Joel Shore: The art of scientific discourse

Posted: January 8, 2012 by tallbloke in solar system dynamics

This post consists of a behind the scenes exchange with Joel Shore, plus testimony from those he has commented upon. Public comments are closed, because it isn’t right to allow further comment beyond this without giving the right of reply. It is being posted here as a matter of record, because Joel chose to start posting piecemeal parts of our exchange at another blog. I don’t think Joel has said anything scientifically substantive here which we haven’t already considered and covered. However, if anyone wants to address anything specific they find in any of Joel’s comments regarding the science (and only the science), please do so on the relevant threads without any additional editorialising  since Joel won’t be joining us here to argue his side. He is of course free to comment elsewhere on the net, and I suggest anyone who wants to engage with Joel or his scientific beliefs does so over at WUWT. Thanks. For completeness, here’s the reply I left Joel on Deltoid.

131Hi Joel. I gave up on you at WUWT because you seem unable to comprehend or address the mathematically, and empirically supported result which resolves the issue you have with Nikolov and Zeller. If I do choose to re-engage with you it will be at WUWT where there is a team of moderators on hand to handle your tendency to noisy ears closed dispute and I won’t have to wear two hats at once. Since you have chosen to post parts of our behind the scenes chat here, I’ll post our entire exchange for the record and leave comments closed.Cheers.

Posted by: Rog Tallbloke | January 8, 2012 4:32 PM

Maurizio Morobito says: “Bryan – yes, there’s no effect of radiative properties in the troposphere. Because whatever effect there might be, it is going to be counteracted by convection (and conduction).”

Actually, this is not at all correct. The radiative greenhouse effect would only be counteracted completely by convection if convection could relax the profile of the troposphere all the way to an isothermal profile. It can’t because it only goes as far as relaxing it to an adiabatic lapse rate profile.

What is important for the greenhouse effect is that the temperature at which emission escapes to space is colder than the temperature at the surface. (Ray Pierrehumbert’s book is very clear on this point, in fact.) If there were no convection, then the lapse rate in the troposphere would be higher and the radiative greenhouse effect would be greater. Convection reduces the radiative greenhouse effect but it can’t completely counteract it because the lapse rate only relaxes to the adiabatic one.

This is why Nikolov and Zeller had to put in convection in such a way that, by their own emission, it drives the temperatures T_a and T_s to be the same [1] (in obvious contradiction to what convection does in the real atmosphere). By adopting an incorrect assumption about how convection operates, they were able to essentially eliminate the radiative greenhouse effect in that simple model. Unfortunately, that is not the way the real world operates.

[Reply]Hi Joel, I’m all for informed debate from people on both sides, but you’re not posting here unless and until you apologise to Nikolov and Zeller for spreading misinformation about conservation of energy in their theory all over the blogosphere and failing to correct it. Rog

tallbloke: It is not misinformation; it is correct science…even Willis Eschebach and Roy Spencer agree with me. It is your perogative to censor me here on your blog if you want, but I may well decide to let it be known far and wide that you censor comments like this. Thanks to the Lazarus add-on, I have a copy of exactly what I have written here.

[Reply]Hi Joel. Show us the maths proving Nikolov and Zeller’s theory breaks energy conservation and you can have a guest post. Appeals to authority don’t cut it with me.

tallbloke: Here is an example of one post I have made showing your censorship tactics: I left you in “out” at the end by noting that you might yet let me post…and if you do, I will go there and note that you did.

Your call.

[Reply] Replied on Deltoid. Cheers.

tallbloke: The evidence that they have violated conservation of energy is clear from all of the amusing contortions that people are going through to try to explain to Willis and I how it could possibly not violate conservation of energy. Stephen Wilde has gone so far as to try to get around it by appealing to the gravitational redshift [2]. Unfortunately, it turns out that said effect is 9 orders of magnitude too small, besides which, we already know the solution to the conundrum that the Earth’s surface is emitting ~390 W/m^2 whereas there is only 240 W/m^2 absorbed by the Earth and atmosphere from the sun: It is that as seen from space, the Earth is only emitting 240 W/m^2…The rest of the emissions from the Earth surface are absorbed by the atmosphere. We call this the atmospheric greenhouse effect…and it is what allows the surface to emit more energy than the Earth and its atmosphere receive from the sun.

P.S. – So, is Willis banned from posting here too?

[Reply] So is this what you want me to publish as your guest post? I have to say it looks more like a re-statement of your own belief than a disproof of Nikolov and Zeller.

I’m not particularly interested in doing a guest post. I have my hands full just trying to respond to all the misguided people over at WUWT and, with classes starting again tomorrow, I won’t be able to allow this time sink to continue for too much longer. Here, I just wanted to correct what Maurizio said and make another one of Nikolov and Zeller’s many errors clear in the process.

[Reply] Hi Joel,So, not enough time for a disproof of Nikolov and Zeller via your allegation they are breaking energy conservation then? OK, stay busy. ;)

So, the only thing that one is allowed to post on your blog are opinions backed up by rigorous mathematical proofs? I think I just might be able to find a few counterexamples. In fact, I would be hardpressed to find a comment or post here that is not a counterexample!

[Reply] Hi Joel. Like I said, you won’t be posting here until you’ve proved Nikolov and Zeller’s theory breaks energy conservation or apologised to them for spreading misinformation around the net and leaving it uncorrected. Sorry to have to treat you differently to others here, but you behave differently to other people here, so that’s the way it is.

Tallbloke – You are actually asking the impossible. Science is inductive…Nothing in the real world can be proven. The best you can do is assemble evidence for it. The fact is that I can’t prove to you that the next time I let go of the apple in my hand it won’t fly up to the ceiling rather than drop down to the floor!

I think Willis and I have provided more than enough evidence to convince reasonable, rational people who are capable of accepting notions that conflict with what their ideological worldview leads them to want to believe. Alas, that is not enough evidence to convince everyone.

[Reply] Hi Joel. If you re-write what you just wrote on a mirror and step back to take a long look at it, you might realise two things. Firstly, it’s unwise to make unfounded and unsupportable accusations about other people’s mathematically and empirically supported results and cast them all over the net. Secondly, people who live in leaky greenhouses shouldn’t throw stones.

tallbloke: You are the one who needs to step back. [3] I kind of feel sorry for people like Willis and Roy to have to deal with having you guys on their side! They desperately try to prevent you guys from making total fools out of the skeptic community in the eyes of scientists but you just as passionately resist them. Oh well…As I noted to you before, whenever I need to show a physics colleague the quality of thought in the skeptic community, I will certainly think of directing them over to this blog!

[Reply]Hi Joel, If they are able to converse and present ideas without resorting to spittle filled rants about ideology, feel free to send them over. Cheers.


A few threads Joel’s physics colleagues should read first if and when they drop by:

Everyone named  by Joel gets a single reply to defend themselves.

[1] So far as I’m aware, this is not what N & Z are claiming at all.

If the adiabatic lapse rate observed in an ideal gas atmosphere is set up by gravity as N&Z,  Jelbring, (and maybe the people who came up with the lapse rate equation g/Cp?) claim, then the high altitude air at the top of a transparent atmosphere is going to be at a cooler temperature, and the near surface air is going to be at a higher temperature than that which it would be at if that atmosphere was in isothermal balance. Energy is conserved and equally distributed overall, as it must be according to the first and second laws of thermodynamics.

That is going to warm the surface (by conduction, and the reduction of convection) to a higher temperature than the Sun would warm it to in an isothermal atmosphere and that is going to cause the surface to radiate at a temperature higher than that calculated by the S-B equation.

People wishing to clarify this issue for themselves may find this thread helpful. I have replaced my earlier summary with something I think is closer to what N & Z are saying. My thanks to Joel for suggesting I do this. – TB

[2] Stephen Wilde rebuts this statement with the following:
“I deny the allegation that I relied on the redshift to explain the reason why N & Z are in my opinion correct. Someone else raised the redshift and there was a short discussion about it.  it was quickly agreed that it was not a relevant consideration.

My point was that the Earth system converts incoming solar shortwave to outgoing longwave and the resultant slowdown in the speed of solar energy through the system releases kinetic energy that heats the molecules of the Earth system.

That energy is then slowed in its exit to space proportionately to the intensity of the mass induced gravitational field via increased pressure and density at the surface so that the surface temperature rises.

I explained that process in many different verbal formulations in order to try to get the point across but he now insists that a gravitationally induced temperature rise (or GHE) is akin to fairies at the bottom of a garden.,

His suggestion that I relied on the redshift is in my opinion dishonest.


[3] This is incorrect. I stepped back from Joel’s arguments on WUWT’s thread about Nikolov and Zeller because I wasn’t able to get Joel to see past his misconceptions of what it is that Nikolov and Zeller are actually demonstrating in their paper. I stepped back and left Joel with the floor there. Now he comes hammering on my door like a Norfolk Detective and wants access to my blog to use as the platform for his mistaken views about what Nikolov and Zeller’s theory actually says. Well, here they are Joel, I’ve published them for you.

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