Guest essay by Jim Steele, Director emeritus Sierra Nevada Field Campus, San Francisco State University and author of Landscapes and Cycles: An Environmentalist’s Journey to Climate Skepticism
The blog Hotwhopper, operated by Miriam O’Brien, of Mount Beauty, Victoria, Australia, is the most non-scientific yet the rudest of all websites discussing climate change. Although Carl Sagan’s science baloney alert warns against attacking the arguer instead of the argument, the main tactic of Miriam O’Brien (aka Slandering Sou) is to denigrate all skeptics with waves of insults that always begin with blank “is a science denier”. She then indulges in creating sham arguments, which she then attributes to whoever she is insulting. And as a further indicator of her lack of integrity, she deletes posts that contradict expose her slander. Her dishonest Internet sniping is a cover up for how badly she misunderstands well founded science presented by skeptics. Examples of her failures are far too many to recount here, but her most recent tirade is another classic worth exploring.
In a recent WUWT post, I objected to attempts by advocates of CO2 warming to pressure school districts to adopt only schools books that state climate change debate is over. Camille Parmesan whose faulty science has been in the forefront of climate change misinformation and stated, “From the scientific perspective, there are simply no longer “two sides” to the climate-change story: The debate is over. The jury is in, and humans are the culprit.” So I wrote the post “The Ultimate Irony: Camille Parmesan argues “Texas textbooks need to get the facts straight” on global warming.”
In response to my argument that instead of indoctrination, text books need to encourage more debate to foster critical scientific thinking, “Slandering Sou”, as expected, attacked with the sham headline “Jim Steele at WUWT pushes for pseudo-science, not science, in Schools”.
Sou first attempted to deflect attention from the mountain of evidence showing Parmesan has repeatedly hid contradictory data detailed here, here, here, and here and defiled the scientific process by preventing independent replication of one of her studies. Apparently Sou is a proponent of such misdeeds, so Sou tries to re-characterize a scientific debate into a personal vendetta suggesting “did she snub him at a party? Did she forget who he was one time? Does she not know who he is?” [I never met Parmesan, but I do have a vendetta against dishonest science. JS]
Then predictably Sou launched into a few sham debate topics like “Debate the moon: Is the moon made of cheese and is there really a man living there?”
But when Sou tries her hand at refuting the real details of my arguments against Parmesan faulty papers, Sou reveals just how little she truly understands. And Sou was exposed by the very person she had invited to discredit me, Dr. Michael Singer, Parmesan’s husband, colleague, and co-author.
In response to a video posted by a commenter on WUWT, I noted that Parmesan continues to misrepresent her 1996 study. So I wrote, “What I find most disgusting and dishonest in this 2013 video is that she still repeats her old story that her butterfly (Edith Checkerspot) had moved upwards and northwards when 1) No such thing ever happened. Only the statistical center moved because more the butterflies had been extirpated due to urban sprawl mostly in southern California and 2) she has known for at least 5 years now that populations that she reported as extinct have now returned. That’s why she refused to let me replicate her study. “
So “Slandering Sou” tries denigrate me writing,
“jim Steele says populations of Edith’s checkerspot butterfly (Euphydryas editha) haven’t moved north, only the statistical centre has moved north. Huh? He’s not that good at arithmetic.”
“He makes up weird stuff, implying butterflies “died” rather than shifted, due to global or local warming. Is he an utter nutter or a disinformer, or both? He’s not very bright but is he at some level conscious of his absurdities?”
“Another thing. Jim Steele claims that the butterfly populations reported as extinct have now returned. But he also claims he doesn’t know where those populations are, so how does he know they’ve returned?”
Here’s how. I and Dr. Opler have been in an ongoing discussion with Dr. Singer, and Singer’s recent email alerted me to the fact he had been invited to comment on Sou’s website. Sou and her mini-me CitizenChallenged have been seeking comments from Singer to rebut my posts for almost a year. Singer’s first post was basically his attempt to justify withholding data and not allowing independent replication of Parmesan’s study. He argues that other meta-analyses prove CO2 warming is pushing animals northward so, my replication of one study would not provide any benefit to science, even if it refuted Parmesan’s original study. There are so many things wrong with his claim, it cannot be covered here. But in a few weeks I will address that issue and post “The False Climate Illusions of Meta-Analyses”.
Even though Sou had so badly misinterpreted Parmesan’s study, Singer had initially let her erroneous beliefs slide. So I emailed him suggesting his scientific integrity demanded he correct her slander. To his credit, he did just that.
Dr. Singer wrote,
“Jim Steele asks that I should correct the statements made here that Edith’s checkerspot populations have moved north. The original study showed that a higher proportion of populations at low elevations and latitudes were then extinct than those at higher latitudes and elevations. It did not show that a population had moved or that the northern range limit had expanded. Jim suspects that Parmesan’s conclusion would no longer hold if the study were repeated. He may be right, I don’t know and neither does he…..”
[That’s because independent replication was prevented-JS]
Dr. Singer wrote,
“Jim is also correct in stating that I told him that several populations reported by Parmesan as extinct had since been recolonized. I did better than that, I gave him a complete list of those populations.”
[Singer provided names of those colonies but not locations that would allow a repeat visit.-JS}
So compare the comments by “Slandering Sou”, Dr. Singer and myself. Then you can decide who the real “utter nutter” is?
But there is one more item. Sou’s website is a haven for other skeptic bashers. The new wave of skeptic bashers try to paint skeptics as pseudo-skeptics as illustrated by one of her followers, Mike Pollard, who piles on with
“Jim Steele wrote in his WUWT piece “Camille Parmesan has prevented independent replication of her own dubious climate research on butterfly extinctions…..” This is classic bullshit (as defined by Harry G. Frankfurt) from a pseudoskeptic. What evidence does Steele have that independent research has been prevented? Absolutely zip. His beef is that the original data has not been made available to him, but that in no way stops him from performing an independent study. His biggest problem is that he does not have the male attachments to get out in the field and actually collect data.”
Again Dr. Singer to the rescue, as his reply easily shows Pollard’s comment is just an empty emotional tirade. Singer wrote,
“Jim is correct that it would have assisted him in any attempt to replicate Parmesan’s study if he had access to her raw data, which he requested a few years ago. Their negotiations about potential collaboration foundered, I’m not sure why..”
So ironically I must thank “Slandering Sou” for providing Dr. Singer with the opportunity to expose the pseudoscience Sou and band of skeptic bashers. I knew she could not delete Dr. Singer’s posts like she has done so many times before, and thus she was hoisted by her own petard.