Thursday, January 28, 2016

So what did he actually do?

De mortuis nihil nisi bonum and all that, but appropos of this post, which generated lots of hot air, would any Bob Carter fans like to say anything about his work in climate science? I think the only time I came across him was as an author on the execrable McLean et al paper, which was comprehensively debunked many times (including by yours truly). Carter isn't the easiest name to look up (too common) and I haven't really found anything significant in his publication record related to anthropogenic climate change.

Of note perhaps is that McIntyre declined to comment on his friend's scientific achievements. I'm shocked indeed that he wasn't eager to audit Carter's climate-related publications. De mortuis nil nisi bonum indeed, or perhaps in this case it would be more precise to say "De mortuis nil nisi dicendum". No, I don't speak Latin, it's on wikipedia. 

So, has anyone else got anything to say?

28 comments:

William Connolley said...

Not sure if you've seen all my wonderful posts, but don't miss http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2016/01/27/cainozoic-history-of-southern-new-zealand-an-accord-between-geological-observations-and-plate-tectonic-predictions/.

Also, ATTP (and others) chime in with some contributions at #165 and following (my, its a long time since I've had 165 comments).

As a matter of interest, when looking at the "what's a typical citation count" I looked at yours - via google scholar - and discovered it to be apparently quite low; I'd expected it to be respectably above mine. Did I miss something? I could account for it by you stepping on the toes of too many giants, of course.

James Annan said...

Great minds think alike....

As any fule kno, the way to get a big h-index is to get your name on lots of other peoples' papers, the worthier the better. It's not a game I really played that well and being in Japan didn't really help. On measures that try to account for coauthorship or personal contribution, I do a bit better. For instance, my h-index for first-author papers is about 14, versus your 9.

Also, remember I only got into climate about 2001. The stuff before that doesn't really contributes, and my h-index is still climbing steadily.

But yeah, excuses aside, I'm a bit of a nobody :-)

jules said...

Mine's bigger than his. Of course. But that just proves there's a flaw in the whole concept of the H-index. Apparently.

:j

Tom C said...

Well, let's see here. William's papers concern what is called everyday, by politicians, movie stars, business leaders, media types, etc. a *planetary crisis*. Huge conferences involving every nation on earth are held on this issue. The public is hammered relentlessly about the "polar ice caps melting", whatever that means. And co-author William gets as many citations per year as a guy who toiled away in an arcane area of geology. So, therefore, William is a better scientist. Pathetic.

Tom C said...

Well, let's see here. William's papers concern what is called everyday, by politicians, movie stars, business leaders, media types, etc. a *planetary crisis*. Huge conferences involving every nation on earth are held on this issue. The public is hammered relentlessly about the "polar ice caps melting", whatever that means. And co-author William gets as many citations per year as a guy who toiled away in an arcane area of geology. So, therefore, William is a better scientist. Pathetic.

James Annan said...

Much as he would like it to be, it's not about William (or me, before anyone starts). It's about Bob Carter, and his seminal contributions to climate science. Or not. Like I said, I haven't found any. "Arcane area of geology" seems to sum it up nicely, but I may have missed something. Which is why I asked.

David B. Benson said...

Never heard of him before this week.

Windchasers said...

I can't quite see how Tom C's point logically fits together. To the best of my knowledge, politicians, movie stars, business leaders and media types don't create citations for scientific papers, so I'm not sure why their interest would have anything to do with citations.

That being said, I do wonder if climate science-oriented papers *do* receive more citations on average than ones in geology? Certainly citations vary by field; I think medicine and biology are up near the tops, while mathematics and computer science are near the bottom.

In any case, as James pointed out, the issue has no bearing on the expertise of Carter within climate science. I'm just curious.

Tom C said...

Windchaser - It's not that hard. Money follows the hype and translates into more journals, more researchers, more papers, more citations.

David Young said...

Citations are often hard to find. I keep getting updates from ResearchGate about how many people cite our work or read the ones posted on their site. The numbers are much higher than I had imagined or find credible. The universe of scientific literature is very large and there seem to be a few people who read our work, including previous collaborators, who naturally like their own work. :-) Does it mean much? It's hard to determine how many of these citers actually read and understood the paper. I don't place much stock in such things. As TomC points out there is an industry based on such things and being cited doesn't matter much in my line of work anyway.

James Annan said...

So Tom (and/or David), don't worry about citations. Just tell me what he actually did.

MartinM said...

The public is hammered relentlessly about the "polar ice caps melting", whatever that means.

Apparently the public isn't hammered relentlessly enough if you don't know what "polar ice caps melting" means.

EliRabett said...

Found a hobby to keep himself busy in retirement?

Tom C said...

Stunning lack of self-awareness there, Eli

EliRabett said...


Tom, you have not a clue.

David Young said...

The one thing of Carter's I watched on climate was not original at all. Other than that I don't know. The safe assumption is that he didn't contribute much to climate science. What people have been saying is more along the lines that he was a good mentor, which is also a contribution that is quite worthy.

Mitch Lyle said...

Bob Carter was the co-chief scientist on Ocean Drilling Program Leg 181 (http://www-odp.tamu.edu/publications/181_IR/181TOC.HTM). He did work on the Cenozoic evolution of the southwest Pacific. He had a tendency to winnow data to support his hypotheses, as many often do.

andthentheresphysics said...

The only other paper of his that seems moderately relevant (based on the other authors, more than anything else) was A vaccine against arrogance, by Briggs, Soon, Legates & Carter. It appears to have never been cited, which probably tells you all you need to know.

Steve Bloom said...

I asked Chuck Magee, who's been a geologist in Oz for some years. His answer: "Never heard of him."

Was Carter first to attempt to float the hiatus meme in a "serious" way (i.e. in the Torygraph)?

I notice there that he identifies himself as working on paleoclimate. But stratigraphy isn't quite the same thing, is it?

Mark Ryan said...

Bob Carter made a strategic contribution at the Heartland Institute, and a few of the Australian free market think tanks.

Carter, Idso and Singer were the three main authors/editors of the NIPCC's 'Climate Change Reconsidered' and other reports. His book "Climate: the Counter Consensus" got some press coverage in Australia. I imagine he wrote blog posts for Jo Nova and WUWT, but I haven't looked into it.

Mark Ryan said...

Oh -and Carter was also the earliest person I know of to publicly claim global warming had stopped, jumping in only seven years after the 1998 El Nino.

James Annan said...

So...nothing peer-reviewed relatng to climate then...makes me wonder how people get these gigs...

Mark Ryan said...

Apples and oranges, really, isn't it? You use the term 'peer-review' - I do not think the Heartland Institute thinks that term means what you think it means.

James Annan said...

Oh, I'm sure the HI is very happy with what he did. I'm asking for any reason why anyone outside of them should have ever taken him seriously as any sort of authority on climate change.

Pehr Björnbom said...

After reading this blog post a few days ago I became curious to see what scientific contributions Bob Carter have done. It appeared that he undoubtedly made some contributions to climate science. Searching in Google Scholar on articles by R M Carter with the word climate gave a number of peer
reviewed papers in climate science with Bob Carter.

Among them there is a paper in Nature from 2015:
Dynamics of the intertropical convergence zone over the western Pacific during the Little Ice Age.

He has also a paper in Science from 2004: New Zealand maritime glaciation: millennial-scale southern climate change since 3.9 Ma.


I would like to take the opportunity to promote my own latest scientific paper in atmospheric physics (the following link to the full text has been provided by Elsevier and is valid
until March 22, 2016): Temperature
lapse rates at restricted thermodynamic equilibrium. Part II: Saturated air and further discussions

Transgressive SystemsTract said...

Quick google scholar search yields:
- New Zealand Maritime Glaciation: Millennial-Scale Southern Climate Change Since 3.9 Ma
http://science.sciencemag.org/content/304/5677/1659.short

- A New Zealand climatic template back to c. 3.9 Ma: ODP Site 1119, Canterbury Bight, south‐west Pacific Ocean, and its relationship to onland successions
http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/03014223.2005.9517776#/doi/abs/10.1080/03014223.2005.9517776

- Plio-Pleistocene paleoclimate in the Southwest Pacific as reflected in clay mineralogy and particle size at ODP Site 1119, SE New Zealand
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S002532271000143X?via%3Dihub

As far as whether he was a respected geologist within the field, I can attest that he most certainly was. His work in stratigraphy, especially with regards to sea-level change (a paleoclimate proxy) was top notch. His serving as co-chief on the Ocean Drilling Project Leg 181-- a highly sought after & very prestigious role in marine geology-- was no fluke.

Transgressive SystemsTract said...

Last comment is stuck in moderation despite the blog having been updated since. Just wondering why. Geologists are people, too.

James Annan said...

Sorry, no slight intended, my oversight. As you may know blogger automatically switches on moderation after 2(?) weeks. After this point I still get emailed the comment but don't always notice that it's in the mod queue as opposed to being directly published.

As for the content...um...yes, a number of potentially interesting paleo papers, I'm sure he made some contributions on that front, but precious little relating to AGW which is the only reason such an otherwise minor academic got so much attention.