‘Actual’ Climate Scientist Michael Tobis Thinks I Don’t Exist


This is a reposting of a post I have put on my own blog: https://climatecontrarian.wordpress.com/2017/08/16/actual-climate-scientist-michael-tobis-thinks-i-dont-exist/

I thought about writing a post on this and then thought, meh, boring. So what if a paranoid scientist thinks I’m a sock puppet for fossil fuel interests? No big deal really. But he’s pushed his paranoid conspiracist ideation  so far, I thought I had better write something, not least because this person is supposedly a representative of the ‘climate science community’. As far as I know, nobody in that community has publicly criticised his bizarre, obsessive behaviour.

It started with an innocent tweet:

This sparked off a 2 day twitter stream (currently ongoing) so bizarre, I can scarcely believe it. Tobis apparently took great offence at my quote tweet.

For my sins, I suddenly found my identity being questioned:

Quite a few people got involved with the argument, mainly to suggest that Tobis was going over the top. He fired off a post on his own blog on the incident here. I quote one of his comments from that post:

“Let me be very plain. The profile picture is me.”

This carries precisely no information, as it is exactly what a sock puppet would say.

“So I will leave you with your somewhat obsessive ‘concerns’ and I will promise not to quote tweet you again.”

It’s not an obsession. It’s a hunch developed when I first encountered you yesterday. You have not convinced me that my hunch is incorrect, though it would be easy to do so. I would love to hear from someone who has met you to assuage my concerns.

Again, in the event that what you say is true, I sincerely apologise.

If it ain’t, though, if you’re not this one honest (if rather misguided) person but a dishonest person trying to be half a dozen or so trying to stoke the artificial anger at climate science, for whatever reason, I don’t have anything to apologise for.

I don’t propose to follow Jaime Jessop around trying to claim that the identity is a sock puppet. So if you’re real, please rest easy; I don’t intend to harass you, and I am genuinely sorry for the misunderstanding.

But *if* you’re not Jaime Jessop, I make no such promise. I will pay no more mind to Jaime Jessop, specifically, in future than I have in the past, as long as Jaime Jessop also leaves me alone. However, I’m now interested to find similar accounts with other identities attached, identities which the actual you (per hypothesis) might be using to encourage an environment which unfairly distrusts climate scientists.

You could save me the trouble if you like, just by talking to me for even a minute. But apparently you don’t want to do that. Yet you’ve already spent much more than a minute at this. I find this interesting.

To me, that is a downright weird comment for anybody to come out with, let alone a supposedly sober, rational scientist. Shub agreed:

Here’s a selection of Tobis’ other crazy comments on Twitter:

Note how they get increasingly suspicious and conspiratorial, like he’s feeding on his own feverish imaginings. Apparently, he’s got previous form. He accused at least one other person, Brandon Shollenberger of being a sock puppet too:

But he doesn’t seem to have obsessively followed up his accusations in anything like the manner which he has done with me.

I’m rather torn between being angry, bemused, unamused and highly amused that anybody would have the audacity to doubt my existence and question my honesty in such a blatant and passively aggressive way. I don’t intend to put him out of his misery any time soon by publicy acceding to his demands, but I will say that my existence is not privately in question, whereas Tobis’ state of mind does seem to be.

198 thoughts on “‘Actual’ Climate Scientist Michael Tobis Thinks I Don’t Exist

  1. Tom, my appreciation of your comments here and on Tobis’s post.

    Ken, your simple attribution analysis makes some rather dubious assumptions, ignores systemic uncertainties re. natural atmospheric processes, plus it ignores the wider context of temperature variations throughout the instrumental period.

    You state:

    “It can’t be the Sun, or volcanoes, so it can only be the response to the internally-driven warming (0.45oC).”

    Most of the warming post 1950 is in fact due to the rapid and near constant warming post 1980. The 30 years previous to that, global temperature went up and down considerably, changing very little overall in the process, even though emissions climbed steadily. So we have the 30 odd years following where most of your 0.6C warming takes place, which you declare is most likely due to the total increase in theoretical anthropogenic radiative forcing over the entire 60 year period. This bothers me slightly.

    What bothers me more is that an increase in global temperature of almost exactly the same magnitude, and just as rapid (according to Hadcrut data) occurred 1910-1940, when anthropogenic radiative forcing was overall rather less and increased rather more slowly over the 30 year period. Much of THIS warming is very likely due to internal variability. But when we come to 1980-2010, because supposed radiative forcing due to CO2 is calculated to be much greater, it is somehow far more likely that the increase was due to man, not nature.

    I will admit that the ‘spurt’ in global temperatures post 1980 is unlikely due to the sun. I do however consider it a distinct possibility that much of the secular trend in global warming post 1850 is due to solar forcing. You can shoehorn CO2 into that role, just as well as you can shoehorn it into post 1950 warming, as does the IPCC. But you can’t shoehorn CO2 into the 1940s warming. So the attribution of most or all of the warming post 1950 being anthropogenic looks very shaky to me, relying as it does on quite simple probability analysis, whilst ignoring structural uncertainties. We are, after all, talking only really about a 30 year period of rapid warming. It is conceivable that internal variability contributed > 50% to that warming (simply because, that must have been the case 1910-45), in which case sensitivity to CO2 must be very much less (over that period) than estimated by climate scientists (either that, or man-made aerosols have contributed a very significant cooling). I don’t see climate sensitivity suddenly increasing in the 21st century, so we then have to consider the possibility that a future man-made climate catastrophe looks highly unlikely.


  2. Second suggestion in my post in my post Three Positive Ways to Counter Climate Denial was the following:-

    The doubters believe that climate scientists practice pseudo-science

    To counter this

     Show that the methods are in the tradition of the greatest scientists like Newton, Pasteur, Einstein and Feynman. Where different, explain why climate science’s methods are superior, or more appropriate.

     Define clearly the boundaries of climate science, and the different skills and specialisms within it. People might then start appreciating what how complex and diverse the subject actually is.

     Demonstrate how climate science learns from the different philosophies of science.

     Demonstrate how climate science utilizes basic distinctions of philosophy. For instance the differences between open and closed questions, between positive and normative statements and between a priori and empirical statements.

     Show how, like in the field of medical science, climate science is advancing and over-turning or modifying previously held views through better quality analysis.

     Climate science needs to draw upon a number of areas. Demonstrating how the science draws upon specialists in statistics, forecasting and other disciplines where it overlaps.

     Show how proper controls are being implemented and adhered to in order to prevent any conflicts of interest from, for instance, the same people creating temperature sets who are also the trying to vigorously promote their theories.

    This would lead to a professionalization of climate, which would mean that when clearly false statements were made anyone, with a competent understanding of the subject would see that they were untrue. Instead, we have the climate consensus, where academics in sciencey-type subjects can shout down competent experts in other areas who are not part of that believer group. Given that there is no clear distinction of competencies, nor do they highlight clearly unsubstantiated statements, I would reckon the whole lot of the CAGW statements are rubbish.
    Of course ATTP can provide personal evidence of clear competencies. As a physicist he would never provide opinion pieces on say public policy, temperature homogenisation, philosophy of science or ethics.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. ManicBeanCounter:

    What, after 30 plus years of development, are the positive things that can be put forward to convince a group of lay people that climatology is actually a science?

    I couldn’t have put it better myself, so instead I put it slightly worse at my old blog, where I challenged someone—anyone—to name something we know now, courtesy of climate science, that we didn’t know 25 years ago.

    After all, everyone understands that that’s what science does, by definition–it adds to human knowledge about nature—even if, like our hapless friend, they don’t know the first thing about how it does it.

    If climate science can’t even do that, what else is there to say? The question—is it really a science?—just answered itself.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Manic,

    1. There is little, if any, indication that surface temperatures have not continued to increase.

    2. IIRC, this was from a newspaper article. Maybe don’t believe everything you read in newspapers.

    3. My understanding (and if I get a chance to find a source, I will, but I need to go and cook dinner) is that there has been an increase in the frequency, and intensity, of heatwaves.

    4. The expectation with respect to Tropical Cyclones is that there will be an increase in the frequency and intensity of the strongest cyclones, but not necessarily an increase in the frequency of all cyclones. There is indeed an indication of an increase in the intensity and frequency of the strongest TCs in some ocean basins. However, this signal was not (as I understand it) expected to have emerged yet. See, for example, Elsner et al. (2008).

    5. No idea. Maybe you can provide some source for your claim.

    6. Again, no idea.

    7. Recent sea level rise is faster than the 20th century average. The 20th century average is about 1.7mm.yr. It is currently 3.2mm/yr. See here, for example.

    8. I’ve haven’t had a chance to check your claim about Velicogna & Wahr, but Greenland is indeed contributing an increasing fraction of sea level rise.

    A few things to consider. Are you sure that what you claim was predicted, is actually what was predicted? Also, the underlying physics is pretty simple. GHGs reduce outgoing longwavelenth flux. This causes the system to warm so as to increase the outgoing LW flux and return the system to energy balance. This will cause the surface to warm, the oceans to warm (leading to sea level rise), the ice sheets and glaciers to melt (again sea level rise), the hydrological cycle to intensity (an increase in the intensity of frequency of extreme precipitation events), and will potentially influence other extreme weather events (although the impact on these events is less certain). Which bit of this do you dispute, and why?


  5. Manic,
    I’ve just looked at Velicogna & Wahr (2006) and I can’t see any claim that sea level due to Greenland would rise from 0 to 7mm/yr between 2002 and 2012. Can you point out where it does so?


  6. Also, the underlying physics is pretty simple … blah, blan …will potentially influence …

    This old cliched nonsense could have been written 30 years ago. In fact, it has been. The problem is the lack of predictive power, not some vague sense of plausibility.


  7. As far as heat waves go, you can check the IPCC AR5 SPM, which says (page 8)

    It is very likely that the number of cold days and nights has decreased and the number of warm days and nights has increased on the global scale. It is likely that the frequency of heat waves has increased in large parts of Europe, Asia and Australia. It is very likely that human influence has contributed to the observed global scale changes in the frequency and intensity of daily temperature extremes since the mid-20th century. It is likely that human influence has more than doubled the probability of occurrence of heat waves in some locations.


  8. Shub,

    “This old cliched nonsense could have been written 30 years ago.”

    Do you reckon, if we put our heads together, we would have any trouble writing next year’s climate science conclusions today? It’s not as if we don’t know the formula.


  9. Third suggestion in my post in my post Three Positive Ways to Counter Climate Denial was the following:-

    The support of policy controls

    Medical practitioners and pharmaceutical companies fully realise that whilst medication properly diagnosed can deliver huge benefits, it can also generate great harm if there is not a proper diagnosis, or the incorrect medication, or dosage of that medication was prescribed. Similarly, there would be great concern if the armed forces did not have proper control of their weapons, so that rogue elements could seize control of those weapons to start an insurrection.

    From a policy point of view, the UNIPCC in the Summary for Policymakers in 2007 that

    Peer-reviewed estimates of the social cost of carbon in 2005 average US$12 per tonne of CO2, but the range from 100 estimates is large (-$3 to $95/tCO2).

    Given that it would be totally immoral to impose policy whose consequences are more damaging that the issue it is supposed to alleviate, proposals for the proper implementation and control of policy are to be found ……

    This one is was clearly breached in pushing through the Paris Agreement, and continues to be breached with those who criticize Trump’s withdrawal from that agreement. One of the most commonly used is the Climate Interactive data set. Their apportionment of the RCP8.5 baseline non-policy figures are utterly biased. At least from their figures in December 2015, they claimed that future per capita emissions in the USA would rise without policy, whilst since the 1973 oil crisis per capita emissions had been falling. It was the same with the EU, only their per capita emissions had been falling since 1980. For China and Russia per capita emissions are shown rise through the rough. It is as though without them the guiding hand of the green apostles, Governments will deliberately wastefully burn ever-increasing amounts of fossil fuels. rather than promote the welfare of their nations. This is a graphic I produced from the Climate Interactives C-ROADS software version v4.026v.071 RCP8.5 baseline scenario and the built-in population forecasts.
    China is the most globally significant. Despite a forecast decline in population to 1.00 billion in 2100, GHG emissions are forecast to peak at nearly 43GtCO2e by in 2090. That compares with 49GtCO2e from over 7 billion people in 2010. Conversely, non-policy developing countries (who do not want to game-playing ny committing to emissions reductions), are forecast to do disasterously economically and hence have very low emissions growth. That includes India, 50+ African nations, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq etc.

    What is the relevance of this to ATTP’s question @ 20 Aug 17 at 12:49 pm

    What I would be quite interested in understanding is what substantive bit of climate science do people here think will turn out to be wrong (in a major way) and why. Anyone willing to provide some insights?

    The answer is simple. When the climate community (such as Joe Romm and ATTP) use Climate Interactive’s bogus forecasts to compare against the impacts of policy they make two fundamental mistakes which any half-competent beancounter or economist would notice. First, they do not check the forecasts to make sure that is reasonable. Second, they do not look at the marginal impact that actual policy would make. This methodological flaw means that by merely signing a bit of paper countries the USA, China, Russia and the EU make huge differences to future emissions scenarios. The lack of competency in areas I understand by the climate community, and the lack of any consideration of the harms they will cause by false policies make me think they are not competent in the areas where I have less understanding.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Barry:

    “Does he really believe this, or is he making it up”

    In abnormal psychology, that’s not a hard and fast dichotomy. He could believe it because he made it up, for example.


  11. ATTL. The appropriate scientific procedure would be to quote all data – that which opposes one’s favoured interpretation as well as that supporting it. To only use and perhaps believe in supportive data is the mark of an advocate, not a true seeker after truth. Today you have been an advocate.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. All the data Alan? In a blog comment? You really are a strange fellow. Your comments give the impression that you really want to make yourself look foolish.

    Whoever was asking about the academic justification for ATTP’s involvement in a paper, is that a formal requirement of anyone? Where is it defined?


  13. ATTP @ 20 Aug 17 at 6:13 pm
    My point 5 you may not have heard about. The following quote from AR4 SYR 3.3.2 Summary of impacts on regions and AR4 SYR SPM 3

    By 2020, in some countries, yields from rain-fed agriculture could be reduced by up to 50%. Agricultural production, including access to food, in many African countries is projected to be severely compromised. This would further adversely affect food security and exacerbate malnutrition.

    I prepared a fairly full story of this false prophesy – dubbed Africagate in 2010. However, at 1500 words, it failed to post. I will post another time on my own blog.


  14. “Whoever was asking about the academic justification for ATTP’s involvement in a paper, is that a formal requirement of anyone? Where is it defined?”

    Er, no, Len. Try to keep up.

    I asked about the academic justification for the paper itself—you know, the one affectionately shortened to Cook’s Coc. Since Ken Rice is a named coauthor he would presumably know what it was… if it had one.

    The only “requirement” I’m aware of is that, unless Ken was simply defrauding his employers, the paper must have had a scholarly raison d’etre.

    Strangely, though, nobody involved in writing it seems to be able to say what that is.

    What’s it been now, a year? A year of tumbleweeds, crickets and crickets inside tumbleweeds?

    At this point taxpayers can certainly be forgiven for expecting a refund, or failing that (we all know how certain types love their money), the resignation of the pseudoscientists who squeezed out this steaming bolus of fake scholarship.

    Or is there a statute of limitations on embezzlement?


  15. Alan,

    “…you [ATTP] chose to address it in your own indomitable style.”

    Dr Rice may be indefatigable or even inimitable (though I gave it my Oxford best, honest), but I doubt indomitable is le mot juste, or even un mot juste. I’d locate him closer to the opposite end of the insuperability spectrum. He’s so easily superable, in fact, that he has to ban raw prawns for pawning him at his blog.


  16. Brad, sorry, I forgot it was you.

    “…the paper must have had a scholarly raison d’etre.”

    Why? Where’s that prescribed? Where have you seen the rule set out that academic freedom does not extend to papers or collaborations that have no such purpose? It would be odd to call it freedom and then constrain it so.


  17. Len. How very weird, your 5.57am post seems to have no raison d’etre, and so, in a very small way, makes your point. But then one perceives that it therefore (by chance?) does have a raison d’etre after all, and all is confusion.


  18. Len,

    The doctrine of academic freedom, in its most generous possible interpretation, entitles researchers to research whatever they want on the public dime.

    (And no, I don’t intend to waste time coming up with a citation if you don’t accept this.)

    But Cook’s CoC was obviously not an act of research at all (for starters, the conclusions were announced in advance), so your appeals to that lofty ideal are irrelevant and your objection ignored.

    Freedom of speech is the only relevant principle, and all it does is restrain science-loving citizens from throwing every extant CoC on a bonfire of the inanities.

    What it can’t do is explain why these soi-disant academics didn’t indulge their extracurricular love of Lysenkoist agitprop in their own time, at their own expense, and publish it in their own sad little zine.

    The plural of samizdat is not samizdata, dude.


  19. Len I think you may be confusing your “raison de la respiration” for your raison d’etre.


  20. As far as I am aware, academic freedom goes beyond research and includes freedom to teach speak and publish. That seems to cover it.


  21. Len,

    Thank you for this correction, irrelevant though it may be:

    “As far as I am aware, academic freedom goes beyond research and includes freedom to teach speak and publish.”

    Right. Yes. Sure.


    CoC papers are NOT an example of teaching or speech but of wasting everybody’s time in an elaborate parody of conducting, writing up and publishing the results of [fake] research.

    Academic freedom was never intended as a cover for premeditatedly passing off Cargo Cult Psephology as billable academic work, was it? You accept this, don’t you?


  22. Len,

    in case it helps, stop for a second to meditate on the fact that you’re running apologetics for a paper even ATTP knows better than to try to defend.

    It’s a free country. You’re welcome to rush in where angels fear to tread, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.


    in case you’re tempted to run apologetics for CoC, take a second to mull over the fact that even ATTP knows better than to try to defend that alleged ‘study’ here.

    It’s a free country. Anyone’s welcome to rush in where angels fear to tread, but they can’t say I didn’t warn them.

    [Self-edited for gun-jumping. Although you’re being rude to Alan, you haven’t crossed that threshold with me yet, Len, so I’ll afford you the benefit of the doubt on principle. Call me an incurable optimist, but I’d rather take people as they come at first and be disappointed later.]


  23. The genitive of самиздат is, of course, самиздатa—but that’s not the point. The plural is самизда́ты, and my comment stands.

    As usual.


  24. Brad, Len wouldn’t be Len if he weren’t having a “pop”. I suspect you have escaped because he fears not always understanding your responses. I sometimes have my own problems and need a dictionary and thesaurus at hand. Wikki also runs red hot.


  25. It wasted none of my time (until now, arguably) because I didn’t read it. Did you? Really? Why on earth would you do that?

    “billable academic work”

    What is that, exactly? Do academics bill for their work?

    Btw, I’m not rude to Alan. It’s just friendly banter.


  26. Come on, guys, you know how irony-challenged I am (not to mention generally deficient in anything resembling a sense of humor, at least when it comes to the Most Serious Threat To Human Longevity Since Telomere Fraying). You need to make accommodations in the form of hyper-literal exposition when I’m in the room, or don’t be surprised when I completely misunderstand you.

    We’re not all wits, you know.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Where did Ken go? He threw down an iron-clad gauntlet and we were just getting into having a nice, sciency discussion, then . . . . gone! Still, at least he showed. Still waiting for Tobis to honour us, even if I don’t exist.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Can anyone definitively prove that Tobis* exists?

    *I wouldn’t be surprised if it weren’t Swiss bread with chocolate in it.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Jaime. Ken now has done more than is necessary in interacting with us sceptical swine to write an exhaustive new sciency paper. We are now Überflüssig.


  30. …sorry to be slow in catching up.
    So Len threw in with the antiscience Cook and Oreskes etc. and co-authored some op-ed paper dressed up in sciencey words?
    And the wanted to share the good news with the deplorable?
    Self parody has a new name:


  31. Jaime. Redundant Nichtmenschen are everywhere at AGW sites – I believe even Ken has created some at his. As I have commented earlier I now think Brad is a supercomputer programme, that has swallowed dictionaries whole. This would explain the supernumeracy of his (its?) posts in recent days.

    Liked by 1 person

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  34. Brad,
    Thanks for catching that. ATTP his self.
    Curses on autofill.
    Please tell the masses I am pleased to oblige.

    Liked by 1 person

  35. One thought on this:
    Tobis pursuing a foolish argument is hardly surprising.
    In a way it is his career path.
    That Tobis is enthusiastically supported by ATTP is not at all unexpected.


  36. Hunter,

    I’ve never really bought this whole “autofill” excuse, having never misspelt anything on the Internet myself.

    Anyway, I’ve informed the grateful missus of your recantation.


  37. > Well done Jaime for calling them out all this time. But this kind of thing is not an isolated incident. Mark Maslin called me a fossil fuel shill on twitter! At least he never questioned my identity.

    Just gonna leave this right here, MARK4ASP, or whoever you really are.


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