the personality you display here, but in the end, she’s not the only one who is exposed.
Actually I find this is a rather common flaw with all the “open letters” I read at WUWT. They end reminding me of peacocks displaying their tail feathers.
And yes I’m entitled to my own opinion . others may have different views. They will get no argument from me.

Jeef
August 4, 2013 9:10 pm

Putting my PC hat on this would read better without the references to the fairer sex.

Matt Schilling
August 4, 2013 9:25 pm

I believe Willis and others misunderstood Christoph Dollis’ use of the word ‘probity’. Here is a quote from Tertullian that gives a hint as to how I think Dollis meant it: “So, too, the sea has an ill repute for honesty; while at one time, the breezes equably swaying it, tranquillity gives it the semblance of probity, calm gives it the semblance of even temper; and then all of a sudden it heaves restlessly with mountain-waves”.
I know the quote mentions ‘honesty’, but I think Dollis is equating ‘probity’ with ‘even temper’ . I believe he was advising patience and an even temper vs. too much haste and emotion.

Ben D.
August 4, 2013 9:37 pm

To all who are critical of the letter by Willis, but still think Science Magazine can do with a shakeup, then please do the right thing and write your own personal letter to Dr. Marcia McNutt.
Thank you in advance…

RockyRoad
August 4, 2013 9:38 pm

It’s time the world realized how un-scientific Science has become. Sad to see they’ve become a propaganda rag with impunity.
So whatever McNutt’s response might be, the ball is in her court and her response, should it ever come, will be interesting indeed.
(I’m predicting it will just be some legalese rejoinder.)

August 4, 2013 9:43 pm

Passionate, personal & factual.
Nice work Willis,
please keep it coming.
Cheers,
JD.
PS: For those calling for Willis to be more dispassionate, I would say you need to get some perspective. The Lefty “Environmentalists” of the CAGW crowd are actually Eugenicists bent on culling this planet’s population. & they’re succeeding.
The disgraceful banning of DDT as (falsely) carcinogenic has let malaria run riot & has cost 50,000,000 lives, by some reports. That’s more people than were killed by Hitler. When we get back to sanity this will be seen by history as a major tragedy of the 20th century.
This climate change/global warming thing is not just a gentlemanly? scientific debate, vast numbers of human lives are being lost.
Wildavsky, Aaron. ‘But is it True? A Citizen’s Guide to Environmental Health & Safety Issues’
Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1995.
Actually, DDT was never formally banned. Countries were just told that they would receive no foreign aid if they continued it’s use.
Way to go America.
http://www.thrivemovement.com
First: The Problem, a fairly lengthy essay.
Next: The Movie, 2 hrs 13 mins.
Then: John Anthony on UN Agenda 21

August 4, 2013 9:44 pm

ANY reference to a woman’s physical appearance in a “public letter” such as this is entirely inappropriate and counter-productive.
It drives feminists nuts, and rightly so. There’s no correlation with physical beauty and intelligence, honesty, creativity, talent, wisdom, or any other positive attribute.
If anything, physical beauty can lead people to overlook cupidity, greed, dishonesty, and all the other usual human failings.
So leave all references to her looks out! Focus on the issues, not the person or the personality.
Please.

August 4, 2013 9:50 pm

I apologise for using the word “probity”, Willis. I simply used the wrong word. I did not intend to question your honesty in the slightest, but I see that I did that inadvertently in my misunderstanding the meaning of the word.

One wonders if this was written from too much haste and emotion and too little patience and probity.

I meant to use a word similar to decorum or composure. Basically, I meant to use something meaning the opposite of excess “emotion” in the same way that “patience” was the opposite of “haste”.

dp
August 4, 2013 10:06 pm

These same issues came up in the open letter to Linda Gunderson. http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/02/21/an-open-letter-to-dr-linda-gundersen/ In that post a most amazing but pointless claim was made and which is at the heart of many serial open letter writers – basking in one’s own glow.

Y’know, Hexe, I’m one of the more widely read climate bloggers on the planet, with about a million page views last year, writing for the best and most widely read science blog on the web, and you are a commenter.

Then this:

In other words, I’m not trying to convince her, or anyone else. I’m not trying to get her to like me. I’m not running for office, it’s not a popularity contest.

And this:

You say that ” Anger sells but doesn’t convince – that is why RealClimate is wallowing.” … if so, explain to me why I’m easily the most popular guest poster on this web site, and yet when I’m angry, I’m angry, and people know it.

When he becomes ridiculous like this it is hard to remember this is WUWT and not RC or Joe Romm responding. It reminds of the Uncle Bob story: http://www.ebaumsworld.com/jokes/read/82387165/
The same flaws in the Gunderson letter are present in the McNutt letter hence the blatant parallelism in the thread.
Shields up!

Streetcred
August 4, 2013 10:17 pm

charles the moderator says: August 4, 2013 at 8:58 pm

Pffft ! Doesn’t sound anything different to a PADI Open Water dive course. You don’t need to be a Navy Seal to instruct that, LOL. Claptrap.

Theo Goodwin
August 4, 2013 10:26 pm

I cannot find any problems with criticisms of climate science or McNutt that Willis makes. The comments mention none but contain many complaints about Willis’ tone. Willis’ letter is a very good educational piece. Would anyone care to make substantive criticisms of Willis’ claims?

John F. Hultquist
August 4, 2013 10:46 pm

I wrote it as a deliberate affront to her beliefs.”
“I wrote it to try to get her to pull up short.

I’ll drink to both. And a few more.
Great job.
Consider that friends, colleagues, relatives, and simple “I know of her” -types will read this and wonder.
Great job, Willis.

Jimbo
August 4, 2013 10:49 pm

When the science is strong it doesn’t need defenders …

Without defenders and lots of funding CAGW science would have been buried by now – extinguished by observations.

It doesn’t matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn’t matter how smart you are. If it doesn’t agree with experiment, it’s wrong.
[Richard Feynman]

Willis, the lack of warming was observed as far back as 5th July 2005 by Dr. Phil Jones. Here are about 15 ‘lack of warming’ quotes from July 2005 to July 2013.
The editorial talks of “climate changes will be too rapid for many species”. It’s unprecedented!
http://www.sciencemag.org/content/286/5441/930.short

Kevin Lohse
August 4, 2013 10:54 pm

Wonderful example of writing from the heart. And when writing from the heart, write what you want to say, then leave it for 48 hours. Come back and re-write it in a manner that the recipient will be prepared to read and accept it. I’m sure you know that Willis, but enthusiasm has triumphed over pragmatism as it so often does. Errata hominum est. I loved it, but then I’m a sucker for the truth.

Kevin Lohse
August 4, 2013 11:00 pm

Willis Eschenbach says:
August 4, 2013 at 10:51 pm
Hadn’t seen that before I posted. If you have intentionally written a peace that the supposed recipient will reject half-way through, that’s a VERY long game you’re playing.

Jimbo
August 4, 2013 11:07 pm

Even species that might tolerate the new environment could nevertheless decline as the ecosystems on which they depend collapse. The oceans will become more stratified and less productive.

As I have said before, when I see a claim I look to the past and present. Let’s look at the Arctic – a place where ‘climate changes’ are most obvious. The first point is that polar bear numbers are up from about 5,000 in the 1950s to over 25,000 today. It seems that the rapid warming of the Arctic in the 1920 and 1930s led to their northward shift of cod and herring and an increase in north Atlantic ocean productivity. More polar bear food?
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/07/17/global-warming-climate-change/
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/07/17/global-warming-climate-change/#comment-1366283

Admin
August 4, 2013 11:12 pm

Streetcred,
Believe as you wish.
I’ve been certified myself and done NAUI open water certification and some PADI training. The training decribed to me, although it was described over 30 years ago to me (I was already certiified) was much more like military training, not unlike the demolition training SAS divers do in Antarctic waters which I and a boatload (literally) of other eco tourists witnessed at Deception Island.

August 4, 2013 11:17 pm

Willis:
A wonderful heartfelt intelligent letter. However, I’m in agreement with Dr. Deanster that you need to de-personalize the letter substantially.
This is not a critique, but consider it as advice. (and yes, free advice is worth it’s cost)
First, do not suggest that you would ‘kill’ for her position. Use almost any other word, but not that one; as the simplest way of making the position vacant for you is not your real style and you shouldn’t suggest that.

“…You do have an amazing opportunity, one that any scientist, including myself, would gladly make substantial tradeoffs for…”

Personal pronouns quickly turn discussions into divisive standoffs as the discussion seems to be ‘them’ against ‘us’. A standoff position places the recipient into a very unwilling mood.

“…and that experiment has proven once again that you can’t be both an activist journal and a scientific journal. Your magazine has thrown its considerable (but rapidly decreasing) weight behind a number of causes. And yes, some of those causes are indeed important…”

The pronoun ‘you’ is a challenge statement direct to Dr. McNutt; technically correct, just direct.
The pronoun ‘your’ places ownership and full responsibility onto Dr. McNutt along with placing her in defensive opposition to you.
Perhaps that is your intention; but it come across as aggressively challenging in discussion.

“…and that experiment has proven once again that Science cannot be both an activist journal and a scientific journal. Science magazine has thrown its considerable (but rapidly decreasing) weight behind a number of causes. And yes, some of those causes are indeed important…”

To me the latter approach puts the journal Science into what is it’s proper position as the flagship scientific journal rapidly deteriorating into an grocery line activist shock rag.
There are many places where Dr. McNutt deserves to be fingered as the one responsible, but even there, the words could be less personal but just as direct.

“…The problem is that you are convinced the causes are hugely important, and you want to convince us of the same. But once you convince people that your causes are more important to you than your science, that’s it for your authority regarding the science. You either get to have activism, or you get scientific authority. You don’t get both. And the past actions of your magazine have clearly demonstrated that these days your activist causes are much more important to you than the science…”
versus
“…The problem is that causes are hugely important and that convincing us about a cause is also important to you. But once causes are more important to Science Magazine than actual science is, that’s it for any authority regarding the science. Science Magazine is either activist and endorses activism, or Science Magazine establishes and maintains scientific authority. You don’t get both. And the past actions of Science Magazine have clearly demonstrated that these days activist causes are much more important than the science…”

Please do not be offended by my clumsy attempts at employing your verbal force without turning the letter into an ‘us versus them’ blindness on either side. I’m thinking their side is the blind side, but what I’m asking you to strive for is Dr. McNutt reading your entire letter. Yes she is responsible, but that is her job to realize responsibility. Whether your open letter is written aggressively or sweetly, she is still responsible for Science Magazine’s advocacy or return to science.
A cagey customer once related to me how he got the Postmaster General interested in his mail delivery problem.
The Post Office has a product call ‘registered mail’ with ‘restricted delivery’. What this means is that only the person to whom the letter is addressed to, can sign for and accept the letter. No exceptions! Registered mail means that the carrier is personally responsible for that mail piece and any handoffs must be signed for. Restricted delivery is as I’ve stated above.

August 4, 2013 11:20 pm

Whoops, screwed up a closing blockquote; looks like I missed the /. My apologies.
[Already fixed before I saw your note. -w.]

Jimbo
August 4, 2013 11:21 pm

The editor talks a lot about warming tropics. Let’s look at the past………..again.

Effects of Rapid Global Warming at the Paleocene-Eocene Boundary on Neotropical Vegetation
Abstract – Science – 12 November 2010
Temperatures in tropical regions are estimated to have increased by 3° to 5°C, compared with Late Paleocene values, during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM, 56.3 million years ago) event. We investigated the tropical forest response to this rapid warming by evaluating the palynological record of three stratigraphic sections in eastern Colombia and western Venezuela. We observed a rapid and distinct increase in plant diversity and origination rates, with a set of new taxa, mostly angiosperms, added to the existing stock of low-diversity Paleocene flora. There is no evidence for enhanced aridity in the northern Neotropics. The tropical rainforest was able to persist under elevated temperatures and high levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, in contrast to speculations that tropical ecosystems were severely compromised by heat stress.
http://www.sciencemag.org/content/330/6006/957.short

——————–

Global Warming and Neotropical Rainforests, A Historical Perspective
Abstract – Annual Review – May 2013
Our compilation of 3820 empirical estimates of temperature over the past 120 Ma indicates that tropics have warmed as much as 7°C during both the mid-Cretaceous and Paleogene……Tropical rainforest did not collapse during past warmings; on the contrary, its diversity increased. The increase in temperature seems to be a major driver in promoting diversity.
http://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev-earth-042711-105403

Maybe it’s the rapidity that does them in. But CAGW says that warming increases as you head away from the equator and towards the poles.

August 4, 2013 11:27 pm

I had to look the word [probity] up. I haven’t been on WUWT all that long. Only about 1 1/2 years. I haven’t read every post, let alone every comment. I’ve seen people say Willis was mistaken. I’ve seen people say Willis was flat-out wrong. I’ve seen him admit he was wrong about something.
But implying he was being dishonest? I’ve only heard something like that from those who envy his checks from “Big Oil”.

Gunga Din, I should have looked it up also!

I believe Willis and others misunderstood Christoph Dollis’ use of the word ‘probity’. Here is a quote from Tertullian that gives a hint as to how I think Dollis meant it: “So, too, the sea has an ill repute for honesty; while at one time, the breezes equably swaying it, tranquillity gives it the semblance of probity, calm gives it the semblance of even temper; and then all of a sudden it heaves restlessly with mountain-waves”.
I know the quote mentions ‘honesty’, but I think Dollis is equating ‘probity’ with ‘even temper’ . I believe he was advising patience and an even temper vs. too much haste and emotion.

Matt Schilling, good catch. That’s exactly how I meant it — very perceptive of you.
Thanks for sharing that passage. That is probably how I got the incorrect meaning stuck in my head. In any case, it’s an interesting and beautiful use of language.

johanna
August 4, 2013 11:34 pm

Sorry Willis, but this woman finds the personal references creepy and inappropriate.
And, having spent some of the best years of my life reading letters to senior politicians and deciding what to do with them, this would have gone into the category “R:TLA” – which means “rant: three line acknowledgement”. No busy senior executive wastes their time reading this kind of lengthy and unfocused missive. That was left to minions like me.
However, as you say that your primary audience is not the person it is addressed to, but your loyal readers here, I guess it serves your purpose.

amoorhouse
August 5, 2013 12:14 am

Willis
Strong letter. The only thing I would say is the phrase “future ex-Editor-in-Chief” could be misused by people who will want to misuse it to dismiss the rest of the letter’s contents. I would suggest not to provide excuses to those with media support who are looking for excuses. But well done overall.

August 5, 2013 12:25 am

You lost the argument the moment you mentioned Dr Mcnutt being good looking! [snip . . site rules]
[you obviously missed the context of her not being told the truth by men who were distracted by her good looks . . that you find it necessary to be abusive in your response loses you any authority . . mod]

LamontT
August 5, 2013 1:10 am

Bravo! Science was once an excellent magazine focused on science. But along with its embrace of CAGW came a loss of focus on actual science and a slow drift away from real solid science into fuzzy nonscience things. I expect in part it was an embracing of post modern science which isn’t science but pretty much an antiscience point of view.
As noted by others I sadly doubt she will listen and tack the magazine back towards actual solid science but one can always hope. Additionally it doesn’t hurt to call out the magazine again at the changing of the editor on it’s lack of science.

NikFromNYC
August 5, 2013 1:24 am

“Thou goest beyond them: but the higher thou dost mount, the smaller thou seemest to the eye of envy. But he that hath wings is most hated.” – Friedrich Nietzsche (Thus Spake Zarathrusta, 1891)
“To hell with anyone who wants to hinder me. You see, Theo, I’ve had enough of it all; think it over and you will understand. Is my path less straight because somebody says, You have gone astray?” – Vincent van Gogh (letter to Theo van Gogh, 1882)
“There are two unpardonable sins in this world success and failure. Those who succeed can’t forgive a fellow for being a failure, and those who fail can’t forgive him for being a success. If you do succeed, though, you will be too busy to bother very much about what the failures think.” – George Horace Lorimer (Letters From a Self-Made Merchant to His Son, 1902)

Kev-in-Uk
August 5, 2013 1:38 am

Am late to the party on this one – long weekend and all that
I read it through, and then read through many of the comments. I actually agree with Moshers take on it, because, as I read it, I felt the same kind of ‘winces’. Too long, too direct, too ‘self important’ and imposing perhaps.
That said – I fully agree with what Willis is trying to say – just that it doesn’t necessarily come across like that to the reader.
as for any chance of effectual change at Science Magazine – sorry, but I can’t see it myself, at least not until hell freezes over (pun intended).
Science is a complete misnomer! I think the last copy I properly read was in the early to mid 80’s and I recall glancing at a couple a friend had in the 90’s and thinking how bad it had become. Have never looked at one since, so unless this provokes a major change, I doubt I’ll be looking at one in the future (let alone subscribing or actual purchasing a load of alarmist twaddle)
regards

steverichards1984
August 5, 2013 1:39 am

Either way, this lady will be embarrassed.
I hope she takes the opportunity to refocus her magazine.

Michael Schaefer
August 5, 2013 2:05 am

Wow, Willis.
This is one serious wrist-slap for Dr. McNutt, if there ever was one…
I hope your message will get through to her but, you know, I have serious doubts it will…

August 5, 2013 2:19 am

“a wicked smart woman” should be
“a wickedly smart woman”
[Fixed, thanks. -w.]

August 5, 2013 2:28 am

Willis’ explanation of the long game and the hook line and sinker reminds me of something out of the Bible.
Mat 23:1 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples,
Mat 23:2 “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat,
Mat 23:3 so practice and observe whatever they tell you–but not what they do. For they preach, but do not practice.
etc etc etc
Mat 23:13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in.
etc etc
Jesus was not actually talking to the pharisees and scribes either. He was talking to the common people and of course they kinda overheard. I am sure the PC crowd would have told Jesus to tone it down just as here. Now that I know the game I say go for it.

Steve Case
August 5, 2013 2:34 am

Some one above said it devolved into a diatribe. I’d have to agree, but I’d use the term rant, and a damn good one at that.

André van Delft
August 5, 2013 2:36 am

Great letter Willis. My two cents:
First a typo; a missing ‘r’ after “you” in

Here are you climate claims from your recent Editorial

Second, on August 4, 2013 at 7:21 pm you quoted “Dr. K. A. Rodgers”:

While you are at it get rid of at least 50% of the words.

Then you quoted his imaginary evil twin who wants to undo this:

While you are at it add about 50% more words.

100% more words would be required for a complete undo.
BTW, OT: comparisons between two values A and B in scientific publications are often given by A/B – 1, but they would better be indicated by ln(A/B): the result is about the same for small differences between A and B; and the absolute value of ln(A/B) is symmetric in A and B.
E.g., for A = 2*B the logarithmic comparison yields 0.69 or -0.69 as opposed to 1 or -0.5.

Stocky
August 5, 2013 3:06 am

I feel the same way about the Royal Society and the UK Met Office. Both look like shameful, morally bankrupt lobbying organisations, not the respectable scientific establishments they once were.
And for what reason? Lose your credibility for a few short term years and a handful of gold. Disgraceful, the members of the RS should hang their collective heads in shame.

Simon
August 5, 2013 3:39 am

This is a bizarre, patronizing and vaguely offensive Gish Gallop.
It is also the first time I’ve seen someone here cherry-pick a start-point to increase the variation. 2.5C in under 200 years is a huge increase that coincides with the Industrial Age. Why not start at 1800? It might pay to note that the uncertainty in those early measures is large too.
Most species are adaptable enough to move or adjust their life-cycles to climate change. There is currently a huge wave of extinctions going on; but the causes are multiple and usually anthropogenic.

Don K
August 5, 2013 3:58 am

Slacko says:
August 5, 2013 at 2:19 am
“a wicked smart woman” should be
“a wickedly smart woman”

===========================
In English class probably. But in the New England vernacular where the phrase surely originates it’d be “wicked smart” 98.6725 percent of the time.

JB Goode
August 5, 2013 4:05 am

Just watched the video above.She’s not a Mcnutt she’s a 22 carat nut.

Txomin
August 5, 2013 4:23 am

Noble but pointless effort. Yes, editors are the precise reason why most journals are packed with useless trash (unless my field is a brutal exception). However, that this particular editor is biased on CAGW is of little consequence when taking into consideration the extremely low academic and scientific standards we are forced to put up with in general.

August 5, 2013 4:39 am

Tom Trevor says:
August 4, 2013 at 5:13 pm

“If people spent less time pointing out grammatical and spelling errors, they might find this letter interesting, or they might not, but at least their opinion would be based on the content of the letter and not on superficial style aspects of the letter.”

Grammar and spelling have to do with correctness, not style. And grammatical accuracy can often be essential to a proper understanding of the content. Incorrect spelling just makes a document slow and difficult to read. Willis was clearly focussing on the content and leaving the corrections to us. What’s up with that?

August 5, 2013 4:48 am

Willis – your admiration of Navy seals and underwater explosives needs a reality check. To succeed in that training, you need an abiding FAITH in the organisation supplying the training, the explosives and, eventually, a target. I say this with some historical perspective – French navy ‘seals’ blew a massive hole in the Rainbow Warrior, in 1985, and the Greenpeace photographer Fernando Perreira perished in the sinking. I knew him as a wonderful man and father – and some of the crew who narrowly escaped with their lives, were friends.
And by the way…there was ONE scientist on ‘our’ side of the divide, who did predict the standstill – I wrote to the MetOffice in February 2009, and published a book later that year : ‘Chill’ which reviewed over 200 scientific articles, concluding that ‘ Unless there is another major ENSO event, then global temperatures will likely begin to fall’. There was a major El Nino in 2010, of course, without which the trend would be very clearly downward – even with it, the trend since 2002 is slightly downward. I also warned the MetOffice that summers would get wetter (they said drier) and winters colder (they said warmer); that the Sun’s magnetic field would likely stay low, farUV would become a main object of research, and food security a major issue.
The reason you don’t get to hear about these predictions might just be because I am a ‘greenie’ leftish former Greenpeace chief advocate – all stated clearly in my book – which ‘our’ side gave very little publicity to. The barriers to scientific discussion and ‘truth’ exist within the sceptic camp as much as in the corridors of UEA.
Curiously, the closest thing to ‘truth’ is emerging from models (darn it!) at NCAR, led by Gerry Meehl….who has incorporated a projected Maunder Minimum via stratospheric/atmospheric dynamics/UV and the Sun’s variability…..check out the final 2100 global T: its only 1.5 degrees above present! Would be good if you guys could review it (if not done already): Geophysical Res Letters 40: 1789-1793 – Could a future grand solar minimum like the Maunder Minimum stop global warming. And it projects no warming through to 2065.
I visited NCAR in February 2010, with my colleague Jackson Davis, and had a brief discussion with Dr Meehl (whom we nicknamed ‘the denim dude’) – there were things they did not know – still operating with old models and assumptions about man-made aerosols causing the 1945-1975 hiatus – but they were OPEN to discussion, and they seem to have listened to criticism of the models. Sadly, us Brits are more closed – the MetOffice doors slammed shut on publication of criticisms.
I always enjoy your posts – having preferred a life of adventure over the laboratory, but don’t let the lust for action cloud your take on political reality. And if you want a discussion on science versus activism – I would be up for it, having walked that tight-rope all my professional life.

Stephen Richards
August 5, 2013 5:24 am

Willis Eschenbach says:
August 4, 2013 at 6:48 pm
Willis what a jones is trying to say, I think, is that you need to be brief and concise otherwise the bus will be in the quarry before you have said the essential word ” STOP”

Sigmundb
August 5, 2013 5:28 am

Excellent read as usual, but then I agree with you 100%. McNutt probably agree with you <25% and is about as willing as most to take unsollicited advice. I would suggest you take out all the personal stuff and try to state your concern for good science and the perils of misplaced acivism as short as possible in the hope of beeing read to the end.
Since that is the obvious advice from any budding coomunication advisor I guess you knew this and chose to write straight from the heart in the hope she will recognise your honesty and read it to the end even if it hurts.
Anyway, I thank you for your effort, more of us should do the same. There are plenty of Magazines and editors that need this advice.

Coldish
August 5, 2013 5:32 am

Willis, your lecture makes some good points but is boringly long. I know you are a busy person, but you could with advantage spend some time and effort shortening and editing it. You could start with cutting out the stuff about Dr McNutt’s personal appearance and military training.

August 5, 2013 5:49 am

Writes Willis to one of the critics above (I forget which):

. . . Finally, you totally mistake my intention. As I said above, I’m writing to Dr. McNutt, but I’m writing for the folks in the cheap seats, by which I mean the interested lay person.

I’m one of the folks way up in the bleachers, and I greatly enjoy a slam-bang run-fest, which this was. Like many here, I am also an editorial critic, but in Willis’s case you have to forget nit-picking and realize that in the Internet age the heat of composition doesn’t get much time to cool down, and there are no editors.
For all those carpers above who are busily advising Willis how to fine-tune his missive for its ostensible recipient: Forget it; it’s an Open Letter. It’s been published, so it’s been sent. The horse has gone; close the barn door.
Finally, Willis says that the real point of the Open Letter was to set the hook of real science: his “natural experiment,” the evidence of the recent past, which shows conclusively that Miz McNutt’s rampant, invidious speculations about future disasters are completely unfounded. If just one schoolteacher reads (and understands) this argument, we will have rescued a host of students from the blarney that passes as science education these days.
/Mr Lynn

Coldish
August 5, 2013 5:52 am

Willis, I’ve now read some of your responses to earlier comments. I see what you’re aiming at. Good on yer!

Tim Clark
August 5, 2013 6:19 am

I must admit after reading about a third of this piece I considered jumping to the comments…..but I didn’t. I read it completely. Most entertaining. I, like Willis, “calls em like I sees em.” Whether she reads it, is offended, or just blows it off is irrelevant. Is what he wrote true?

Rob Ricket
August 5, 2013 6:20 am

With regard to the claim of SEAL/UDT training; it is not completely out of the realm possibilities. This is especially true if McNutt is a Marine Biologist or animal behaviorist. In the 80’s I met a fellow from Sea World (Robin…last name escapes me, perhaps it was Fry) who had a number of “attack dolphins” penned in Little Creek VA.
Wouldn’t it be interesting to know if climate crusader McNutt helped train dolphins to kill opposing frogmen and plant explosives?

Warren in Minnesota
August 5, 2013 6:23 am

A most interesting letter, Willis. I enjoyed it. But there is one sentence, “You’ve actually in good shape yet.” that is most likely wrong. I think that the contraction, you’ve or you have, should be you are or you’re.
Best wishes, Warren
[Thanks, Warren, fixed. -w.]

Stacey
August 5, 2013 6:25 am

Dear Willis
This is a great post.
Whilst the boy keeps crying wolf you can either ignore them or chastise him and explain the harm and nuisance he’s creating. Which of course is much better then ignoring him, as we know the consequences for the little boy?

August 5, 2013 6:27 am

“…[T]hat’s incredible hubris.” Indeed, this is the primary quality of the majority of scientists espousing the warming alarm.
I like to pretend (sometimes) that many are just chasing research dollars, but I believe it’s gone past that now and entered into the realm of the “fanatic” for the majority of warming alarmists. And as fanatics, they demonstrate great conviction and enthusiasm in the pursuit of supporting the notion (it’s not even a theory, truthfully) of catastrophic, anthropogenic global warming; yet as Mr. Eschenbach has highlighted correctly, these are subjective qualities at best, which have no place in the realm of science. Objectivity remains paramount in science, and any scientist that compromises this principle for the sake of a cause is unworthy of consideration by others actually employing the scientific method.

Duke C.
August 5, 2013 6:28 am

Willis Eschenbach says:
August 4, 2013 at 10:51 pm
Steven Mosher says:
August 4, 2013 at 9:06 pm

escritorial aikido? Google translate identifies this descriptive as Galician, with no English equivalent.

beng
August 5, 2013 6:58 am

Dr McNutt?. Oh, that’s just wonderful.

Rob
August 5, 2013 7:26 am

I can still remember when I used to read Science.

Gary Pearse
August 5, 2013 8:02 am

“I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.”
Mark Twain
Good points and advice, but better condensed so that she will read it all.

bwanajohn
August 5, 2013 8:15 am

Cathartic wasn’t is Willis? You never disappoint me. Hope she really does read it.

Corey S.
August 5, 2013 8:18 am

“She trained in underwater demolition and explosives handling with the U.S. Navy UDT and SEAL Team.”
Being a former SEAL, I find this hard to believe. I never, even once brought a woman on one of our dives. Not once. I would like to know: what team, what year, and in what capacity did she ‘train’ with the Teams. We did work with some scientists on some new dive equipment, but they never dove with us, they were in the boats. My BS meter is pegged on this.

Matthew R Marler
August 5, 2013 8:19 am

I thought the letter was ok in parts but 3 times too long and boring. As to the journal Science, it was from reading Science that I began to suspect that the general consensus was at best incomplete, and another good skeptical short review was published there just a couple months ago. Claims about the decline in quality or prestige don’t stand up.

August 5, 2013 8:34 am

That editorial probably outshined her impressive resume’ at her interview. She met the criterion required before they even read her resume’. I’m guessin’

August 5, 2013 8:35 am

That editorial probably outshined her impressive resume’ at her interview. She met the criterion required before they even read her resume’. I’m guessin’

August 5, 2013 8:38 am

Corey,
If she washed out of SEAL training on the first day, the sentence still holds true.
“”She trained in underwater demolition and explosives handling with the U.S. Navy UDT and SEAL Team.”””

Corey S.
August 5, 2013 8:42 am

As for the dolphins, there is a mammal program, but they use military personnel to train them. A couple of buddies worked with them when I was in.

OldWeirdHarold
August 5, 2013 10:02 am

TLDR.
And too much sexual electricity.
Focus.

OldWeirdHarold
August 5, 2013 10:11 am

Willis, watch a few Pat Condell videos. He’s a virtuoso of the rant. Notice how he can maintain his focus on the point while delivering a sustained burst of rant energy. It’s an art, and I think you have that level of talent. You just need to study the master. Pat’s the master.

August 5, 2013 10:32 am

Willis…You write from the heart and with integrity and 99% of us appreciate you. Don`t allow the 1% to get under your skin or keep you from doing what you do best. You do write for us because we are not as blessed. Don`t ever stop.

T Control
August 5, 2013 10:37 am

I agree, quite over-personalized. Your criticisms of the journal should stand on their own, just like you point out that climate science should stand aside from activism.
I am firmly in your camp re the journal, but this did make me cringe for you. You sound ranting, and not in a good way. I realize you have more interesting things to do, as you put it, but the effort it took to write this screed could surely have used a couple nights sleep on it. Do it right or don’t bother.
fwiw, I am a non-PC, non-feminist woman, I don’t usually get bent out of shape by references to gender, but the tone did come off as patronizing, condescending, and a bit creepy. Any references to her looks are really inappropriate and make you sound, well, creepy.
It’s too bad this is already out there without the editing it drastically needed.

Chad Wozniak
August 5, 2013 10:37 am

When intelligence is compromised by bias, is it still intelligent? I’d frankly question McNutt’s reasoning ability. I had too much experience in academia with highly credentialed people who neither could think straight nor grasp the simplest real-world concepts about anything. Their education made them less fit and less able to deal realistically with the world around them, not more.

Theo Goodwin
August 5, 2013 10:41 am

Willis responds:
“And long after the outrage towards me has gone, those important scientific questions that I’ve inserted like indigestible stones in the middle of my post will remain, copied and linked to on dozens of sites—why has the planet warmed since the 1600s? Where is the evidence for the extinctions?
And that, my friend, was my real intention—to spread my idea of the natural experiment and those questions about the lack of catastrophes from more than 2°C of warming as widely as I could around the web … like I said, I play a long game, and I’m a subtle man.”
I agree with Willis. He has done a nice job of drawing attention to what he calls the “natural experiment.” My take is that he is emphasizing the importance of a science of natural variability in climate.
Given that Dr. McNutt has said that El Nino is a climate change signal, she is in great need of learning that ENSO is a natural process, consisting of many smaller natural processes, and that climate change would have an effect on it at the margins only.
I agree with Willis that he had to do something special in this essay to get the attention that it deserves.

Rob Ricket
August 5, 2013 10:49 am

Corey S.
I may be getting older, but there no doubt that the navy has used civilian animal trainers in the past. I used to operate SEPTAR’s in Little Creek and the critters were penned next to the piers where we kept our boats. It was only natural to interact with our neighbors involved with the project.

August 5, 2013 11:02 am

Way to go Willis! Love your post and especially your response to:
Steven Mosher says:
August 4, 2013 at 9:06 pm.
Good going, keep up the good work. I wish my rants were as erudite as yours.
That’s why I don’t post them on WUWT…

Rob Ricket
August 5, 2013 11:12 am

After reading Dr. McNutt’s bio, the SEAL training blurb seems plausible. Most of her work involved quantification of lithosphere resillancy. I believe explosives are commonly used in such studies to measure seismic response. Knowing how the navy operates, it’s not a stretch to imagine the brass agreeing to a request for underwater explosives training.

Corey S.
August 5, 2013 11:14 am

“RobRoy says:
August 5, 2013 at 8:38 am
Corey,
If she washed out of SEAL training on the first day, the sentence still holds true.”
There has never been a female go to BUD/s. What they are dong at the moment it finding out if it is even feasible for women to go through BUD/s without having to lower standards. Personally, I don’t think it is possible without modifying the current curriculum and lowering to have some women pass.
There has been a female Green Beret, though.
http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1979&dat=19810220&id=-IAiAAAAIBAJ&sjid=yqoFAAAAIBAJ&pg=2572,6643018
Also, the demolition portion of training is in Third Phase, out at San Clemente Island (month 5-6). We don’t do any explosive training at the Strand. And the dive portion is Second Phase (month 3-4)So even if she did fail/ring out on the first day she classed up, she would have never done any diving, or explosive work.
Is it *possible* that she did some sort training with the Teams, yes. I just have never heard of the Naval Special Warfare Center training civilians in demolition or diving. Why wouldn’t she get professionals to blow something if she needed it. There is no way she could become an ‘expert’ in explosives or setting them in such a short period of time. We go through demolition training every year, multiple times. For her to say, have said about her, that she is an ‘expert in demolitions’ simply, IMHO, not correct.

August 5, 2013 11:28 am

@Rob Ricket
I believe explosives are commonly used in such studies to measure seismic response.
No. Explosives as an offshore seismic source are not at all common. Air gun arrays are the state of the art. They are repeatable, much less harmfull to sea life, directable and far less dangerous than tons of TNT and pounds of primer.

GogogoStopSTOP
August 5, 2013 11:39 am

Doug Arthur says:
August 4, 2013 at 4:01 pm
Editing needed.
How small of you Doug Arthur, to rush to the rampart & urge others to fight better. Get a life!

Rob Ricket
August 5, 2013 11:42 am

Thanks for the correction Stephen. You know what they say about assumptions. Of coursethe good Dr. M. is all of 60 years old. Perhaps explosives were used before air guns?

August 5, 2013 12:07 pm

Willis: My motto is, “Perfect is good enough …”
I prefer the line: “The Perfect is the enemy of the good” – variant translation of Voltaire, 1772.
Or from the 20th century:
“A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.” – George S. Patton
In that spirit, banging out your Open Letter, somewhat longer than my taste, but getting on the floor for discussion within 48 hrs of her editorial is to give it the urgency of discussion it needed.
Only a few hours later, WUWT publishes the Global Warming: speed round notice and critique of Blois et al 2013, Science Mag. 2 Aug 2013.
The first sentence of Blois et al 2013, Science 2 Aug 2013:

Climate change has occurred repeatedly throughout Earth’s history, but the recent rate of warming far exceeds that of any previous warming episode in the past 10,000 years (1, 2) and perhaps far longer.

Ref. 1 is Marcott-2013 (also Science, March 2013). Marcott retreated from the 20th century findings in his FAQ.
Ref 2 is S. Solomon et al., in Climate Change 2007, contribution to FAR IPCC.
You correctly highlighted an alarmist paragraph of hers in her editorial starting:
Researchers have turned to the geologic record to obtain ground truth about patterns of change for use in climate models. This is introduction into Blois-2013. That is the crux of the paper. Her next sentence:
Information from prior epochs reveals evidence for conditions on Earth that might be analogs to a future world with more CO2.
….. even the most optimistic predictions are dire.

Alarmist advocacy poppycock. Some predictions no doubt are dire. But use of “the most optimistic” superlative equals a total loss of credibility by McNutt.
Let us compare the first sentence of the paper

Climate change has occurred repeatedly throughout Earth’s history, but the recent rate of warming far exceeds that of any previous warming episode in the past 10,000 years (1, 2) and perhaps far longer.

with the last part of the Abstract

These patterns emerge repeatedly across disparate temporal and spatial scales, suggesting the possibility of similar underlying processes.

My closing question is, “Who wrote the first sentence?”
Was it Blois, et al? A reviewer?
Or was it the Editor-in-Chief?
Thanks to your Open Letter I have a good idea.

Graham Green
August 5, 2013 1:38 pm

If only there were a way of harnessing the magnetic comment energy of an Eschenbach blog. Here’s my 2 cents worth.
McNutt is just another snide so-called scientist who lacks the integrity and diligence to be an engineer.
On the other hand it’s not that wise to p**s off someone who knows their way around explosives.

Jason
August 5, 2013 1:55 pm

an honest scientist would change her views accordingly
I realize the essay is directed towards a female scientist, but given that this particular sentence is framed towards a generic, gender-not-specified, scientist, the pronoun really should be “his”.

boumbette
August 5, 2013 2:17 pm

Since you apparently listen to women only when it comes to sexism, I thought I’d second the criticism a few male commenters brought up. First, as a fairly conventionally good-looking woman in STEM, I can tell you that your premise contradicts my experience and that of my female colleagues. Attractive women in science are constantly patronized and ‘explained things’ by less educated men who assume that good-looking = dumb. Really, constantly. I believe there’s a tumblr dedicated to this phenomenon, called ‘academic men explain me things.’
So rest, assured, she’s had plenty other condescending explanations from men assuming that her ladybrains could not manage so much logic on its own. She’s also had her credentials questioned without evidence regularly, so not much is new here.
But yes, irrelevant mentions of her gender is displaying more about the writer’s bias about women in science than about the target. You seem like you mean well, hopefully you will consider that reinforcing false assumptions about women in science hurts all women in science. And dismissing a good portion of scientists hurts science in general.

Cam
August 5, 2013 2:29 pm

woohoo! Great rant and a fun read Willis…One might hope she takes it to heart.

Mark B
August 5, 2013 2:29 pm

[i]According to the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature dataset shown above, the global land is two and a half degrees warmer than it was around 1810. Two and a half degrees of warming in two centuries. That’s well beyond what is supposed to be the huge danger change of two degrees of warming … where are the corpses?[/i]
For what it’s worth the dip you’ve cherry-picked in the BEST global temperature data is attributed to the 1815 Mount Tambora volcanic event and is associated with very large scale crop failure, famine, and a great many corpses. Not really your point, but an ironic choice of starting point for your argument.

Lars P.
August 5, 2013 2:48 pm

Thanks for the letter Willis.
I disagree to the idea that it is a wasted effort, no matter how the reaction is, if any, the letter stands on its arguments.
It makes also a difference telling the things by their name.
These are tough times for magazines where things change really fast. A good science magazine is needed. Another activist paper? Who needs that? Only time will tell.

richardM
August 5, 2013 3:01 pm

“US Navy UDT and Seal Team training course in underwater demolition and explosives handling”
Directly from her CV. I served 28 years as a Navy EOD tech and I’m going to call foul on this. It may have been a familiarization “course”, but find it unlikely she handled anything live underwater, much less above it. More jarring, I spent 42 weeks in just basic EOD training. I won’t even go into the very marked differences in training for Navy diving and NAUI certifications – there is no comparison. Even though I went through Navy Dive School, I still had to go to class to earn my PADI certs too. I think there is a bit of resume inflation going on here, and if she is willing to pad it on such a “little” thing, what else might be a bit over the top?

sezit
August 5, 2013 3:01 pm

“it’s very possible that people, particularly men, haven’t told you the unvarnished truth in years.”
Wow, aren’t you brave to speak up where others fear to speak? Reality check… Men in power who are reluctant to speak up about their opinions around and at women…. is the experience of NO woman, ever. Men are more than happy to criticize, critique, and comment on women all day, every day. Your statement had me in an actual double-take, it is that clueless. Maybe a few people did not speak up, but I guarantee that she has had countless earfuls from countless blowhards all along the way, so give her the respect that she knows what she is doing. Disagree with her without being so freaking condescending.

ferd berple
August 5, 2013 3:37 pm

the 2.5C of warming that happened after the little ice age was natural, thus it is good and does no harm. the 2.5C of projected future warming is man made, thus it is bad and will do great harm.
the problem Willis is that you think that the harm results from temperature. it does not. it results from things that are man made. natural things like storm, flood, cold waves, heat waves, these were largely beneficial before humans started burning fossil fuels. natural events helped improve the species, by getting rid of the weak. human have now altered this balance so that nature is destroying the species by getting rid of the weak.

August 5, 2013 3:44 pm

boumbette says:
“…irrelevant mentions of her gender is displaying more about the writer’s bias about women in science than about the target.”
Dear boumbette,
The “target”? Don’t you understand? Womens’ groups have provided for a lot of progress. However, they have morphed from pushing against real problems like pay disparity [which by now has been pretty much eliminated], to constantly telling women how bad they have it. Their complaints have become less and less important with all the legislation that has been passed to address the concerns. And if you believe you are going to eliminate attraction between the sexes at work through legislation, well, you are just dreaming. That will not happen, even if you dress every employee in identical Mao suits.
Here is the tactic: You can tell someone he or she has been screwed over twenty times, without any results. But then you catch them when they’ve had a bad day, and suddenly they’re nodding along with you, agreeing that they’ve been screwed over. And from then on, they feel persecuted. The glass is forever half empty, instead of half full. That tactic gets some results. But the payoff includes an unhappier society.
It is an effective tactic. But it also results in people who go looking for reasons that they think they were screwed over. That’s what you did. Willis has written a much-needed letter. But there is nothing concrete in what you wrote. You just made some vague assertions. Did they really do any good at all?
The problem is not in what Willis wrote, or in the way he wrote it. The problem is specifically with the journal Science [to which I subscribed for more than twenty years]. It has gone straight downhill, becoming an advocacy journal. Everything Willis wrote about it is true. I see no difference between the new Nature Climate Change and Science. They both have a crystal clear agenda: runaway global warming is a huge problem, it will get worse, and we have to do something about it!!
There is nothing positive ever written about a warmer world. It all must be entirely negative. But the real world is nothing like that. For every fish eaten there is a fish fed. Global warming looks to be beneficial on balance, with millions of acres of arable land possible. In a world where a third of the population subsists on $2 a day, that is a very good thing, no? But Science will never admit it. Why not? Because they have an agenda. A new editor could change things for the better.
The people responsible for running those magazines are disgusting. The truth is not in them. Their minds are made up. They promote propaganda instead of the Scientific Method.
It doesn’t have to be like this. But since it is, your efforts would be better spent calling the new Editor to account, rather than worrying about whether she is being treated differently because she is a woman. Ask yourself: how many men were bypassed so she could get that job? But you don’t hear those men sniveling, do you? No. Truth be told, there were probably several as-well qualified males, and likely a few better qualified men who wanted that job. But they will have to do without it, and they won’t complain about it. See the difference?
===========================
ferd:
You forgot to add “/sarc”.☺
Or did you really mean it?

Pamela Gray
August 5, 2013 4:04 pm

Amen! I’m elfish and little. Been judged by that and that alone, regardless of having multiple degrees with published research. My most recent experience, a man felt compelled to explain to me the finer points of heating up a plate of vitals in the microwave. Assume intelligence and debate the merits of her points using evidence. Period. Leave the hissy fits to children.

Tom Reeves
August 5, 2013 4:11 pm

Why didn’t you apply for the position of editor?

August 5, 2013 5:21 pm

CRS, DrPH (Charles) wrote “Nicely done, Willis!”
(Yes sports fans, Charles actually thought that was a well-written, articulate essay)
“I had a subscription & barely have time to read my emails every day, so I let the thing lapse”
(Why am I not surprised that Charles finds more value in emails from his fellow goofballs than from Science magazine?)
“and in this world (within I presently live)”
Here’s $5 Charles. Buy yourself an overdose of your favorite drug … and get off.
“I cannot think of any truly honest scientific publications anymore”
(Charles could have ended that after the first 3 words)
“WUWT is about the best substitute I’ve found”
(Holy Christ. I think I’ll keep the $5 and get off myself – there are too many of them)
“where we can yell at one another endlessly about very high-level theories”
(One thing in common with all goofballs … they all think they are friggin Einsteins)
Cheers, Charles the DrPH
(Houston … I think we’ve located the problem … “cheers.”
Advice Charles – try waiting until you are sober before embarrassing yourself in public)

Occam37
August 5, 2013 5:46 pm

You are seriously in error in a fundamental aspect of your letter.
I am a decades long willing member of AAAS. It has been for a very long time indeed, and remains, one of the premier journals of science. Your statement that tine new editor should “turn what has become just another glossy advocacy magazine back into a distinguished scientific journal” is simply BS. It is EMPHATICALLY a distinguished scientific journal.
Now, I happen to agree with you that Science’s policy re global warming and climate change are in error. But you need to understand that the science community as a whole, and not just the AAAS, has been mislead into their current position, and Science is simply reflecting what most of its members, and a vast majority of those in STEM fields, believe to be true.
Every once in a while the STEM community as a whole gets it wrong. Over time, hopefully, this will self-correct, as the contrary evidence builds up. But aside from these occasional lapses, Science as a journal is outstanding. You will get nowhere labeling it a “glossy advocacy magazine”, because that is not what it is or what it does. Being wrong is not at all the same as being an advocate.
Suggesting actions in a particular case, CAGW, does not mean that in general Science is an advocacy publication. And the policy statements re CAGW follow naturally from the widespread view of the situation, not from any political bias. Only when the commonly held view changes will we see policy changes at Science. Further, this is how it ought to be.
Remember, “To err is human”.

Sean
August 5, 2013 6:26 pm

Dr. McNutter will no doubt continue her magazine’s ravings in support of the UN’s climate cult movement.

August 5, 2013 6:40 pm

Men lie to not so good looking women all the time Willis. Face it, men lie a lot.
You are not helping yourself very much here. Stop digging.

kadaka (KD Knoebel)
August 5, 2013 7:11 pm

From Eli Rabett on August 5, 2013 at 6:40 pm:

Men lie to not so good looking women all the time Willis. Face it, men lie a lot.

Personally I don’t much respect fellow “men” who lie to women to get what they want, and have been known to not tolerate lying to “get along”. How will they know you are honest about one thing, when you are not honest about other things? But perhaps you are a different sort of man, who finds lying to satisfy your goals to be acceptable.

You are not helping yourself very much here. Stop digging.

The bunny rabbit tells the human to stop digging. When has that ever worked?

Editor
August 5, 2013 7:22 pm

Slacko says:
August 5, 2013 at 2:19 am

“a wicked smart woman” should be
“a wickedly smart woman”

Only if you can’t speak Bahston.

TomRude
August 5, 2013 8:01 pm

Well she’ll have some work… Read this amazing post on Polar Bear Science:
http://polarbearscience.com/2013/08/03/biologists-spreading-misinformation-hybridization-with-grizzlies-not-due-to-polar-bears-moving-inland/#more-2483
“Biologists spreading misinformation: hybridization with grizzlies not due to polar bears moving inland
Posted on August 3, 2013 |A paper published last week in the journal Science, written by a team of biologists and atmospheric scientists, expounds on a possible dire future for a range of Arctic animals. It’s called, “Ecological consequences of sea-ice decline” and surprisingly, polar bears are discussed only briefly. (…)
Lead author of the paper, Professor of Biology Eric Post, is quoted extensively in the press release issued by his employer (Penn State University, pdf here). In it, Post re-states the above sentence in simpler terms, removing any doubt of its intended interpretation:
“… polar and grizzly bears already have been observed to have hybridized because polar bears now are spending more time on land, where they have contact with grizzlies.”
Both statements are patently false. All recent hybridization events documented (2006-2013) occurred because a few male grizzlies traveled over the sea ice into polar bear territory and found themselves a polar bear female to impregnate (see news items here and here, Fig. 1 below). These events did not occur on land during the ice-free season (which is late summer/early fall), but on the sea ice in spring (March-May). “

Stan of a stan
August 5, 2013 8:17 pm

The magazine should be renamed “Lysenko”

Streetcred
August 5, 2013 9:43 pm

Corey S. says: August 5, 2013 at 11:14 am
richardM says: August 5, 2013 at 3:01 pm

With you, gents … I call BS on her claims to have proficiency with explosives … more than 38 years since I did dems certification and it took training every day for a few months to complete. Maybe a SEAL swam past her one day 😉

Tony Mach
August 5, 2013 11:42 pm

Your call upon the tabloids to be less tabloidish is laudable (a similar request to Nature and PNAS is warranted, I’d reckon).
Unfortunately I have grown quite sarcastic (maybe even hopelessly cynical) and have lost hope that publications like Science can actually have a net positive contribution to the scientific process. I have seen the shabby work of dear Dr. Alberts in an non-climate context, and quite probably one *needs* to produce sensationalist articles which ignore reality to sell a tabloid like Science – publish dreck or sink.
As I said, cynicism may have gotten the better of me.

dp
August 5, 2013 11:59 pm

Willis spontificated:

You have made my point exactly. You and your colleagues have not been told the truth. According to you, instead of the truth you’ve been given dumbed-down, “condescending explanations”, not the real facts but simpler things that those men think your “ladybrains” can handle.

It is perfectly possible to be patronizing and engage in tedious condescending explanations of complex systems without lying. It is often accompanied by the speaker making big eyes and speaking slowly while making air quotes with their fingers. See more at Al Gore.
Boumbette did not say she was being lied to – she said she was not being treated as an equal, or even the superior in conversations with men. It is a continuation of that offense to put words in the lady’s mouth. Step away from the shovel.
Spontificate: To suddenly and arrogantly make stuff up.

johanna
August 6, 2013 1:23 am

Willis, you asked:
“Johanna, which “personal references” are you talking about, and what didn’t you like about them?
Thanks, always more to learn.”
This paragraph refers:
“And regarding you personally taking a position? Well, that’s interesting. The problem is that you are extremely well educated, strong, strikingly good looking, and a wickedly-smart woman by all accounts … and while those are all good things, that’s a scary combination. One downside of that particular melange is that as a result, it’s very possible that people, particularly men, haven’t told you the unvarnished truth in years. So some of what I have to say may be a surprise to you.”
————————————————————
Firstly, would you have written about a man who got a key job in those terms? I suggest that you would not have, not least because it is irrelevant and patronising.
While I am on the decrepit side of the hill now, as a young gel and well into my forties I looked pretty good – at least as good as Dr McNutt. I held some very senior and responsible jobs. And, people (not just men) lied to me all the time.
Men lied for a range of reasons, including because they thought I would be too dumb to notice, and that they hoped to win my favours. But, I didn’t get those jobs (and keep them) because I was stupid enough to fall for their usually painfully transparent lies.
I hold no brief for Dr McNutt – on the contrary. But if I, as the holder of a senior position, got a letter with that paragraph in it, the writer would be dismissed as creepy and insulting.
If blokes want to compliment women on their appearance, fine by me. Always happy to receive a compliment. But saying that their appearance means that they are less able to sift the wheat from the chaff is another matter. My advice – don’t go there. It just undermines the credibility of whatever else you are saying. And, eviscerating Boumbette didn’t help. At all.

August 6, 2013 9:49 am

I agree with the message from Willis. However, please note as follows:
Although Willis implies that what the non-deniers say pretty much amounts to giving opinions as facts and when in fact they are not facts, My point is that the lack of facts is the crux of the matter of the global warming / climate change issues. Additionally, Willis does not address the apparent fact that here is the abundant lack of knowledge and understanding of the science behind the thermal balance / imbalance of the biosphere, the lack of factual, not inferred, thermal data, and . the lack of scientific reasoning being used. And, of course, we the deniers must make sure to try not to forget to keep this in mind.
I am not sure if it is scientifically wise to rely on data which may lack a scientific basis. I feel that such is the case if we rely on the 2.5 C temperature rise in the last 200 years or so. Please note that Dr. R. Muller is a Founder and Scientific Director of Berkeley Earth, and as I understand he used to be a “denier”.
To me, the concept of an “average” recent global temperature in general, and particularly in the past, is vague at best and Quixotic at worst: is it an average based on a continuum, minute by minute, day by day….? And, what is it an average of: readings from just a handful of weather stations, or from some ice cores or tree rings, or blanket satellite imagery? And being an average, what accuracy would be expected?

Bob
August 6, 2013 11:31 am

Willis, is your letter available as a PDF?

August 6, 2013 12:08 pm

bdussan says:
August 6, 2013 at 9:49 am

I don’t think the actual amount of temperature rise in the last two hundred years is important. Willis’s point is that the dire consequences predicted for another such increment (whatever it is) are extremely unlikely, since they didn’t occur before; it’s a “natural experiment.”
This is not to say that your argument about the quixotic, even illusory, notion of an ‘average’ global temperature is invalid. There’s some agreement that ‘the world’ warmed up a tad since the Little Ice Age, but exactly where, and by how much, and according to what standard are as far as I can tell, imponderable.
BTW, the term ‘denier’ should be eschewed, even tongue-in-cheek.
/Mr Lynn

Rujholla
August 6, 2013 12:23 pm

One more editing note: double the in this sentence.
Not one climate scientist on either side of the aisle can explain the three centuries of slow general warming that have followed the the Little Ice Age. What changed to gradually warm the planet, after it had been cooling for centuries?

Lauren R
August 6, 2013 12:30 pm

If your aim is to be persuasive, especially to those who could be persuaded, you unfortunately missed the mark. This essay works as a screed to reinforce what we skeptics already know and believe, but the tone at times is smug and harsh and it verges on the very personal. For example, the following is completely unnecessary and, frankly, “creepy” and “sexist” is not inaccurate:
“The problem is that you are extremely well educated, strong, strikingly good looking, and a wickedly-smart woman by all accounts … and while those are all good things, that’s a scary combination. One downside of that particular melange is that as a result, it’s very possible that people, particularly men, haven’t told you the unvarnished truth in years. So some of what I have to say may be a surprise to you.”
None of us care if McNutt is “strikingly good looking” or whether or not she has been told the “unvarnished truth” by men. That’s an extremely personal judgment based on your assumptions. It reveals more about you, Mr. Eschenbach, that it does about McNutt and I don’t see the point of including it. If it was meant to soften the rather harsh and personal tone you adopt at times, it fails badly. Just leave it out. If you’re looking for suggestions to improve this, read the comments above. I suggest drastically editing this, cutting out all the fluff and personal judgments, soften the harsh tone or rid the essay of the personal lecturing of McNutt entirely, and stick to the facts. Make it about a quarter as long. That’s much more persuasive.

August 6, 2013 2:16 pm

Lauren R says:
August 6, 2013 at 12:30 pm

To repeat myself:
“For all those carpers above who are busily advising Willis how to fine-tune his missive for its ostensible recipient: Forget it; it’s an Open Letter. It’s been published, so it’s been sent. The horse has gone; close the barn door.”
/Mr Lynn

August 6, 2013 2:21 pm

Oops! Linked wrong comment. See here. /Mr L

Geoff
August 6, 2013 6:32 pm

It’s a strange world we live in where observing differences is attacked, but I noticed that Dr McNutt has been honoured as a role model for girls by the “Chicks in Science” program at MSU Billings (see http://www.montanabio.org/professional-women-honored-in-chicks-in-science-for-being-role-models-for-girls/ ).
[Reply: Ouch! ☺ ~mod.]

Hilary Ostrov (aka hro001)
August 6, 2013 11:23 pm

Willis, in August 4, 2013 at 7:21 pm you wrote:

[…]
I get about a million page views of my posts per year, so I must be doing something right … and you?
[…]
PS—Fortunately, it rarely happens, but when women object to the way that I talk about or refer to women, I pay very close attention.
On the other hand, it often happens, but when men object to how I refer to women, I ignore them completely. It’s not their business, and it makes the hugely insulting assumption that the women are incapable of objecting themselves

and in August 4, 2013 at 7:54 pm you wrote:

She will most likely read every word. It’s extremely hard not to, if only because she can be sure that her enemies will read every word, so she needs to know what I’m saying to combat it. The reach of Watts Up With That is amazing, everyone reads it.
[…]
I’m writing to Dr. McNutt, but I’m writing for the folks in the cheap seats, by which I mean the interested lay person. I want them to understand that the claims that the Editor-In-Chief of Science magazine is making have nothing to do with science. It would be wonderful if Dr. McNutt understood that as well, but that’s secondary. The odds of finding open minds are better with the lurkers … which is why I write for them.

Willis, perhaps you were having a somewhat cranky day when you were responding to these particular posts – or at least those excerpts you had chosen to cite – as well as others in a similar (and some considerably stronger!) vein 🙂
FWIW, here are some views from here, so to speak!
When I saw this “open letter”, I first tried to read it through the eyes of a new editor in chief of Science – known to be a “listener” who might be looking for new ideas and/or material for her journal. So my first skim did not result in my “reading every word” – far from it! Eleven page-downs? Hmmm … let me get out my virtual red pencil and take a closer look to see what could be dropped. Back to the top, I scroll, for a second and somewhat closer read.
After first page down … hmmm … wonder why this chap is focusing on unrelated expertise that he’s picked up from Wikipedia. I wonder if he’s aware that I served on the senior editorial board of Science for nine years – and that I just might have other skills and experience that are more relevant to this position than those he chose to highlight. Certainly his:

let me describe it as your newness to the concept of “scientific journal editor”

is far from astute – or indicative of his having done his homework.
Oh, well … moving right along … Yes, I can see that he has some strong opinions about Science although sometimes he’s talking about me, sometimes he’s talking about the journal and a lot of the time, he’s talking about him! A little clarity would help, I think. What’s this I see before me?!

The problem is that you are extremely well educated, strong, strikingly good looking, and a wickedly-smart woman by all accounts … and while those are all good things, that’s a scary combination. One downside of that particular melange is that as a result, it’s very possible that people, particularly men, haven’t told you the unvarnished truth in years. So some of what I have to say may be a surprise to you.

What on earth do anyone’s good looks have to do with the price of tea in China, these days – or with anything else, for that matter?! Maybe this chap’s never heard of the maxim, “flattery will get you nowhere”. Based on what I’ve read so far, I’m finding it difficult to imagine that there will be many (if any) “surprises” in what he has to say.
How many more page-downs from here? Hmmm … eight more pages of unbridled emotion to wade through? Nah, I don’t think so. [Looks at watch] Time for lunch, then I have a plane to catch.
So Hilary puts away her imaginary virtual red pencil and heads out from this imaginary plush executive office … waits a little while, then puts on her what’s-this-global-warming-stuff-all-about lurker hat …
This looks interesting … he’s sending a letter to someone. It’s quite long, isn’t it, and he seems to be quite upset about something or at someone. [scrolling down through comments … hmmm … seems upset at quite a few people, but I’m not sure why]
But it looks as though he doesn’t really intend to send a letter to anyone even though he calls it an “open letter” and he’s really writing it for the “lurkers”. Hey, that’s me! Cool!
Oh, it’s all about some journal called Science, and he’s not very fond of it (nor from the comments are a number of others). And he seems really p*ssed off at the new editor. Good thing he’s not sending the letter, then, because I don’t think I’d be thrilled to receive a long letter like this … and I wonder why he needed to mention that she is “strikingly good looking”. That’s weird and soooooo mid 20th century.
No, I guess he’s not just upset, he’s “outraged” – and we’re all supposed to get this. And we’d best not question his expressions of outrage – or even suggest that perhaps his message might get lost in the medium of his outrage.
Furthermore, if we don’t get it, then it’s our problem, not his, because he chooses his words very carefully and he gets a million page views a year. Right.
Wow! Better keep my thoughts to myself, then; I’m a heck of a long way from getting a million page views a year. Oh, well … I’m just a newbie lurker; but I’m a little confused: I’ve read through this epistle; I certainly get the outrage. And I get that he doesn’t think too highly of this journal and that he thinks that because this is a “science” journal, then when editors write editorials (which to the best of my limited knowledge are “opinion” pieces, not necessarily statements of “fact”) they’d better not write anything that he disagrees with because that’s “advocacy” and “science” journals should not do advocacy because he gets outraged – and outrage rules if you get a million page views a year.
I’m still not sure what all this global warming stuff is all about. But it must be my fault, because he chooses his words very carefully. Oh, well … maybe I’ll come back another day.
Hilary now removes her newbie lurker hat … and wonders if she needs to bring out the kid gloves!
Sorry, Willis, I can’t find my kid gloves, at the moment. So all I’ll say for now is that I have always found that a little distance goes a looooooooong way – particularly when I’m “outraged”.
P.S. From your responses to those women who have objected to your “… strikingly good looking … etc” paragraph, I was not left with the impression that you were “pay[ing] very close attention”. Sorry to say, the impression I was left with is that you were choosing to use their objections (and/or snippets thereof) as “hooks” for telling us more about you.

Janice Moore
August 6, 2013 11:43 pm

Dear Ms. Ostrov,
I almost went to bed, but when I saw that YOU commented on this particular thread (I have avoided it like the plague), I had to read what you wrote. I only read Mr. E.’s “letter” after it was linked in the Cook “Creepy” thread.
I thought the SAME THING (as you)! That’s the ONLY reason I’m writing here.
With Mr. E. (it only took about 3 threads of his to discover this — I’ve been reading nearly every thread of WUWT since the end of March this year), the following quote always comes to mind:
“The louder he spoke of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons.” Emerson
BY ANALOGY, while Mr. E. says, “it’s not about me,” it is. The letter was embarrassing.
I have come to realize that reading down Mr. E. thread’s comments far more disturbing or annoying than it is worth, even though he often puts out some excellent research. The personality gets in the way. And I HAVE noticed a definite, though subtle, sexist attitude. That is not something I would normally even mention — I ignore that kind of nonsense — but, I wanted to affirm your comment above. I’m sorry if he has been hurt by a woman (or two?) in the past. That kind of pain goes so deep. I hope he can get some resolution of that pain for his own peace and happiness. In the meantime, I’ll be avoiding his threads.
Well said, Ms. Ostrov (as usual!).
Your fan,
Janice

August 7, 2013 3:02 am

PC, political correctness is cultural marxism, designed to enslave your mind into thinking along certain ridiculous paths. It is & has been promoted by the Frankfurt School, & is part of the Marxist Saul Alinski’s plan as laid out in his book “Rules for Radicals”. Obarmy is a huge fan of Alinski.

Adigat
August 7, 2013 3:58 am

Personally did not care much for the letter and at the end of the day my opinion is of little value but I will say ‘kudos’ for not playing the ‘PC’ game – I’m truly tired of that crap!

Gary Pearse
August 7, 2013 4:57 am

Willis, I don’t know whether anyone else has commented on this aspect. To me, Dr. McNutt is a pleasant cheery-looking women to be sure (with the brains and knowledge you state I’m sure) but I don’t see her in the league of good looks that you have placed her, and I doubt in a land where good looks are so highly prized that it is one of the major manufacturing industry segments that is still strong, that Dr. McNutt sees herself other than as I have described her. Heck she looks like many an outdoorsy field geologist that I have met and worked with and had a bottle of beer with in a field party in the middle of nowhere. To her credit, she hasn’t barbied herself up either. I think you have come to a discovery that men of age such as you and I have made, and that is that as compensation for growing old, good looking women seem to fill up the world around you (there aren’t many 30 year-olds that give a second look to that gorgeous fifty or sixty year old that just walked by).
Now, yes, men are jerks (you haven’t had any protests on this score from men or women so far) and can be surprisingly shallow on the subject of women. I raised three girls of my own, two nieces for a few years and three boys of my own and I can believe from this experience that men likely spent longer in the Neanderthal stage while women moved on to Cro-magnon a hundred thousand years before they did – perhaps many of we men are still trying to straighten our backs a bit more. Definitely the egg was in advance of the chicken.
And yes, political correctness is a blight that deserves to be harpooned regularly and deserves major articles on its own. But, from the cheap seats, I think you have presumed too much about Dr. McNutt. You in fact seem to have cast her as a dumb bimbo that needs protection.
Willis, you write beautifully on autobiographic topics, and compellingly on scientific ideas, but on rants like this, not so much. Hey, man, let it go and accept you missed the mark.

Pamela Gray
August 7, 2013 11:29 am

Willis, where is my BS button. By your own admission in your last responsive comment, I am assuming you are blowing smoke up our a**. I don’t for a minute think you thought a-priori you would get a backlash to the extent you have and so wrote on purpose to get one. Not for one minute. Me thinks you choke on humble pie and will avoid it at all costs. Ergo your response above to Hilary.
Men are not jerks. Only some are, and then not all the time. Women are not jerks. Only some are, and then not all the time. That makes being a jerk pretty easy to spot since most of the time it rises out of a fairly decent baseline nature. Come on. Have a slice of humble pie and admit that from time to time you are a jerk and this be one of them.
It should be easy for you to do so in my presence, since you are not I assume, intimidated by a short, stocky, freckle-faced, decidedly not photogenic, red-headed Irish woman pushing 60.

Gary Pearse
August 7, 2013 1:06 pm

Pamela Gray says:
August 7, 2013 at 11:29 am
“It should be easy for you to do so in my presence, since you are not I assume, intimidated by a short, stocky, freckle-faced, decidedly not photogenic, red-headed Irish woman pushing 60.”
Gary Pearse says:
August 7, 2013 at 4:57 am
“I think you have come to a discovery that men of age such as you and I have made, and that is that as compensation for growing old, good looking women seem to fill up the world around you (there aren’t many 30 year-olds that give a second look to that gorgeous fifty or sixty year old that just walked by).”
Now this is what I was talkin’ about!

Hilary Ostrov (aka hro001)
August 7, 2013 2:32 pm

OK, Willis … Now I’m putting on my Bridgeplayer hat,.And I’m calling a spade a spade 🙂
I tried to be tactful in my comments in the (in hindsight, obviously futile) hope that you might recognize for yourself the folly and unwarranted disrespect for readers (particularly those, who like me took your post at face value – and tried to offer some constructive criticism) that your little game of “Guess the real [and apparently ever-changing] purpose of Willis’ post” demonstrates.
This was obviously not a very good “bid” on my part.
Particularly since you somehow succeeded in reading into my post that which I very carefully chose not to write (regardless of what I might have been thinking!) Here’s what you wrote:

You coming along and saying it is over the top shows that I have succeeded

Unless you would care to substantiate this with specific text from my comments (not Mosher’s), I’d appreciate it if you would retract this inaccurate “assessment” on the strength of which you appear to have declared your “success”.
But I take it from the rest of your “reply” that your “outrage” was fake, and you weren’t really “playing to the lurkers” after all (or if you were, you certainly don’t seem to give a damn about their perceptions and opinions, either).
In my books, this verges on intellectual dishonesty. Although I appreciate that YMMV, since you seem quite proud of the fact that you have accomplished the magnificent feat of drawing the attention and fire of John Cook and the SkS crowd.
And speaking of my books … Your choosing to resort to justifying your earlier comments with the utterly feeble excuse of the presence of McNutt’s photo accompanying her editorial – an innovation which no editor of any print or virtual media has ever done before, of course – is perilously close to blaming the victim.
As an “argument”, I would put this on a par with Lewandowsky’s ludicrous claim that Steve McIntyre and others should somehow have divined in 2012 that a 2010 E-mail from Charles Hanich (which made absolutely no mention of Lewandowsky) was from the great one himself!
I couldn’t help but notice that in the only snippet of my comments that you – no doubt, very carefully – decided were worthy of your attention (well, to the rather limited extent that you are actually paying attention to anything anyone says these days!) you ripped the following from its context:

P.S. From your responses to those women who have objected to your “… strikingly good looking … etc” paragraph, I was not left with the impression that you were “pay[ing] very close attention”.

Your choice, of course. But it’s a choice you made that leaves me no alternative but to conclude that my immediately subsequent:

Sorry to say, the impression I was left with is that you were choosing to use their objections (and/or snippets thereof) as “hooks” for telling us more about you.

was pretty damn close – if not right on – the mark.
But what do I know, eh? I’m just a Bridgeplayer who calls a spade a spade – and, most importantly, I don’t get a “million page views a year”, do I?!
However, I’ve certainly learned my lesson. Willis!
Next time you bestow on us one of your heartfelt (or not) “Open (or closed!) Letters” filled with attention-seeking fake emotion and/or outrage, I will quickly recognize that this is Willis making yet another bid in “bully pulpit” mode; the key word being “bully”, considering your performances in this thread.
And I’ll pass (although I shall reserve my right to label it as such, when I see you repeating the pattern!)

Hilary Ostrov (aka hro001)
August 7, 2013 2:54 pm

@Janice and @Pamela Gray,
It seems that the only person whose views are worthy of acknowledgement and/or <gasp> commendation in this thread are those of Willis. His thread, his [ever-changing] game, his rules!
Sorry if my comments might have led you both astray, thereby provoking his self-exculpatory wrath and scorn:-)
P.S. Janice, please call me Hilary! “Ms. Ostrov” makes me feel, well, as old as I am 🙂

johanna
August 7, 2013 3:34 pm

Well, by my calculation, every woman who has commented on this section of your post (and you said that you take women’s views on these matters seriously) thinks it was inappropriate – and you have slapped every one of them down, usually at greater length than each of the posts you were responding to. Now you are telling us that you did it deliberately and knowingly.
Thank heavens women are not in the category of people whose views you don’t take seriously on these matters. The mind boggles at what your responses would have been like if that was the case.