Tim Ball, et al: Revisionist History?

Tue, 2007-03-13 09:57Richard Littlemore
Richard Littlemore's picture

Tim Ball, et al: Revisionist History?

Here's an interesting query that I can't resolve. A DeSmog reader, looking back on an October 4, 2006 post under my name wondered why I was nattering about Tim Ball presenting himself as a Professor of Climatology when, under the link in that particular post, he was signed as a “Retired Professor of Geography.”

The questioner is correct on the facts. The link - to an “Open Letter to the Royal Society, reported in an NHInsider blogpost dated Sept 29, 2006 - assuredly lists Ball correctly as a retired geography prof. But the letter appeared in many places at the time, most consistently with William Gray as the lead signatory. You can find copies here and here with Ball signed as a “Professor of Climatology.” (Note, too, that the second one was posted by the climate change-denying Benny Peiser.)

I don't have an original copy of the “open” letter and am not aware of whether a paper version was ever actually sent. But I would be indebted to anyone who can find other versions, reliably date. If the original actually listed Dr. Ball accurately, I will be happy to apologize as prominently as I may.

Previous Comments

The Department of Geography at the University of Winnipeg has climatology as a topic of study. I assume his official title was “Professor of Geography,” it is possible that climatology is/was his speciality, but simple Web searches have not confirmed that. Dr. Ball does have apparent connections to Department of Geography. Certainly, “Professor of Climatology” sounds better than “Professor fo Geography” when talking about global warming.
The Geography vs Climatology was only part of the issue. Dr Ball has repeatedly claimed to have been a professor of climatology at the University of Winnipeg for 28 (and at one point, I believe 32) years, when in fact he was only a professor for 8 years of his time there, which ended in 1996. So for him to sign himself as a Professor of Climatology, UofW, suggests that he is still there, when he hasn’t been for 11 years. The point is, the guy plays pretty loosey-goosey with his credentials!
If you are hired as a mechanical engineer, you can’t pass your self off as an electrical engineer. If you are hired as a Professor of Mathematics, you can’t changed your title to Professor of Computer Science, or Professor of Economics. The same applies here. Deniers, get over it.
The “deniers” are hardly as obsessed about such irrelevant minutae as you idiots seem to be. But since you can’t materially address Dr. Ball’s position, you are left with nothing but your pathetic ad-hominems.
What position? That Flannery, Suzuki, NASA, etc. are all idiots? That everything is wrong, and he has no answers, only guesses. Great.
There are real scientists asking real questions about climate, and challenging the models and predictions. Ball is totally not one of them. Knee-jerk support for his data-less complaining is an indicator of ignorance of the subject, and that is all.

I thought they were questions of fact - and easily disproven facts, at that.

Once more for the record: this is not a science site. If you're looking for informed debate about science we recommend realclimate.org, the IPCC or the academies of science of any of the G8 nations. (And if you're looking for unattributed industry-funded hackery, you could check out nrsp.com or junkscience.com.)

Our function at DeSmogBlog is primarily to look at the public relations spin - or in Tim Ball's case, the patent and demonstrable untruths - that people are using to confuse the public conversation about climate change.

Now, you seem to suggest that it is unfair that we use Ball's repeated misrepresentations on “irrelevant minutae” like his own resume to attack his credibility. But isn't that the whole point of “credibility?” If you can't trust someone to tell you the truth about themselves, why would you listen when they start calling down participants in the most impressive scientific collaboration in history?

Finally, Ball doesn't say, “Believe me, I've got proof.” He says, “Believe me, I'm an expert.” He - not I - made his expertise an issue, which I think would have been a better tactic if he was really an expert.

… that all of this silly spitting of vitriol is distracting people from the fact that there are places in the world where the water IS NOW RISING, present tense – not future, not conditional – and that as it creeps inexorably towards the homes of millions of the earth’s most vulnerable, all we can do is argue and stall? If only all of the energy being expended on keeping this illusory “debate” going could be put to use figuring out what’s going to happen when drought deepens, slowly, surely moving at a pace that used to be called glacial and just as inevitably! But the word “glacial” can’t be used as a metaphor for slowly anymore, can it? The most outrageous and immoral of Ball’s claims is that GW would actually be GOOD for Canada. At whose expense? Go stand in the delta of the Ganges, Dr Ball, and tell the folks there how it will benefit THEM!
“… that all of this silly spitting of vitriol is distracting people from the fact that there are places in the world where the water IS NOW RISING, present tense – not future, not … (snip)”

A massive, mysterious whirlpool of cold water has developed off the coast of Sydney, forcing the sea surface to fall almost 1m and ocean currents to change course. Dubbed a sea “monster” by CSIRO oceanographers, the huge body of water stretches almost 200km across and plunges 1000m towards the ocean floor. Its centre sits just 100km off the coast of Sydney and could stay there for months. Scientists are baffled by the powerful cold-water eddy …

 http://www.news.com.au/story/0,23599,21379283-2,00.html
I’m not really clear on why you have responded with this article. This phenomenon is regional and does not alter the data tracking sea level rise and drought conditions around the globe over decades. I definitely smell herring of a distinctly rosy hue …
“Once more for the record: this is not a science site”

Uh, don’t worry, Richard. There’s little chance anyone will mistake this for a “science” site.

“Our function at DeSmogBlog is primarily to look at the public relations spin - or in Tim Ball’s case, the patent and demonstrable untruths - that people are using to confuse the public conversation about climate change.”

So let’s see if we’ve got this right? This very website, being owned and run by a very dodgy PR firm, is going to redress what it calls “public relations spin”? And you, a PR hack, are going to “unconfuse” the public?

Check.

Yes, as a member of the easily-confused and misled public, I know how much I rely on PR shysters for their cool-headed and unbiased explanations of complicated scientifical stuff, which makes my head hurt.

“Now, you seem to suggest that it is unfair that we use Ball’s repeated misrepresentations on “irrelevant minutae” like his own resume to attack his credibility.”

No, I’m not “suggesting” anything. I flat out said it is irrelevant. No hidden meaning there.

What a PR flim-flam artist like you doesn’t seem to understand, is that science doesn’t depend on anyone’s personal “credibility”, no matter how desperately and shrilly you try to undermine it. The science speaks for itself, it stands or falls on it’s own merits. It doesn’t matter whether or not Dr. Ball might be left-handed, Jewish, or wears size 10 shoes.

The only matter which is relevant is the veracity of the science. As a public relations cockroach, this is an area you are neither qualified, nor inclined by your devious nature to address, since in this case, any discussion of science serves only to undermine your cause.

Therefore, you are limited to your own field of expertise, which is ad hominem attacks, innuendo, and smear campaigns. I use the term “expertise” loosely here, since you and your website appear to have all the subtlety of a North Korean propaganda broadcast.

“But isn’t that the whole point of “credibility?” If you can’t trust someone to tell you the truth about themselves”

Your obsession with personal credibility is as irrelevent as it is mendacious. That’s the whole beauty of science, you don’t have to “trust” anyone. Werner Von Braun put a man on the moon, in spite of the fact that he was formerly employed by the Nazis. No doubt, someone like you would have it that the lunar landings were faked.

“why would you listen when they start calling down participants in the most impressive scientific collaboration in history?”

Pamela Andersons breasts are “impressive”. That doesn’t mean they’re real.

“Finally, Ball doesn’t say, “Believe me, I’ve got proof.” He says, “Believe me, I’m an expert.”

Uh, no. That’s not at all what he says.

“He - not I - made his expertise an issue, which I think would have been a better tactic if he was really an expert.”

Even if that statement were true – which it manifestly is not – it wouldn’t affect the objective scientific facts one iota. But, as you have admitted yourself, scientific facts are not something you deal with, and for your purposes, are best avoided.

Thanks for clearing that up.

This is exactly the kind of nonsense I was talking about. I have come to the conclusion that there is no convincing some people – Ball and his ilk, such as you, whoever you are – that humans are having any impact on the environment. I hope you haven’t got an aquarium (think about it). The common thread running through the postings that I read from this group is that the whole theory of anthropogenic global warming is a conspiracy by left-wing control freaks who want to micromanage everyone’s lives and for some reason are bent on crashing the global economy (???). This is not science, it is a point of view. These people will not believe AGW is a reality no matter what happens. If the rest of the world implements CO2 controls and somehow manages to curtail the impact, you will claim it had nothing to do with our efforts. It’s pointless to argue with you. Better to continue the task of applying pressure where it will do some good, and making changes in our own lives that might help.

And I can’t help but notice that while you slam DeSmogBlog for being a bunch of PR hacks, you conveniently ignore the fact that Ball and his group at the board of the Natural Resources Stewardship Project are virtually indistinguishable from the staff of PR hacks at the High Park Advocacy Group, well known for its connections with the fossil fuel industry. Ever hear of the pot calling the kettle black?

Just a post to entirely agree with your points listed, it was well said, and needed to bad it will fall on deaf ears.

“Therefore, you are limited to your own field of expertise, which is ad hominem attacks, innuendo, and smear campaigns.”

No, that is already claimed by the deniers and those who see this as a right-left battle. Just read the blogs, or the denier posts on this site that call anyone interested in mainstream science “fascist”, “idiot”, etc.
Anon said: “No, that is already claimed by the deniers and those who see this as a right-left battle. Just read the blogs, or the denier posts on this site that call anyone interested in mainstream science “fascist”, “idiot”, etc.” Just what is mainstream science? Doesn’t science advance when people question and investigate – in other words challenge mainstream thought? About 70 years ago eugenics was mainstream science, firmly endorsed by politicans and leading thinkers of the day. Try to find anyone advocating for eugenics today. The same fate awaits AGW theory – today’s junk science.
Mainstream science is done in Universities, government labs, and some private companies that participate in the process, and is encouraged and organized by scientific societies (made up of scientists) and science journals. Is that not obvious? Mainstream science to denier news articles, is like mainstream engineering by trained engineers, to Red Green and duct tape.

… I'll take the bait. You rustle up some quotes from Tim Ball and we'll see how much “objective science” is hidden in the depths. How about this one for a start?

“The analogy I use,” says Dr. Tim Ball, a former climatology professor at the University of Winnipeg, “is my car's not running very well, so I'm going to ignore the engine, which is the sun, and I'm going to ignore the transmission, which is the water vapour and I'm going to look at one nut on the right rear wheel which is the human produced CO2. The science is that bad.”

Tonnes of dispassionate objectivity there …

Look and learn: Just in case we didn’t get it.
“… I’ll take the bait. You rustle up some quotes from Tim Ball and we’ll see how much “objective science” is hidden in the depths.”

Once more, since you obviously didn’t get it the first dozen times: WHO CARES?

Dr. Ball could be Idi Amin, for all the difference it makes to the plausibility of his arguments. You are so totally obsessed with trying to undermine his character, since you’ve obviously had no success – try as you might – to undermine his arguments. Of course, you didn’t even try that approach, and one has to wonder why.

“Tonnes of dispassionate objectivity there … “

Is what Dr. Ball says any less objective than the screeching hyperbole of, for example, Al Gore or David Suzuki? Hardly. Besides which, since Dr. Ball is expressing his opinion, it is, by definition not “objective”. This non-objectivity, however, does not alter it’s validity. Try again.

But then, I forgot. That’s the whole reason for your fake outrage, and the basis of your salary: you don’t like it when people express their opinions – particularly when they don’t suit you.
“Finally, Ball doesn’t say, “Believe me, I’ve got proof.” He says, “Believe me, I’m an expert.”

Uh, no. That’s not at all what he says.

Uh-h-h-h-h, that is exactly what Ball says, over and over. But he adds that he is the first, the greatest, etc., and yet nobody is listening to him. I wonder why not. Could it be because he has no experience in atmospheric research, no results in climate research (other than history notes from forts, on weather and geese), and not even any classes in physics or climatology… Or is it because he carefully counts his undergraduate years as “Professor”, as a reason that he should be believed. Maybe.

http://www.orato.com/node/398

By Special Correspondent Timothy Ball

05/28/06

Global Warming, as we think we know it, doesn’t exist. And I am not the only one trying to make people open up their eyes and see the truth. But few listen, despite the fact that I was the first Canadian Ph.D. in Climatology and I have an extensive background in climatology, especially the reconstruction of past climates and the impact of climate change on human history and the human condition. Few listen, even though I have a Ph.D, (Doctor of Science) from the University of London, England and that for 32 years I was a Professor of Climatology at the University of Winnipeg. For some reason (actually for many), the World is not listening. Here is why.
I see Ball’s claims are still listed here with no refutation or discussion from sceptics. Does this mean that the sceptics acknowledge that Ball’s claims have no substance?

http://www.desmogblog.com/how-can-i-get-on-amys-guest-list#comment-48239

For those who missed what is obvious to someone with google: Here, the Royal Society replies to the verbally abusive letter from Ball, Professor of Climatology http://sciencepolicy.colorado.edu/prometheus/archives/science_politics/000947bob_ward_comments_on.html

Another copy from Ball, Professor of Climatology http://www.pbs.org/moyers/moyersonamerica/green/isanewsletter.pdf

This one used to say Ball, Professor of Climatology, but some time after Dec, 06, was changed to Dr. Tim Ball Retired Professor of Geography (1971 -1996) University of Winnipeg http://www.nhinsider.com/nhigb/2006/9/29/george-c-marshall-institute-letter-to-congress.html