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Discussion > "Skydragon" invasions

Regarding Doug Cotton - I had assumed he was a slayer, my apologies for that assumption.

Joseph Postma has posted at Tallbloke Talkshop explaining the Sky Dragons position:

Sep 21, 2012 at 8:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Cowper

I believe mdgnn = spartacusisfree = AlecM = turnedoutnice, a UK resident it seems. I have asked him directly to reveal his identity, but at the end of the day it is his choice.

I don't mind him, and he seems to have a much more subtle take on radiation physics than the hardcore slayers.

Doug Cotton is well into his 60s and is a private science tutor presumably of high school students, perhaps undergraduates, lives in Sydney. He is a Claes Johnsen associate and was threadbombing on a lot of blogs until tallbloke gave him a thread of his own. That seemed to quieten him down quite a lot. Quite a few patient posters tried to disabuse him of his logical disjunctures without success. It seems to be a hallmark of slayers to steadfastly hold to the untenable in the face of the virtually irrefutable.

Oliver K Manuel, although repetitive, I don't find disruptive as he presents his usual spiel about Eisenhower, the iron sun etc. and then leaves the thread alone. Quirky rather than annoying. I find his benign eccentricity easy to tolerate, and he seems to mean well.

Sep 26, 2012 at 10:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterChris M

There are many commenters on this thead and on this that seem to think that CO2 cannot have any impact on global climate. Isn't that the definition of a Sky Dragon?

There again, what about Cornwall Alliance signatories "We deny that Earth and its ecosystems are the fragile and unstable products of chance, and particularly that Earth’s climate system is vulnerable to dangerous alteration because of minuscule changes in atmospheric chemistry. Recent warming was neither abnormally large nor abnormally rapid. There is no convincing scientific evidence that human contribution to greenhouse gases is causing dangerous global warming." that includes Dr Roy Spencer?

Oct 6, 2012 at 3:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterLouise

"Isn't that the definition of a Sky Dragon?"

Oct 6, 2012 at 3:08 PM Louise

For me, a Sky Dragon is someone who believes what you find in the book Slaying the Sky Dragon: Death of the Greenhouse Gas Theory - things like "radiation from a body at temperature T1 cannot be absorbed by a body at temperature T2" (where T1 < T2).

They believe things that are in complete disagreement with the theory of black body radiation, upon which theory much of twentieth century physics is based. Thus their arguments against CO2 causing warming are based on a profound misunderstanding of basic physics.

Oct 6, 2012 at 8:43 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

"We deny that Earth and its ecosystems are the fragile and unstable products of chance, and particularly that Earth’s climate system is vulnerable to dangerous alteration because of minuscule changes in atmospheric chemistry. Recent warming was neither abnormally large nor abnormally rapid. There is no convincing scientific evidence that human contribution to greenhouse gases is causing dangerous global warming."

I completely, unreservedly agree with this statement. Well, except the products of chance bit.

Oct 8, 2012 at 8:28 PM | Registered Commentershub

Look, this is supposed to be about science. In science there may be differing hypotheses and opinions about levels of proof and disproof, but the is a method for resolving arguments over time. We are goiing to get nowhere by bickering here. What we need to do with Skydragons, as we need to do with alarmists, lukewarmers, deniers, you name (or label) it, is to ask them to back up their assertions with observation and experiment. If you can't observe it, devise an experiemnt to differentiate between the various conjectures. How hard can it be to show the presence or absence of 'back radiation' and its effect on heating or cooling rates between objects at different tempertures? It's only hard if you can't admit the possibility of being wrong so much that you dare not put it to the touch.

We can measure what is going on. It seem we don't, preferring not to know. We do not need to argue about hypotheses or tactics or who blogs too much or thread-bombs. We just need to show what is really going on. Warmists cannot do it, or at least failed to in response to my previous posts.Can the dragons do it?

Oct 9, 2012 at 10:11 AM | Registered Commenterrhoda

Since, as our friend MydogSpartAlec (as I call him) maintains that one of the problems we face is that climate scientists insist on treating the earth as a black body in a vacuum when it isn't (and I am inclined to agree with him about that — do you know any different) I'm not sure who it is that has the profound misunderstanding of basic physics.
Certainly it would be nice to hear someone else with his background agree with him or to see his long-awaited paper but I'm not sure that he deserves the outright abuse he gets, except for his tedious habit of bringing the subject into every thread.
Incidentally, I followed the link to Postma's paper. Seemed to make sense to me. Can anybody tell me where it falls down?

Oct 9, 2012 at 12:26 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Quite agree with Mike Jackson about Postma's paper which I find very interesting not only re black body radiation but from from the point of view of epistemological history, beautifully describing how complex theories could be and were elaborated for centuries based on the notion of the Ptolomaic earth-centred universe.
I do recommend all here to visit Tallbloke's site and download this fascinating paper.

I don't visit the present thread every day and am pleasantly surprised to see so many thoughtful comments still being contributed.

One word to Louise, Rhoda and Martin A: In the the title I used the "Skydragon" word ironically (in inverted commas, if you'll notice)) mainly because I was exasperated by blogger Omnologos' persistence in using the epithet by way of provocation. But the people in question call themselves "Sky dragon slayers", or just the "Slayers", the Skydragon they are trying to slay being the ingrained notion of the existence of a Greenhouse effect and back radiation. I tend to be with them on that point, so if you wish you may call me a "Slayer sympathiser".

I have gone as far as following the tedious 1000-comment thread on Jeff Id's site. Doug Cotton stuck to his guns until there were only him and Jeff left standing. They both hung on like terriers on a stick - as long as one pulls, the other is unable to unlock its jaw. What I mean is, the persistence was on both sides and only resolved by Jeff introducing moderation thereby effectively banning Doug from his site. However unpleasant and tedious, I still don't call that thread-bombing, which is what the Slayers have been accused of. A similar thing happened with Claes Johnson of Judy Curry's site.

As for Doug, he may consider himself a Slayer or they consider him one. He has an article under "blogger peer review" at Principia Scientific.

Finally a daft question for Bryan (Sept 21): - Is there another special kind of heat that isn't thermodynamic?

Oct 13, 2012 at 5:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn in France

John in France says

"Finally a daft question for Bryan (Sept 21): - Is there another special kind of heat that isn't thermodynamic?"

Physicists sometimes use words which have a clear technical meaning which is much more narrow than the everyday 'man in the street' use of the same word.

Examples are power, work, heat and so on .

There are many confused versions of what is meant by the word heat.
For instance most IPCC promoters would say that infra red radiation is heat.
This gives them the excuse to say that a cold atmosphere can heat the warmer Earth surface.

Hopefully no one with a physics degree would accept this definition of what is meant by the word heat.

The physics use of the word is quite clear and when used in a scientific discussion, textbook , or journal is always the same.
I use the term thermodynamic heat in blogs to make quite clear that I am using the term heat in its technical definition.

Physics textbooks, papers and so on always use the term in its correct technical sense and hence would not need to add the term thermodynamic.

I have explained this point several times on Science of Doom.

Doug Cotton also turned up on SoDs site with much the same outcome as on Jeff Ids site.
However when banned, Doug changed name several times to keep making the same points and I would call this thread bombing.

Oct 14, 2012 at 9:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterBryan

John in France
I've never been happy with the emphasis on CO2 as the principal (or, if they can get away with it, sole) cause of modern global warming for reasons which I have gone into many times both here and elsewhere.
I am quite prepared to be proved wrong on this but over the last 10 years no-one has come close which is one reason why I am unhappy with the level of intolerance shown in some parts of "our" side towards those who maintain that increased atmospheric CO2 is at best a minor player with any feedback as likely to be negative as positive or who even question whether it is relevant to the debate at all.
I'm not in any way justifying thread-bombing but one of the major complaints that sceptics have is the level of intolerance shown to those with dissenting views by the warmists, I would have thought it ill becomes us to behave similarly.
I don't know whether Postma is another Newton or Einstein, probably not. But his paper makes some sense to me as a layman so if it's total bollocks will someone please explain why in terms a layman can understand?
In particular I need someone to refute the contention that it is a major error to treat the earth as a black body. Jonathan Jones gave us a first class primer on the theory of radiation transfer a few months ago but even there it seemed to me that his lesson bore only a tangential relevance to the real world. Postma seems nearer the mark when he accepts that (a) the earth is a sphere not a flat disc, and (b) insolation only happens 50% of the time.
I could never adequately argue with BBD on this question of average incoming radiation even though I thought it was a bit dubious but Postma makes it very clear (to me at least) why averaging won't work. If he's right about that, a lot follows.

Oct 14, 2012 at 11:11 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Mike Jackson,

I think I was clear that I was only discussing ideal black bodies in the discussion you kindly refer to, and making no claim whatsoever about the relevance of this to the earth. I find it useful to separate the question of how black bodies behave from the question of whether the earth can be treated as a black body. Obviously the fact that the earth is a variably illuminated sphere rather than a constantly illuminated infinite plain is "important", but working out exactly how important it is is rather complex and the discussion has to get far far more technical than anything on that thread. Similarly for the interplay between convection and radiation.

Oct 16, 2012 at 4:50 PM | Registered CommenterJonathan Jones

Thankyou for that, and I'm sure you're right though it's really too technical for me already!
My point really was that as long as the earth isn't a black body and climatologists (or some of them) treat it as if it is or at any rate it might as well be because it doesn't really make any difference — which seems to be the situation we are in — then the poor layman (including politicians) don't really know which way to jump and we all become prey to those with a vested interest in keeping the whole AGW gravy train rolling whether it can be justified by the science or not.
To what extent the slayers have it right/wrong I don't know but I feel there is unnecessary pressure on them to toe a sceptic party line just as there is for the warmists to toe theirs. This is not the sort of scientific freedom we claim to be arguing for.

Oct 16, 2012 at 5:10 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

I'd like draw people's attention to a new thread called Channelling dogginess, which discusses something taken for granted on this and others: that certain 'Greenhouse Is Wrong' advocates, like mdgnn and Doug Cotton, have chosen to take up multiple pseudonyms to try and advance their case. I'd like to take time, if anyone is interested, to look more closely at this behaviour and its inverse - multiple real people using a single pseudonym. This obviously relates to Paul Matthews's thread Real Names or Pseudonyms but has the advantage of concentrating on an important, arguably pathological, subset of pseudonymity. This may I think shed light on the perception of "invasion" and thread-bombing that have loomed large here.

Oct 16, 2012 at 6:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

Mike Jackson, I would be somewhat surprised if you could find a climatologist who treats the earth as a uniformly illuminated flat black body in their professional work. You will find many who use analogies which explicitly or implicitly assume this when they are speaking to the general public. Opinions vary as to how useful such horribly naive analogies are, but the fact that parts of the public seems to misconstrue such analogies as implying that GCMs incorporate such obviously wrong assumptions is worrying.

Oct 17, 2012 at 9:56 PM | Registered CommenterJonathan Jones

Mike Jackson,

It might be helpful to give you a little more insight into how a jobbing physicist (which is what I am) would think about the uniform illumination issue. Obviously its wrong, but the important question is how wrong it is.

The first thing one would think about is the range of temperatures experienced during a day. Glancing at the local weather I see that the temperature is something like 12C+/-5C. That sounds like a lot, but you need to convert to Kelvin, so we have 285+/-5K. Now we would rewite that as something like T=T0(1+/-x) where T0=285K is the average temperature, and x=0.0175 is the range of variation. Less than 2% variation is not going to change anything fundamental: sure it might fiddle with the fine details, but it's not going to break the basic concepts.

Ahh, but you might point out that by the Stefan-Boltzmann law what matters is not T but its fourth power. So we need to look at T^4=T0^4(1+/-x)^4. But because x is small we can use a binomial approximation and get T^4=T0^4(1+/-4x). The variation is now about 7%: larger, but still small.

So we can pretty much ignore the day/night variation in illumination (presumably because the local heat capacity damps that out pretty effectively or something along those lines). Seasonal variations will be a little larger, but still broadly in the "small" range. However geographical variations look rather larger, especially when combined with seasons: south pole winter drops to about 215K while tropical summers can reach 315K. Add T^4 variation and its clear that we can't really assume uniform illumination on that scale.

Surprise, surprise, if you look at a somewhat more complex treatment of the greenhouse effect you find that the behaviour is significantly different at the poles and in the tropics. So now we can feel smug because we expected that to be the case. (Of course the smugness might be entirely undeserved because the variation might have quite different causes, but that's life.)

Oct 17, 2012 at 10:15 PM | Registered CommenterJonathan Jones

Jonathan Jones: Typo? -5°C = 268,15K.

Oct 19, 2012 at 12:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn in France

John, he means twelve plus or minus five for the daily variation. Just a problem of limited character set.

On skydragons and slayers, I often wonder why people tell us what they think is happening and ignore the necessity of showing us what IS happening. For a logical person it is frustrating to see the same old rubbish dragged out again and again by both sides when what we need is an indisputable experimental (or empirical) demonstration. It's almost as if they each have so much invested in it that they dare not put it to the touch.

Oct 19, 2012 at 12:56 PM | Registered Commenterrhoda

Rhoda, Look again at JJ's comment. First of all he gave his values in degrees Celsius or what we used to call "Centigrade": maximum day, +12°C and minimum night, -5°C. He then transposed them into Kelvins correctly for +12°C = 285K; then he either made a typo or he was distracted by something because -5K is impossible as zeroK = Absolute Zero (so it can never be minus anything). The value for -5°C in Kelvins is +268K. That's all I was pointing out.

Re your other point: the Slayers have several times alluded to Nasif Nahle's replication of Wood's experiment of 1909 that refuted the greenhouse effect.

That might be the the sort empirical experiment you're looking for (??)

Oct 19, 2012 at 11:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn in France

OK, apologies. I have displayed my arithmetical illiteracy and now realise that the kelvin unit has the same magnitude as a degree Celsius, so no typo. Confusing though, to mix the units like that.

Nov 5, 2012 at 9:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn in France