The Value of Dr. Crockford and Polar Bear Science

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Back in the 70s, the Welsh screenwriter Elaine Morgan responded to a question that had been making the rounds in conversation about feminism. The question was ‘why do women use sex as a weapon?’ Morgan replied simply that perhaps it was because women so badly needed a weapon.

Those of us who are interested in the discussion about climate change but don’t find consensus argumentation sufficient do not have many levers to pull. Despite fanciful charges of extravagant funding by the Koch brothers and other mustachioed villains, we’re participating in a rock throwing contest while at the bottom of the well. The consensus (and the Konsensus that shadows them) are at the top, with government funding, a complaisant media, the backing of academia and the full-throated approval of associations worldwide. Ye skeptics and we lukewarmers badly need a base which we can use.

There are some–islands in the sea of undifferentiated gossip about how settled science is and how evile we opponents are. Steve McIntyre’s Climate Audit, Judith Curry’s Climate Etc.Lucia Liljegren’s The Blackboard, all are places where those of us arrayed against the consensus can chat, discuss and view substantial archives of good arguments, data and science that buoy us in our daily contretemps with acolytes of the consensus.

And of course those sites are attacked frequently by global warming alarmists who have decided that every opponent must be not only vanquished but tarnished. They don’t carry out these attacks on the sites themselves, of course. After a few sallies they retreat to the comfort of their own web havens and mumble, snigger and plot. However, they also resort to junk science–shoddily written sociopathic essays with made-up figures and soothing psychobabble from charlatans like Stefan Lewandowsky or Jim Prall providing a veneer of respectability. Michael Mann, conjurer of the Hockey Stick Chart, can be counted on to provide muddled mathematics and pseudo statistics when needed.

Dr. Susan Crockford, a zoologist of some 30 years’ experience, has a website called Polar Bear Science.

Since 2012 Dr. Crockford has used her blog to analyze scientific commentary on the plight of the polar bear, which was adopted early on as the charismatic megafauna icon of those most alarmed by climate change. I haven’t been reading it that long, but I have visited her site frequently over the past few years and have linked to it from my own blog on occasion.

Dr. Crockford does not dispute climate science–with regard to polar bears, she freely acknowledges that the Arctic is warming and that sea ice minima and maxima are lower than in previous years due to that warming. But the point she has been making for now six years is that this reduction of sea ice has not yet had the deleterious effect on polar bears that alarmist scientists had forecast.

The data supports her, without a doubt. The population of polar bears has risen, even as ice has melted.

This was intolerable, from the Konsensus viewpoint, and the troublesome zoologist needed to be taken down.

So a group of scientists, including Michael Mann and joined by the disgraced Stefan Lewandowsky, conspired to bring forth a mouse of a paper that pretended to evaluate the habits of other bloggers regarding their linking to sources, while using Dr. Crockford and Polar Bear Science as both target and example.

Other aspects of this paper have been criticized, both here at Climate Scepticism and elsewhere. What I want to discuss here is the validity of Polar Bear Science as a forum on this small aspect of the climate discussion and the Konsensus attacks on her. (Side note: There is a consensus of about 66% of published climate scientists that think half or more of recent warming is due to human contributions. They work hard and do legitimate science. There is also a Konsensus of NGO marketers, lobbyists, bloggers and commenters who twist the findings of science to create alarm, if not panic.)

Polar Bear Science has a point of view. Although I agree with that point of view, I have to acknowledge that it might be wrong. At her weblog, a long series of posts makes the case that consensus scientists, properly concerned about the future of both the polar bear and the entire Arctic ecosystem, exaggerated the damaging effects of the current climate in the region.

Again, Crockford may be wrong. However, she makes her case cogently and meticulously references her claims. Her very first post reviews a book by Ian Stirling, one of the leading consensus scientists on the subject. Crockford not only reviews (and links to) Stirling’s book, she links to three of his published papers and the papers of three other scientists as well.

Crockford has followed that pattern throughout her blogging career. She has scrupulously documented both her argumentation and the scientific papers she disputes. She frequently links to papers published by some of the scientists who would join in the political hit job that is the cause of the current controversy.

So when the Star Chamber of 13 scientists and Stefan Lewandowsky attacked her, they lied, saying she disputes the loss of Arctic sea-ice (she emphatically does not), focused on her lack of field research in the Arctic (as if a zoologist of 30 years is incapable of interpreting the findings of others in the field), highlighted her receiving modest payments from publications that welcome her point of view and condemned her for her readership–the fact that other weblogs that dispute some or all of the findings of the consensus link to her is evidence against her.

The paper (titled Harvey et al 2017) is a political hit job, hiding behind a feeble attempt at social network analysis to enable an unfounded and underhanded attack on Dr Crockford.

Again, it is always possible that Crockford may be wrong. But she has certainly mustered the resources to be taken seriously. And those of us who have found much to object to in what the consensus has proclaimed (and the Konsensus has distorted and amplified) should not be shy about utilizing the years of work Crockford has performed to clarify the condition of the polar bear.

More importantly, we need to learn the lessons of the recent past, and resist the efforts of the Konsensus to delegitimize her. They certainly have tried their best with Curry, McIntyre and others. When they try to do the same with Crockford, we will need to press for details on specifics, not listen to ad hominem attacks (and indeed, label them for what they are) and demand evidence as compelling as that Crockford lines up when arguments occur.

We badly need the weapon.

87 thoughts on “The Value of Dr. Crockford and Polar Bear Science

  1. The problem is that the climate cretins are pushing for overt censorship of climate discussions. Humor, opinion, data, results, must all be compliant to what the lords of climate demand. Or else.

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  2. Very good overview Tom, of the type we need to put the dreadful new paper in its proper context. The distinction between Consensus and Konsensus should be here to stay. Susan Crockford is, as far as I know, in that 66%. She is a fighter for Consensus against Konsensus. Long may she and the polar bears she studies prosper!

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  3. I can’t believe it. Three comments in and Len isn’t here with his tortured “logic” to prove everyone has it all wrong about polar bears. The fact that Len has spent so much time arguing that black is white shows that Ms Crockford is credible. Otherwise why waste so much time attacking her? I note that Len hasn’t appeared on the polar bear post on Climate Audit. I doubt that Roman takes many prisoners.

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  4. Tom, Good post. Your comments at Bart’s are equally good. I note that the best the Konsensus can do is an obfuscating professional philosopher who is reduced to arguing about minutae since he is ignorant of the science. It’s hard to overstate how this proves your point.

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  5. And your point about the Konsensus echo chambers is equally valid. ATTP is reduced to attacking Judith Curry on wholly irrelevant and minor points. And the attack dogs are themselves deeply compromised by their past errors and distortions. Particularly Pukite and Cawley would be funny if they weren’t so serious and self-righteous.

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  6. I have followed Dr. Crockford and Polar Bear Science for a couple of years. There are at least three reasons why she is right, apart from her observations of polar bear behaviour and data on mumbers.

    First is that polar bears have survived warmer temperature regimes than the present, periods that lasted thousands of year, the hypsithermal during the early Holocene and a similar period during the Eemian.

    Second is that polar bears were once threatened by extinction by the rifle and the hunting of seals their food supply not the climate and now the Inuit and others both in Canada and in Spitzbergen are beginning to discuss polar bear over-population.

    Third is that at the margins of the range of any species, the extreme environmental conditions may not necessarily be conducive to the survival of the species. Polar bears may thrive more when the climate is less extreme than it was during the Little Ice Age.

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  7. Susan Crockford has one major weakness, she has not published significant peer-reviewed papers about polar bears. Nor is she likely to, given that her views are opposed by the majority of polar bear specialists who would be her peer reviewers. [A comparison with climate change sceptics wishing to publish is appropriate].

    Yet we fell into the trap of defending Susan on this point: arguing that she had indeed published rather than stressing her obvious strengths (which we are only just getting around to emphasizing).

    Working through her blogsite I identify at least two studies in the first two years of her blog that would have been candidates for excellent papers – one upon the relationship of ABC bears to polar bears (demolishing genetic studies that ignore other evidence), the other upon population densities in the different Arctic areas. Thus the implied implication that scarcity of peer-reviewed papers = inability to produce such papers is, in my view, totally wrong. And her detractors know it.

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  8. If the Consensus is that half or more of the rise in global mean surface temperature since 1950 is due to man-made GHGs, with the ‘best estimate’ being 110% of that warming, then forgive me if I am wrong, but I don’t think Dr Crockford has expressed any opinion in public on whether she accepts this estimate of attribution or not. Indeed, why should she, as she is a polar bear specialist, concerned principally with the effects of Arctic warming and sea-ice loss upon polar bear ecology. Is the Consensus also that the amplified Arctic warming and rapid sea-ice loss observed post 1979 is also 110% attributable to AGW? I guess it is. Again though, if Dr Crockford has an opinion on the cause of the warming in the Arctic region, she seems not to have expressed it publicly and whether or not she conforms to the Consensus is entirely irrelevant as far as her research is concerned. Judith Curry, on the other hand, does express doubt about the AR5 IPCC attribution statement and therefore is not part of the Consensus, for which opinion she has come under constant attack. Both Susan and Judith have absurdly been called ‘deniers’ by Konsensus High Command, Judith for not adhering to the Consensus, Susan for having the temerity to question a cornerstone of Konsensus alarmism, namely that polar bears will soon be extinct because of Arctic sea-ice loss.

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  9. Jaime:

    Judith Curry, on the other hand, does express doubt about the AR5 IPCC attribution statement and therefore is not part of the Consensus, for which opinion she has come under constant attack.

    I think that’s a very fair summary of Curry – and I would agree with her! I haven’t seen anything similar from Crockford and wouldn’t expect to, for the reasons you give.

    It’s the same point Matt Ridley has often made – his views are almost entirely those of the consensus. Low end of the sensitivity scale but within the whopping range given by the IPCC. Matt would I think let the IPCC attribution statement pass as a decent guess whereas Judy has the stature to express doubt.

    But like the Hockey Stick no piece of propaganda, however dodgy, must be questioned. Consensus is perfectly okay when science is being practiced with honesty. Konsensus has the seeds of totalitarianism within it. We’re coming at it from a different direction than Lysenko and Uncle Joe – and that makes assessing where we’ll end up harder. But the genetics are not good.

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  10. We should give credit where it is due. Len (or one of the minions that constitute this edifice) asks IMHO a legitimate and highly pertinent question that has not been answered. If the changing Arctic climate extends the ice-free season, making the fasting period longer, will young, inexperienced bears be capable of hunting successfully to lay down sufficient fat to survive their longer fasts? It matters not that older, more successful bears can survive, if their successors cannot. I have yet to find any discussion of this point from any side of the discussion. So kudos Len.

    Perhaps the 8 months starvation period of pregnant bears is significant here.

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  11. Akan,
    It is an important question, and one that has been answered:
    Hunting of polar bears is effectively zero, as is the hunting if seals. Populations of both increase as a result. An interesting verification would be to see if other predators of seals are increasing as well.
    The distraction of “climate change” is irrelevant to the bears. They have done just fine under many climate regimes. That is what predators do: adapt.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. What you’re observing is the misplaced underdog effect that practical people find impossible to use to their advantage. It uses the perceived heirachy of rich conservatives at the top and endangered animals and/or the environment at the bottom. Being the champion of the underdog (eg animals) allows you to move down the table so that a billionaire green can achieve more sympathy than your average middle class conservative. It doesn’t matter what you do, only what you support. The Left are masters of using the technique (so it’s no accident that university scientists are born to this). It doesn’t matter if they’ve never done a day’s manual labour, their very support of more money for the lower classes allows them to don the mantle of under doggedness. By the laws of underdog, they are allowed to sneer at working class conservatives.

    We saw a practical example of the insanity of the underdog principle in places like Rotherham and Rochdale. Asian abusers had more under dog points than poor girl victims. The girls themselves had more underdog points than their carers who wanted to stop them being able to drink, do drugs and hang out with their abusers. So nothing was done.

    Conservative political parties are always victims of the underdog system. The left champions the newest, the poorest, even the most criminal because they then get to excuse their own often greater riches. As far as I can tell, most of the richest people in the west are left leaning. It dosn’t matter how many poor conservatives oppose the left, they are negated by the power of the under dog.

    So Dr Crockford is a victim too. It doesn’t matter how good her work or how truthful, by failing to side with the underdog (the polar bear), she loses. Sceptics or luke warmers can’t win because we aren’t the champion of the environment (even when we are eg windmills). We aren’t the champion of the poor, sea level people (even when we are eg prosperity defeats climate change). Our ‘weapon’ is the very mad, impossibility of what the warmists are trying to do. That doesn’t mean they won’t spend a lot of woney and ruin a lot of lives finding out.

    Happy New Year ;-P

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  13. The standard thing is that Climate Alarmism does Public Relations rather than science.
    You only have to look at the output of bodies like ECIU & Carbon-Brief to see that.

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  14. Hunter. “It is an important question, and one that has been answered”.

    Where?

    I’m not even sure it is true that decreasing summer sea ice has been accompanied by earlier spring melting or later coastal autumn ice buildup. Nor do I believe there is demographic information of adult bear populations to answer a question about younger bear survivability. Even the trends in polar bear numbers are suspect and the variation in counting methologies over time and between researchers, IMHO matches in credibility climate change predictions. As Dr. Crockford has repeatedly pleaded for – let those predicting extinction by climate change spend some of their funds doing some serious research on evaluating bear populations in the least known areas – instead they are focussing research away from these areas. Even in the most studied areas, data commonly is hoarded by researchers, even when conclusions based upon this unrevealed data is published in peer-reviewed papers or forms the basis of scary publicity stories (commonly blaming climate change).

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  15. Alan,
    1st sorry about the typo of your name.
    What I mean about the answer to your question is thus:
    For polar bear populations to be increasing means that something(s) has/have changed.
    We know ad nausea that polar ice cover is down.
    If that was the primary control knob of polar bear health then populations would have declined.
    Instead they are up. The cubs have to live for populations to increase.
    Which brings up the changes that the apex predator, humans, have wrought:
    We decided to stop hunting them as well as seals. We don’t club baby seals for lovely fur coats.
    So pressure on bith populations has decreased.
    Populations if both have increased.
    So of course the climate obsessed have to exolain away the evidence and the logic with blue smoke and assault.

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  16. Hunter. Populations have increased. Yes or perhaps. Some may be stable and realistically some “increases” may be wishful thinking. Some may even be declining because populations increased to unsustainable levels following the ban on hunting (you really ought to change your nom-de-blog when discussing poley bears) and are now returning to sustainable levels.
    What cannot be predicted, however, is the effect of longer periods of fasting on younger, inexperienced bears because episodes of longer ice-free conditions over summers haven’t arrived yet. Poley bears are not yet out of the “woods”.

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  17. Alan, great insights on multiple fronts.
    My point is that if the population is increasing it is due to the combination of less hunting, more food and more cubs living.
    The Arctic is not Florida, with population griwth due to bear retirement. This is their homeland.
    This is where they make and raise little polar bears.
    My speculation is that the bears find plenty of calories- bears are smart.
    I think the attack on Crawford, as well as the lack of any data based evidence to the contrary of her assertions tells us that the bears are alright.
    As to my nome de blog I chose it in part to annoy the pc crowd but primarily to highlight my hunt for truth, to not simply follow the trollish herd. The hunting I did in my youth was very educational on many levels.

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  18. “My speculation is that the bears find plenty of calories- bears are smart.”

    Ah, another expert here, Alan?

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  19. Len. You don’t need to be an expert to speculate. Even toddlers do it as soon as they can speak. Don’t you have anything more erudite to contribute or is the brandy butter still having an effect?

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  20. There will be no answer to the question of how ice loss affects breeding success from Crockford, that’s for sure. I brought it up on 17th December and was shut down by Tom for’badgering’ her and ‘forcing’ her to dredge up information. Crockford couldn’t or wouldn’t comment, which seemed odd as breeding success and juvenile survival are the key ssue, far more so than whether animals at peak nutrition can survive the summer without food.

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  21. Does anybody else remember sod? The commenter who would dispute any point at any time if it wasn’t approved by the consensus? Or BBD, the ‘sensitivity is absolutely 3’ disciple of James Hansen?

    We may have found a worthy successor…

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  22. Len Martinez, do you have any evidence of any link between Arctic Ice extent and the breeding success of Polar Bears?

    As ice extent is down, and Polar Bears numbers are up, is it possible that Polar Bears breed better on dry land, free of snow and ice? It must be a bit less chilly.

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  23. Oh Len, stop procrastinating. The world could be saved for polar bears if you told us about how long we can burn candles before all the polar bears in the world starve

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  24. MIAB, of course we can always look nostalgically back at such heroes of the consensus as Dano, Secular Animist, dhogaza… we could do a ‘greatest hits’ post with their best (worst) comments. What do you think?

    Review, friends, review. Troops long past review…

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  25. Len,
    So now a person cannot even notice that predators can learn new tricks without your permission?
    Please sir, may I have some more?

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  26. Pingback: Harvey et al. attack article mum on real selection process for polar bear papers used in their analysis | polarbearscience

  27. Arctic fox polulation follows the lemming cycle, so why should seal availability not be the dominating limiting factor for polar bears?

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  28. Here are some scientists admitting their ignorance about some polar bears:

    A female polar bear at a Scottish animal park has given birth to a cub, says the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland. (RZSS).

    It is the first polar bear to be born in the UK in 25 years.

    The mother bear, Victoria, is one of three adult polar bears at the Highland Wildlife Park at Kincraig, near Aviemore.

    RZSS said “high-pitched noises” made by the cub could be heard from Victoria’s maternity den just before Christmas.

    The last polar bear cubs born in the UK were twins at Flamingo Land in Yorkshire on 8 December 1992.

    Arktos, the male bear Victoria mated with, is one of the park’s other adult bears. He is in a separate enclosure from the female bear.

    Victoria’s enclosure is closed to the public.

    Una Richardson, the park’s head keeper responsible for carnivores, said: “We first heard promising noises in the week before Christmas and these have now continued into the new year.

    “Because we don’t have sight inside her cubbing box we can’t be sure if Victoria has had more than one cub, but we can confirm the birth.

    “While we are absolutely thrilled, we are not celebrating prematurely as polar bear cubs have a high mortality rate in the first weeks of life due to their undeveloped immune system and the mother’s exaggerated need for privacy, with any disturbance risking the cub being killed or abandoned.”

    She added: “We will continue to monitor Victoria and very much hope for the best possible news when she emerges around March.

    “Until then, Victoria’s enclosure will be closed to the public and keeper activity will be at a minimum to give her offspring every chance of survival.”

    They are surely doing the right thing in not satisfying their and our desire to know.

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  29. Hunter.
    “My speculation is that the bears find plenty of calories- bears are smart.”
    This may be true but I think polar bears are potentially in a situation where they are in an evolutionary dead end, but not due to any warming? Rather the reverse.

    I have been thinking about how polar bears survived the last glaciation. They would have driven out of much of the Arctic basin by the development of several huge icecaps that also extended into the north Atlantic and Pacific. Furthermore the seaward edges of those icecaps would largely have been high ice cliffs (like much of Antarctica) and unsuitable for seals or polar bears. Polar bear habitat must have been much more restricted than it is today. Nevertheless they did survive.

    My other conclusion is that polar bears are relatively new to their current range: less than 10,000 years,and perhaps much less.

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  30. Richard Drake, you do realise that one more Polar Bear in Scotland represents a population explosion. Hopefully it will not succumb to heatstroke, in the balmy climate.

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  31. So: We don’t know how the papers were selected. We don’t know how the weblogs were selected. We don’t know which, if any, weblogs ‘deny the overwhelming evidence of Arctic sea-ice loss.’

    This paper does not seem very enlightening.

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  32. Richard Tol. Susan Crockford’s latest post, that examines (or tries to) the selection process for papers used within Harvey et al.17, is a good example of her scientific style – meticulous, difficult to find fault with. Not only does the Harvey paper get worse (as you conclude), but the whole dispute tilts more in Crockford’s direction. The Harvey et al.17 paper is a self inflicted wound.

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  33. GolfCharlie. Will the lack of sea ice in deepest Edinburgh adversely affect the survivability of the baby poley bear, as Lenandowski frets about?

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  34. Alan Kendall, I don’t think Polar Bears actually eat sea ice to survive, but deep frozen haggis served at any time year, rain or more rain, could strain their stomach culture too far.

    ThomasFuller2 12:59, please remember that some of Climate Science’s best brains and research went into Harvey et al 2017. It sets a new benchmark by which most of Climate Science can be judged. As Climate Scientists can’t be trusted to be honest, how is anybody supposed to know which are the good bits?

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  35. MIAB,

    “Thomas, I always thought that BBD and Jeffie were the same person. Two equally irrational bigots.”

    Jeff Harvey is exactly who he says he is, professor of ecology in the Netherlands and blog rant writer, lecturer and braggart extraordinaire (though quiet of late due to his surprise at the response to his paper. Not sure why the surprise but I read that). He has been touting this paper for sometime, even long before its release, in various places around the blogosphere and Facebook etc..

    BBD is a retired Brit named Dominic who was supposedly once a skeptic but saw the light and now spends his time proclaiming the consensus message far and wide. He is, however, considerably more rational and humble than Dr. Harvey who will tell you, at length, and in virtually every post, about his “pedigree”, “H factor” and “bona fides” as well as how he knows better than all due to those things. His favorite terms for “deniers” are “vacuous” and “kindergarten level” which can be found in almost every post as well.

    They are both fonts of amusement. BBD at least has the decency to call out the nutters when the go nutter. See any thread with both he and the, now defunct it seems, “Wow”, who may have been the nuttiest of all having been dismissed from virtually every blog he infested including Eli’s and Greg Laden’s.

    Yes, I’ve been reading this stuff for far too long…

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  36. Richard Tol:

    “I did not know Crockford’s work until a few weeks ago, but she seems sound and fair.”

    How would you know? Not exactly in your area of expertise, is it?

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  37. Oh Lenandowski, he can tell because he has experience of academic life and has used it to develop an appreciation not just for truth but the search for truth, otherwise known as sound scholarship. Not as a platform for seeking to destroy the innocent in the service of unjust power, as is true for every single author of this paper.

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  38. Umm, Lenny…. ‘seems’ does not ‘seem’ like an authoritative pronouncement. It ‘seems’ like a first impression, which is something that we all form. Indeed, I worry about the first impression you might make on others.

    Because that comment, like several others you have made, makes you ‘seem’ rather like a jerk.

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  39. Len Martinez, what is it about Harvey et al 2017 that convinces you it is based on sound and honest science, data collation and interpretation?

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  40. No, Richard/Tom, you need expertise or knowledge of the subject to judge a work as sound. You couldn’t pronounce a circuit layout, program code or structural design ‘sound’ or even “seems sound” unless you have an idea what it should look like. This is just like Tom being impressed because a work has references attached even though he has no idea whether the references are relevant or say what is claimed of them.

    Golf, who says I am convinced? I haven’t read it.

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  41. And of course Lenny, you have the expertise to judge Dr. Tol’s soundness. And mine, come to that.

    Again, you sound like a mindless blowhard from the early days of the climate conversation. We all try to be patient with you, but the fact is that your disgruntled asides, mumbles and grumbles are all pretty much old hat to most of us here.

    It makes you look both petty and foolish.

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  42. To play Len’s silly and petty games, Richard Tol appears to have based his comment quoted above by the evaluation that he did on his own blog about how Harvey eta al is both an attack piece and wrong. He specifically states there “Susan Crockford has a decent publication record”
    Now where is your publication record Len, so we can judge if you are competent to pass judgement on other people’s judgement? Or are you, as everyone suspects, just a trolling blowhard sitting in front of a screen in your underpants surrounded by empty fast food packets?

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  43. Len Martinez “Golf, who says I am convinced? I haven’t read it.”

    Thank you for your honesty. Have you read anything by Crockford?

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  44. @len
    I deliberately used the qualifier “seems”.

    As to my qualifications, I have 25 years of research experience, often working in large, multi-disciplinary teams. I have 20 years of teaching experience, in a range of departments with a variety of students. I have 15 years of experience editing an eclectic journal. At first sight, Crockford’s work is thorough and professional.

    I am aware that there is research that seems perfectly fine but is not. Data on academic fraud are imperfect, but suggest it is rare. Crockford thus deserves the benefit of the doubt.

    Rather than casting unsupported allegations, you are welcome to show how she is wrong or, worse, misleading.

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  45. Len… you now have two people with academic backgrounds who have made a positive academic judgment on the work of Dr.Susan Crockford. What do you have? Note very carefully, the judgement is upon the style of her work – it conforms to the norms of scientific work and in particular is self consistent and able to incorporate components of her opponents argument into her own narrative.

    Perhaps you should listen more to the voices in these blogs. What you would find is person after person, of very different background, each of whom had not followed Susan Crockford before, become impressed with her work. As golfCharlie asked, have you read anything she has written outside her reaction to that wretched paper? If you haven’t, perhaps you should do so and allow yourself the liberty of making your own, informed, judgement.

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  46. Alan Kendall, I first read some of Crockford’s work some years ago because of Bishop Hill Blog (I think) Until then, I had thought polar bears were threatened with extinction, based on the impression given by the MSM and WWF et al.

    The MSM do not pay much money for photos of tubby polar bears, but Size 0 skinny polar bears are highly valued by the political fashion editors, and command a high fee.

    The Inuit would now like to shoot more Polar Bears as their numbers are increasing.

    “Experts” such as Stirling, Amstrup and Derocher have done very nicely out of their portrayal of polar bears as being at risk, but it has all been exaggerated, and animal welfare charities are going to miss the donations if the truth gets out.

    If Len Martinez can criticise Crockford and defend Harvey et al 2017 without having read anything at all, it makes me wonder whether he Peer Reviewed Harvey et al 2017. If Len denies Peer Reviewing it, he may be correct, even if he did, because someone got paid for nothing.

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  47. Len seems to thrive in circular reasoning games. Although he is not an expert he unquestioningly follows a gang that crushes all dissent. Therefore his opinion is valid while any who dont agree his opinions are to crushed.

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  48. Richard Tol, I’m well aware of your credentials. I’m not challenging them at all. What I’m asking is how you can assess whether a work is ‘sound’ when you don’t know the body of literature on which it is based. If, as Alan suggests, you are expressing a view only of “the style of her work – it conforms to the norms of scientific work…”, I’d imagine that you’d also say that H17 is ‘sound’. Or?

    Alan, I’ve read her blog with all it’s eternal self-references, skimmed her thesis, and read her recent paper, in which I discovered a bogus reference that everyone here thinks is quite okay. I don’t find a paper that purports to discuss species viability with decreasing ice yet doesn’t mention breeding success at all convincing. You and others here perhaps do and we’ll have to differ on that. One idiot here thinks that a species that raises it’s young in snow dens would be happier without snow and ice, so forgive me for thinking that at least some here are best ignored.

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  49. @len
    At first read, H17 appeared quite shoddy. Ditto at second read, third, fourth …

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  50. Len. at first read Susan Crockford’s blog appeared quite interesting. Ditto subsequent readings with increasing admiration.
    Your “eternal self-references” are the method she uses to allow her readers to navigate through her blog. Did you also note her eternal references to original data and research papers of her opponents?

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  51. Richard Tol, Shoddy in that the style of the work doesn’t conform to the norms of scientific work, as Alan suggests, or what?

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  52. If I may step in front of Richard briefly, I would characterize it as shoddy in that it shows every sign of sample bias, incorrect data collection, inappropriate analysis methods and political bias trumping objective analysis.

    Any of which are enough to fatally sabotage a paper and none of which require expertise in polar bear-ology to identify.

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  53. @len
    I probably read papers differently than most. I started with the passage on imputation of missing data: Zeroes are informative.

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  54. Richard Tol, you are using domain knowledge to judge H17 and not as Alan suggested, “the style of her work – [whether] it conforms to the norms of scientific work…”. So I have to ask again, on what basis do you judge Crockford’s work ‘sound’, when polar bear science is not obviously in your domain.

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  55. No you didn’t. You changed your tune to say the work is professional but that is quite different from being ‘sound’. However much experience you have of editing papers in non biological sciences, that doesn’t mean you can tell sound polar bear science from unsound. So how do you judge?

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  56. Gee, Lenny, not a word about my assessment of the paper? What’s with all this crap you’re throwing at Richard?

    Tell you what, Lenny. Why don’t you hold off on further questions for Dr. Tol until you start answering those that have been posed to you?

    “Len. at first read Susan Crockford’s blog appeared quite interesting. Ditto subsequent readings with increasing admiration. Your “eternal self-references” are the method she uses to allow her readers to navigate through her blog. Did you also note her eternal references to original data and research papers of her opponents?”

    “Len… you now have two people with academic backgrounds who have made a positive academic judgment on the work of Dr.Susan Crockford. What do you have?”

    “Have you read anything by Crockford?”

    “Now where is your publication record Len, so we can judge if you are competent to pass judgement on other people’s judgement? Or are you, as everyone suspects, just a trolling blowhard sitting in front of a screen in your underpants surrounded by empty fast food packets?”

    “Len Martinez, what is it about Harvey et al 2017 that convinces you it is based on sound and honest science, data collation and interpretation?”

    “Len Martinez, do you have any evidence of any link between Arctic Ice extent and the breeding success of Polar Bears?”

    I expect complete answers to all of these before you pester anybody else here. Understood?

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  57. “Len seems to thrive in circular reasoning games.”

    Yes, that is the basic method of the Clown Dancer, to take you round and round in circles, getting nowhere whatsoever.

    They have no interest in debating – in most/all cases they have no knowledge of the subject anyway as it is totally unnecessary, they are purely concerned with wasting your time and energy and derailing serious debate on whatever board they have targeted.

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  58. “Tell you what, Lenny. Why don’t you hold off on further questions for Dr. Tol until you start answering those that have been posed to you?”

    I only had one question of Prof Tol. It would be nice to get an answer, or failing that something like: “no you are right, I don’t know if it is sound, but it is nicely done…”. Strangely, though that would be easy, it is probably as hard for the Prof as it is for Crockford to admit she gave a bad reference.

    “Len. at first read Susan Crockford’s blog appeared quite interesting. Ditto subsequent readings with increasing admiration. Your “eternal self-references” are the method she uses to allow her readers to navigate through her blog. Did you also note her eternal references to original data and research papers of her opponents?”

    Yes, of course. But she’d have to refer to such data as she has none of her own.

    “Len… you now have two people with academic backgrounds who have made a positive academic judgment on the work of Dr.Susan Crockford. What do you have?”

    None relevant. But I need none to know that neither a geologist nor an economist/statistician has a way of judging polar bear science is sound (as opposed to interesting, well presented, professionally produced) unless he is familiar with the literature.

    “Have you read anything by Crockford?”
    Yes, as I said above, I’ve read her blog, skimmed her thesis, and read her recent paper.

    “Now where is your publication record Len, so we can judge if you are competent to pass judgement on other people’s judgement? Or are you, as everyone suspects, just a trolling blowhard sitting in front of a screen in your underpants surrounded by empty fast food packets?”

    I have none. Neither does anyone else here on polar bears. So we are even.

    “Len Martinez, what is it about Harvey et al 2017 that convinces you it is based on sound and honest science, data collation and interpretation?”

    I had not expressed a view on H17 before that question, as I already answered.

    “Len Martinez, do you have any evidence of any link between Arctic Ice extent and the breeding success of Polar Bears?”

    There are no polar bears on the Norwegian coast despite there being ringed seals, the main prey of the bears. There’s also no ice sheet there.

    “I expect complete answers to all of these before you pester anybody else here. Understood?”

    Answered as requested. So perhaps you’ll tell me how you could judge a bridge to be ‘sound’ without being a structural engineer.

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  59. As for judging bridges, I generally cross them without worrying too much about them. I trust engineers overall.

    Regarding judging Dr. Crockford’s writing,I’ve read a lot of academic papers, blog posts, articles in papers and magazines on environmental and climate issues. Rightly or wrongly, I do judge them on quality of language, coherence, open-mindedness and of course brightly lit references to other literature.

    Dr. Crockford’s writings have all those qualities.

    There is a long list of writers who have managed to extend our understanding of the universe without traveling past their study. In my mind, Crockford is another on that list. I’m not saying she’s perfect. I’m saying the perspective she has provided on the interplay between Arctic sea ice and ursus maritimus is interesting and potentially valuable.

    And here’s the kicker, Len. You are not required to agree with me. You’re not required to agree with Richard Tol. It’s okay.

    Liked by 1 person

  60. Len
    “But she’d have to refer to such data as she has none of her own”.
    Not true. She calculated polar bear densities for the different Arctic areas, discovering that some had much higher densities than others (3-4 times greater). She then went on to try to find out why. You might scoff that calculating densities from other people’s data is not doing science and anyone could have done it. But the point is that no one else did.
    You are under the false impression that to do good science requires getting new data. Not so. The famous paper of Watson and Crick upon DNA was based entirely upon other people’s data (some of it obtained dubiously). Their brilliance was in assembling this data ( in many senses of the word). In her own way Susan Crockford does the same.

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  61. Len
    “But I need none to know that neither a geologist nor an economist/statistician has a way of judging polar bear science is sound (as opposed to interesting, well presented, professionally produced) unless he is familiar with the literature”.
    We have had this disagreement before and I have no intention of repeating it. However I will point out that being familiar with the literature is not the criterion by which you judge an expert, but is perhaps the definition of a scholar. I’m not sure what the defining feature of an expert is but IMHO it should include the ability to hold positions that are different from other experts and defend them. On this count, Susan Crockford is an expert par excellence.
    BTW by your definition, I am already an expert, as are you.

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  62. Len
    “Len Martinez, do you have any evidence of any link between Arctic Ice extent and the breeding success of Polar Bears?”
    There are no polar bears on the Norwegian coast despite there being ringed seals, the main prey of the bears. There’s also no ice sheet there.

    The question should have been, as you well know ,”do you have any evidence of any link between SUMMER Arctic Ice extent and the breeding success of Polar Bears?” There are no polar bears in mainland Norway because there is no continuous winter ice sheet.

    I could have been facetious and responded by drawing attention to the absence of ice sheets in Scottish zoos.

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  63. Len Martinez, you have increased the value of Dr Crockford in Polar Bear Science, with every response you have provoked, as more people have done their own research to learn more.

    Have you done any of your own research, and can you provide a link to any that confirms that Polar Bear numbers are threatened by reduced extent of Arctic Ice?

    If not, you too have proved Dr Crockford should be listened to, by a wider audience, and Harvey et al 2017 should be retracted or ignored.

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  64. Tom, so you have faith in the bridge; you have faith in Crockford; you don’t have faith in Amstrup, Stirling etc.

    Alan, you think Crockford came up with densities herself, but is that true? Survey data is incomplete, covering only parts of the range of any subpopulation area. So after surveying say 100 sqkm and finding say 100 bears, you extrapolate that to the whole area to get a population estimate. Someone might take that estimate and divide by area to get a density, but that just gets her back to the survey numbers that created the estimate. Big deal.

    “The question should have been, as you well know ,”do you have any evidence of any link between SUMMER Arctic Ice extent and the breeding success of Polar Bears?” “

    Maybe, but it wasn’t. Your question is clearly more interesting though. Western Greenland might be a good place to test that. It always has winter sea ice but will probably be ice free in the south earlier than further north. So find out how far south the bears breed and correlate that with summer ice amounts. Someone has probably done it.

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  65. Len. Why don’t you inform yourself before distorting your orifice with your boot?
    If you had done that you would have found that SusanC goes thoroughly through the problems of making density estimates. You are free to make your own judgements because all the basic data is given and all the assumptions are clearly presented. Even with all the provisos, the fact that adjacent polar bear areas can have very different densities is highly likely to be true and needs explaining. So yes indeed, it is a rather big deal. My congratulations to you for your conclusion.

    The problem with West Greenland is that this region suffered probably most significantly from hunting and it is unsure if it has fully recovered. The most interesting area to me is the Sea of Okhotsk which, despite a suitable habitat lacks polar bears. This absence seems to be due to the absence of an ice shelf attached to the southern Kamchatka Peninsula which prevents the bears from getting to the Sea.

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  66. Len Martinez, Polar Bears do not seem to have a problem with breeding, and raising their young, if there are no predators, especially those with rifles.

    The further research you suggest might be worthwhile, but at the moment, research money is being wasted on projects to mislead the public into believing that Polar Bears can’t survive without more money.

    All the more reason for Dr Susan Crockford being asked for advice on how to spend Polar Bear Scientific Research Money, if funds are cut, as she provides honest assessments already, unlike some other “experts”, who need to make money out of dying Polar Bears.

    Harvey et al 2017 is like a closing down sale, for one lucrative spin-off industry, that was never needed, once rifle fire was restricted.

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  67. Umm, Len, either my weekend confusion has set in early or perhaps you’re mistaken–I don’t recall and cannot find instances of me criticizing either Armstrup or Stirling. Perhaps you’ll be kind enough to point out where I did so.

    The fact that Dr. Crockford criticizes some of their speculation about the future of polar bears and that I tend to agree with her criticism is a far cry from criticizing either them or the bulk of their work.

    But happy to learn if I’m mistaken, or if I used language that could be inferred as criticism. I hate to be rude…unintentionally.

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  68. Dr Susan Crockford has responded at her own Blog to some of the misinformation contained within the Peer Reviewed Harvey et al 2017

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  69. Tom, I said you don’t have faith in Amstrup and Stirling. It is one or the others; you can’t be such an ardent supporter of Crockford and at the same time believe what A&S write.

    Alan, I don’t see how populations can be estimated from population samples without some assumptions: habitable area, density, maybe coverage success rate (what proportion of bears were missed in the sample area). Hence to get back to density from a population estimate, C needs only find the habitable area and guess a success rate. Doesn’t sound difficult once you have the area, though determining that from satellite images is probably tricky. I haven’t seen the density estimates C has done. Throw me a link and I’ll take a look. Maybe I’ll find I’m wrong. That’s fine too.

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  70. Are you kind of making this a bit too personal, Len? Team Susan vs. Team Amstrup & Sterling?

    A & S had a hypothesis. They went and gathered data and made the case that their hypothesis was correct.

    Dr. Crockford tested their hypothesis with newer data and found it conflicted with their claims.

    That… is… how… science… is ..supposed… to… work…

    All this vainglorious tripe that they and their 12 compadres dished out in Harvey et al 17? That’s not science. That’s gossip and Mean Girls.

    Let A & S go out in the field and measure populations,, breeding health, weight and correlate that more efficiently with weather.

    That’s what they should be doing.

    Liked by 1 person

  71. Len Martinez, you could always try Derocher, if you are bored with Amstrup and Stirling. He said Polar Bears would struggle in a warmer climate.

    Was he wrong about Polar Bears or the warmer climate? Stirling co-authored, so who did the Peer Review?

    Polar Bears in a Warming Climate
    Andrew E. Derocher Nicholas J. Lunn Ian Stirling
    Integrative and Comparative Biology, Volume 44, Issue 2, 1 April 2004, Pages 163–176, https://doi.org/10.1093/icb/44.2.163
    Published: 01 April 2004

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  72. Lenandowski yesterday:

    “Now where is your publication record Len, so we can judge if you are competent to pass judgement on other people’s judgement? Or are you, as everyone suspects, just a trolling blowhard sitting in front of a screen in your underpants surrounded by empty fast food packets?”

    I have none. Neither does anyone else here on polar bears. So we are even.

    There’s a central conceit here and it starts with that word ‘I’. There is every reason to believe that pronoun is inaccurate, as I’ve made clear. But it introduces something else: even one person this mediocre and ill-qualified can see and can show that the Konsensus is right about everything and we dissenters deserve the outer darkness into which we’ve been thrust for questioning even one part of the emanations thereof.

    Another tentacle of the Big Lie. The Big Lenandowski.

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  73. Len, why don’t you discuss problems of estimating polar bear densities with Dr Susan Crockford? Make sure you actually read her post about it first, and then subsequent ones where she examines the significance of the differences and possible reasons for them. Then come back and report the progress of your understanding. I’ll be on tenterhooks.

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  74. Pingback: Climate mauling, polar bears, and the self-inflicted wounds of the self-righteous | polarbearscience

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