the Air Vent

Because the world needs another opinion

The Mystery of the Secret Libel

Posted by Jeff Id on April 15, 2009

Blogland is often entertaining

Blogland is often frusterating.

Blogland is often confusing.

Good thing it isn’t real.

thinker.jpg The Thinker image by xandyland

Laymen Lurker’s query about the accusation of possible libel and Deep’s reply.

DC, this is your house. I don’t have any problem with you responding to Jeff any way you see fit except for one thing: either something is libelous or it is not.

[DC: It’s not that clear cut, actually. But I agree that “borderline libel” is not the correct phrase and I’ve amended it to “potential libel”. See my next comment below for more on this …]

H/T to those that Lurk. Next, the big comment from the Deep……(my bold)

I thought I should expand on the “potential libel” justification mentioned above. Maybe another time I’ll simply snip statements I find problematic, but so far I have not snipped anyone (except once for slightly offensive language) and I’d prefer to keep it that way. We’ll see how it goes.

Here are the statements from Jeff ID that were problematic for me:

1. “Of course I have seen the binomial smoothing including some of the highly manipulable versions which straighten endpoints based on user input parameters. …These useful tools are also abused by people who want to make the data look different than it is.”

2. “It’s equally obvious that other blogs/scientists would insist that you can only use a linear fit when it shows an upward trend obfuscating a downward curve which is slight but real.

I didn’t intend to offend you about the abuse of tools comment, it was directed to some equally obvious acts as in your post from both official and unofficial organizations promoting AGW.

The IPCC is just a political organization and its views are not scientific.”

To my mind, these statements imply that the IPCC, HadleyCRU and various scientists who blog at (along with others perhaps) are deliberately distorting the temperature record. Now of course I can’t know for sure exactly which organizations and scientists Jeff ID has in mind, but on his blog he did refer directly to one of the groups.

“Hadley is one of the two groups that I know manipulated the endpoints of their graphs through different filtering.”

(If you really need to see it, just follow one of the trackbacks that are now littered about).

So I had a choice:
a) Snip the comment.
b) Flag the comment, move it to unthreaded and express my profound disagreement

I decided on (b).

Perhaps I’ll comment on Jeff ID’s wilder musings about me another time. For now, I’ll leave you with the definition of libel from Wikipedia. Frankly, I don’t think comments from a minor blogger would ever give rise to an actual libel action, but I do think they require vigorous demurral.

“Libel (for written publications) … is the communication of a statement that makes a claim, expressly stated or implied to be factual, that may give an individual [or] group … a negative image. It is usually, but not always, a requirement that this claim be false and that the publication is communicated to someone other than the person defamed (the claimant).”

First I’ll reply with the obvious. I made no reference to HadCrut in my snipped and implicated post at Deep Climate so I could not have been committing libel toward HadCRUT. Dr. Deep brought it up first.

Second, I’ll reply with the link and paragraph from HadCRUT that Dr. Deep knows about or he never would have been suspicious.

We have recently changed the way that the smoothed time series of data were calculated. Data for 2008 were being used in the smoothing process as if they represented an accurate esimate of the year as a whole. This is not the case and owing to the unusually cool global average temperature in January 2008, it looked as though smoothed global average temperatures had dropped markedly in recent years, which is misleading.

That should pretty well settle the HadCRUT implication of libel. When I finally mentioned Hadley yesterday after his implied accusation was made, I pointed out that HadCRUT was open about the change and the reasons for it. (see previous thread). By the way, isn’t the HadCRUT quote a classic??!!

As far as I know, his reply makes this my libelous remark.

It’s equally obvious that other blogs/scientists would insist that you can only use a linear fit when it shows an upward trend obfuscating a downward curve which is slight but real.

Again, this comment was posted before I had ever written anything in my life about hadcrut’s filtering change. It would be a fun post on HadCRUT if I was the denier they paint me to be but.. no point. In the future, Deep should pay attention to his own lectures. So, since committing libel is a bad thing, and I’ve been accused of ‘potential libel’, wouldn’t that be an “accusation of a false statement implied to an individual which gives that individual a negative image?”

Let’s be good sports, he’s entertained us so here’s a link to his ‘even minorer’ blog where the Mystery of the Secret Libel continues.

Deep Climate!

10 Responses to “The Mystery of the Secret Libel”

  1. TCO said

    Give it a rest. He was wrong, but you spending time on this shit and doing general opining on quality of climatology data analysis when you have not really finished any of your own work…is crappy.

    I want you head down, butt up over that spreadsheet. Compute, mister.

  2. Jeff Id said

    That’s the funniest thing I’ve read in a while.

    THX!! 😀

  3. Layman Lurker said


    Keep on this grasshopper…chosen one.

  4. Jeff Id said

    #3 I know you mean well, but I think it’s reasonable to reply to accusations of libel, potential, possible, imagined or otherwise.

    BTW, I’m always working in the background. Posts like this don’t take much time.

  5. TCO said

    Libel is almost as trite an internet accusation as Nazism. If you are a true flame warrior like I, you know that libel blather is for the weakest and newest of warriors. We prefer more innovative forms of sparring. Sadly, I start to reach ennui as I have seen or done most everything on the net…

  6. Layman Lurker said


    I don’t blame you really. I don’t understand why he didn’t just tear a strip off you and leave the over the top libel stuff out. It seems a little thin skinned. If I had a nickel for all the reckless, ridiculous accusations and statments on AGW blogs I’d be rich. Your comment at DC would not even rate a mention. But what do I know?

  7. rephelan said


    I find myself in an unnatural agreement with the TCO consortium. What you and Jeff C. and Roman M. have done with the Steig et al analysis is fascinating and deserves to be published. Go for it. I suspect it won’t be accepted, but that is not to your detriment. We can hammer them later.

    Deep Climate is simply a blogger without the cajones to even let us know who he is and attempts to speak with more authority than he can accrue on his own. Ignore the bugger.

    It looks like Steve M. is about to mount a penetrating analysis of the paper that was supposed to scupper all the denialists (jeez, I HATE being scuppered!) but then totally deleted (as opposed to {snipping} with a good butt-whipping of my comment) that it looked like he was challenging the integrity of Truett et al.
    I may be totally wrong, but keep an eye on what Steve M. has to say…

  8. Joe H said

    This is a very interesting place. I’d rather you not waste any time on DeepClimate.

  9. Kenneth Fritsch said

    Jeff ID, if I were you, I would silently declare victory over DC and move on. An idle threat of libel is what the thinner skinned do when someone has really gotten under their skins.

    DC and RC are advocates who attempt to explain their side of the evidence for doing immediate AGW mitigation. Their missions lose science orientation in the process and thus the emotional displays from time to time. I personally do not and would not post at those blogs, as they tend to be, necessarily as advocates, a one way street. I have come across decent and well-articulated explanations at DC and RC of a climate science related phenomenon that are useful to me without my comments.

    Jeff, I have been associated with manufacturing processes that used lens designs to very accurately register photographic images on large area surfaces. I remember that the end product registration was not entirely controlled by the lens design but by other manufacturing processes that had process variability. The key was to determine the individual contributions of all these factors so the proper lens modifications good be made after the initial trial runs and testing. Actually the lens designers could theoretically provide a very accurate registration that was not realistic in terms of the lens manufacturing (glass) and thus had to do compromises up front. They were also expected to design around some of the manufacturing process induced trends and end user trends.

    My point here, obtuse as it is, is that, when comparing even the more complex engineering type processes and evaluations with climate science, one obviously loses the ability to run climate controlled experiments and tests. That limitation in climate science is, however, not the major source of its problems. We can evaluate the way we test and evaluate engineering processes that lead to the most efficient ways of designing those processes, whereas with climate science we do not have the readily attained end result. Lacking the restraints of that unequivocal end result, I think, is what allows climate science to use sloppy and even improper techniques and methods. The CO2 and GW relationship adds to the tendency of being less questioning of methods when those methods agree with that relationship – or can be made to agree.

    Publishing a paper that critiques those improper and sloppy methods will not necessarily give counter evidence to the published evidence, but instead be limited to saying the those methods are improper or lacking and the uncertainty of the results are significantly understated. If I see any encouraging signs at all in climate science, it is that the more current publications do seem to be admitting to more uncertainty in their results – in fact, the careful reader can see even more uncertainty than the authors may admit to.

  10. Deep Climate said

    Jeff ID, if I were you, I would silently declare victory over DC and move on. An idle threat of libel is what the thinner skinned do when someone has really gotten under their skins.

    Oh come on now 🙂

    Where did I actually threaten libel? Sure, I considered some of Jeff’s comments close to unacceptable, but not because they attacked me. And I have yet to snip him at all.

    And when Jeff accused me of hiding extra points on my graph (or of being a member of the team!), I didn’t get mad. I just corrected him and moved on.

    Anyway, Kenneth, I do appreciate your comments. That encourages me to do some more analytical posts.

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