Tuesday, August 22, 2006

To my secret admirer

I seem to have picked up a mildly obnoxious anonymous commenter, visible in the comments of these posts here and here, for example (not all anon comments are this same person). He doesn't actually engage in debating anything of substance, but merely tries to denigrate with snide remarks. I've not bothered deleting his comments as I think their ineffectiveness is clear enough, but I do have a few points to make to him.

1. Before posting too much more in a similar vein, you might care to consider how your behaviour reflects on the AOPP department at Oxford University where you are based, and how your colleagues might think of it if they knew who you were (I don't think it is too much of a stretch to believe that they would at least be rather embarassed by your general cluelessness on scientific matters and inability to put together a coherent case, even if they happen to approve of your loyalty).

2. As you might have realised, you are not as anonymous as you think you are. That's a useful lesson to learn before you say anything that you might come to have serious cause to regret. I long ago came to the conclusion that I would rather put my name openly to my opinions, which both eliminates the risk of an embarassing "outing" and also forces me to take the trouble to only say stuff that I'm prepared to state in public. I can't guarantee that I always get it right, but I always try, and I'm generally prepared to listen to reasonable criticism. If you are too ashamed of your own opinions to own up to them, perhaps it's time to reconsider what you are writing.

3. I can understand that some people in AOPP are unhappy that I disagree with some of their heros. All I can say to that is too bad, I think some of what has appeared in the literature under their names is very clearly wrong. I would certainly agree - strongly - that scientists should be allowed to propose interesting ideas, and say things that ultimately turn out to be wrong - journals are not some repository of truth, but a means of communication (maybe you should read Doswell and Errico again). I don't think scientists deserve overly harsh criticism or villification for making mistakes, and that applies to me as much as others. But part of the deal is that they've - we've - got to be prepared to accept the mistakes when they are pointed out. Bear in mind that it is Frame et al who are doing their best to prevent us from publishing our comments, not the other way around.

4. Despite the above strong disagreements on scientific matters, none of our exchanges have any level of rancour remotely comparable to your comments. You don't have to get personal and bitchy just because you disagree with someone. This sort of thing is, fortunately, very much the exception rather than the rule. Maybe when you grow up a little, you will realise that scientific research leads to a lot of disagreements, some minor and some fundamental. It's not all people patting each other on the back and deciding what the "consensus" should be. The most rigorous testing is though focussed criticism rather than a vague admiration.

Here ends the lesson.


Anonymous said...

ahhh, yet another case of bloggers taking themselves too seriously (both Annan & anon ;-)

James Annan said...

Maybe if you were prepared to take yourself a bit more seriously, you might make a more useful and interesting contribution. Your choice. Constructive comments are always welcome, whether you make them from home or work is up to you :-)

Anonymous said...

OK let's change it then -- I don't take myself seriously enough; you and your wife & other climate bloggers take yourselves WAYYYYYY too seriously!

And again, your whingeing about some flames, after your basically libelous statements on others, is the pot calling the kettle black (with 100% probability).

Anonymous said...

Just remember, guys: having the last word doesn't make you a winner.

(BTW, I'm not *that* "anonymous". Actually, I have a name and it's Mark Hadfield.)

Dano said...


Beautiful James.



John Cross said...

James, I see that two more Russians are predicting global cooling in 6 to 9 years. They appear to be different than the ones you have your bet with. Have you approached them?


James Annan said...

John, who are they? I don't think I've head this. Not that I'm particularly desperate to chase up any more bets on GW myself, but there are some others who might be keen.

Anonymous said...

Was it

Re Khabibullo Abdusamatov and colleagues

"Abdusamatov and his colleagues at the Russian Academy of Sciences astronomical observatory said the prediction is based on measurement of solar emissions, Novosti reported. They expect the cooling to begin within a few years and to reach its peak between 2055 and 2060."

2055 to 2060 sounds a bit distant for a bet, but if they expect the cooling to begin within a few years....