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Solutionizing And The Near-Death Of Watts Up With That

Recently, there’s been plenty of gnawing of climateblogging teeth for the silliest of reason. Simply, Willis “Rooster Cogburn” Eschenbach took umbrage of Tallbloke and posted at WUWT what was later revealed an act in some kind of psychodrama (with plenty of censored comments – my own comment to the latter, including a “GET A LIFE” exhortation, hasn’t has finally seen the light of day as yet).

Tallbloke has responded here and here. The end result has been that WUWT has apparently transmogrified into Climate Progress, after celebrating its 100M hit. Not sure how long I’ll hang around it, unless things change.

And the topic that has caused so much heating? If there is any gravitational explanation for the “greenhouse effect”. Cue millions of words written for nothing.

The actual problem as I see it is called “solutionizing”.

People tackle the problem of why bumblebees fly, some ideas are thrown around, those ideas are incomplete, so people come to the conclusion that since there is no solution to the problem, bumblebees don’t fly.

In the meanwhile, bumblebees fly. Back to square one.

In management circles, this is all pointed out as a fundamental error…the fact that you don’t have a solution doesn’t mean the problem is impossible to solve. It simply means you should concentrate on analysing the problem and in collecting more data, rather than immediately try to identify a solution.

For those harder in understanding, the observation is that independently from the composition of the atmosphere and the presence of a solid surface underneath it, every planetary atmosphere in the solar system has a “troposphere”, defined as the part where downward lapse rates are positive, i.e. temperatures increase as the distance from the top of the troposphere increase.

The same thing applies to any self-standing gas cloud anywhere in the universe. There is always a surface “below” which temperatures increase with pressure. Otherwise stars won’t ever ignite.

Now if this is because of whatever Hans has said, or N&Z, or it’s Tooth Fairies, that is not a question that will ever be answered in blogs (and especially, in their comment sections). But anybody stating that what the whole cosmos is alight by is “impossible”, they do have a problem telling truth from fantasy.

  1. 2012/01/19 at 06:00

    W – you have misunderstood me.

    First of all thanks for.clarifying the bit about snipping. So it appears many have overreacted calling it “censorship”. Me included. Well, I hope my analogy about wearing a black shirt in Italy will make you understand. I’m not sure what the equivalent would be in the US culture – just think of a “normal” thing that everybody is bound to be hurt by nevertheless.

    For example Tokyo maps in Tokyo are full of swastikas, but Tokyo maps in Europe usually don’t have any. Perhaps going to the AACP meeting with a Confederate flag? Or starting a speech at a women’s rights rally the way an Italian comedian did (“You whores!”- a great joke in hindsight, but they booed him off stage – because many of them have been called “whores” all their lives just because of their activism) .

    Once again: pretty much all of your readers have suffered and are still suffering censorship all over the ‘net. They (we) can’t take it lightly even if “justified”. Call it irrational behavior.

    Perhaps next time you might want to move those comments into a separate thread rather than make them disappear.

    As for my “declaration”, I’d rather modify it to: I, Maurizio Morabito, in pursuit of what I think is a good goal, hope that Willis Eschenbach will see the wisdom in letting his affectionate readers recharge their batteries after a stressful (for them) episode.

    Anyway …if you can’t do that, you can’t do that, let’s move on. The SOPA day was a whole day after all.

    We are the ones that are not obsessed with consensus, and that’s IMNSHO our biggest strength in the face of the Romms and Cooks (and Pachauris) of this world.

    • Willis Eschenbach
      2012/01/19 at 07:40

      Thank you most kindly, Maurizio. Indeed, we have had our SOPA day, which by all accounts has been a success.

      Would I do it again? No way. I have apologized to anyone who thought they were being censored, although if they had actually read the head post they would have realized that their post was snipped, as clearly explained in advance, because they who were posting wildly off-topic posts. But I apologized nonetheless.

      I do not apologize for pushing Tallbloke to declare his support of scientific censorship. I do not apologize for showing that Tallbloke didn’t understand the theory he was banning Joel for speaking against. I did not force him to do anything, I set a scene that I thought he could not resist, to try to get him to discuss his scientific censorship in public.

      Diogenes says that I “really cannot see that he might have alienated a number of the followers of that site.” Rest assured that I see that, my friend of the lantern, people have been very loud and unequivocal in saying that, I could hardly miss it.

      However, the main complaints of alienation center around the idea that I “censored” people … but I never did. People feeling alienated about something that didn’t happen, well, people do that all the time. I told no lies, Diogenes, I censored no one, I clearly said what I would do and I did it. But as I said above, I apologized to people regardless. I’m not happy that they feel alienated, any more than you are, regardless of whether their feeling is justified or not.

      Finally, I would like to make it clear that Anthony knew nothing of my actions. Despite my saying many times that Anthony does not edit, pre-approve, or even see my columns before posting, people think somehow he is at fault, or that he should do something. The faults, whatever they may be, are entirely my own responsibility.

      In friendship,


  2. diogenes
    2012/01/18 at 22:58

    and Willis is still justifying his actions……a cool-off period is required. He really cannot see that he might have alienated a number of the followers of that site. To punish tallbloke, for “censorship”, when he offered Joel Shore a platform to expound his views,is beyond wacky. I do not think that Willis will ever be allowed to forget this, sadly.

  3. Annabelle
    2012/01/18 at 04:28

    Totally agree that this has been a sad day for WUWT.

  4. 2012/01/17 at 23:32

    Will’s insistence on an elevator argument resonated with me because of a coincidence of timing.
    I had happened upon a youtube video urging Republican voters to “speak out about climate change” at the New Hampshire primary created by the obscenely liberal/journalistic collaboration called the climate desk.

    The place was seething with global warming firebrands, and because the setting made it difficult for the alarmists to censor, I was allowed a free hand. The only limitation being youtube’s comment form size restriction. So they received a barrage of “elevator arguments”.

    In fact I carpet bombed the SOBs. Crushed them. Pulverized them. Then took a second and third pass to bounce the rubble, just in case they took the first time for accident.

    You know the warmist arguments are just as worthless and vapid in real time as they are in newspapers.

  5. 2012/01/17 at 19:47

    Leave the egos and games behind and move on.

  6. Scott
    2012/01/17 at 17:03

    I have heard many people talk about this EVENT that happened at WUWT but they all start out assuming that everyone who is reading thier blog, comment, etc. knows what happened. I don’t, and I have know idea what everyone is talking about.

  7. 2012/01/17 at 13:39

    The point of spending time to understand the problem is spot on. In management and interpersonal issues, 80% of the time invested must be spent identifying the underlying cause. Unfortunately most policy pundits believe they know the problem and spend 80% of their time debating a solution which invariably does little to improve the symptoms and nothing to address the underlying cause. Look no further than health care.

  8. Mike Mangan
    2012/01/17 at 13:36

    Eh, I think you’re overreacting a bit. Anthony is guilty of giving too much leeway to one of his audience’s favorite posters. Willis had a good point and a horrible way of making it. A month from now no one will remember it.

    • 2012/01/17 at 13:38

      Mike – in fact I’ve asked Anthony on Twitter for a Willis-free month. Even if he doesn’t do it, I won’t be reading anything by W for a month starting from now. Hopefully I’ll forget it myself too.

      • Willis Eschenbach
        2012/01/18 at 19:12

        Maurizio, I feel you are over-reacting on this. I trapped Tallbloke, it’s true, but all I trapped him into was a public statement of his beliefs. So while my methods were debatable, all I did was make him stand up and declare himself a fan of scientific censorship who couldn’t even explain the theory over which he was censoring Joel. I fail to see the crime in that.

        If you see that as a great evil of some kind, well, that’s your call. However, why propose punishing Anthony? And more to the point, why propose that I be censored in response?

        If you want a Willis-free week, Maurizio, all you need to do is not read what I write. But apparently, that’s not enough for you. You want me censored as well.

        So when you propose that my voice be censored as well as Joel’s, that I be silenced for a month because Maurizio doesn’t like what I’m saying or the way I’ve said it … well, at this point I fear for the skeptical movement. We can’t make our opponents disappear like Tallbloke tried, by banning them from his site.

        And although I understand that you don’t like my actions, your response is to propose more censorship?

        So while I understand your upset, Mauizio, I fail to see how that leads to your loud, clear, clarion call for more censorship … is that really what you want to advocate, more censorship?

        In friendship and a hope of understanding,


      • 2012/01/18 at 22:19

        Hello W and thanks for stopping by.

        So while my methods were debatable, …I fail to see the crime in that.

        As far as I am concerned, the problem is exactly the methods you employed: a public post with an almost private goal, and a sudden willingness to heavily censor the comments.

        The former makes one feel used. For the latter, you should have known, most of your readers have been victims of censorship in the past, therefore it is a sore and soft spot and totally indigestible. Like wearing a black shirt in Italy, or landing in Israel with Adolf-style moustaches, people are bound to overreact. Had censorship become a “new” feature of WUWT, of course the site would have died (that’s why “the near death”).

        I hope you will never do either of that, again.

        why propose that I be censored in response?

        I think it’d be easier to catch water with one’s bare hands than to censor you. I am asking for something different. If you see above, I was responding to Mike Mangan’s suggestion that “A month from now no one will remember it”.

        So like in those sports who have a “sin bin” where one goes to cool off without being thrown out of the game, I really think we could do a while (a day, a week, a month, you choose) without your contributions, if only to strengthen the good memories of blogs past😎 …and start afresh when this whole episode will be barely remembered if at all. As you can see I have mellowed already on the topic…

        In friendship and a hope of understanding,

        Don’t worry, you’re still up there in my Climate Pantheon. Just keep in mind, blogs mean talking to people. Censorships, and manipulations of any kind can’t be good, whatever the reason.

      • Willis Eschenbach
        2012/01/19 at 02:35

        Thanks, Maurizio, for your thoughtful reply.

        I’m sorry that you think what I did was a huge thing. You say that the thing that I did wrong was that I announced very publicly that I would snip posts to keep the thread on track, and I did exactly that.

        You describe my action, of snipping to keep the thread on track after clearly saying that I would do exactly that, as “censorship”. It was nothing of the sort. I said exactly what I wanted to have in the thread, Maurizio, and I said that if people posted random stuff that had nothing to do with that, I would snip it. And I did.

        I didn’t snip anything scientific that I know of, and I invited people to resubmit if something scientific were cut by mistake.

        That is not “censorship” on anyone’s planet.

        I still don’t understand why your proposed solution to my fighting Tallbloke’s scientific censorship is that I should be censored. And you are not proposing what you call censored when I do it, which was me saying “I’ll snip you if you post about off-topic stuff”. That’s not censorship despite your claims.

        You want me real-deal censored, my voice stilled entirely, the authentic good old-timey censorship.

        There is no “sin bin”, Maurizio. That’s a euphemism like describing throwing someone into solitary confinement as ‘giving the man a bit of privacy’. Let’s move past the euphemisms.

        I want you to be 100% clear that you, Maurizio Morabito, in pursuit of what you think is a good goal, are proposing that I be censored, that my voice be silenced completely, and the only question you have about the propriety of that action is … for how long should I be gagged?

        You are proposing that Anthony censor me, and yet you are upset with me for snipping off-topic posts after announcing that I would do so, and for pushing Tallbloke behind the scenes to publicly state his beliefs.

        A strange world indeed, my friend, a world of wonders. Just when I think I understand it I find that I don’t have a clue, that I was born yesterday …

        My very best regards to you,


  9. 2012/01/17 at 13:17

    Sadly, WUWT is transforming into WTFIUWT.

  10. diogenes
    2012/01/17 at 11:53

    I think that Willis has blown his credibility with this incident and WUWT will suffer. The idea of an elevator pitch to encapsulate a complex theory is a little strange. I think that Feynman’s principle was that if he couldn’t explain something in a freshman lecture, then he didn’t understand it deeply. A lecture being rather longer than an elevator pitch. An elevator piutch to explain general relativity or quantum mechanics?

    • 2012/01/17 at 11:56

      Not only that diogenes – the idea of using WUWT to play a bait game against one person, that makes one wonder.

      If I were Watts I’d have ignited a few hours ago.

  11. bluejohnmarshall
    2012/01/17 at 11:28

    The problem with the theory of GHG’s, as I see it, is that the predicted troposphere heat anomaly is not measurably there. This is the hot spot from which the reradiated heat comes from. Regardless of the anomalous heat that part of the troposphere is colder than the surface and heat cannot flow from cold to hot, according to the 2nd law of thermodynamics, otherwise we could make a Perpetual Motion Machine, PMM, which we all know is not possible. Would that it were, free power would be a good thing in some ways.

    I also have a problem with the claim that GHG’s store heat. Again the 2nd law steps in. If any object gains heat it must spontaneously emit heat to its surroundings. A molecule of CO2 or any other GHG must transmit heat to the surrounding air molecules and this will continue as long as there is a heat differential. Nothing can store heat. Heat is gained or lost.

    As the 2nd law puts it– Entropy must increase.

    The N&Z paper tries to introduce the heat gained through compression which is self evident is so many aspects of science and our daily lives that I suppose it has been neglected as a possible answer to the GHG theory. Willis claimed in an answer to another blog that planets cannot emit more heat than received from their sun. My question to Willis was– Why does Jupiter and Saturn emit more heat than they receive from the sun if adiabatic compression does not work in an atmosphere? There was a silence you could cut with a knife. In fact the question was ‘snipped’. I was accused of time wasting.

  12. Otter
    2012/01/17 at 11:07

    I admit to not having followed this particular story very much, but I have come away with the impression that someone felt a sense of empowerment, re: 100,000,000 hits (Not Mr Watts), and thought it might be time to take it back to the climate bullies (the attack(?) by a warmist on N&Z?). And it backfired.

    That’s just my impression.

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