RealClimate Reveals Willie Soon’s “Scientific Sleight of Hand”

Fri, 2011-07-08 10:49Michael Fisher
Michael Fisher's picture

RealClimate Reveals Willie Soon’s “Scientific Sleight of Hand”

Willie Soon has been an individual of significant interest lately in climate circles. Last week, he spoke at the Heartland Institute’s Sixth International Conference on Climate change, or as we like to call it, Denial-a-Palooza. A recent Greenpeace report found that Soon accepted over $1 million in funding from fossil fuel interests, including Koch Industries

To top it off, RealClimate released a report yesterday revealing new issues with Soon’s 2007 paper on polar bears. The non-peer-reviewed paper has been cited extensively before, notably by Sarah Palin, as proof that polar bears are not endangered by global warming. The paper includes skeptical co-authors M.G. Dyck, R.K. Baydack, David Legates, Sallie BaliunasTim Ball and L.O. Hancocks.

While the paper’s central claims have already been disproven, the remaining issue is what appears to be Soon’s willing disregard for data. RealClimate found that Soon had cherry picked data showing the highest level of Arctic Oscillation (AO), a natural variability that he blamed for any increases in temperature in the Hudson Bay area:

The evidence of the cherry-picking of data for the sake of an (irrelevant) higher correlation from the files is a very clear black flag.”

More importantly, RealClimate found evidence that Soon had access to more relevant data but chose not to use it. Rather than use data from Churchill which borders the Hudson Bay (an area that experienced little impact from Arctic Oscillation), Soon examined an area over 1000 miles away:

So, the picture here is quite clear. Soon knew that the relevant data series for discussing the AO influence on Western Hudson Bay temperature (and by proxy, sea ice) was from Churchill and despite being reminded of the fact by the first set of reviewers, nonetheless continued to only show the AO connection to a site 1000 miles away, which had a much higher correlation without any discussion of whether this other data was at all relevant to Churchill or the bears nearby.” 

Although it is worth mentioning that the paper was funded by Koch Industries, the American Petroleum Institute, and ExxonMobil (see the paper’s “Acknowledgements” section), it is what RealClimate describes as Soon’s “scientific sleight of hand” that most tarnishes his credibility. 

When it comes down to it, the quality of the science is what matters. And skeptical science regularly resorts to misdirection and junk science as a mode to influence popular opinion. That is why we need scientists like those at RealClimate to break through the skeptical static and reveal the truth.

Previous Comments

There is a most informative site The Carbon Brief which carries an article on those 900 papers that sceptics, sorry deniers, like to write about, within that article is this:

‘Richard Lindzen, a climate scientist and prominent sceptic who notably has a degree of credibility in the scientific community, is a member of the ‘Annapolis Center for Science-Based Public Policy’, which has also received Exxon funding.’

Read the full article here:

Note also the mention of:

Willi Soon and associate Baliunas
Christy (incorrectly spelled as Christie within)

amongst others with a long history in dirty tricks type denial.


What I understand is that Lindzen is a respeced world class climatologist with infinatley more credibility than any blogger on this site and certainly more than the likes of Hansen, Mann, Schmidt, Schnieder,…….

The good news is that because the smear came from a regular of this “smear” site, nobody will pay attention to it.

lindzens message is very lucid and clear though…

‘…lindzens message is very lucid and clear though…’

But incoherent with the facts as listed here:

Quotes by Richard Lindzen

Whatever, interviews such as the one you pointed to are only useful for the denier brigade because the interviewer either has not the knowledge to challenge Lindzen’s obfuscatory arguments or not the honesty to do so. In other words such interviews are totally unbalanced. Lindzen got one thing correct that is when he said that he made a ‘statement glibly’, that interview was full of glib statements.

Classic bullshit baffles brains.

Now if he were pitted against a more adroit interviewer Lindzen would have been revealed as Plimer was to having ‘no clothes’.

Whatever, thank you for bringing this interview to my attention it will provide another data point on Lindzen’s downward credibility path.

Consider what is really happening to climate:

Read through references to La Niña.

NY Times Asks Why “Horrible” U.S. Drought “Has Come on Extra Hot and Extra Early.” Their Answer is … La Niña, Of Course!

Arctic Death Spiral: Second Lowest June Sea Ice Extent, Lowest June Volume

and now check out the latest position - that is an exercise for you.


Keep trying Lionel…

But a nobody like you trying to diecredit a leading climatologist is just too sill to even read.

Only the truely faithful in your cult believe any of that.
And likely most on Claim to just to keep their memberships..

‘But a nobody like you trying to diecredit a leading climatologist is just too sill to even read.

Only the truely faithful in your cult believe any of that.
And likely most on Claim to just to keep their memberships..’

Well here you go:

Lindzen’s whoppers on 2GB

Lindzen is way past believable now. Why can you not see this?

That’s really interesting content I have been reading for a couple of minutes. I am insanely jealous to see that you post abs review wisely. I enjoyed this article amazingly, pal. Thanks! @




Our DeSmog UK epic history series continues with a look at the creation of Michael Mann’s hockey stick graph and the counter-attack launched by the climate deniers.

Michael Mann was “still relatively fresh” out of graduate school when his work demonstrating the rise in global temperatures caught the attention of senior climate scientists. He was quickly selected as lead author for a new report on climate change.

The paper by Mann, and Professor Raymond Bradley and Professor Malcolm Hughes was titled...

read more