When a Scientist Believes Data Does Not Support Theory in Climate Models, What Then?

Why would you not read a good introductory article or book chapter on the subject, instead of relying on a non-human source such as AI?

Did you actually listen to the video interview with Christy? I’m interested in responding here only to people who have done so. And even then, only if they refrain from ad hominem arguments against Christy. (And from tasteless parallels with racism.)

I have no idea what a “climate doubter” is. Someone who doubts there is such a thing as climate? Or did you mean “climate change doubter”? But what does that mean? Someone who thinks there is no such thing as climate change? (Who thinks that?) Or did you perhaps mean “anthropogenic climate change doubter”, i.e., someone who doubts that human activity plays any role in climate change? Probably you meant the latter. But that’s not me, and it’s not Christy. Neither I nor Christy contends that human activity has zero effect on the climate. The debate is not over whether there is some effect, but how big the effect is, and how easy it is to tease that effect apart from complex (and nowhere near fully understood) natural causes. And such questions can’t be settled by having a majority of scientists shout angrily at a minority and try to browbeat them into submission. (Which is basically the approach of Michael Mann and his ilk, and of their political disciples in various governments.) They can only be settled by collegial activity, in which there are no settled dogmas and in which apparently contrary data is taken seriously, even when it embarrasses some who have a lot of ego (and research grant money) resting on their pet models.

That’s not to say the majority is necessarily wrong; it might be right. But the way to settle that is by respectful collegial dialogue in a fear-free, politics-free, ad-hominem-free atmosphere. Not citing an unread Mann etc. against an unheard Christy, but actually listening to Christy and responding with constructive criticism to his points, and not negating every single one of them in a knee-jerk fashion just because he’s on “the wrong side”. But of course, that sort of dialogical give-and-take, where both sides move a bit, has never been the style around here, whether the topic is evolution or design or COVID vaccines or anything else. Which is why I rarely post here any more, and why, having seen the snarky reactions of most here (not yours) to this latest post, it will be a long time before I post again.

AI provided a decent summary of where the vast majority of climate scientists disagreed with Christy. I don’t believe an introductory book would do a better job.

I think @Rumraket put it best:

But hey, what is this worth anyway? I mean nobody here has the expertise to analyze any of this crap

I used “doubter” because I felt it was non pejorative or less so than denier.
I wouldn’t argue that there are no reasons why people might deny climate change but climate denial is a serious problem that is delaying taking action to address it. Delay doesn’t make sense when the majority of climate scientists are warning that time is running out and emphasize that the longer we wait to take action, the harder and more expensive it will be to address the problem.

Yes, I did. But I’m not a climate scientist, so I don’t know how to evaluate his points.

Yes, I noticed that Christy agrees that there is some effect.

From my perspective, there is a very significant increase in atmospheric CO2, and we should be troubled by this regardless of whether it affects climate. Why isn’t Christy concerned about this? That’s my big issue with Christy.

No. The way to settle this is with more data. As best I can tell, the climate scientists are continually refining their models and testing them with real data. And most of them are doing this quietly without engaging in politics.

Scientists are human. So some of them do engage in politics. But it is their data, not their politics that matters.

What is it that makes it horribly wrong for Mann to make political statements, while it apparently is okay for @Eddie to be very political on this issue?


Nothing wrong with getting more data. But that won’t help settle the issue, because the issue is already settled. Right wing shills and conspiracists like @Eddie won’t accept it, but what can you do? Feeding them more data won’t help because, as @Eddie has admitted, he has no interest in data. He’s just concerned that his fellow ideologues get called bad names when they blatantly lie about stuff.

Whereas Christy, being a shill with no concern about ethics, will only take those minute data points he can manipulate to seemingly support his case, and ignore the rest.

What an excellent, excellent question!


Your bald claim is accompanied by no argument, only by a link to a website. The website presents a number of disagreements with Christy. But “I disagree with Christy” does not prove that Christy is dishonest. Christy might be entirely honest even if he is wrong.

Further, it’s evident you didn’t bother to check very far into the source which you’ve chosen to trust. Look under the hood, for the list of the “Team” which produces the articles on that site. Of the 30 or so writers, the majority don’t hold a PhD in any science at all, and almost none of them has a PhD in climate science or anything close to it. Almost none of them have any peer-reviewed articles in any field close to climate science. A large number of them are musicians, popular science writers, fiction writers, psychologists, in the advertising business, etc. One of them got a PhD but didn’t have what it takes to get tenure (which means he didn’t produce enough research) and lost his university job and had to go into another field. For the most part these people are hobbyists of climate change, not researchers in the field, and their “rebuttals” of people like Christy are cut-and-splice pieces of standard talking points you can find anywhere among the AGW crowd. Your evidence that Christy is “dishonest” (or even just wrong) is thus secondhand and thirdhand argument from mostly a bunch of non-scientists or “did-a-bit-of-science-but-now-work-in-another-field” bloggers and culture warriors.

In the meantime, if you’re not too lazy, try actually listening to the Christy video, which speaks of his position in the field, both in his office in the government in his state and in his university. It’s clear that the vast majority of the “Team” you are citing against him have nowhere near the training, peer-reviewed publications, or professional rank in the world of climate science that Christy has. And following up on other writings by some of that Team, it’s clear they are highly politically activist and slanted on the left, not only on the issue of climate change but on a whole range of other issues. They are hardly examples of Mr. Spock-like neutrality. I would suggest that you stick to your studies in evolutionary biology and not casually dip into fields that you don’t know, embarrassing yourself by making charges based on a superficial glance at a blog site mostly run by journalists, ideologues, science dilettantes, and charlatans.

We can’t prove that Christy knows what he says is wrong, but it is definitely noteworthy how many wrong things he says. Also, they’re not mere disagreements. Many of the things he says are claims about data, models, trends, and so on. Claims which can be checked factually by clicking on the responses to each individual claim or statement.

Completely irrelevant when the articles they write cite papers from the peer reviewed literature. It’s why the website is endorsed by many scientists with relevant qualifications:

Edit: Oh and on a related note, seems like ExxonMobil’s own scientists disagree with John Christy:

Isn’t that weird?


That”s pure ad hominem.


They aren’t ‘disagreements’, he was factually wrong.

Repeating wrong claims after they’ve been corrected is dishonest, and Christy repeats claims after they’ve been discredited. If he’s not being dishonest, the alternative is he isn’t smart enough to understand. Are you calling him stupid?

PhDs are not a requirement to be right, nor are they a guarantee of accuracy. I see no reason to present this as discrediting, except as an attempt to poison the well. Very sad for you.

Each of the statements is paired with a link to a page filled with primary literature discrediting the claim. Did you not realize they were links? Very sad for you.

A YouTube video is not a valid source. It’s embarrassing that you think anyone should be impressed by an interview. If you can’t provide his primary literature backing his claims, you have nothing of merit.

Embarrassing pack of irrelevant and fallacious nonsense…

I would bet a large sum that I have read more primary literature in climate sciences than you have. How many users on this website do you think would take the other side of that bet?


@Eddie, some-one has hacked your account.


If @Eddie wants to discuss specific claims Christy makes in order to demonstrate he’s really worth taking seriously, wouldn’t that be more useful than relying on who does or doesn’t have a PhD, or who speaks in a calmer tone? If this thread is only intended to show that there merely exists people who talk with a calm voice and a genuine PhD in the subject who reject the climate consensus, it’s a pretty mundane demonstration that basically assumes the strawman that anyone has ever suggested otherwise.

For example, in the video, Christy says that the climate sensitivity to CO2 is about half as much as the value used in mainstream climate models. That’s a fairly concrete claim. So Eddie, do you know what Christy is basing that claim on? Did he publish a scientific paper calculating this which mainstream climate scientists failed to rebut or just outright ignored?

Or is this another case where Eddie will say “I don’t want to discuss any specifics because we’re not experts in this subject, why can’t you just let me cast doubt on climate science in peace?”


It doesn’t follow that they understand the papers they are citing, rephrasing, summarizing, borrowing from, etc. It also doesn’t follow that they correctly apply the material in the papers to the arguments they purport to be refuting. Example: You guys here are constantly complaining, whenever I or anyone else mentions how many hundreds of peer-reviewed papers Nelson and Wells read and cite, that Nelson and Wells don’t understand the meaning of the papers, or misrepresent them, etc. And Nelson has undergrad biology plus a PhD in philosophy of biology under an evolutionary biologist at Chicago, and Wells a PhD in Developmental Biology. If purely for the sake of argument I were to grant that people with the level of biological training of Nelson and Wells grossly misinterpret almost every peer-reviewed paper on evolution that they read, it’s even more likely that a science fiction writer or advertising executive, with nowhere near the training in climate science that Wells and Nelson have in biology, when making arguments based on academic climate science papers, will misunderstood or misapply a fair bit of the material he or she is using.

By the way, how much of the Christy video did you listen to?

In response to a charge against Christy that was pure ad hominem. So why do you charge only me, but not also CrisprCAS9? Once again, the “Peaceful Science” double standard prevails. Nothing has changed since I was here last. But just to be clear: I will play the ad hominem game if everyone else here is playing it, to level the playing field. Crispr, a young grad student, took a cheap shot at Christy, a senior scientist with both a university and a high state position in the field, and based the cheap shot on opinions expressed by a group of obviously leftist-globalist partisan hack popular writers. So I responded by pointing out their hackery, their evident political biases, and the fact that 90% of them have less training and fewer peer-reviewed publications (which seems to be the gold standard around here) in climate science than Christy. But of course that was not the kind of discussion I wanted to engender.

I presented a video where a scientist gives reasons – based on hard data – for his view. Not one person here has responded to any point made in that video. Instead, the replies have all been general complaints about the alleged biases and failings of AGW skeptics, and personal (unsubstantiated) remarks about the honesty of a scientist whom not a single person here has ever met or conversed with.

And this is a pattern here. I posted a video or article about science funding, about two or three years ago, and got a dozen or two responses immediately, none of them addressing the claims made in the video/article, most of them ad hominem attacks on the author of the article for his alleged right-wing associations. Eventually one or two people did finally respond to the posted material, and addressed the topic of science funding, but not until all the usual suspects had vented their hostility at me simply for posting an article by someone who happened to belong to an organization they didn’t like. The ratio of flak to on-topic discussion there ended up being about 30 to 1, if I recall correctly. The turn to ad hominem considerations is always begun by someone else.

Faizal says science should concentrate on substance, not tone or other things. I agree. So why is neither Crispr nor anyone else commenting on the substance of Christy’s comments in the video? In the video. Not something he said three or five or more years ago, but what he said in December 2022, just a few months ago, when the video was recorded.

Apparently you biologists don’t study logic, because there is this thing called (to use one version of the name) the “overlooking of the unconceived alternative”. Your crude binary reasoning doesn’t take into the account the possibility that Christy repeats claims not because he is dishonest, but because he does not think the “corrections” offered to those claims are sound, and that his thinking on that front is not caused by “not being smart enough to understand”, but by being fully smart enough to understand, yet still thinking his critics wrong. So the “he must be either dishonest or stupid” argument – so frequent in the arsenal of atheists here and on other culture-war blogsites – is invalid.

Unless the line of discussion here changes, i.e., unless people here agree to drop all charges of dishonesty against Christy and discuss only his claims about the data and his use of the data, there is no point in my hanging around here to listen to more of the usual flak. And I’m not interested in links to a hundred people who say Christy is wrong; I’m interested in the stepwise reasoning of people here in response to the video. One of the greatest faults of the old Uncommon Descent site was that, when challenged, Born Again and his pal (I keep forgetting the other guy’s screen name) would bury the reader in long quotations from sources they agreed with, instead of offering a cogent argument of two or three paragraphs in their own original prose. I already know that hundreds of scientists will disagree with Christy, and if I want to read their formulation of the disagreement, I can do so. I’m interested in seeing the people here stand on their own feet for a change, instead of heaping up demands to defer to authority or consensus. If no one one is interested in that kind of conversation, let’s call it a day. I have better things to do than wrangle in the traditional PS manner.

First, you’re putting Christie forward as an authority, without discussing his arguments, so ad hominem is a valid response. Second there’s enough documentation and relevance in the article to put it above pure ad hominem.

You are the specialist in that area.


Where did you do that? Not in this thread. Here, what you presented was a scientist who carefully cherry-picked and outright misrepresented data to support an extremist right wing agenda.

There is a difference, I assure you.

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Who has read more climate science this year than you have in your entire life. Putting me in a better position to assess the current state of climate science than you are. Also neither my age nor my position is relevant to whether or not I’m right, just as Christy’s age and position does nothing to make him right. You do realize that, right?

Backed by a mountain of evidence you can’t refute, so decided to hand-wave while dishonestly whinging about the people who run the website. Because that’s literally all you have.

If that were true, he’d correct his critics rather than dishonestly repeating his discredited claims.

When you present the relevant claims in an appropriate format (that is peer-reviewed primary literature) I’ll consider it. When you present trash, it will be treated as trash.


This is not a peer-reviewed science journal here; it’s a website for general conversation, among people who in most cases are not specialists in the particular subject being discussed at the moment. Your demand is unreasonable. If I had presented the video as a peer-reviewed science offering, your complaint would be valid, but I didn’t, so it’s not.

I merely said, here’s a guy who claims the data don’t bear out the models, and since that is in principle a reasonable thing for a scientist to say (where the facts warrant), why not give the guy a listen? One can always reject his conclusions after listening, but to reject them before listening, because one has heard negative things about him on some blog site, is to pre-judge. The related English noun for this is “prejudice”. It’s still not clear to me that you listened to the video, the entire video, and with an open mind (e.g., open to the possibility that in 2022 he might have answers to criticisms of his work that were published in 2021 or earlier), and until I get an answer to that question, the suspicion of prejudice will remain.

Of course, prejudice is nothing new here. The very first comment above, from a commenter who admitted that he hadn’t watched the video, was that Christy seemed like the Duesberg of climatology. And in the past, another biology-trained PhD here refused to watch a video about climate change and coral reefs by a specialist who had studied the reefs; he was quite certain, without seeing the argument, that the scientist (whose work he had not known about until I pointed it out) was a “denier” whose views were unworthy of consideration. (Interestingly, an Australian court had ruled that this scientist was treated prejudicially by his university for his scientific views, but that’s another story.)

Yes, I do. My remark about your youth and early stage of professional life was not meant to show that your conclusions could not be right; it’s just that I have this old-fashioned idea about students showing respect to their seniors in a professional field. Not necessarily agreement with the seniors’ ideas, but personal respect. And declaring that a senior academic with whom one has no personal relationship (and therefore has had no time to build up a reliable character assessment) is “dishonest” is certainly no sign of respect.

That’s a fair question. During the course of the interview, Christy alluded to some articles that he had published on specific subjects that were covered. I don’t remember whether the “half” figure was the topic of one of the articles that he himself wrote, or whether he pulled that from elsewhere in the scientific literature. Anyhow, you can find a c.v. for him at: https://www.uah.edu/images/colleges/science/cvs/john-christy-cv-2021.pdf; and you can find some of his work for the State of Alabama (where he is the State Climatologist) at The Alabama Office of the State Climatologist :: Dr. John R. Christy. Perhaps some of these sources contain the answer to your question. (Though if I understood the time references in the interview correctly, he had at least one article either just published or about to be published, so the c.v. I linked to is not up-to-date; he has published more than the c.v. indicates.)

And if the further measurements confirm the discrepancy, should the models and their predictions be defended indefinitely? Or is it reasonable at some point to conclude that the models are flawed?

I don’t care. You want to discuss science, you need to present science. Not YouTube videos.

And such a claim made in a YouTube video should be dismissed out of hand.

I have this old-fashioned idea that people should back up their scientific claims with scientific work.


Exactlly. So much for “data, data, data” !

Eddie, can you provide a historical example of ANY scientific disagreement that was solved by dialogue instead of data? TIA.

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Climate change is not really my beat, and I take issue with much policy governments have implemented in response, but if you want data, this is definitive to me:

Daily Sea Surface Temperature

I think this data is significant because it is output from a very large global measurement set including satellite and buoy and ship tethered sensors. Water has a large heat capacity and the thermal storage involved in raising temperature of the seven seas by a degree over the past few decades is immense. Ocean temperatures are not subject to local heat island effects, and trends can be established with high accuracy and precision.

Disclosure: Oil and gas paid my mortgage.


It seems to me that the superficial appearance of level-headedness, accuracy and honesty are not very good indicators of the presence of those three things. They are even poorer indicators if one doesn’t have sufficient grounding in the subject under discussion to detect the presence or absence of better-quality indicators.

But if one insists on living with the postmodernists in the land of “the text is all there is,” then of course the correspondence of a speaker’s views with reality and the soundness and honesty of those views all fall neatly away. The text is all there is, and all one can do is make a judgment about the narrative given, on its own terms, and a judgment about the meta-narrative “hey, this guy seems to me to be really open and honest and fact-based, and everybody is being mean to him!” This is a way to conclusions. It is not, however, a way to particularly useful or good ones.

I don’t think I could ever cite someone as a splendid example of how proper scientific argument is done, without having some notion whether he was crazier than a tree full of rats. From a purely postmodern “the text is all there is” point of view, of course, one can do that. But it’s hard to see the point in doing so.


I note that my question – whether you watched the video before passing judgment on its conclusions – remains unanswered.

Your position is quite unreasonable. The video is an interview with a journalist; its purpose is to give a broad picture of the kind of research Christy does and some of his main conclusions, and some of the main reasons for them, presented in layman’s language. If you want to read rigorous peer-reviewed science by Christy, I’ve already pointed out to someone else where that can be found, and I gave links. I never claimed that Christy had “proved” anything in the video. I said that he presented data (in simplified form, obviously, given the goal of the presentation) supportive of his conclusions. And he indicated scientific articles that he had recently completed in which technical details could be found. He was not dodging the scientific requirement of technical detail, any more than Neil DeGrasse Tyson was dodging scientific responsibility in presenting the series Cosmos in popular fashion.

I already answered this point, above. Christy does this.

So far, you have accused Christy of being “dishonest” and of not presenting scientific work. Let’s have a look at something from his online biography:

Dr. John R. Christy is the Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science and Director of the Earth System Science Center at The University of Alabama in Huntsville where he began studying global climate issues in 1987. Since November 2000 he has been Alabama’s State Climatologist. In 1989 Dr. Roy W. Spencer (then a NASA/Marshall scientist and now a Principal Research Scientist at UAH) and Christy developed a global temperature data set from microwave data observed from satellites beginning in 1979. For this achievement, the Spencer-Christy team was awarded NASA’s Medal for Exceptional Scientific Achievement in 1991. In 1996, they were selected to receive a Special Award by the American Meteorological Society “for developing a global, precise record of earth’s temperature from operational polar-orbiting satellites, fundamentally advancing our ability to monitor climate.” In January 2002 Christy was inducted as a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society.

Dr. Christy has served as a Contributor (1992, 1994, 1996 and 2007) and Lead Author (2001) for the U.N. reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in which the satellite temperatures were included as a high-quality data set for studying global climate change. He has served on five National Research Council panels or committees and has performed research funded by NASA, NOAA, DOE, DOT and the State of Alabama and has published many articles including studies appearing in Science, Nature, Journal of Climate and The Journal of Geophysical Research. Dr. Christy has provided testimony to several congressional committees.

My guess is that when NASA and the AMS gave him awards for his work on global temperature, they did not think that he was “dishonest” or that he had failed to present “science.” And I would also guess that when the IPCC used him as a Lead Author, they did not think he was “dishonest” or that his work would fail to be good “science”. I would also guess that the State of Alabama, in appointing him State Climatologist, thought he was both honest and a doer of real science.

I note that my question has not been answered.

I like your reasoning. It is interesting that your concern about heat islands and about “globality” of measurement matches the concerns which led Christy to favor troposphere measurement rather than land measurement. As for which set of measurements, sea surface or troposphere, is better, I do not claim to have enough knowledge to argue one way or the other. If I come across anything where Christy discusses sea surface measurement, I’ll pass it along to you.

Cool website, by the way. I like the interactive capacity, enabling one to follow trends over time or select any single point in time.