Saturday, May 22, 2010

Compulsive liar Anthony Watts continues his crusade against real scientist Michael Mann

Moronic science wannabes like Anthony Watts have long had a wild hair to tear down the accomplishments of Michael Mann, whose hockey stick research proved conclusively that the end of the 20th century was warmer than any time in the last millenium. Dr. Mann, one of the world's foremost climatologists, has beaten back ludicrous attacks on his research and his integrity, with the support of the National Academy of Sciences and multiple independent reviews of his (unimpeachable) conduct.

But the denialist echo chamber, like a cultural ruminant, feeds off its own wastes, and safe within the walls of its grand delusion, attacks on Mann are big applause lines for the braying bumpkins. Today WUWT is back with one of their favorite weapons, a study they are too stupid to understand:

Thomas Fuller of the San Francisco Examiner has a great piece which summarizes the issue of climate and malaria and Mann. Like with the imagined increase in hurricane frequency due to global warming, so it goes with malaria. There’s no correlation. The premise is false.

Tony, as per his usual, couldn't find his ass with both hands (and I say that leaving aside the non sequitur about hurricanes -- that's nonsense for another day). The study actually says:

. . . bednets and drugs will influence the spread of malaria far more than will climate change, challenging fears that warming will aggravate the disease in Africa.

The authors of the study do not dispute that warming promotes the spread of malaria. They HOPE that other developments over the next century will retard the spread of malaria more than climate change will accelerate it:

Many researchers have predicted that rising temperatures will cause malaria to expand its range and intensify in its current strongholds. But unlike usual models, which aim to predict how climate change will affect malaria in the future, researchers looked at how warming affected the disease throughout the last century.

They used a recent epidemiological map of the global distribution of the major malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum, and compared this with historical data on malaria's prevalence in the 1900s.

The researchers — whose work was published in Nature yesterday (20 May) — found that despite global warming, the prevalence of malaria decreased, which they attribute to disease and mosquito control programmes.

That sounds like a clever piece of modeling, as one would hope it would be to get published in Nature. But it does nothing to discredit previous research that warming temperatures promote the spread of malaria. To read the study that way, you have to be either science illiterate or a liar. Watts and his cronies are both, so take your best guess.

So where does Michael Mann come into this, you ask? Well, he's also doing research into malaria and climate, research Watts wants stopped, immediately:

The researchers — whose work was published in Nature yesterday (20 May) — found that despite global warming, the prevalence of malaria decreased, which they attribute to disease and mosquito control programmes.

Or so you would think. But Matthew Thomas thinks differently. Matthew Thomas said that the study “plays down the potential importance of climate [change]“.

Who is Matthew Thomas? He is a researcher at… Penn State. Matthew Thomas is a researcher… at Penn State… who has just won a $1.8 million grant to study the influence of environmental temperature on transmission of vector-borne diseases. Think he has a dog in this hunt?

Ask his co-investigator on the project. Michael Mann…

Where do we ask for a refund?

I haven't got a lot of time today, so let's tally up the stupid:

* Watt's is treating a paper that says "Technology and development will discourage the spread of malaria" as saying "Warmer temperatures do not encourage the spread of malaria." That's a completely fictional account of the paper.

* The people who justify their continued rejection of a vast body of science supported by hundreds of lines of research and tens of thousands of peer-reviewed papers because science is never settled and skepticism is the heart of science want to stop all research into malaria and climate change because of one paper that argues that malaria won't get worse. One paper that says what we want; that's the end -- close up shop, cancel all grants, anyone who argues is an alarmist ideologue -- the science is settled.

* The people who justify a broad campaign of ad hominem attacks on scientists, to the point of intimidation and physical threats, with the rationalization that controversy and disagreement advance science, want you to believe that it is sinister and corrupt the researchers think their own research is more on point than their rivals and that the fact that their research is funded means we can't trust their arguments.

* Watts evidently doesn't realize that malaria is only one of many important vector-bourne diseases -- either that, or he wants this study not only to be the last word in malaria and climate change, but also be the last word on climate change and -- why not? -- all other vector-bourne diseases as well. Again the "Stupid or dishonest?" question recurs.


  1. I like this website. Keep up the righteous rants against liars and shills.

    AGW deniers will be seen as criminals by future generations, and already should be.

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