Beligerent Tim Ball Harasses a New Academic

Fri, 2008-01-18 09:28Richard Littlemore
Richard Littlemore's picture

Beligerent Tim Ball Harasses a New Academic

The combative, thin-skinned and dishonest Dr. Tim Ball has launched a very personal attack on a Williams Lake, B.C. academic who has had the temerity to question Ball's grasp of climate science.

In what has become a typical presentation, “global warming skeptic” Tim Ball spoke in December to the Cariboo Regional District, proclaiming that humans have nothing whatever to do with global warming and that anyone who says differently is some kind of religious zealot.

In response, Marten Lettinga, a physics and chemistry instructor at the williams Lake campus of Thompson Rivers University, wrote to the local paper, the Williams Lake Tribune, saying that while Dr. Ball appeared “sincere and passionate (someone I could possibly have a beer with)” that Ball's “presentation gave the false impression that there is still much confusion over the causes or the existence of global warming.” Lettinga picked a couple of specific examples (his entire letter is attached below) and concluded, “The CRD would have been better served with a randomly selected panel of climatologists (via interactive TV).”

In his response (also attached below), Ball ripped into Lettinga, saying “he either didn’t listen or didn’t want to listen or both.” Ball also accused Lettinga of intellectual dishonesty for ending his own letter by saying “the opinions expressed are wholly my own and not necessarily those of my employer.”

This simple act of integrity obviously caught Ball off guard. After all, he has repeatedly used his (long-defunct) association with the University of Winnipeg to bolster the apparent authority of his industry-funded opinions. In fact, the university had to ask Ball to stop presenting himself as a professor emeritus - an honor he neither earned nor deserves.

The backing and forth between Lettinga and Ball continued through another set of letters to the Tribune (also attached), again marked by a respectful (if skeptical) tone from Lettinga and a snarling and personal response from Ball. Again, typical.

Two issues arise as mysterious, or at least disappointing.

First, Williams Lake is in the heart of the greatest single example of environmental devastation in the world that is almost certainly attributable to global warming. The mountain pine beetle infestation has killed forest stands covering such a large tract of central British Columbia that the effect is visible from space. Local officials in this, of all neighborhoods, should be taking greater care as to the quality of their scientific input. But rather than insist upon hearing from experts with relevant and current credentials, the CRD accepts the professional contrarian, Dr. Ball, saying, in the words of District Chair Jon Wolbers, “It’s always good for politicians to hear the other side of the story.” The “other side”? That would be the best science in the world on one side and energy-industry-funded fiction on the other. In what way is it necessary for responsible politicians to avail themselves of this perverted “balance”?

The second disappointment is the continuing failure by media to do even the most minimal backchecking on people's credentials and history. Here we have Tim Ball, whose record of deceit is a Google-stroke away, as is his history of hurling unfounded insults at reputable academics. Yet the Tribune fails to mention this in its original coverage or in any of the letters.

Garbage in; Garbage out

We live in a democracy in which self-interested scoundrels have a perfect right to distort the truth and delude the public. And in such a democracy, a free and independent media is critical to maintaining a healthy public debate - i.e., one that is not dominated by those who can afford to recruit amenable experts and to lobby ill-informed, “balance”-seeking politicians. Such being the case, you can only assign so much blame to Tim Ball, a not-very-honest, second-string university professor who is earning more fame in retirement than he ever could have achieved on the strength of his academic work. The really big blame has to fall at the feet of the reporters and editors who don't bother to do any research before reporting on his presentations and printing his letters. How can the public be expected to make intelligent judgments when this is the quality of their information source?

 

Comments

Tim Ball... That guy would need a really large upgrade to qualify as a hack. I am at a loss to imagine a defensible reason to have a professional liar give a position on something he lies about professionally.

But, hell, at least he's a pro.

and I mean ANYBODY, who still thinks that this person has any credibility with respect to climate science, is in a delusional state. The academic record is there for anyone to investigate, the legal case regarding the inflation of his credentials is a matter of public record. Why are we having this conversation?

Fern Mackenzie

Lettinga's letters aren't as good as I'd hoped. Still, I'd be interested in seeing the list of 28 errors and his responses.

Steve,

My letters were not meant to be a scholarly treatise but rather a quick response to four of Tim Ball's most obvious errors (in my opinion, these errors still stand after Ball's poor attempt at challenging and understanding my four points). Also, I have e-mailed Richard to correct any reference to the City of Prince George since Ball's talk was actually in Williams Lake BC Canada.

Marten Lettinga
Williams Lake BC

Apologies to Marten Lettinga and, particularly to the people of Williams Lake and Prince George. These communities are not particularly close together and there is no reasonable excuse for my having conflated them in my original post.

I appreciate the clarification and I appreciate your effort to counter the con man. The concision required by media outlets (and by readers' attention spans) makes it very difficult to rebut guys like Ball, so it's rare and wonderful when I see a very effective letter.

Dr Ball doesn't seem too concerned about the Greenland ice sheet since a majority of the ice is already in the water.
From what I've been reading that's correct since the interior of Greenland is actually a basin with its lowest point 300m below current sea level.
But there's a catch...the Greenland ice sheet averages over 2km in thickness and there has been core samples from over 3km deep.
Since icebergs have only 1/9 of their volume above water...
how can you float an ice cube over 2km thick in only 300m of water?
This is not an ice cube in a water glass type scenario.

There's a discussion over at Deltoid about the whole ice cube thing:

http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2008/01/tim_ball_and_archimedes_princi.php#commentsArea

Thanks for pointing that out.

Note to Dr Ball: They're not laughing WITH you . . .

Fern Mackenzie

They pretty much took him apart I'd say...
I wonder if his 15 minutes are finally winding down?

have a look over at http://bigcitylib.blogspot.com/search/label/Global%20Warming, where M.J. nails Tim Ball and Tom Harris coming out on creationism! (Thursday, January 10, 2008: Tim Ball Denies Darwin!). The whole article in the CFP can be found at: http://canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/1272.

That just about says it all.

Fern Mackenzie

First of all, thanks for directing me to Tim Ball’s article. I was puzzled at first, since I’ve read some of Ball’s writings before and found it surprising that he would “come out on creationism.” Thankfully, what I found was him using the Darwin/creationism issue as an example of perhaps how the issue of climage change has become so conflagrated. I found the article interesting and perceptive, especially his use of how Uniformitarianism may be an explanation for how we have come to this point. He was using a philosophical argument, not stating his own beliefs. I thought this was fairly obvious, but then perhaps not to this community, who seem to look upon him as having a set of horns and a tail.

It would appear, however, that you don’t agree. And perhaps the others ahead of you who have used such professional remarks as “dickhead,” “liar” and “hack” to describe Dr. Ball, don’t agree either. Comparing those who disagree with you to “warts” and “zits” who will just hopefully go away soon reminds me of grade school and I’m happy that I have moved on from that. In conclusion, I enjoy good debate. I am neither “skeptic,” “denier” or “believer” when it comes to climate change. I have read much from both camps and find that there is much to be learned. I’m puzzled as to why intelligent discourse cannot be conducted between the two camps. Perhaps Darwin was wrong. We haven’t evolved from animals … we still are animals.

Your interpretation of their assumptions is not supported by the evidence.

When Ball and Harris write:

“…The current western view of the World essentially evolved from the Darwinian view. Even though it is still just a theory and not a law 148 years after it was first proposed, Darwinian evolution is the only view allowed in schools. Why? Such censorship suggests fear of other ideas, a measure of indefensibility…”

they are not just pretending to be philosophical; they are making false statements.  They mischaracterize how Darwin developed his theory and they falsely claim that he was a professed atheist.  According to wiki:

…Though reticent about his religious views, in 1879 he responded that he had never been an atheist in the sense of denying the existence of a God, and that generally “an Agnostic would be the more correct description of my state of mind.”

And the source of the wiki quotation is here:

http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/content/view/130/125/

Ball and Harris are not demonstrating “intelligent discourse” but dishonest BS aimed at gullible people.

[x]

A study published by Geophysical Research Letters sheds new light on the connection between California's epic drought and human-induced climate change.

The study carries the decidedly wonky title, “Probable causes of the abnormal ridge accompanying the 2013-14 California drought: ENSO precursor and anthropogenic warming footprint.”

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